Double J (left)—who prefers to remain anonymous—working a Brooklyn warehouse party with the author (right). Photo by Razberry Photography.
If there's one constant within the sprawling circuit of dive bars, strip clubs, and hush-hush warehouse venues that we refer to collectively as "New York nightlife," it's the dudes who work the door. Depending on the integrity of your ID card and your attitude towards standing in line, the bouncer can be like Saint Peter at the Pearly Gates or like the club's defensive linebacker. They're the ones you see first upon entrance—and guess what? They've seen it all. While you're busy dancing, sweating, and acting out increasingly questionable substance-fueled fantasies, these sober-eyed guardians of law and order are keeping the cops from crashing the party—and all the while taking notes with their eyes.
Over the course of a few late nights and a handful of emails, I spoke to a legendary New York City door guy who asked that we refer to him as "Double J" to ensure the privacy of his employers—and because his son and daughter might not appreciate some of the more salacious stories he's accumulated over the years.
He's a former police officer known in Brooklyn's illegal party-throwing circles as the best of the best, keeping warehouse parties going 'til daylight hours without a hitch and, most importantly, keeping the cops at bay. (This may or may not have to do with ties to the NYPD.) And his semi-retired side hustle as Brooklyn's rave dad is treating him well: "I have 5 time shares," he told me while standing on a Bushwick sidewalk one frigid night in December. "I just came back from Cancun and I'm going to the Bahamas next week." We talked about some of the silliest things he's seen on the job, his policy towards dealing with entitled assholes, and his son's summer league baseball team. I guess a job's a job.
THUMP: How did you get into this line of work? How long have you been a bouncer?
Double J: I got into this profession through an acquaintance who is retired from the NYPD. I've been doing it for more than six years.
Where have you worked over the years?
I have worked at various locations throughout the city, with the exception of Staten Island. I have worked at strip clubs, rave parties, warehouse parties, afterhours parties, Latin night clubs. I've also worked in the Diamond district and done body guard work for a few princesses and princes of foreign countries.
What's changed in the world of clubbing from back in the day until now? How has the scene evolved, in your eyes?
Back in the day, security and bouncers received more respect. Nowadays, it's all changed. Patrons question their authority, threaten lawsuits, tell you they have rights and threaten you physically. A majority of people don't know their rights or the law and are wrong more times than not. Years ago, if you had a problem with a patron, they were escorted out, with little or no incident. Today everybody wants to fight because they feel they've been disrespected (when in fact they're the ones that disrespected an employee, patron or even the club itself, by doing something stupid).
They also feel like they own you if they have money. This is very prevalent in the strip clubs. Anybody with money thought they could do what they wanted with the girls, the female bartenders and the club. Additionally, the drinking age has changed and is now 21. People who are well over 21 don't realize that they are required by state law to have ID on them when they are in a licensed establishment or any place that sells alcohol.
You used to be police. How do being a cop and being a bouncer go hand in hand? Does being a former cop work to your advantage ever?
Being a former police officer definitely helps being a bouncer. There's not too much I haven't seen and the experience helps in dealing with anything that comes up. Bottom line is just being able to talk and reason with people. You always have to remember—it's not personal and alcohol is usually involved. I believe being a former cop works to my advantage. Most, if not all of the places I work, know I'm a former cop and a lot of respect comes with that and I reciprocate. I've actually been told that I'm one of the nicest bouncers they know. I treat people with respect and in turn, that makes my job so much easier. But I also make sure that people don't take my kindness for weakness.
What's the secret to not getting shut down?
I won't elaborate on what I do to try and keep my parties up and running.
What are the best and worst excuses to get in you've heard from partygoers?
I've heard every excuse in the book. The thing is, anybody that comes to these parties thinks this is my first rodeo. Been there, done that. I was young once too and have tried all the things they're trying and then some. I'm divorced and have two kids—a son who's 20 and a daughter who's 18, so I'm in the loop, so to speak, in more ways then one. I coach high school level baseball and my son's summer league team. So I'm up on a lot.
How do you handle the fake ID situation?
If you have a fake ID, I take it and you don't get in. Most tell me I don't have the right to take it, but I do. They threaten to call the police and I say don't bother—I'll save you the trouble. That's when their whole tune changes. I tell them they could be arrested for criminal impersonation and possession of forged documents. This is usually about the time when they say, "Thank you and have a goodnight."
Have you ever taken bribes from people trying to get in?
I've never taken bribes. I'm not that type of guy. I like and respect the people I work for and would never do anything to jeopardize that or more importantly, my reputation.
What kinds of situations have you run into working at illegal warehouse parties? What are some of the most silly, dumb or entertaining things you've witnessed people do?
Believe it or not, most of the warehouse parties go off without a hitch. Most of the patrons are respectful and rarely give us a problem. If a problem arises, we deal with it and for the most part it's resolved and no further action is needed. The biggest problem is people urinating in the street, especially close to the venue, even after you've told them the cops are around.
I had one girl expose her breasts to me in the DJ booth and ask me if I wanted to touch them. She then proceeded to caress her breasts and lick her nipples! She was very attractive and said if I changed my mind, I'd know where to find her. She continued walking around the party, topless for the rest of the night. The women for some reason don't hold back at these parties—they kiss, they touch, pet—I think you get the picture. Very erotic.
Generally it's the change alcohol causes in people from the time they get there until they leave. I've seen people try to walk out of some parties and not be able to find the door. Alcohol makes people do crazy, stupid things. I was talking to the police right in front of one of the venues, when a guy came out and pissed right between two cars. One of those cars was the police car that contained the officers I was talking to!
One gay party there were two similar incidents. Two men came out, went around a tractor trailer parked across the street, where one of the men proceeded to give a blow job to the other man, not realizing that everybody across the street could see everything they were doing, because you could see under the trailer portion of the truck. About an hour later, two girls who attend these parties regularly and I know by name did the same thing. One of the girls picked up her skirt and the other one proceeded to go down on her. I don't think she realized how loud she was moaning but a lot of people were watching from across the street. There are security cameras right there, so who knows what that video showed.
Most memorable party/club?
The strip club in Queens was the most memorable. I remember scraping wax off a very popular porn star's naked body after she did an act with hot wax. I remember driving another popular porn star around while she was in town. She seemed cold to me and didn't say much. On the last night before she went home she asked to stop at McDonald's—she loves their sweet iced tea. We picked up food and went to her hotel, where I helped her get her things to her room. When we got to her room she asked me to hang out and eat with her. I found out she was married and had a child. She actually called her husband while I was in her room. She then went to the bathroom, and when she came out of the bathroom, she was wearing black thigh high stockings, a nice silk top, black patent leather heels. She led me to the bed where she proceeded to undo my pants and give me a blow job. When she finished she reached over and gave me a $1,000 tip! I couldn't believe it. I just got one of the best blow jobs I've ever received, from a gorgeous porn star, and I got a $1,000 tip for driving her around all weekend. I felt like calling Penthouse Forum [laughs].
What's the weirdest or most offbeat party or venue you've worked at over the years?
The gay parties are the best by far. You never know what to expect or what you're going to see.
What do you like and dislike about the job?
I like the money but not a big fan of working Friday and Saturday nights. You gotta do what you gotta do.
How do you stay up all night? Any tips?
I stay up all night by making sure I get my rest. I'm a night owl by nature.
What kind of music do you listen to? Has this line of work influenced your interest/appreciation of any kinds of music? Is there certain music you've discovered while working that you enjoy?
I like all kinds of music except heavy metal and rap. I think the gay parties play the best music. It's the consensus among the bouncers, as well.
Current favorite party or venue to work at?
I do have a favorite place to work and they know it. I'd rather not say and ruffle any feathers.
Olivia Graham likes talking to strangers - @oliviagraham