Ten Questions You've Always Wanted to Ask a Bouncer
"Men sometimes stick stuff down their underpants, but I can't really go round grabbing every other dude by the nuts."
This article originally appeared on VICE Germany.
"Yes, no, yes, yes, yes, no." If you're going out in Berlin, then you're going to come up against someone like Peddy, sooner rather than later. Peddy, 32, is a bouncer. He's been on the doors since 2006, making sure that all the troublemakers and amateur boxers stay out of Berlin's clubs. Peddy spends most of his nights guarding the entrance of popular clubs in Berlin like Ritter Butzke, Cookies, or Anita Berber, sometimes for up to 13 hours straight. "It's important that you stretch regularly," he says, "in order to stop going limp." In his free time he trains MMA fighters.
Since 2010, Peddy has been running his own security company, A-security. Aside from door work, his company escorts money deliveries, does private detective work, and provides concierge services. Its main goal is to carry out the wishes of its clients with almost military discipline.
Peddy is six-foot-five inches of pure muscle. When we meet, he is wearing a bomber jacket, black jumper, and a beanie, and when he talks to me, he looks deep into my eyes in concentration. He's happy to talk about his work—he thinks a lot of people underestimate bouncers, and that upsets him.
VICE: Can you be bribed?
Peddy: People try everything—sometimes with money, sometimes with food, or women try to turn on the charm. Giving me your number won't ever work, I'm in a happy relationship. Nobody has shown me their breasts yet, though. I don't understand why women would get so excited by the prospect of spending a few hours in a club. I can't take people like that seriously. But more importantly, people who try to bribe me are definitely not getting in.
What should I be wearing in order to get in?
That changes from party to party. The most important thing is to dress appropriately for the club. You aren't getting into a techno club in a suit. There are bigger factors than clothing though. Like being drunk or showing off your money, for example. A friendly "good evening" will always help. I can't say that'll be enough to get you in, but a bouncer risks a lot so that other people can have a good time. Saying hello is a matter of respect.
Are shoes really that important when it comes to getting in?
I have never turned someone away because of their shoes myself, but I have seen it happen. This guy was rejected for wearing the wrong shoes, so he went back to his car and returned a while later with a different pair on. If I don't let someone in, I tell them why and that usually has nothing to do with their shoes.
Oh, no! If I have to search women's handbags, I'll sometimes find things I don't want to see. They often carry around band-aids, and tampons—which I don't mind as long as they're unused. But I also found a dildo once. Of course, you find drugs. Weapons are totally forbidden. If someone has a knife, or a taser, or something, they're not getting in. Pepper spray is OK, but we'll still take it and they can pick it back up later. Men sometimes stick stuff down their underpants, but I can't really go around grabbing every other dude by the nuts.
Which club-goers are the worst?
Drunk women. When I have to kick a drunk man out for bothering guests, I can grab him by the arms. You can't touch a woman. I also don't have time to debate why she was kicked out, which is what they all seem to demand. And as soon as you try to physically remove them, they shout "I can't believe you're touching a woman!"
Are there fun sides to your job?
Yeah, sure. It's funny when someone is trying to smuggle a bottle in for example, but it's still sticking out of their bag. I'll say, "You've got a bottle," and they'll still say, "No, I don't." Or I'll look at their fake ID and it'll say that they're six feet tall and the person standing in front of you is obviously no taller than five feet.
Recently a boy and a girl were arguing and the boy hit the girl. We went in. Then my colleague, who grabbed the boy to kick him out, suddenly had the girl on his back, scratching at his face. As soon as it was resolved, they started making out with each other right in front of us.
Have you ever been attacked?
Every bouncer has. But it isn't like on TV—we don't just twist a person's arms up their back and wait for them to calm down. It often happens that people have a bottle and they go for you because they're annoyed or drunk. I always hope that they stumble or get out of the door before they get to me—if a guest attacks me, I have to try and tear the bottle out of their hand. If it gets really bad, we have pepper spray, too. As a rule though, we always try to cover ourselves. I don't want to hurt anyone—that would mean I would quickly lose my job.
What has been the scariest moment in your career?
When someone at a club in the middle of Berlin suddenly pulled a gun on me. I didn't let him in because he didn't fit the event that was taking place. Before he left, he said "I'm coming back." And he did, with a gun. The problem is, you can't just leap for the gun because there are other people standing around. Luckily, we managed to sort the situation out relatively quickly. We took the guy to one side and told him that he would definitely not come out well, because there was a security camera above us and it wouldn't take long for the cops to figure out who he was. We also told him that he couldn't come into the club with a gun. He just left. But yeah, my greatest fear is that one day I won't come home.
Do you have any tricks for intimidating people?
My job is selecting who can come in. Intimidation gets you nothing. But you can manipulate people's feelings. Using short sentences makes people respect you more. I have no time to chat on the job. You're just not coming in—standing around all night talking about it isn't going to change how drunk you are.
What do you do when you have to go to the bathroom?
If there's two of us, that's not a problem. But if I'm alone, then we have a substitute system. Our codeword for "I need to pee," is "17." I can say that on the radio and then someone from the bar can come for three minutes to fill in. Nobody wants a bad-tempered bouncer with a full bladder.