About two weeks ago, I went to Acme
with 3 boozy associates at an ungodly hour on a Saturday night. The gatekeeper, Zac, recognized me from a party we both attended, but politely told me that 4 dudes would not be permitted at that time. This did not sit well with one of my peers, and to my chagrin, it resulted in regrettable remarks and near-physical confrontation. We all split up: my friends were left heated, Zac was irked, and I was slightly bewildered at the scene that just took place. Two hours later, through pure coincidence I ran into Zac at another club. Apologies were offered, drinks were drank, and emails were exchanged. In one night, I experienced everything I have been asking doormen to express, but more as an instigator than an observer. Two days later we met up and he provided me with his somewhat philosophical take on nightlife.
Kind of funny how we met but I'm glad we have the chance to talk.
People love doormen right? It's interesting. Human nature is to be obsessed with social exclusivity. Which is...that's what Guest of a Guest is about, it's what Facebook is about, it's what Harvard's about, it's what Princeton's about, it's all a marketing scheme, everything, right? Nightlife especially. The other thing that people should know is in any service-based industry you're trying to provide an experience, and that's all nightlife is trying to provide: an experience.
How did you get into it?
The art part of life introduced me to hospitality. When I was in college I started doing comedy and writing, while working at a comedy club, but any kind of performance art takes a lot out of you and I started thinking realistically. I got to New York at the tail end of the Beatrice thing, and Beatrice was pretty important to a lot of people because it kind of redefined what we expected nightlife to be. Then I worked for the complete opposite of it, EMM Group. It was a really great experience, and I think Eugene Remm is one of the nicest, smartest guys in NY.
In the long run, having something like EMM or building a hotel is a good idea, but when you're young and don't need money, you might as well do what's cool, so I started harassing the guy that opened Acme, Jon Neidich. He didn't call me back for like 10 weeks, but then asked if I wanted to do the door. The other person that was a huge influence on me was Matt Kliegman, he basically got me the job at Acme because I had wonderful references, but he was the one who basically gave the word to John.
Acme is a small room, and many people are invited by the people who work there, yourself included. What do you look for in the people that just show up?
I look at everything like its a social dialogue between New York City, what I think a fun party is, and the needs of the people that own my business. If its a random person, as they always say, it's a civilian chance of entry. No one is ever guaranteed...you cant win em all right? No one can win them all. It's all who you know, its all human connection. If it just boils down to it, you have to be really polite, lack aggression, style is kind of important, but sometimes not stylish is kind of funny too. Sometimes you let in a like a goofy old lady or someone like that because its kind of cool and adds to the room.
There's no one rule. Even my own father wouldn't be a hundred percent yes all the time at any place I'll be because I don't know what kind of job I've been asked to do that night. And that changes every night. I think Paul Sevigny always says 'when in doubt, wear black.' Less is more sometimes. Unless more is really cool (laughs). In New York, what I think is really cool is that let's say there's a few really WASP-y looking guys, really prep school looking kids, some LES kids, beautiful girls, and like a couple really attractive gay guys, and that whole healthy mix is what makes it a good party.