Except for the movie Frankenstein, I had never even heard of, let alone met someone named Igor. That was about to change. The Igor that stood before me was nothing like the masochistically-obedient, hunched-backed little lab assistant in the film: This Igor was more like Frankenstein’s even scarier bigger brother. He dwarfed me… all 6 foot 4 inches and 250 pounds of me.
Igor’s size wasn’t the barbell-manufactured kind either. He was naturally and freakishly gigantic, with catcher’s mitts for hands and a Neanderthal’s skull. Revelers at The Emerald City Dance Club sheepishly cleared a path whenever he lumbered through the crowd. I have to admit that even I was scared of the guy.
It was my first night working as a bouncer at Emerald City… a job I looked well-suited for because–back in the day–I was an avid bodybuilder. The club attracted a mostly bridge-and-tunnel crowd. I didn’t mind partying with them, but they were a rowdy bunch prone to buffoonery and I dreaded having to police them. But Igor was the head bouncer… my boss… so I took comfort in knowing that if, God forbid, a melee broke out… a real monster had my back.
The night was young, but it didn’t take long for Igor to nod-me-over in his direction. When I got within earshot he said, “Let’s roust some chicken.” Following in his wake, we made our way to the men’s room, pausing ever so briefly outside the bathroom door. Once Igor gave me the index-finger-to-the-lips, button-it-up sign, we snuck our way in.
Once inside, Igor made sure the bathroom door was shut tight. Then without warning, one-by-one he violently kicked in each of the stall doors. GET OUT!!!!” he yelled. Like rats deserting a sinking ship, pairs of young guys in Members Only jackets scattered and ran in fear for their lives as Igor snatched cocaine from their tightly clenched fists.
When the men’s room was cleared out completely, Igor calmly folded each pack of cocaine he had confiscated and offered me half the take. As I gracefully declined his generous offer, he shrugged his barn door delts, put the packets in his pants pocket and exited the men’s room ahead of me like nothing ever happened.
I returned to my post, patrolling the back bar which overlooked the club’s sunken dance floor, and unhappily watched everyone else having fun. Stealing cocaine from patrons was exciting and something I could look forward to, but this standing around looking “big” in a cheap blazer and not being able to smile or laugh was something I knew wasn’t for me.
It didn’t take long before my fear of having to deal with drunken assholes acting like idiots became a reality. A busboy carrying two stacks of clean cocktail glasses was making his way through the crowd, when a stupid jerk stuck his foot out and tripped him. The busboy fell and spilled both trays of glasses onto the floor. I witnessed the whole thing and had no doubt that the juiced-up punk in a tight, short-sleeved shirt and Gold Christ Head chain did it on purpose.
A rage came over me. This guy had to go! I didn’t call for back up–I wasn’t going to need any help. I stormed over and grabbed the little douche by the back of his neck. He broke free, but I went back and grabbed him again. This time he wasn’t weaseling away. I dragged him half way across the club. He was a tough, angry little guy, but I was the bigger, stronger and much angrier bouncer guy.
As I dragged him towards the exit, I had an epiphany: Why not try a move I’d seen bouncers do to troublemakers at other nightclubs. So I grabbed the back of his pants, lifted him off his feet, put even more purpose and power behind my strides, and ran him towards the exit doors. When I was about three feet away, I stopped short, heaved his body backwards and with all my might, launched him like a sack of potato’s headfirst right threw the double doors and out onto the street.
A pack of his friends followed us outside and came to his defense, complaining loudly that he hadn’t done anything wrong. They even threatened to come back and kick my ass. But that exchange didn’t last long. My man Igor was right behind me and grabbed one of the loud mouths’ by the collar and smacked him across the mouth. And as several of the other bouncers came to my aid, I couldn’t help but smile inside as we watched the defeated pack of knuckle-heads fist pumping and yelling as they walked further and further away from the club.
It only took me one night of being a bouncer at a NYC nightclub to figure out that this job wasn’t for me. But I had agreed to work the weekend, so I fulfilled my commitment and showed up on Saturday night for round two at The Emerald City Dance Club.
The night was shaping up to be pretty uneventful, until a bunch of my friends from Queens showed up to support me at my new job. It was tough watching them party and not being able to join. They could see I wasn’t my cheerful self, so they started sneaking me cocktails. I was also getting drinks from my new fan club–the busboys–as thanks for coming to their aid the previous night, so it wasn’t long before I got a little buzzed.
Once I get a little buzzed, the music gets to me and I gotta dance. And when I gotta dance, I need some room to boogie. So I ditched my tie and cheap blazer and hit the dance floor. At some point Igor spotted me with a girl, drinking a vodka cranberry and out of uniform. “What are you doing?” he whispered coldly in my ear, and without thinking said, “I’m protecting the dance floor!!!”
“Enjoy yourself…but you’re fired,” Igor replied, and as he walked away, I drunkenly yelled, “Hey Igor, lets go roust some chickens!!!” For a moment, I thought he was going to kill me. Instead he laughed out loud for a second, then turned away and barreled his way through the crowd. A very tiny part of me wishes I would’ve gotten drunk enough for Igor to have thrown me out. I can’t help thinking that would’ve been the perfect ending for my life as a bouncer.
Back in the day, I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. So I tried everything. I figured out really quickly that I like hanging out way more than I like watching other people hang out. And while I hope to never “bounce” again, I don’t regret the one and a half nights that I did. I got a chance to work with Igor, Security Legend and the scariest human being I have ever met. I also got to fulfill my wish of throwing a drunken idiot out of a nightclub, headfirst.
NYC nightclubs have tamed down since the 1980’s. Steep cover charges, VIP tables and bottle service keep the riff raff out. I’ve hung up my “cheap” blazer and tie, but hold onto some pride knowing that, like Patrick Swayze in the movie “Road House,” I walked into The Emerald City to clean up the place, and I did… well, for night I did… a little.