I Can Smell the Money, Honey

In New York, and especially in Manhattan, you can practically smell money. You can tell people have a dough. And when I say dough, I mean loads of dough. A few days ago I had a chat with a bouncer at a New York night club – let’s call him John. I was stunned. It was right after New Year’s Eve, so I asked if he worked on that day. He replied that yes, he always does since the money is good. That’s how we got started. Not only does he gets his regular paycheck for the security agency he works for, but he also gets “extra” money. He told me fake IDs mean money, too – when a bouncer confiscates a fake ID, their owner usually would pay up to $100 to get them back. John told me that those kids always pay. They usually study at NYU and have loads of money, and they will pay whatever amount you throw at them. New Year’s Eve is one thing, but clubbing nights offer even more opportunity to make money – people will pay for getting into the club for less than the official rate ($25 for the bouncer instead of the $40 ticket). They will also pay to get into a club that is difficult to enter because of special guest lists (popular in NYC). Those prices can get really steep; depending on the venue and the looks of a particular person. What’s interesting is that the club owners usually know what is going on, but they look the other way since they make their real money on selling of booze. In effect, if their employees make a little extra on the side, they’re happy and they work better. There are clubs where bouncers make as much as a few thousand dollars in a single night.

John’s single biggest night came when he made 10 thousand bucks. It’s no surprise, given that he used to be a bouncer in a VIP zone at a club where one particular table of British guys was spending about 80 thousand bucks a night. He was always tipped for minding the table and for sending attractive ladies its way, just to have fun and free drinks with the guys (it wasn’t about sex). The ladies were on their way before he finished talking. When I asked John who those people were, he told me mostly sheiks, rappers and drug dealers. A real hit was a story of a bouncer who made 180 thousand dollars in a single night, at a bar visited by a bunch of NBA players following a game (John swore it was a true story of his friend who actually showed him the bag of money). My jaw dropped to the floor when I talked to him. I couldn’t wrap my mind around all this. 

Recently, I ended up at a club called The Box in Lower East Side, which is difficult to get into and which has a bottle service table starting at $2-3 thousand. The price is supposedly adjusted to how you and your party look – the better you look, the better you make the club look, and so you pay less. We made it for free since we knew whom to call, but the price is authentic. In case you’d like to order a bottle of vodka, it’s around $300, and if you’re a party of several people, you have to take several bottles.

You do the math of how much a club makes in a single night. As for me, I was a bit dazed.