An evening with New York's most legendary gorilla (2023)


A night on your doorstep with the legendary porter.

Von Emilia Petrarca,freelance fashion journalist and former Senior Fashion Writer at Cut

Outside Temple Bar which reopened last month.Photo: Poupay Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet

An evening with New York's most legendary gorilla (2)

Outside Temple Bar which reopened last month.Photo: Poupay Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet

An evening with New York's most legendary gorilla (3)

Outside Temple Bar which reopened last month.Photo: Poupay Jutharat Pinyodoonyachet

It's Friday night in Manhattan and the weather has started to turn cold. A group of twenty-somethings on the corner of Bleecker and Lafayette, the leader of the group, dressed in black boots, high-waisted jeans and a black cropped top, her blonde hair styled in loose curls. You go to the door of Temple Bar - the newly opened oneCenter de BemelmansThey hark back to the heyday of '90s glamor and big martinis, with a flourish that suggests they're not used to being stopped.

"Do you have a reservation?" asks Disco, the bar's two-meter-tall bouncer, hands in his pockets.

"No," says the captain in the short blouse.

"You need a reservation," Disco replies calmly.

She asks how to make one and he explains that she can call the bar. Then the woman tries to find a number on Google, or a Resy link or something, but gets nowhere, or reserve a table at the push of a button and is frustrated. Disco reiterates that unfortunately she and her group are currently unable to enter without a reservation.

"But you told me I could make a reservation," she replies irritably.

The accusation, or maybe it's the tone, doesn't sit well with disco: "II did not do itof this."

Eventually, the group realizes they're not going to win and walks away, little knowing that they've just gained access to a different kind of club: the thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of New Yorkers who have been politely turned away for the goal per slice

Anyone who came out in the late 90's and early 2000's knows disco when they see it. He worked on the doors of various bars and nightclubs in New York for about 25 years, most notably Bungalow 8, which he says still has the honor of being "the strongest door in town." Carrie Bradshaw once described it inSex and the Cityas "a totally pretentious, small, crowded, members-only club that you need a key to get into". Club founder Amy Sacco distributed membership cards to a select few, but Disco helped manage the rest.

"That was really the best," says Sacco of Disco's Bungalow 8 days. "He just has a great sensitivity and kindness." She trusted him to be her eyes and ears, managing the crowd outside, never too many men, while still scouring her for the 'right' people. "He was the one who looked and saw if anyone fit the image we were trying to build," she explains in her polite way.

This, of course, included the rich and famous. Bungalow 8 was known for being a safe place where VIPs like Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton could relax undisturbed. ("There's oneStorythat we reject Paris, but never reject it,” Sacco clarifies. "I think he came in once at 5 a.m. and we were closed."comparedfor your "living room".

Because the room was so small, each person entering had to bring something special to the room. Good looks and money certainly helped, but even that wasn't a guarantee. Sacco recalls banning billionaire Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban one night: "I'm sure he's a nice guy, but I brought 30 guys in golf gear," she says. "We couldn't let him in."

It was disco that had the difficult, and sometimes awkward, task of telling these people:Not tonight. "Because of its size, it's an intimidating sight if you're not familiar with it," explains Sacco. "But people respect him because he's a gentleman."

By day, Disco is a family man, originally from Brooklyn. He wasn't exactly a club boy growing up, "but I've always been fascinated by the guys on the door," he says. He recalls reading the profile of a security guard in a Sunday magazine, "a white guy from Long Island," and realizing they weren't just "big guys kicking people out."

He got his first club job at a place called Vibes on Flatbush Avenue. There he met a man named Thian who was so impressed by Disco's strong handshake that he asked if he would like to work at Don Hill across the bridge on Sundays. The biggest difference in Manhattan? "You're dealing with money idiots you can't say no to," says Disco. "You are likeNO? You know who I am??"They're trying to buy your ticket. Most of the time he manages to ignore her, but sometimes it gets worse. He tells me that one of the worst things anyone said to him after being denied entry was, "I could buy you, sell you, and buy you back if I wanted to."

"You can't be nice to everyone because they take advantage of that," he says. "That's why you have to have tough skin sometimes."

After Don Hill's, disco opened doors at places like COOP, Chameleon Lounge and Life, which opened in the West Village in the late '90s. Hence the name, when the security chief at the time told him in passing, "You're bigger than the damn disco." The following week, "Disco" was on his paycheck and the name stuck.

While working at Chaos in East Houston, Disco met Armin Amiri, whom he calls "one of the best bouncers in town." Amiri was on the cutting edge at the time and Sacco hired him when he opened Bungalow 8 in 2002. Amiri brought Disco on board and became something of a mentor to him.

"When I got to the bungalow, Armin said, 'Do your homework,'" Disco recalls. Before his shifts, he watched shows likeentertainment tonightand study famous faces. (He doesn't talk about the celebrity run-ins, but when I mention George Clooney, he replies with a smile, "Georgie!" That says it all, perhaps.)

Spotting celebrities is the "easy" part of the job, Sacco says. The real challenge is getting to know the regular customers, the people on the list, and those who might beI couldMay be. "That's how a great place works," he explains. "Knowing the energy balance of the room and when you can and can't make an exception for someone."

Disco's shit detector is naturally tuned, but he also has an eye for style. "Do you know what I'm doing? I look at someone and see the clothes they're wearing," he says of his vetting process. "That's how I know."

On the evening we meet outside the temple, Disco isn't in the expected security uniform — "I've worn black for so long, I hate it," he says — but a head-to-toe polo with padded Ralph Lauren Jagd coat over the top. An avid sneaker collector, he highlights his pristine white Pharrell Human Race Stan Smith adorned with pink laces.

Everywhere he's worked, Disco tries to enforce an unspoken dress code. "I don't believe in shorts," he says. "Don't come at me like you just got out of a campfire." Fashion has relaxed over the years, but it's always been a struggle. "I mean, you had a few celebrities, I won't name names, but they walked into the bungalow in their pajamas like they just got out of bed." he denies with his head. "They said, 'Puck! The?' And I said, 'Just come in, man. You're good. But oh lord.

He is fondly remembered by those blessed with disco over the years. "People come up to me now and say, 'Thank you! Thanks to you, I met my wife',” he says, laughing. (Disco also met his wife at the bungalow.)

But of course the people who don't make it try to work their way in; Disco heard everything. People used to show a business card to prove their worth. It was like this "Find me on Google!Now it's all about followers. "You've got really young rich assholes now because they're all Instagram millionaires," Disco sighs. "I was working somewhere and one of the security guys asked for this girl's ID and she said, 'Excuse me? I have a million followers on Instagram,” she recalls. "We have a lot of it. Everyone is an Instagram star. But it's likeyou are not a star,you are on instagram. A bunch of nerds sitting in front of computers staring at you. You are not a celebrity. Forgiveness."

Temple Bar, which reopened with new owners last month, is an attempt to restore the secrecy and privacy of the original. Other than the signature chameleon skeleton, there is no signage outside and the lights are kept low so anyone who dares to pick up their phone is immediately highlighted. When one of the bar staff approached Sacco to ask who could help set the tone at the door, he knew there was no one better than Disco. “That immediately gives your club the golden seal,” she says. "If I come back, he'll come back with me, so you better enjoy it while you have it."

For his part, Disco says he likes Temple Bar's "more mature" clientele, some of whom are Bungalow 8 veterans, and his hours are slightly earlier than at 1Oak, where he worked as a security guard before the pandemic. Checking vaccination cards is now part of his job, but his attitude hasn't changed. "The way you approach that door, that's it," he explains. "I don't want to hear who you are, how much money you make, or who your family is." Ultimately, being an arbiter of good energy is his job, and he takes that responsibility as seriously as ever. "Just walk out the door with common sense," he advises newcomers. "If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you."

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A night on the doorstep with New York's most legendary bouncer
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