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Bouncing the Bouncer

09.27.2006 | SOCIETY

In a well-intentioned but painfully misguided act of political correctness so oxymoronic as to unseat "jumbo shrimp" and "military intelligence" from the top of the list, New York City has signed into law a bill requiring training and certification for club bouncers. Can hookers and the homeless be far behind?

Don’t get me wrong -- I’m as much of a wuss as the next guy. I want safety and security -- in schools, offices, houses of worship, and at the intersection of 42nd Street and 11th Avenue during evening rush hour. I have even, over time, adopted the milquetoasty belief that yellow cabbies should drive under 75 miles per hour and stop at red lights. However, when I walk into a late night establishment specializing in eardrum-splitting sound and random pressing of the flesh, it is not really "safety" or "security" that I or any other patron needs. It is fear.

The whole point of a bouncer -- that is, a real bouncer -- is someone with origins unknown and limits unchecked. Take your pick -- a chatty, hyperactive, Frappuccino-slurping metrosexual with a license; or a strapping, anabolic steroid-shooting, HGH-gulping, sunken-eyed cave dweller without one. When the gentleman from Credit Suisse Bank takes one too many liberties during a lap dance, it is not "certification" that is required. It is overwhelming, paralyzing, brutal force. In fact, it is the implied threat of such force that will likely keep both white and blue collar hands off the merchandise in the first place.

It is a given that in this day and age, there is probably no stopping the screening, testing, certification, and codification of everything that moves and does not. Clearly, however, something must be done before we are left with a city full of retired librarian bouncers who took a course in nightclub security at the Learning Annex. The following, then, are a few suggested amendments to the City’s new bouncer law.

"Bouncer attire shall be tight-fitting and dark. Boots are mandatory, with metal tips required at all times. A minimum of three tattoos shall be required, with at least two showing during normal business hours and at least one signifying death, destruction, or membership in a violent cult. Allowable designs shall include snakes, skull and crossbones, and Gothic lettering spelling out Satanic slogans."

"Bouncer shall be missing no fewer than three adult teeth, at least two of which shall be incisors or bicuspids. A minimum of three gold teeth shall be required at all times while on duty. Bouncer shall have a minimum of two visible scars, at least one of which shall measure no less than 3 inches in length."

"Bouncer shall have a body weight of no less than 245 lbs., not more than 15 lbs. but not less than 10 lbs. of which shall consist of firearms, knives, chains, and body armor. Weigh-in shall occur within three hours prior to opening time and shall be performed and certified by a licensed weight trainer with at least one prior criminal conviction for selling or dispensing Androstenedione, "the cream," or "the clear."

"Bouncer shall at all times have an elevated level of testosterone, whether occurring naturally or clinically induced. Bouncer shall be subject to random testing for such levels no less than twice monthly, and upon failure to attain a blood testosterone level a minimum of 150 ng/mL above normal on any two consecutive tests shall be subject to a suspension of no less than 30 days."

"Bouncer shall be registered in use of the cue stick, head-butting, head-stomping, chesting, death grip, and depositing of clientele in a dumpster. Maintaining the bouncer’s license shall require 12 hours of continuing education courses per calendar year on topics to include body slams, dragging by the hair, use of brass knuckles, and plate glass window tossing. Bouncer shall be rumored to be having or have had personal relations with no fewer than two barmaids, cocktail waitresses, or coat check staff and must periodically demonstrate covetousness."

"Bouncer shall have served at least 18 months in a registered state or federal penitentiary within the previous 10 calendar years, at least 12 months of which shall have been served for a violent offense. Bouncer must be on active probation or parole. The final 90 days before termination of probation or parole shall be considered a probationary probation period, during which time the bouncer may violate the original probation and/or extend such period."

Of course, the central problem with any such code is enforcement. How do you bounce a bouncer? Anyone who can bounce a bouncer should have been bouncing in the first place. Therefore, who really but an ideal bouncer is equipped to hire and fire an ideal bouncer? Which points to the central fact of club life that no city law can ever really address. You don’t pick a real bouncer. A real bouncer picks you.

About the Author
Rich Herschlag is the author of a new book, Before the Glory: 20 Baseball Heroes Talk About Growing Up and Turning Hard Times Into Home Runs (HCI, 2007). His other books include Lay Low and Don't Make the Big Mistake (Simon & Schuster, 1997) and Women Are From Manhattan, Men Are From Brooklyn (Black Maverick, 2002).

Also an engineer, he runs a consulting business, Turnkey Structural, that specializes in the rehabilitation of residential and commercial buildings. Also a radio commentator, he can be visited at

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