Is it especially irksome when you feel like the dudes responsible aren’t about that life? Knowing that you probably seen some real gangsters handle their shit before, does it bother you to see these privileged, celeb types acting up?
It’s amazing. I send messages back and forth from two of the biggest Mafia families in New York City. Like straight out of the movie. These guys are in suits, slicked hair back, serious giant fat guys that fit the mold. Straight-up Mafia and those guys know how to control themselves. You know, there’s a way of doing everything. In New York City, if you have a problem with somebody, there’s a way of handling it. The whole point is innocent people should not be put in danger. That’s my main concern. That’s the thing that’s killing me about this whole situation.
[Tony Parker] came back and said, 'Yo, Ruben, Mary J. Blige is here.' I said, 'Yo, I already know.' It was crazy. Everybody was just having a great time that night. It was unfortunate to end like that at 4 in the morning. It was not fair.
The Australian girl got hurt. That other model girl got hurt and just got stitches. People got hurt. It’s just terrible. I’m never going to get Tony to ever come to one of my parties ever again. This reflects on me now. It’s just how it is. He was absolutely amazed when he saw Mary J. Blige. He went crazy. He came back and said, “Yo, Ruben, Mary J. Blige is here.” I said, “Yo, I already know.” It was crazy. Everybody was just having a great time that night. It was unfortunate to end like that at 4 in the morning. It was not fair.
Even Sinatra was on the microphone. I never saw him do that. It was a good time. People were enjoying themselves. Maino was there. Maino’s crazy. He’s been in jail or whatever. Maino’s a real dude from Brooklyn. I don’t like to use the phrase “about that life.” I’m about 40 years old, man. I seen dudes who aren’t about that life do some crazy shit. I know he wasn’t about that life, but he went in that day. He wasn’t playing that day, he had enough. Anybody from the New York City areas can be about that life. That’s how we was raised around the block. There was nothing sweet going on my block. My whole family is in jail. I don’t consider myself about that life, but don’t push me. You feel me? I gotta do what I gotta do. It’s just New York City urban survival shit. But these guys—fighting over girls and Rihanna—it’s just stupid man. It doesn’t make no sense to put people in danger over that. It’s stupid.
How long have you been in this business? Where have you been? What have you done? Obviously, there’s stuff out there on the Internet, but I prefer hear it from you.
I started going to nightclubs in Manhattan in high school because we had the best basketball team in the nation that year. We were treated like kings in New York City back in those days. We were let into the clubs at 15, 16, even 14. Some clubs in the Bronx I went to. I was always employed by nightlife. When I was finished doing what I was doing, playing basketball or doing what I was doing during my 20s, I eventually gravitated towards being in nightlife. Jonny, he was already a promoter when he was 17 so he put me on and I promoted with him for years. I found my way at the door through Stereo and Mark Baker and Steve Lewis gave me opportunities to do doors in clubs. More recently it would be places like Rivington and Juliet. I even did the door at Webster Hall just for the experience.
I do my thing a little different from all these doormen that come from Europe and they have to be prestigious. They have to work with the most prestigious people in the world. Noah Tepperberg is my man. I love Tepperberg. I haven’t worked for Tepperberg yet. The timing isn’t right. I feel like this job is amazing and interesting and why not spread it out and see all different types of parties and cultures? That’s how I feel about it. I can handle any party. That’s what makes a real doorman. I look at it differently. Of course, I’ve just been around nightlife all my life and there were years when I’d go out every single night and party. That’s just New York culture growing up. That’s how I know Ruddy for 15 years. Ruddy was doing it too. That was just the place to be. New York is a little crazy now. Maybe I feel a bit older. I don’t feel as hyped as I was before about it, but the energy is still out there in New York. Nightlife. It’s still good.
These guys—fighting over girls and Rihanna—it’s just stupid man. It doesn’t make no sense to put people in danger over that. It’s stupid.
What do you think about the energy now? Of course, there are some positive things going on here. You’ve been a part of one for the past six months. But there’s also the “bottle service killed New York” argument. How do you feel about the way the scene has transitioned?
I’m mad that there’s a lot more places to go than there used to be. That’s the difference. People spread themselves out a little more. Back in the day, you would go to Bungalow, you would go to Marquee. Then you would go to Bungalow and Marquee. And then Kane opened and Guest House. Guest Room. Whatever. I don’t even know their names. People started to spread out and that’s just how it went. It’s not even like a person who couldn’t get into Bungalow 8 and then went to Death House. No. They are in a group of five. Somebody in that group of five knows a guy at Death House and somebody knows a guy at Bungalow.
Now it’s like, “Then we go to Bungalow and then we go Death House and then W.i.P.” I’m just using the names of those clubs to use as a reference. People have a lot of places to go and a lot of support. It’s about support. People come and see me and they show up for a couple of hours and support me. They show up over there for a couple of hours. That’s just the way it’s becoming at this point. Loyalty to the venue is really low.
It seems like people used be eager to become regulars at a spot and now it’s more about “Yo, I can hit all these different places.” Not, “I’m the dude at this one place.”
Yeah, there are stages to the night. Let’s say we go to the hottest spot in New York. We get in there at around 12:30, 1. There are stages. The first stage is sober. Everybody is pretty much sober. The second stage is everybody is drunk as fuck. The third stage is you’re trying to get laid. You miss those stages in the venue because you’re doing stage one and then you are doing stage two at another venue. And now you’re drunk in the street. That creates danger. Then you’re at another venue. It’s just crazy. It’s really chaotic now. Then you end up in the last venue when you do stage three and it’s pretty much wild because you’ve been all over the place and you don’t know what’s going on in there. It’s just crazy.
Would you argue that there’s a certain appeal to this new style of clubbing?
Let me tell you something. Let me tell you one thing before I forget. You can quote me on this, definitely. When we went into Life nightclub in New York City, it was a commitment for the night. We went through stages the whole night. We went in there when Larry Johnson hit the three pointer for the Knicks and he was in there doing the L and everybody was doing the L. Hov was in there. Nas was in there. It was crazy. That was a commitment. Grandmaster Flash was on the wheels. Ron Artest was in college. I remember it vividly. That’s a commitment. Steve Lewis is at the door. That’s big time shit. Mark Baker works there. Everybody works there. It was crazy. That’s a commitment. Those things don’t happen anymore.