At bars in Texas, only one person stands between you and taps of the local pub - the door person, better known as the "whiskey keeper" in rural places like Bowie and Archer City. He's or she's the one person you most want on your side as the night progresses. And while some door keepers and bouncers live only for the power rush, many others tend their posts with equal parts watchful eye and welcoming personality. Here are ten of our favorites, in no particular order.
Tim Ziegler - Granada
Former corporate lackey, now Venue Manager of the Granada, Tim has been living and breathing the club life since playing in a local band. Growing tired of "CEO bullshit," he eventually volunteered barbacking at Elm Street, Tattoo X-mas parties at Curtain Club and a few shifts at Club Clearview. When he landed at the Granada, he decided "to work as hard as I could and never return to the corporate world." And it's paid off.
Rhett Breon and Jared the Door Guy - Prophet Bar
"Going to shows back in the day" became a common motto among door men/women. And this next door/parking lot guy on the list has enjoyed plenty of shows at the Prophet Bar. Rhett has been working the door, parking area and whatever else his bosses need him to do. "For me it's more music that I've seen," he explains. "This UK band called The Whores was amazing, and AWOL Nation right before they exploded was cool." And when it comes to music, door guy Jared - who's been at the club for five years now - agrees with Rhett: "The girls dancing on the bar when the Lumineers played" was one of his most memorable experiences.
Eric Murry - Reno's Biker Bar
When your dad owns a bar, the last thing you'd want to do is stand at the door and greet the assholes who enter the establishment unless you're running from the law or hiding from your ex. Eric has been watching his father's door for about a year now. He recently moved back from Las Vegas, but no - he's not running from the mob. "I just love people," he says and smiles. "People make me happy, so I enjoy making them happy." Since working at Reno's, Eric has seen some wild things, but the most exciting moment, for him, is when patrons stand on the small, not so-sturdy tables and try to dance like strippers twirling around a stripper pole. "I'm there to be their 'fall catcher.'"
Veronica Hernandez - The Clubhouse
How can we talk about the best in Dallas without including "Dimebag" Darrell Abbot and his brother Vinnie Paul's all nude bar located just off Manana in Dallas? Veronica, who grew up listening to Pantera, has been greeting people for four years at the Clubhouse. "We're a very close knit family," she says. And families go through things together -- once a stripper charged at Veronica and one of her co-workers, brandishing a shoe. "Karen, a waitress, was trying to dodge the shoe-wielding stripper while giving a customer change." Veronica survived and continues to greet people with an all-knowing smile of the pleasures that await the eyes on the other side of the metal door.
CJ Evans - Three Links
This Mohawk fiend is a Marine who knows how to handle drunken insurgents terrorizing Three Links. Actually, he just smiles and diffuses the situation with his optimism. "Just with my military background, I'm good with attention to detail," he says, standing as if he's addressing a fellow Marine. "At ease, dude," says the bartender. CJ smiles and relaxes. This veteran loves the rowdiness of the shows. "It's really cool to see people come in off the streets and let loose."
Dustin Arcos - Trees
No, he's not a Chip-n-Dales Dancer, nor is he a CHIPS officer. He's a door guy at Trees, and probably one of the coolest guys ever to throw you out of a club. Dustin's been guarding the various bar doors in Deep Ellum for more than four years now. "Sometimes people get out of control, out of hand," he says. "Last Wednesday, this guy went bananas and pulled out a knife on me." Dustin took the knife away but didn't call the cops. "I just had to make sure my life was okay first." Looking at the large door guy, one could easily assume the other guy wasn't okay when Dustin finished with him.
Sonny - Travis Disco's Basement
At this basement club, two things are certain: the ladies are beautiful, and Sonny the Door Guy will thump you if you disrespect them. "I'm a fighter, not a lover," he explains and smiles. Sonny's been guarding doors for three years, beginning in the Los Angeles area. Although he's not a big guy, Sonny's swagger is sure to cower most drunks. Tattoos ranging from Catholic symbolism to words written in cursive - a dying art - encircle his neck like a hangman's noose; but it's his laid-back, don't-fuck-with-me attitude that keep people in check and returning to dance through the night.
Anthony Streeter - Galaxy/Curtain Club
From a band attacking one of their fans to police in full riot gear, this next bouncer has lived through moments of tension that would cause the rest of us to succumb to our fear. Using kindness instead of his fists to diffuse most situations, Anthony would calm situations with his reason instead of his NFL-linebacker size. "The situation is to determine who's the aggressor," he explains. "I never walked into a situation anticipating or looking for a fight." These days Anthony is fighting a different kind of aggressor: Multiple Sclerosis. "In the back of my mind, I'm thinking that every day would be better," and then his legs quit listening to his brain. "I couldn't stand anymore." He's been living at Parkland hospital since July without medical insurance or the funds to pay for his care. "Hopefully, in a couple of months, I can return to work. I don't know. I might even be able to come back to Deep Ellum."
Sean Leseman - Curtain Club
This guy is a permanent fixture around the Deep Ellum scene, and since 1999 he's been working at the Curtain Club. Sean's graying hair and beard distinguish him, as if he were a sage of the club scene instead of a gatekeeper. "Why does anyone get involved in the bar scene?" asks Sean. "The next thing you know, it's 20 years later." With the passing of the previous age, Sean has seen his fair share of memorable events but nothing like the '99's Y2K scare. "Everybody thought it was the end of the fucking world," he says. "And, of course, at the stroke of midnight the power goes out for 30 minutes." Thankfully, Sean was there to guard the whiskey from the ensuing madness.
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John "Beard" Brewer - Formerly Club Dada
The Godfather of Door Guys/Girls and bouncers is as mysterious as the Jedi masters of Yavin 4 (such a crappy name for a planet). Like Sean Leseman of the Curtain Club, Beard's been part of the Deep Ellum scene for 20 years. Six months ago, he left Club Dada. "The word around the campfire," explains Sean, "is Dada didn't want him anymore." They couldn't afford to pay him the salary Beard desired. "So they had a mutual parting of the ways." Trying to find Beard for this article was an adventure. "I haven't seen him out in a while," said one door guy, while another claimed: "The last time I saw him out was after he left Dada and he popped up over at Trees." In fact, door guy after door guy from the Boiler Room to the Room all shook their heads and gave some kind of elusive description that started with "I think" and ended with it, too.
See also:Cruising for a Bruising: The truth about Deep Ellum crime (2003 Feature)