Damn it Feels Good to be a Gangsta

Much like any other single female in today’s contemporary life, I was poised to finish a Lean Cuisine and retire to the couch for an evening of Law & Order. Or not! Instead, I had my clipboard in hand and was ready and standing at one of the hottest of the hotspots. I was at the biggest “at the moment” trendy nightclub amongst the glistening lights, and equally glittery starlets in Hollywood. 

Similar to the days of Studio 54, I was part of the door crew, the elusive doormen that may or may not let you in based on your appearance or how much you were willing to grease us to guide you to the front of the line.  I was a more threatening a foe than the over 6′ plus two-hundred fifty pound dudes standing around me.  Why? Because I held “the list.” Yes, “the list” that you were either on or you were not.  I guarded this list with my life, and I was heavily guarded by the aforementioned muscle.

Standing at just barely 5’ 3”, for years I was always told I cast a slight presence. I used to think this was a flattering reference to my small frame.  At some point, though, I realized this compliment wasn’t so flattering, a suggestion that perhaps I was barely noticeable at all.  I didn’t set out to be “noticed” per se, but evidently as the years went on, my shyness gave way to unabashed ballsiness.   

To be known in Hollywood at all is a feat in itself.  Everyone is struggling to be seen, to be noticed, to be discovered, and at the club door, they were struggling to be seen by me.  I was known through Hollywood as “The Sergeant” as I would stand at the door quietly, before projecting in my loud booming voice “$20 to join us, $0 to go home!”  They were all so threatened by my presence, but wouldn’t they laugh to know that was just my “cheerleader voice”. 

Thousands of people would cram into the parking lot at the entrance to da’ club, trying to look their prettiest, trying to be the coolest, trying to catch a glimpse of a celebrity, and all in vain attempts to get inside.  The VIPs were escorted in immediately, because while they appeared to be special, they were really just people that were stupid enough to pay $800 for a $40 bottle of Vodka.  There were the actual celebrities and the ones that played an extra once on Mad Men and thus considered themselves celebrities.  There were an actual slew of “regulars”, those that actually formed a bond with you from door-to-door, club to club.  There were club promoters, and sub-club promoters, and sub-sub club promoters, all trying to get their people in, or people purportedly on “the list”. 

But ballsy as I was, this particular night I was just annoyed.  Annoyed at you and your entourage, annoyed that my feet hurt, annoyed that promoters were yelling at me, annoyed at the entire evening!  I wished I was home, perhaps curled up on my couch watching Law & Order.  I listened to your pleas. I listened to your whining. I took your money and then guided you towards the cashier to pay the mandatory $20 cover charge.

And then she walked up, let’s call her “Amy,” seems appropriate since I didn’t know her name nor cared to then or now.  “Amy” was accompanied by her friends, a few other girls in tacky Forever 21 dresses, carrying knock-off designer handbags, and wearing $200 shoes.  They had probably spent their entire day at the local mall shopping for their ensembles, all leading up to this amazing, fantastic unforgettable evening.  “Amy” and the gang made it through the velvet rope and they were primed and ready for their grand entrance.  She walked up to one of my bodyguards to charm herself into the club.  I asked her, as I asked everyone else, whose list she was on?  She ignored me.  I asked again, “whose list are you on?”  “Amy” looked at me and said “who the fuck do you think you are?”  Who am I?! “I’m the reason you’ll be getting into this establishment tonight or not,” I replied in a polite yet sardonic tone.  Perhaps to be expected, “Amy” told me to “fuck off” and continued to flirt with my bodyguard.  All the annoyances of the evening caught up to me in a flash and I lost my cool. In a second, I cocked my arm back and I clocked this chick square in the jaw.  She stumbled back, completely stunned, then lunged at me. Her friends quickly followed into the fray, as my bodyguards swooped in. A group of screaming, kicking, girls in Forever 21 dresses were forcibly escorted off the property.  They were yelling obscenities, they were threatening law suits. But one thing was sure: they were not inside the trendy Hollywood hotspot, they were out on the street.

I barely knew what had happened at all. My stature forever changed, I was no longer cutting such a slight presence.  From then on my bodyguards referred to me as a thug, fist bumping me with respect. I smiled slyly to myself for the best part was that nobody was ever on “the list”, not a single name, just blank sheets of paper hidden by a top sheet, my body, and my clipboard. Damn it feels good to be a gangsta. 


Just Janelle


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