In the New York City club scene, there’s really only one thing (or one person, rather) standing between you, the club-goer, and your desired nightlife destination. No matter what you’re wearing, who you’re rolling with or whose guestlist you’re on, the man at the door gets the final word as to whether or not you’re getting in, and most of the time it’s rare that you’ll even know his name.
Rich Thomas, however, is one of those names you may recognize being that he’s been in the nightlife scene for more than a decade. But even if you don’t know the name, you’ll surely know the face if you’ve ever been to, or gotten turned down from, a well-known NYC nightclub by the name of Avenue.
It’s a tough job facing liquored-up partygoers on a nightly basis, often getting abuse or threats from the irrational few denied entry, and it’s about time the hard working doormen of New York City get some credit. Whether it helps your chances of getting into Avenue, or just helps you get to know one of the hardest working doormen in NYC, we’d like to introduce you to Rich Thomas. Learn the name and a little bit about the man behind the name – just don’t call him “Richie” (he hates that).
Clubplanet: How did you get started in this profession?
Rich Thomas: I began doing some party promoting in college and then about a year after I graduated, a friend asked if I wanted to work the door for a weekly party he was doing at a new club. I said I would give it a shot and it worked out well, so I continued to do it and one thing led to another. That was 1997.
Clubplanet: What is your favorite part about your job?
Rich Thomas: I get to see lots of friends while I’m working. It makes the night go by very fast.
Clubplanet: What is your least favorite part about your job?
Rich Thomas: My least favorite part of working the door is that I sometimes have to say no to friendly acquaintances at the door. They are nice people, but for some reason or another they’re not able to gain entrance on a particular night.
Clubplanet: What are your personal favorite nightclubs in NYC?
Rich Thomas: Avenue, Marquee and LAVO.
Clubplanet: What’s something people might not know about you?
Rich Thomas: I’d like people to know as little as possible about me, so if there is something they don’t know, I prefer to keep it that way.
Clubplanet: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen while working?
Rich Thomas: You don’t often see “crazy” stuff at the door, aside from people who are upset for being denied entry. They sometimes act very irrational, say outrageous things, or make physical threats, or they yell racist obscenities, say they’ll get me fired, etc.
Clubplanet: What is the worst line you’ve ever heard from someone trying to get into the club?
Rich Thomas: People are not that creative with regards to throwing out lines to get in. Perhaps it’s because the initial blow to their ego (the denial) knocks out their creativity.
Clubplanet: What celebrities have you met while working?
Rich Thomas: I’ve met tons of celebrities over the years. Everyone from TV stars to Oscar winning film directors.
Clubplanet: Anyone in particular that you’re a big fan of or who made you completely star-struck?
Rich Thomas: I don't really get star struck, but it was cool to meet Lawrence Taylor and Oliver Stone.
Clubplanet: Have you ever made the mistake of not recognizing someone famous at the door?
Rich Thomas: It once took me a few minutes to recognize Hillary Duff, but she didn't make a big deal about it and was very nice.
Clubplanet: What do you do in your free time?
Rich Thomas: In my free time I hang out with my wife and our new son and/or friends. I also read lots of nonfiction.
Clubplanet: What is your favorite book? What book are you reading at the moment?
Rich Thomas: My favorite book is The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism by Naomi Klein. I’m currently reading Hopes and Prospects by Noam Chomsky.