This weekend, meatpacking club Tenjune will be an after-party spot for movies being shown at the Tribeca Film Festival. One person who knows to expect guests like Mariah Carey, John Cusack, and Hilary Duff is doorman Aalex Julian. Over the course of a few years, he worked the doors at Cain, Pink Elephant, Home, and Guest House before being brought on by Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum to open Tenjune. He tells us he’s one of maybe four doormen in the city who are in a position to negotiate their compensation (he gets a shift pay per night in addition to a percentage of table revenue) — part of the reason he’s now been manning the club’s doors for nearly two years.
Who are the other top doormen in the city?
Armin over at Socialista is now not a doorman, but he still has a lot of say over who gets in; Wass has his thing going at Marquee; Ben from 1 Oak, who’s young but he’s good and he has a lot of potential; and that’s it. The test for Ben is how he matures — it’s very easy to get a big ego.
What assets were you bringing to Eugene and Mark when they hired you?
As far as table service and table revenue goes, I’ve worked with the top places: Cain, Pink Elephant … I had my own client list and contacts.
What’s the percentage of people you let in versus the amount you turn away?
On weekdays you get 300 to 400 people total [getting in] during a night, and I’m turning away a good 200.
How many promoters do you use? What’s their role?
It depends on the night. A lot of promoters are good with models. Promoter X might bring twenty, 25 models. Another might bring five, ten models and five or ten just normal, good-looking girls.
If you’re not a model, what’s the best time to show up?
If you show up just as we open, that’s your best bet. I don’t want to have some of my tables walk in to an empty room.
How should they dress?
Dress how you feel comfortable and look good. I know who’s wearing something when they’re just trying to impress me, as opposed to someone just wearing a nice pair of jeans, a nice pair of flats, designer sneakers, a blazer …
What reactions do you get when you turn people away?
We’ve all gotten the “I’m so-and-so and you won’t have a job tomorrow.” I’ve gotten death threats. I’ve had people follow me home. I make my mistakes, but 80 percent of the time I do know who you are, or more importantly I do know who you’re not, or what you’re not. I know what’s important to the venue and you might be on the inner or outer half of that equation.
Have you ever been starstruck by any of the celebs you’ve met?
The only person that I’ve encountered that I felt awe over was Michael Jordan. Someone had said something to me in a threatening way and I said something back and he said, “I like your toughness. You can be on my team any day.”
Do you keep close tabs on the male/female ratio?
You have to. On a weekday you’re going to get less people but better quality than on a weekend. You don’t want to have 80 percent of one of anything — we want girls, guys, models, celebs, athletes. Just like our music is a mixed format. It’s a mixed bag of goodies.
How tight is the rope on Tuesday, your toughest night?
We close the back part of the room. We’re going to let in 200 to 250 of the best, whereas on a Friday and Saturday we’ll let 400 people in. Tuesday is more about quality.
Is there a list then?
There’s a list every night but in the two years I’ve worked there I’ve never had more than ten to fifteen people on the list. We’re not the type of place where we’ll have this promoter give us 200 names.
Have you ever made a bad mistake?
At Pink, I got the little guy from Entourage [Kevin Connolly, who plays E]. He showed up in the Hamptons with ten or twelve guys. The thing is he’s tiny and he was literally the last one out of those ten or twelve — I never spoke to him. They never mentioned his name until we had already had an awkward exchange. That was something I got a lot of grief over. Celebrity or not, I don’t know what someone is doing with ten guys trying to come into a club.
Do you stand a better chance of getting in if you buy a table?
No, no, no, no. That would be a prejudice — because you have money you can do something the regular Joe can’t. That’s one thing people respect. You could go somewhere else and spend $2,000 and get away with things. But you’re expected to act, dress, and behave a certain way whether you’re having two drinks or getting a table.