With parties this week for French Vogue and Marc Jacobs, there’s no hotter spot than the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel. And that makes its doorman, Damion Luaiye, a powerful guy since guests absolutely must be on “the list.” An aspiring writer, former model and all-around nice guy, he earned his nightlife stripes as the gatekeeper to The Double Seven, the Meatpacking District’s answer to Bungalow 8. Here, he talks to WWD.
WWD: You have a reputation for being friendly even when you’re turning people away. Isn’t it a requirement of your job that a doorman be mean to the patrons?
Damion Luaiye: It’s funny, it seems to be the part of the job people love. They like that show. And the ones who are being rejected want a put-down to be able to come back at you. Also, the currency of the door is female. Nothing shouts a successful room more than having a bunch of beautiful women. Money, fame and celebrity are all secondary. So when you don’t let a particular woman in, it’s really personal. With guys, it strikes less to the core.
WWD: So have women offered you sex in exchange for admission?
D.L.: Yes. They don’t hurl themselves at you, but offers are made.
WWD: What else?
D.L.: There’s a whole scale of how people buy their way in, from soft to hard. At the top four or five places, straight-up cash doesn’t work. Certainly, I’ve never taken money. But savvier people know it’s about establishing and building relationships. It’s free food, it’s girls, it’s trips, it’s clothing. Good customers do find ways to say thank you.
WWD: Are there celebrities you’d rather not have at the Gramercy?
D.L.: Yeah. Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. We don’t have anything against them, but it’s not the direction we’re going in.
WWD: I understand there was quite a bit of drama with Paris Hilton this weekend.
D.L.: Yes, she came by Friday night and I turned her away. The Escalade or some tinted black vehicle showed up and her representative stepped out, came to the rope and said, “I’m actually here with Paris.” I said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do that.” A couple of minutes later, Paris steps out, walks up to the hotel entrance and jockeys with the bellmen there, who in solidarity refused to grant her entrance. She did a shimmy and a shake, but it didn’t work. She did pose for a photo with one of the guests, though. Then she got back in the car and it sat there for 15 minutes before taking off.
WWD: Only to return the next night.
D.L.: Yeah, she was invited, so I had to let her in. French Vogue was throwing a party, and she immediately started these antics, trying to get the attention of the entire room. She was climbing over a couch. Mischa Barton, who was very cool, was there. And I think Paris made her feel a little uncomfortable.
WWD: Have you ever been decked?
D.L.: Not yet.