This is nightlife, where everyone is beautiful, champagne pours like water and people quickly spend thousands. But this doesn’t just happen by chance, it takes the right person, and in our case a team, to filter a crowd and create the right vibe inside. If you have ever attended a nightclub in a major city, you’ve probably witnessed the infamous front doorman.
This person decides who gains access to a nightclub or party and this position comes with a few familiar but unspoken rules. Doormen have a reputation of being inhospitable, saying “no” just because they can, taking money at the door, and judging the crowd based off of looks. This position was notoriously held by a man; until we (VIPER by KCH) came around and decided to change the rules.
VIPER is an all female front of house operations and logistics team. We’re based in LA and almost two years old. We run the front entrance and guest check in for most major events in the city, as well as a popular Hollywood nightlife venue.
So what is it like to be a door GIRL disrupting an industry of door MEN?
It’s uncharted territory that comes with sexism but also the opportunity to shift an industry where women are either there to look pretty or pour a drink.
1. You often get the question: “Can I speak to your boss?”
Oh honey I am the boss… Whether it’s in line with my personal morals or not, my job is keeping the uninvited party crashers out. So when doing this, most people ask where my boss is or angrily demand to see my supervisor to go above me. Rarely does a doorman hear this because guests understand his position and authority.
Celeste Durve and Kelsi Kitchener
2. Prepare to be ignored
It is always interesting to watch people walk up to a rope and look over or around you to find someone “in charge”. A guests can look straight at us standing at the door with clipboards or iPads and still talk to any man they see before approaching a woman. Either they find a security guard or ask another guest who is in charge of the door.
3. It’s an opportunity to represent women in charge.
Typically venues and events end up male dominated from security teams, to management, to promoters. Being a door girl allows you to bring a feminine energy amidst a LOT of testosterone. VIPER Girls greet every guest warmly while maintaining professionalism and authority. Doormen have the reputation of being too aggressive too quickly, so we do our best to change that by treating every guest with respect (even those we have to turn away).
4. You Call Your Own Shots
Unfortunately, It’s common for women to endure disrespect to protect their jobs in any field; and the nightlife industry can be particularly derogatory. Being a door girl in charge comes with the unique capability to stand your ground.
When promoters get aggressive or guests make insulting comments, we have the last word on how the night ends for them. This is a small but important way of women getting stand up in an industry where they are normally told to stay seated.
5. Always a Good Experience.
We’ve had clients go from saying “a woman couldn’t run our door” to never operating without us there. At first glance, guests are surprised to see an all female team only to later tell us that their experience at the front enhanced their mood inside. We custom tailor our operation per our client’s specific needs and gratifying to see people recognize our value and strengths.
As door girls, we have a unique job full of ups and downs. Some nights we laugh and others we cry, but there is definitely never a dull moment.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.