Everyone thinks celebrities have it all. Fame, fortune, and get into the most exclusive nightclubs to party with other celebrities. But upon seeing the club’s staff working their butts off, the celebs who haven’t let fame completely go to their heads might sympathise with the stressed out staff as they were once in their shoes, trying to work in the crazy environment that is a nightclub. For some of them, working at nightclubs helped them become the big shots they are today!
1. James Gandolfini
James Gandolfini was a bouncer at the on-campus pub at Rutgers University while studying as a student there in the early 1980s. He moved on to nightclubs in New York as a bouncer, bartender and eventually the manager. He surely patted down his mobster act by impersonating the shady mobsters he no doubt encountered these nightclubs. You can just picture him being a wise guy to people he wouldn’t let into his club.
2. Vincent D’Onofrio
The Law and Order: Criminal Intent star worked as a bouncer at the Hard Rock Cafe and various nightclubs in New York City during the mid-1980s to make ends meet as an up-and-coming actor. Apparently one time, an angry customer once broke his nose by hitting him in the face with a ketchup bottle. Wonder if he used the deranged psycho face he pulled in Full Metal Jacket to scare that guy off?
3. Mr T
Mr T was a bouncer during the mid-1970s at a Chicago nightclub called Dingbat’s. Being a bouncer paid off in 1982 when he competed in the World’s Toughest Bouncer contest; Sylvester Stallone just happened to watch it on TV and offered Mr T the part of his opponent in Rocky III. Just to think, there probably are plenty of dickheads in Chicago bragging about fighting with Mr T trying to get into Dingbat’s and say “I was barred by Mr T! I pity the fool who hasn’t!”
4. Jean-Claude Van Damme
When Van Damme first moved to Los Angeles to make it in Hollywood in the early 1980s, he did a variety of odd jobs, one of them being a bouncer at a nightclub that Chuck Norris of all people owned.
5. Alec Baldwin
Alec Baldwin was a bouncer/busboy/bartender around 1979, at the infamous New York nightclub Studio 54 no less! He would often have to fetch cigarettes for the gay men partying there who kept making Alec do this so they could hit on him. Eventually it was also the hetero stuff going on there that made Baldwin leave, who claimed working there made him “perpetually horny”.
6. Vin Diesel
Diesel claims he came up with his stage name while working as a bouncer at the New York City nightclub Tunnel because the bouncers there didn’t use their real names. Diesel produced a web series about the lives of bouncers called The Ropes, so he’s still making money off that part of his life.
7. Bruce Willis
Willis was a bartender at New York nightclubs Chelsea Central and Kamikaze in the early 1980s while trying start his acting career. While tending bar one night, he was seen by a casting director who liked his personality and needed a bartender for a small movie role.
8. Ellen DeGeneres
DeGeneres was a bartender in New Orleans in the late 1970s while also doing other joe jobs before becoming a comedian. She often uses anecdotes from her bartender and pre-fame days in her stand-up comedy.
9. Sandra Bullock
Bullock worked at a Manhattan nightclub for three years as a barmaid, cocktail waitress and coat checker at a nightclub. I wonder if Bullock got any inspiration for her performance as an alcoholic in 28 Days from the drunkards she’d see every time she was at work?
10. Dolph Lundgren
Lundgren was a bouncer at a Sydney nightclub in the early 1980s called Jamison Street (the nightclub of Sydney at the time) when he lived there while earning a master’s degree in chemical engineering and continued this line of work when he moved to New York as a bouncer at the Manhattan nightclub The Limelight. It was at the Sydney nightclub where he met then huge pop star Grace Jones and they dated for a while.
Originally published here at barsandnightclubs.com.au on Tuesday 27 March 2012