February 28th, 2015| Main Story by Sebastian Elliott
In part 3 of Sebastian’s story, he tells us about working with some of the major players in the game in NYC. Ricks, and Tens. RS
RECOLLECTIONS WITH SEBASTIAN ELLIOTT,
HEAD DISC JOCKEY, SCORES NEW YORK
abridged excerpts pertaining to an adult disc jockey employment history,
taken from ‘Master of Disguise’ – the Sebastian Elliott
After graduating from Scores ‘University’ (and realizing that I wasn’t going to replace any of the jocks already working there), I was ready to take on the world. Heeding Joe’s advice, I vanished from Manhattan for the first time in fifteen years so that I could, in his words, ‘make a fool out of myself elsewhere.’ By chance, I was asked to audition at Sin City – a beautiful, self-described ‘Vegas style’ mega club – in the South Bronx, of all places. Within the visit, they put me on the schedule, and within three weeks, they made me the head d.j. From 2003 to 2005, I cut my teeth in front of the most scrutinizing of audiences that took their hip hop and a new genre – reggaeton – very seriously. Every night, two to three hundred South Bronx locals were left wondering who the white boy with the big voice was. Working myself to the bone, for sure – logging very long hours, entertaining large crowds, watching as girls frequently tore each other’s weaves out, and occasionally running 13 (yes – thirteen) or more girls on stages at a given time.
As much as I liked working at Sin City and helping to ‘put it on the map,’ as supportive owner Gus Drakopolous frequently told me, I wasn’t making the money that i deserved to be making, and two years later, I got the call. The club that initially inspired my career – Ten’s – was in need of a disc jockey, and my name was thrown into the mix, due to an audition I had aced a few years prior. In 2001, while still training at Scores, I was called in, cattle-call style, for an audition – one I’ll never forget. After the audition, all of the jocks were asked to leave, and I was grabbed and asked to stay behind to speak privately to the owner. He and his general manager remembered me from my attendance at the club five years prior, and were happy to hear that I was finally ready to work. ‘Ya got talent, kid,’ he said out of the corner of his mouth, seemingly right out of a James Cagney flick. ‘Lotsa talent. Neva heard talent or a voice like dat,’ he added. ‘We’re not sayin’ dat you’re hired, but you got a foot in da door. A big one.’ ‘And one more thing,’ he added. ‘For when we do bring ya in. Da girls? They’re not for you. Rememba dat.’ Years later, I wish I had remembered. Fast forward to 2005, and I’m now working at Ten’s, although a far cry from its mid 90’s heyday, having closed the main showroom, in addition to being a shell of its former self in many ways. although I enjoyed working at Ten’s, and in fact, felt very welcome, in part due to my eager attitude, a supportive owner, and the fact that I was the first d.j. in its history to ever play hip hop, I found it difficult working there., I found it difficult working there. Within a few months of my arrival, the club was in transition between owners, and the new one regularly avoided paying people for their efforts, something that was no surprise to me, based upon the fact that the very same individual owed me money from running ropes for him a few years earlier. Seemingly every day, lawyers were filing class action lawsuits from entertainers who were unable to cash out their funny money, as well as promoters and contractors who were never paid. The club was barely running a dozen girls, customers were scarce, and managers were allegedly skimming the cash register every few hours. By the time I left, after a year’s service, the new owner owed me over ten thousand dollars in uncashed funny money in addition to the money he already owed me. When asked about it, he would tell me that it was my fault for having worked so much.
One day before I gave my notice, and two weeks before I left Ten’s, I received a phone call from Eric Langan, the owner of Rick’s Cabaret, one month after opening its New York City location. ‘Sebastian,’ he said in a distinct southern drawl, ‘I want you to take over the d.j. position at Rick’s Cabaret. We’re not happy with our D.J’s, and I really, really liked your show and professionalism when we stopped by Ten’s a few months back.” In a meeting that lasted until 6:30 in the morning, Eric promised me the lion’s share of the shifts at Rick’s, and red carpet treatment like no other. Unfortunately, once I began working there, these promises went directly out the window, and red carpet treatment quickly turned into moldy doormat treatment for five reasons – For one, the d.j. that I had to work with and take shifts from was none other than the d.j. that I had replaced at Ten’s, and his professional jealousy made my life miserable. Not only did he refuse to show me around the club and educate me on basics, such as the lighting system, the computer system, and even where breakers were located, he went so far as to regularly talk shit about me to entertainers, and erase my record cases and user profile on the house computer when I wasn’t working. Most importantly, he refused to give up the shifts that I had been promised by Eric before accepting employment. Secondly, management and ownership regularly went out of their way to denigrate all things new york, making fun of and refusing to hire other experienced N.Y.C. staff members, and strictly forbidding any hip hop to be played in the club. Their entire day shift playlist before my arrival consisted of classic rock, and I clearly remember an occasion upon playing a Beyonce song at midnight that both Langan and the regional manager ran up to the booth, noticeably agitated, screaming, ‘this is NOT Rick’s music!!! this is NOT Rick’s music!!!’ Thirdly, they only permitted jocks to use their non-user friendly ‘in house’ computer program, BPM, and required all d.j.’s to share the same horrible Shure beta microphone, compromising sound and passing on germs from one jock to the next over each brutally long, 14-hour shift. Fourth, the New York strip club terrain was in transition, and like a game of musical chairs, positions were opening, and personnel were jumping from one locale to another. That being the case, I was receiving four other offers simultaneously, and management at Rick’s knew it. Big John had left Scores with a team of his people to open Headquarters (and had even showed up to Rick’s with his crew to proposition me in front of management while I was working), Scores was finally offering me a full time position, and both Sin City and Ten’s wanted me back. Why this agitated management at Rick’s was beyond me, but they considered it a threat to have a real N.Y.C. jock that was in demand from every other club in the city working there. Finally – confirmed by the spineless manager who was tasked with firing me admittedly for no reason whatsoever – that ‘although the owner very much wanted me to run the show at Rick’s, the regional manager never liked me from the start for personal reasons, and had taken it upon himself to make life unbearable for me in the process.’ He added by stating that ‘although I had brought a new level of energy and professionalism to the club,’ they ‘suspected that with all the other interest, I’d be happier elsewhere.’ Classy. Several individuals had given me advice to stay loyal to Rick’s and decline the other offers, including Joe, Ralph, and Terrence Skelly – the General Manager of the new upscale Penthouse Executive Club, with whom i had formed a relationship ever since I had showed up there looking for a job years prior, and at the time, someone who gave me occasional valuable career direction. After unwisely heeding the advice, and mistakenly remaining loyal to Rick’s, there was only one thing left to do – diversify.
Stay tuned for the 4th and final part of the series! I’ll also be visiting Sebastian and all the other N.Y.C. Pandas the first week of March! Can’t wait to report back on PANDA life in the Big Apple!