If you've ever been to GoldBar, you're probably already familiar with Jonny Lennon because this notorious downtown doorman treats this gilded dance floor much like his own apartment: if you're not saying hellos at the velvet rope, chances are you're not welcome. But this humble Queens-born nightlife aficionado isn't much for the hype, so don't be mad that it happens to be his job to maintain the good energy pulsing through Manhattan's hottest Sunday night ritual.
Niteside recently caught up with Lennon about his day job at Deckstar, how John Mayer is actually a pretty chill guy and a dive bar set to open in the next few months from the GoldBar crew.
How did you get into the nightlife scene here in New York? I was a DJ in Queens as a kid. I grew up in Ozone Park and would DJ block parties, sweet 16s and all that. I used to sneak out of my house to go to Palladium, Tunnel and Limelight. I just got into the door scene recently. I had done it at, like, other clubs I worked at just to have control of the room, but as a partner at GoldBar I need that control of the room, so I do the door. What came first for me was Sunday night. We had a business model and Sunday started superseding the expectations of what GoldBar could do on any other night. So we started negotiating my position. I kept getting bumped up and bumped up, and now I'm a partner. I used to work the door when I was younger at Bowery Bar and stuff.
What do you look for in the people you let into the club? I just look for good energy, you know, well-dressed, not a lot of guys that are gonna want to fight. I just like to keep the room balanced.
So when you're not working, where do you hang out? I don't go out at all, but if I go out I go to Avenue because Noah Tepperberg is my brother -- he's not my real brother, but I look up to him and he's amazing at what he does. He's the only person that I really show love to. But I actually got a lot of love for the 1Oak guys too. I don't really go out ever. I work [at GoldBar] six nights a week, and then five days a week at Deckstar.
Before this were you going out often? Has working in the nightlife scene changed your lifestyle? Before this I was in a band so I took a break from clubs for, like, four years to tour the world with my old band, The Resistance -- now I have this new band called Lufthansa Heist. I used to live right here on Crosby Street, and I knew the owner and he told me to come in and all that s---, and I'd be like, "Nah, I don't go out anymore." But then, when I needed money, I started working here.
Have you had any particularly exciting encounters at the door? I've seen everybody. John Mayer comes in here all the time because he lives nearby, and he's the nicest guy in the world -- he's comfortable and cool and just chills out. But everybody's been through here, you know?
You tend to hang with a lot of DJs because of Deckstar, who are some of your favorites on the scene right now? My favorite DJ is Jesse Marco. I've known him since he was just a young kid, a teenager. He's still totally a young kid. He's on Deckstar on our imprint label 4AM. We have a record company together, we have a studio together, he's my little brother too, my little man. DJ Cassidy too is like a little brother to me.
In terms of competition in the neighborhood, is there a place nipping at GoldBar's ankles? No, I think we're unique in what we do. We cooperate with the other places like Southside and The Randolph, but I don't think there's any place over here that does what we do. There's nowhere else that has the room that we have -- our room is pretty sick, you know. Right now, we're looking into opening a small bar that's gonna be real cool but more of an actual bar with really great music and really big DJs since I own the two DJ agencies. So I'm gonna bring in all my DJs and help develop it in a bar scene.
Where is it going to be? And how is the new spot going to be different than GoldBar? I can't say, but it's close. I could point. It's right over here somewhere. I'm gonna have beers on tap. I wanna serve Guinness, I don't want it to be totally bottle service. I want it to be a place where younger kids can come and dance, it'll have a dance floor but it will be more of a bar. It's gonna be just a downtown hangout -- not pretentious. It's gonna be GoldBar the dive. I like the name Rise and Shine, I like the name The Lovin' Cup but there's one of those in Brooklyn already. At this point I have no idea what the name is gonna be. But it'll be open in a couple of months, by the summer. It's gonna be unbelievable. Jesse [Marco] will be DJing there, I'm making him a partner. It'll be really cool. It's gonna just be a grimy bar with a fireplace and brick everywhere. I want it to be really cozy.
With all this other stuff in the works, do you want to keep working the door? I actually don't enjoy being at the door that much, and now as a full partner I'm not doing it as much. But I get the room from the door, I understand what's going on because I'm the way in. Most people I let through the door, I know already or have associated with. I don't really let strangers in -- I treat it like my living room. Like, if I'd let you in my house, I'll let you into GoldBar. It just takes some good character and good energy.
Who would you like to see walk in through the door that hasn't yet? Joan Jett -- she's a good friend and she hasn't come in yet. You better put this in the interview because I want her to read it [laughs]. She's just so busy since she just produced The Runaways and stuff. They should all be coming in after their premiere party.