Home guards

Some jobs have cachet. A New York doorman may not earn much, but he meets the rich and famous and knows the city's secrets. By Tessa Souter. Photographs by Gigi Cohen

Occasionally, I flick through the "apartments for rent" ads of The New York Times, in preparation for the day I can afford to live in the manner, if not manor, to which I would like to become accustomed. My fantasy apartment has air-conditioning, wood floors, huge floor-to- ceiling windows, tons of built-in bookcases, and a fireplace. But most of all, it has a real New York doorman. Not a male model type, like the one who, on my first visit to New York's Royalton hotel, grabbed my bags, catwalked me to my room, swung open the door, caught sight of himself in the mirror, gave a small scream and - dashing my bags to the ground - ran to the mirror and cried: "Oh my Guard! Look at these age lines!"

No, real doormen don't wear Armani. They wear uniforms and caps and loiter benignly outside, or in the foyers of posh apartment buildings, being generally helpful - opening limousine and taxi doors, shovelling snow in winter, and practically carrying old people to their cars.

My dream doorman is a heavily wrinkled, favourite uncle type who knows my name, dispenses relationship advice, tells me he likes my outfit when I'm on my way to somewhere important, and receives packages so that I don't have to spend two hours in the post office picking it up the next day. And, as Karen Salmansohn says (the author of How To Make Your Man Behave In 21 Days Or Less, Using the Secrets Of Professional Dog Trainers) - "My doorman doesn't care if I'm all sweaty from the gym, or all dressed up for a first date. He's always pleased to see me"

Carlos Slores, 58, doorman at 945 5th Avenue I used to work in a bank, but it pays more here. I meet beautiful people, like the girl taking these pictures. What I don't like is the hours. I work in the evenings, so I miss going out with the beautiful girl taking these pictures.

Marcos Carrasco, 27, at 43 West End Avenue I was leaving school and the super [superintendent] called and asked if I wanted the job. That was six years ago. I've never had any trouble. People are nice. This isn't a fancy building, just your typical middle class.

Adis Feratovic, 20, at 455 W. 34 Street My uncle is the super. My twin brother does it, too, so we do different shifts. I like the hours because in the morning I can go to college - I'm studying criminal justice. I want to join the FBI. My brother is going to be in the FBI, too. The worst thing is the money. We're not in the union and we earn very little.

Bill Kearns, 63, at 300 W. 23rd Street I've been doing this for 27 years. I earn $31,000 a year, plus overtime. Great medical benefits. I get the mornings off. And it's not hard work. I make sure people don't go upstairs that doesn't belong. It can be awkward when I ask them to leave. They might give you a buncha mouth. But most will be cool.

Toavorus Freeman, 29, at 435 W. 23rd Street Debbie Harry lives here. I got my last birthday on video, and Debbie Harry was there. I work 4pm to lam, and I go to the gym by 12 and spar. My social life sucks, but I want to turn professional fighter so I can make a million dollars.

Owen Smith, 50, at 1045 Park Avenue I was a bartender once, but the lifestyle was too fast. The best thing about this job is my co-workers. You got porters, handymen, cleaners. We watch the fights together, go to dinner together. The only thing I don't like is shovelling snow.

Noel Rodriguez and Raphael Nuez, both 38, at 11 E. 86th Noel: We've had to chase burglars away a few times. It can be frightening when they come with a bat or a stick in their hands, but we don't usually have any trouble. I miss the tenants sometimes when they move out. Certain ones. They're nice to you, so you're nice to them back. Raphael: I'm very busy. I gotta go!

Stephanie Mark, "20-ish", at 1050 5th Avenue I'm saving up to go travelling before graduate school. I am moved by Arthur Miller's endeavours to broaden his view of the world by putting himself in situations. I'm writing some short stories about my experiences. Some people are afraid to say too much to me, but others tell me family problems. I couldn't tell you what. That would be betraying their trust.

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: HR Assistant

    £17447 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation is a leading centre fo...

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Case Handler

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Trainee Case Handler is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Junior Sales Apprentice

    £15000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £20,000 - £60,000

    £20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence