Nice Guy in Nightlife

Jay Brown advertises through texting.

Imagine a job where your prime, daily duties consist of attending clubs, ensuring the presence of leggy models and reserving tables in VIP lounges across New York.  As an image promoter, Jay Brown does exactly this.  Though most who attend his events are thankful for the deals he cuts and the venues he secures, few partiers are aware of what promoters like Brown actually do and why.

As a graduate from NYU’s Stern School of Business and a volunteer at non-profits, such as the Harlem Mentoring Association and the Ulster Project International, for the past 9 years, Brown demonstrates personality characteristics that defy many pre-conceived notions of promoters.  When he’s not working out at a local boxing gym, he is spending time with his little sister at his childhood home in New York.  “Even as a kid, I was the guy to help people,” said Brown.  “Families, friends, old ladies across the street—superman kind of stuff.  It sounds corny, but it’s something I’ve always done.”

Promoting, like many nightlife industries, requires a base of networked connections in the community before one can earn an income.  After organizing events in college for various student groups, Brown was encouraged by club bouncers and friends to professionally pursue his entertainment hobby.  He has now worked in the industry for 5 years and has earned a reputation as a well-respected entertainer, securing weekly venues at popular clubs like Greenhouse, Juliet, Veranda, Marquee, Nikki Beach and Kiss-and-Fly.

Though money is an incentive for promoting, reportedly yielding up to $80,000 annually and up to $100,000 for event planning, few understand the source of this income.  “I’ve always wondered how promoters got paid,” said Aleksandra Debicki, a weekly club goer who has attended some of Brown’s more recent events.  “Do they make commission based on the number of people who come or the number of nights they bring people in?”

According to Brown, ‘promoter’ is an all-encompassing term for a variety of jobs.  Although formerly a party planner, he now works as an image promoter.  Image promoters are paid by the club to bring the ‘beautiful’ crowd, like models, foreign girls and generally attractive people, to high-end venues by offering discounted or free admission to selective clubs through advertising over facebook and text messages.  He meets the girls at the door of each club around midnight, sometimes having to stagger party times in order to host multiple events, and walks his guests inside.

Despite the physical beauty standards for the girls on Brown’s list, his crowd varies daily, ranging from university students to industry workers.  “The crowds during the weekdays tend to be entrepreneurs or people who are in the entertainment industry, like models or designers, because they have irregular hours,” said Brown.  People with set careers tend to relax on the weekends and spend time with their families.  They’re like, ‘I’ve been in the office for 10 hours, so I’m going to get 2 or 3 drinks before I go home and start again.’”

Bottle-service promoters are specifically provided with money to serve liquor and collaborate with image promoters to advance the overall experience of the guests and atmosphere of the club.  More general promoters are paid for the amount of people they bring into more generic clubs, like Webster Hall and Pacha, and bars, often earning all promoters a reputation as event pushers.

Though Brown’s satisfaction in his work is derived from the happiness he delivers to his friends and clients, frequent partygoers in New York, like Wes House, tend to associate promoters with the louder, pushier kind.  “When I think of promoters, I think of solicitors blatantly throwing out flyers and sending annoying facebook messages and invitations,” said House.  “I have like 5 or 6 on my facebook, but I get at least one message or promotional invite a day.”

Although stereotypes can be misleading, Brown’s positive outlook on promoting may be the exception rather than the rule.  Matt Cuba, a well-known producer and promoter for Feed the Starving Artists, a large event company that supports local artists, comments on the reality of most promoters.  “A common stereotype of promoters is that they’re sex enraged, drug using alcoholics with no social life other than partying every night,” said Cuba.  “Is it true?  For the most part, yes.”

Largely due to this grimy reputation, Brown hopes to eventually branch out into event planning.  With a steadier income source and a more corporate-like atmosphere, Brown would assist clubs and wealthy customers directly to organize the kind of clubs he now brings people to.  “Being a promoter is a good segue into getting into that field,” said Brown.  “But it’s one of those businesses where you have to know someone already starting a club or even know somebody just to get an administrative position in an office.”

Brown, regardless of his potential job change, is definitely set on staying in the industry.  “I always enjoyed helping people,” he said.  “People are really happy when you can show them a good time, and I appreciate it when people can see that I’m a nice guy.”

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About Jenna Haines
Jenna Haines is a writer, editor, and communications specialist based in the south. For fun, she writes about health, fitness, travel, life, and brunch. Jenna's professional work has appeared in a variety of magazines, such as Men’s Fitness, CityScope, HealthScope, and Holly Pinafore. She is also the founder of Chattanooga Brunches, the #1 brunch directory in the scenic city. Jenna studied journalism and psychology at New York University, where she graduated Cum Laude in 2013.

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