When the doorman is a woman

When the doorman is a womanFrankfurt, Jan 8 - Men who plead, or even whine, leave Heike Wingenfeld cold. A door supervisor at Sansibar City, a swank club, disco and bar in Frankfurt's bank district, she is a merciless enforcer of her boss's admission requirements, which could be summed up in the word "trendy".

Wingenfeld, 45, has been in the business for 21 years and claims the distinction of being Frankfurt's first female doorman.

Though she stands over six feet tall, mannish she is not. A blonde, extremely slim and exquisitely styled ex-model, she said that when it came to separating welcome guests from wannabes, her gender often gives her an advantage over her male counterparts, whom she calls "hulks".

"The problem with men is their feeling of power," she remarked. "They don't realise that the power is in the position and nobody gives two hoots about them personally."

Secretary to the state director of a large insurance company on weekdays, Wingenfeld does not take her sideline too seriously, describing it as "an amusing change of pace". She is friendly to all comers, even run-of-the-mill slobs in athletic shoes. But her standard rebuff -- "Unfortunately, you're not right for the club" -- is always firm and unsympathetic. "You get hard-boiled after all those years," she said.

As the door supervisor, she usually heads Sansibar City's security team and has seen a lot over the years. The worst thing that ever happened, she said, was a man throwing a punch at her that she just managed to duck.

She said that men who are denied entry generally reacted with pique ("Then I'll spend my money somewhere else!") and occasionally with an insult ("Slut!"). But rejected women behaved worse, she said. "They get totally bitchy."

A Frankfurt painter, whose familiarity with Wingenfeld consisted of small talk at Sansibar City, once sent her two pictures, she related. "My Darling" was written on one of them, and "Forever" on the other. There was also a proposal of marriage. Wingenfeld declined.

She stays in contact with her colleagues via a headset and is posted either at the front door or in front of the VIP area. People who want to enter the latter must be on the guest list -- or famous. They must also order something to eat or drink -- "champagne, at the very least," she said.

Among the celebrities who have showed up at Sansibar City are seven-time Formula One champion Michael Schumacher and German national football team captain Michael Ballack. Wingenfeld scans the club with her heavily mascaraed eyes. "Here comes a player from Eintracht (a first-division football club in Frankfurt), and there's one from the FSV (a second-division Frankfurt football club)," she points out.

Every night at the VIP door, Wingenfeld said, she receives about 500 pecks on the cheek from Frankfurt's hip, rich and beautiful. "Afterwards I've got all their fragrances on my face," she said. But that is part of the job, she added, as is "radiating good cheer even when you're in a bad mood."

"I call everybody 'sweetie' or 'sweetheart'. I don't want to memorise all the names," Wingenfeld said in her smoky voice.

Wingenfeld is so well known in Frankfurt that she wears dark glasses when she strolls through the popular Fressgass, or "Eat Street", which is lined with delicatessens, quality food stores, cafes and restaurants.

She is now converting her local fame and wealth of experience into a business venture. In January she is to open her own door supervisor school, offering courses in "how to select and handle guests correctly". As Wingenfeld sees it, "there are so many bad door supervisors". Club owners can also book her as a coach at weekends to evaluate the work of their doormen. (dpa)