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Head Doorman ("Bouncer"​)


worked approx 2-3 yrs give or take during the period 1963 - 1967-68


Some Background:


I was known as Dennis. Worked as sole Doorman and then with my late friend Cookie Harris. Seven nights a week we worked the door at the Sorrento & the PowderPuff (formerly Mexicali) for then owner Johnny Koolman.


Started working at the Sorrento as backstop for Robbie Woodman ("the Pirate")​, when their bouncers quit. The Pirate was known as the Head Doorman, but in reality I was his hammer. I nicknamed Robbie "The Pirate"​ because he had a hooked hand and he walked with a limp (I believe as the result of a motorcycle accident); and he had those big nosed swarthy pirate features. Robbie collected the money, I took care of the troublemakers. The Sorrento was in two halves, "Hell"​ where the live bands played and "Heaven"​ which had a jukebox.


Trouble wasn't so frequent at the Powderpuff so we would work the Sorrento where trouble was frequent. Big time wrestler Powerhouse Joe Komene was the official "Head Doorman" at the Poof. Joe collected the money, but when they had trouble at the "poof"​ they would ring the Sorrento, and I would run the nearly half a mile to get there and sort it out, then I would run back. I was super fit.


Johns father Anton Koolman, a famous wrestler, had established Koolmans Gym in Wellington before he passed away in 1953. It remained a mecca for visiting professional wrestlers, and in-between training and championship bouts the wrestlers would often frequent the Sorrento and the Powderpuff. I was never into wrestling, but Cookie hung out at the gym now and then.


New Zealand musical icon and film star Bruno Lawrence started his drumming career at the Sorrento in a band called "The Measles"​ (with a name like that it's no wonder they didn't make it big). Many of NZ's top entertainers performed live gigs at the Sorrento. Peter Sinclair had his 21st party at the Sorrento, and Ray Columbus sang there as well.

Approximate Dates - worked about 2 - 3 years between 1963 - 1968


Head Doorman ("Bouncer")


Some Background:


In the days I was known as Dennis. Worked as sole Doorman and then with my late friend Cookie Harris. Seven nights a week we worked the door for the Sorrento & the Powderpuff (formerly the Mexicali. I was to young to work there when it was the Mex) for then owner Johnny Koolman. As the name implies the Powderpuff was a Tranny (Transvestite) bar. Despite that, (or perhaps because of it), it was a hugely popular Wellington nightspot. Generally it was never as violent there as at the Sorrento, so we would police the Sorrento and I would run the half mile to the "poof" whenever they phoned. Then I would run back. I was superfit.


Between training and championship bouts the wrestlers would often frequent the Sorrento and the Powderpuff.


Big Time wrestler & Taxi Driver Joe Komene was really the head doorman - he collected the punters money while we took care of the trouble. But who would bother Joe? He was only about five feet seven tall but six foot wide... each of his legs weighed more than a draft horse....


The resident band at the Mexicali until 1962 or thereabouts was "The Trademarks" with their jazzy rock sound, Malcolm Hayman lead vocals & guitar. I was a bit of a street kid and at age 14 I used to hang around the door every night until they would let me in or I could sneak in. The Trademarks ruined me for bands - they are still my all time favourite. They were extremely popular with queues forming at the door every time they played. Hayman had arrived in Wellington as a member of the Maori Hi Fives showband. After the Trademarks broke up Malcolm formed several bands before finally forming Wellingtons first "Supergroup", Quincey Conserve, resident band at the Down Town club. Bruno Lawrence did a drumming stint with the band and wrote several of their songs.


Head Of Security.

January 1971 - July 1976 Ran the Security at the Newfield Tavern, Invercargill. Two of my team were my late friend Len "Lenny" Kendal, & ex Australian Pro Boxer Phil Wallace.


June 1982 - January 1987 Head Doorman at Christchurch's Lancaster Park Hotel. Took over the security role when my old mate from Invercargill, Lenny Kendal gave up the security role and moved over to Bar Manager.


Close on 5 years with a great owner, Don Threadwell, untill Don sold the Bar and located to Kaikoura. I was subsequently called back in to establish and train the security team for the new owners.


Don was straight up, called a spade a spade, and never faltered to back me in any decision I made. I controlled the bar, end of story, and I know he never regretted it. Although our roles were that of employee and employer, Don was an incredibly loyal friend to me, as I am sure he was to all his staff. In fact Publicans are the finest group of people I know; I've yet to meet a poor one, or one who interfered with my role. Maybe I was just lucky.


January 1990 - December 1995 (6 years) (Approx Dates) Head Doorman at Christchurch's legendary Irish bar, Warners, with the best boss and host one could ask for, and a genuine Irishman as well ... John McCarthy - and of course the indomitable Dee. Warners, the most well known bar in Christchurch, watering hole to many international sports teams and personalities, including the visiting Irish rugby team, the British Lions, the Wallabies, the French, and the Springboks; McMurdo Sounds personnel, Rock & Metal bands played there, as well as Country & Western. Many of New Zealand's top musicians and up-and coming talent played there during this period - and before!


Warners was a melting pot of musical talent and rich in diversity of clientele. Gang members, criminals, drug dealers and hookers rubbed shoulders with journo's, politicians and businessmen, tradespeople, of-duty police, and the unemployed. Denims stood at the bar with suits; short back and sides between mullets and dreads; It was a wonderful place to work. One of my team mates; the quiet but formidable Nick Adams.


Xmas 2004 - January 2009 Mickey Finns & Rockpool Christchurch - back with my old Warners boss John McCarthy


January 2009 - February 2011 Transferred across from Mickey Finns/Rock Pool to The MadCow January 2009. In 2011 the Christchurch Earthquake decimated the city hospitality sector, essentially ending my hospitality security career that spanned

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