The Bison Bouncer
Bar security is a lot easier when you’ve pushed around as many guys as LeeVon Perry.
By Turner Blaufuss
If bar security asks someone to leave, that person should turn around and walk out.
If LeeVon Perry asks someone to leave the Pickled Parrot, that person should run.
The three-time national champion North Dakota State University defensive lineman has spent six years working bar security, and, like football, being a 6-foot-4 280-pound dude makes the job easier.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Perry said. “You meet a lot of people and talk football sometimes. Usually there aren’t any problems, but drunken courage is a hell of a thing. In Fargo, 95 percent of the people here are happy, which is cool and the great thing about it, but you get those guys who are angry for some reason and they can’t help it sometimes.”
Perry, who studied family and consumer sciences at NDSU, works at Corwin Chrysler Dodge Jeeps Ram during the week and at the Parrot on weekends. The hiring process was quick at both of the bars where Perry has worked, and if he wanted to work at another one he could probably get hired by just showing them this video.
The once All-Missouri Valley second teamer enjoys reminiscing about his trio of national championship runs, but when it’s busy he has to end the conversation earlier than he’d like.
“It’s always fun when I have people walk up and say, ‘LeeVon?’” Perry said.”They’ll bring up football and I love talking about football, but now that I’ve run security a few times I’m running the front door so I can’t talk to people. They’ll sit there and want to talk to me, which is fine and I love it, but it can drag on and that keeps me from doing my job. I’ll tell them I appreciate it, but they didn’t come here to talk to me, so they should head downstairs.”
The nudging begins with the Bison fans and it picks up again at the end of the night. The official closing time is 1:50 a.m., and even though forcing some customers out the door is part of his job, Perry still makes a point to be polite while doing it.
“You want to do it in the most non-threatening way, ‘cause you want them to come back and everything, but sometimes you’ve just got to help them out of the bar,” Perry said. “I’d say we have to physically throw somebody out once or twice a weekend. Most of the guys we get are passed out from over-drinking. Usually you tell them, ‘Hey buddy, it’s time to go.’ Most of the time it’s fine, but every once in a while you get a guy from out of town that drank a little bit too much.”
An intimidating presence is needed to clear a bar out, so Perry continues to hit the weight room. He admits bar-goers aren’t the only people he wants to intimidate.
“I didn’t want to be that guy who stopped playing football and is now 400 pounds and can’t move,” Perry said. “That’s why I was doing power lifting and after my back surgery I decided to keep lifting because I’ve got a little sister, so I want to intimidate everybody she ever talks to. If I have a daughter, the same goes. That and I want my kids to see that I’m not lazy.”
Perry said when he was 19 he didn’t look quite as intimidating as he does today. His smaller size, paired with his then-understated reputation, might have been contributing factors to a beer bottle he took to the head when working at Old Broadway.
“I was 19 at my first bouncing job, nobody knew who I was and I was a little man,” Perry said.“I was kicking out some guy and his girlfriend came out of nowhere and smashed me (with a beer bottle). I was so confused. I didn’t really feel it at first when it broke. I was in the middle of everything and adrenaline was going, but I got him out. You get a couple stitches and you’re fine.”
To all the people who think they can beat up somebody twice their size: don’t try it with Perry. The guy was 315 pounds when he was on the Washington Redskins’ practice squad so he’s used to moving much bigger men.
The rest of the Parrot staff appreciates security staff for the many tasks they’re asked to handle.
“I saw a dude literally half of (Perry’s) height and half his bodyweight trying to fight him. LeeVon gently pushed him the first couple times, but then he just launched him,” said Samantha Frankl, a bartender at the Parrot. “I saw a guy the other day and I didn’t know what he was doing until I realized he was sleeping. LeeVon went and sat down next him and had to shake him.”
Even when he’s off the clock the former NDSU standout still attracts scrappers.
“Every time I go to Fort Noks sober, there’s a little dude that always wants to fight me,” Perry said. “His friends talked him out of it, but what about me made him think he could take me? Do you think I’m just big for no reason? I know that if I hit a weak jaw with any type of meaning to it, that’s going to break. If he wakes up the next morning and wants to do something about it, I’m going to jail because he’s stupid.”
Since Perry is used to shoving guys his size or bigger around, he has to make sure he holds back when dealing with someone who’s drunk too much.
“I haven’t had a problem with any big guys yet. I had an average-sized guy right after my wrist surgery. I underestimated me playing football and how drunk he was and he cleared the sidewalk and hit somebody’s car,” holy crap Perry said. “He was trying to swing on somebody, so I pushed him and I didn’t think it was that hard and my boss was like, ‘He’s not a 300-pound man. He’s a regular person.’ When he hit it I was thinking, ‘Please get up.’ He got up and yelled at the girl who was in the car, so he was fine.”
The towering Perry is hard to miss at the entrance, and apparently he’s pretty easy to spot inside the bar as well.
“(While bartending) I can always see (Perry) by the door,” Frankl said. “He’s just a monster through a sea of people.”
Although Perry enjoys getting to know the patrons, they shouldn’t expect a handshake at the entrance.
“I don’t like handshakes,” Perry said. “I’ve worked at a bar for six years, so I know people don’t wash their hands. Some people do, which is cool, but I’m not taking that risk. That’s a lot of hands to shake every night.”
Perry loves his job and all of the people he’s gotten to meet. He said he enjoys making money on the weekends instead of spending it. One day he wants to run his own bar in Fargo.
“When you’re security at any bar it’s so many different jobs,” Perry said. “Sometimes you’re a father figure and then you’re a psychologist all of a sudden. You solve everybody’s problems. I’m going to stay here and learn as much as I can. I’m not going to dive into it without knowing what I’m doing. Why not open one? What better place than out here?”
(Turner Blaufuss is a senior majoring in multimedia journalism at MSUM. He’s currently working as a sports editor for the Wahpeton Daily News and will continue to work in journalism after he graduates in May. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)