Private dancers: Tales from the elevator security cam

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By Teri Karush Rogers  |
September 1, 2009 - 9:45AM

We are primmer passengers now that our elevator has a security camera, and that makes us wonder how others behave in closed-circuit captivity.

So we asked the people behind Virtual Doorman, which provides remote monitoring and doorman services to more than a hundred co-op and condo buildings in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

“You’ve got a combination of exhibitionist types and people who don’t think,” says Ralph Stein, the director of business development for Virtual Services, which owns Virtual Doorman.

He notes that men and women behave differently in front of the mirror.

“Guys are more worried about the things they’re going to get called out on, like checking their fingernails, straightening their ties, checking their nose hairs—I’ve even seen guys check out their chest hair, like opening one button or two,” says Stein.

“Women do their hair and look at their rear ends, making sure they’re looking slim from side to side,” he says.  (Nose jobs are apparently a gender neutral pursuit.)

Plenty of riders do the iPod boogie, and plenty of furniture delivery men scratch up the finish, give it a quick, useless spit polish and move right along.

Stein has spent a lot of time calming passengers trapped in broken elevators.

“I can see the guy is pacing and looks frantic and doesn’t know what’s going on,” he says.  “Sometimes I can talk to him through the speakers. If not, I try to reach them through their cell phone.”  (The company has extensive contact information for the residents of the buildings it works with.)

What about canoodling?

“You see some small private moments that might happen in the back of a taxi but probably not beyond that for 99% of the people,” says Colin Foster, a partner in the company and its vice president of sales.

Not so when it comes to the security work Virtual Services does for some low-income, Section 8 apartment buildings.

Stein recalls the time one landlord asked them to make a CD--dubbed "Elevator Lovin'" by the folks at Virtual Services--of a tenant who repeatedly transacted business (in efficient two-minute intervals) with prostitutes in the elevators.   

"We were requested to produce all the footage of the event and hand it over to the owner," says Foster.  “The idea was to get the tenant out of the building." 

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Teri Karush Rogers

Founder & Publisher

Founder and publisher Teri Karush Rogers launched Brick Underground in 2009. As a freelance journalist, she had previously covered New York City real estate for The New York Times. Teri has been featured as an expert on New York City residential real estate by The New York Times, New York Daily News, amNew York, NBC Nightly News, The Real Deal, Business Insider, the Huffington Post, and NY1 News, among others. Teri earned a BA in journalism and a law degree from New York University.

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