If you want to visit one of the most legit metal places in New York City, stop by Duff’s on Marcy Ave in Williamsburg. It has metal on the jukebox, has hosted Slayer, and always has its famous hearse parked right outside. Jimmy Duff, the owner, is about as real as they come.
How and why did you become involved in your line of work? What would you even call what you do?
I had spent enough time working and hanging out in bars and nightclubs to know for sure what I liked, and what I didn’t like. An opportunity came my way – what did I enjoy most? Drinking, and heavy metal music. There you have it. I wish had some profound statement for you, lol, but that was it. It was 1999, and there wasn’t anywhere in NYC that catered to me, or my “tribe”. It was something I had trained to do my entire life, but didn’t know it until then. What do I do? If I had a job title, it would probably be “Ringmaster / Scarecrow / Psychiatrist.”
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliffs Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake.
It starts with a couple grams of blow, and tumbler of whiskey. That’s probably the perception, but the reality is a lot more mundane, and includes vomit and diarrhea splatter. Every day is different though, and that’s the way I like it. That’s the days. The nights are considerably more fun. That’s the payoff.
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What do you find most fulling about your work?
It’s probably most fulfilling to see people really enjoying something that you’ve created. Something that was once a thought rattling around in your head, to take it, and make it a reality, one that other people get off on. That’s a trip.
What is your proudest achievement with this work and what is your greatest challenge?
What is my proudest achievement? I don’t know… I generally don’t entertain that type of thinking. I just do the best I can, on a daily basis. The reality is, I’m just glad to be here today, and I know, just like everything else, it could all end tomorrow. The biggest challenge is trying to stay a step ahead of, and survive gentrification, while running a business “gentrifiers” don’t understand. Gentrification is like a giant tidal wave that swept over Manhattan, and now is in full force in Brooklyn. I’m just rowing my boat as hard as I can, trying to stay ahead of it.
What do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field in the future?
Nightlife in New York is strong, and should mostly remain so. Without complaining, I mean, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to how small businesses are treated in this city. Either you take the good with the bad, or get the fuck out and be done with it. It’s going to be interesting though, to see what happens in the future with generations that are now growing up with a computer (basically the whole world) in their hand. That, and decriminalized, almost legal, marijuana.  
Who would you nominate for this list?
They certainly don’t need the acclaim, but, right down the street, Peter Luger’s. They’ve been around since 1887, and everything they serve is absolutely top freakin’ notch. With food that good, they can get away with the bare bones decor too.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.
Photo by Maggie Shannon. 

1 COMMENT

  1. Jimmy is the greatest host there is- and the wildest bar around is my home away from home- DUFF’S is a haven for loud, obnoxious, crazy, wild, kickass, music and the people are just as sick. You can be anyone you are its accepting of all as long as you a metal fan- Dont forget to kiss the dummy !!!!

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