Ray the Bouncer

Ray the Bouncer, by KK
Detail from an early 80s Harbour Cruise flyer by Karl Kaufmann

PK: I was 13 and ray asked me age and i said blabla 12 4 56 and goes well mate that would make you 29 and you dont look it so fuck off now you little shit

EST: got thrown out by Ray one night for stinking like amyl i’d spilt so much on my tartan bondage pants it was wiping out the punters downstairs…just hung around the front and drank port with possum

CM: I got thrown out by Ray every Friday night ’til I turned 18. I used to hide up the back downstairs and get others to go to the bar for me.Ray would eventually find me while doing the rounds and say”YOU…OUT”

AT: 6 skinheads pile in the front door, all start beating up Ray, they actually get Ray on the floor and kick the shit out of him, we (a bunch of tripping/ speeding/ drunk/ stoned/ etc punks) make it stop. We help Ray up (4 of us) – not a mark on him, I mean his glasses were crooked that’s it. Ray says “well they’re banned”.

KW: Good Ol Ray, I remember him coming up to me wiping the blood from his hands on hi t-shirt and saying, God I hate violence. He also saved me one night, when someone decided to beat me up, by pulling them off me and chucking me in a taxi, I was doing nothing wrong at the time.

WM: I crossed Ray once at the door. That was one time too many. The next week l came back and apologised profusely and he looked at me like l just stood in dog turd and gave me the slightest nod of his head. It was like being admitted back into heaven, which it kinda was.

LS: He was all bark ! Pussycat at heart really. Not surprised by your story, not one bit.

JR: Ray worked at French’s at night and studied psychology during the day. Yes he was a pussycat at heart – he actually visited me in hospital.

LS: Did he? That’s so lovely. I always thought he was driving a taxi during the day. Perhaps he did both.

JR: Well I can only go on what he said. Maybe he did all three.

MR: Maybe he studied psychology in his cab…

JN: He did all three part time.

CM: He definitely drove a taxi.We got in it one day.

MM: I know he drove cabs. Flagged one down on Oxford Street around 1987 to send a girl home. All during the trip, to the North Shore, he regaled her with stories about how I was this good guy. Certainly made an impression on her, thanks Ray wherever you are.

DW: I loved it when visiting Frenchs, in Rays daze, hearing him tell a spellbound audience of punks/skins and whatever, how he was in the SAS or something similar and about his daze in Vietnam, I loved Ray but the only army he would have served in was Salvation Army. He told people what they wanted to hear, it was funny.

RP: Yeah… I heard his stories of having bamboo sticks shoved up his fingernails by the Commos in his duty in Vietnam!, hmm.

DW: It was 100% Certified Bullshit. He was never in the military. But because of his size people wanted to believe him, top guy.

JG: I used to see Ray driving taxis in the late ’80s (when I was driving taxis). He’d grown even bigger.

RP: Arr, who cares!, lol, he was a nice big fella!, I liked him, always looking out for us kids at the time, but you had to hear his stories!, lol!

DW: Please dont think I’m bagging him, we were friends, but he liked to entertain, and really did care for the people there.

RP: Of course not … it’s all fond memories!, good laughs!

SG: Saw Ray the bouncer get abused by some guy when a couple of skins (Spider and Aero from memory) punched and kicked him (the guy notRay) out the door and up Oxford st. About half an hour later blue lights lit up the doorway with the first cop through the door being the one that threatened to break mine and my mates legs if he saw us again. We were identified as a problem simply because we were punks. Ray ushered Spider and Aero out the back door so we followed too and all four of us ended up in a quite spot opposite while the cops searched the place. When they finished we went back.

PF: Ray saved me from a beating also. God bless you Ray. Played there many times.Loved the place. FLEX was the band.

SF: Ray held me out of my own vomit many times!

EG: It was the bouncer ray a gentle giant and so funny……weighed 160 hs and 190 cm Yet he did philosophy at uni and was quite protective of the punks , he used say I am king of the punks even those he lookd like a old biker * *songs were written about him …one I rember how many lamb chops have you eaten ray 40)) andh e hated skinheads

JS: I once heard a story that ray use to empty half the bottles of spirits into a take home bottle and replace the half full bottles with some other stuff. What we were served at Frenchs is anyone’s guess.

LS: I’m thinking that may have been an urban legend regarding Ray and the spirits. Never happened when I worked there and not because we policed it. Ray wasn’t even that much of a drinker that I recall. Would wander in a few hours after we set up for the evening, plonk himself on a bar stool close to the door, get up occasionally walk outside, rinse repeat.

AD: I know he was working as a cab driver in the early 90’s. Was his customer on about half a dozen times. I heard he had health issues and ceased to see him around the traps. What a great fella he was to all of us Frenches punters!

JR: Yes, but where is he now?

SS: If you’re wondering what happened to Ray the Bouncer. Here’s Ross Rossco MacDonald’s post from the Sydney Punks & Skins f/b page….apparently Ray the old Doorman /bouncer from Frenches way back when is still alive and kicking and has a live radio program in South oz…a learned colleague has just informed me…and Ray remembers all the old punks/skins and hard rockers by name.still….posted 10/09/2014

LF: Thats cool, where ever he is he was fucking brilliant and deserves nothing but happiness.

MC 09/08/15: Hi, just wanted to let you know that Ray Spillard was my uncle. Sadly he died about 8 years ago of respiratory illness. He was still living in Redfern when he died where he had been living for as long as I can remember. Ray was in the navy and served in Vietnam but I don’t think he spoke of it much. He was a taxi driver and did study sociology and psychology. He was a colourful uncle (and used to let his underage nephew sneak into Frenchs) I’ve enjoyed remembering him through your website.


RP: R.I.P Ray..we used to call him Uncle Ray too.)), and used to tell me some stories of his duty in Vietnam, miss you Ray, bless you!!

BJ: Although i never met the bloke it’s really inspiring to hear of what he did with his life. It just shows that nothing is impossible.

CM: rest in peace Ray,even tho you tried to run me down in your cab!!Bwaaahhaa!!

MW: Ray was a good man. He once told me a story about being called out by a young fuckwit who wanted to fight him. Ray told me he could see that the dude wanted to double-kick and he warned him, “Don’t try the double-kick.” The idiot tried it anyway and Ray simply stepped out of the way with one hand under the feet and landed him flat on his arse.

SG: I liked Ray. Hope he knew he was remembered by so many.

SM: barred for life for being the worst drug dealer at Frenches, boy he got me wrong there. I was one of the worst drug consumers, guilty as charged. was underage of course, he sprung me snorting crank on a beer can and said ‘Your barred, your underage. I laughed and said ‘Ha ha its my 18th birthday, ner ner ne ner ner. Vale to a good foot soldier

JS: I suppose we all know that Ray and other people from the Frenchs era could be not with us anymore but until we receive confirmation that they aren’t we tend to hope they are. I suppose is this like the whole frenchs thing that we quietly say to ourselves we wish it was all still going. We all can reminisce about the different frenchs experience’s.

EG: RIP I liked him,,,,

AJP: RIP Ray. He cured my mates hiccups one night by sneaking up behind him and picking him up and placing him on the bar. Then he got his face in real close and snarled “have they gone yet?” Worked beautifully, great sense of humour.


DP: RIP Big Ray, a very patient man to be putting up with us for so many years, got a lift in his Taxi years after French,s and he still remebered my nickname,and we had a great talk and laugh about his door days.

LAC: RIP big fella. Had a couple taxi rides with him in the post-Frenchs years and reminisced about those bygone days.

TN: WoW thats amazing ~ R.I P big fella

HE: wrote a piece for the smh on frenchs. paul told me during the interview that ray was studying psychology. years later i got in ray’s cab outside work one night, and he said words to the effect of, “i could never quite get it in my head that you were a journo. it makes me wonder what hidden talents the rest of you halfwits had.” i replied, “that’s funny. ’cause we all felt the same about you and yr psychology studies.” we laughed all the way to stanmore.

ST: Sad to hear; he was great bouncer – never saw him hit anyone, though. I got barred (was there anyone who didn’t at some stage ?) but went back a couple of weeks later and no more was said about it.

SM: we were the perfect anthropological study for his psychology thesis,

DL: Ray was a very good man and he saved Me from gettin cut & bashed a few times… Hope he’s enjoyin a glass of port in his spirits new home…

MM: RIP Ray, a true gentleman in every sense of the word. If you believe in heaven he’ll be waiting at the pearly gates with St. Peter, so fucking behave yourselves or you’re barred!

RP: I was attacked by some bull dykes, and he was right there!, to help me, and all I managed to rip one of the dykes top off, and remember ol Ray, consoling me, and then said, ” shit!, she had a nice pair of Titts on her’, and I jokingly punched him in his fat belly, and said shut up Ray!!

DP: He was a great bloke, very tolerant of all the antics we got up to, & never judged us for they way we looked/dressed RIP

SB: RIP Ray – a true kind soul – saved many a young person from a thumping. Including myself while being physically carried out the door by 3 bikies – I still thank my lucky stars to this day for that and I’ll always be thankful to Ray for it – may the Gods be kind to you.

RF: he got riled at me one time when we snuck in under another name after he said he never wanted to hear that feedtime shithouse noise again…came bellowing down the stairs when we’d started but i appealed to his better nature with logic…i told him that we were called springtime now…that worked (once)!

RT: Ray had a bad leg – he told me once that he’d injured it parachuting out of a plane during an attack in Vietnam, but then another time he told me he’d damaged it in a bike accident back when he was a biker. We used to talk all the time when I was managing the bar – there wasn’t much else to do when the place was quiet – which it usually was early in the week. I never told him that he threw me out on the street the first time I went to French’s.

MD: He used to watch our bikes when we parked out front on the foot path

NK: The first Level 3 gig I played there was when I first met Ray. When we were bumping out I was on Oxford Street with a bunch of band gear waiting for the next lot to come up the stairs so I could go down and load out some more. A bunch of idiots started mucking around with the the gear, acting like they were going to take it or break it. I was toughing it out telling them to piss off and leave it alone ( ha ha- me skinny and 16yo and them just laughing at me ). Suddenly they looked scared put the gear down and took off. I turned around and there was Ray with his arms crossed and his knife eyes on. Ray looked over me like a guardian angel for the rest of my relationship with French’s. A few years after French’s shut I caught a cab from Clovelly and guess who the driver was. Of course I instantly recognised him, but assumed he would have forgotten me given the number of people that went through that joint. I asked him to drive me to Taylor square. He just said, ” Jeez Neil, aren’t you even going to say hello? ” We talked and laughed all the way to Darlinghurst. Oddly enough it was Anzac Day. I never saw him again.

ST: Ray tossed me out on to the street many years ago. Mind you, I had just hurled all over the floor.

LN: Ray called the police when I passed out in a corner. Spent the night at Central Police cells.

NB: I remember a short story about Ray the bouncer. I made the mistake of sitting on one of the tables upstairs. The next thing, there was a tapping on my shoulder, and when I looked around it was Ray, as big as a house. He said, “I’ve got a saying: tables are for glasses, not for arses. I’ve got a lot of old sayings.” At that, he walked off, to the amusement of my friends at my expense. I never sat on a table again at French’s .


Illustration by Toby Zoates

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