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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Aug. 22, 2014

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In Dining

Jessica Klappa is not gonna let you in without the correct password. No exceptions.

Moneypenney protects Safe House from spies and underage drinkers


Jessica Klappa has a lot of control at her job. She can order you to squawk like a chicken, hula hoop while singing a song you hate or even make you spank a friend.

But only if you don't know the password to get into her workplace.

If you do know the password, whisper (I said whisper!) it into her ear and she will allow you to clandestinely slip through a trick bookcase and drink and eat to your heart's content.

Perhaps, by now, you know where Klappa works. I worked there, doing the very same job, in the '90s. It was one of the most absurd, yet awesome jobs I've ever had and the only one like it in the world.

The job, and the place, are uniquely and weirdly Milwaukee.

For those still unsure, the job I'm talking about is working as the door person at The Safe House. Because the Safe House is James Bond-themed, the door person is usually a woman (but not always) who is taking on the role of Miss Moneypenney (sic), a fictional character from the Bond films who is secretary to Bond's boss, the head of the British Secret Service.

The doorperson's main job is to make all who enter reveal the password to gain clearance into the bar and restaurant. If they do not know it, or do not say it exactly right, Moneypenney can only assume you are a spy and give you a "spy test" to ascertain whether you are who you say you are.

The test, however, has little to do with proving your identity. It's more about making a fool of yourself. But hey, that's part of the fun.

Do you know the password to get into the Safe House? Because we aren't telling. Ever.

Molly Snyder: How do you like the job so far?

Jessica Klappa: I love it. My favorite thing about the position is all of the people who come in here and are so willing to do whatever I tell them to do, just because I am sitting in this chair.

MS: What do you make people do if they don't know the password?

JK: It depends on the crowd. I have to gauge each guest and get a feeling about what they might be willing to do. I do like to make them disco dance. And singing is always a possibility. Or acting like monkeys. Or chickens. Frogs are fun.

MS: Do you have any props?

JK: Oh, yes. I have a hula hoop. Pom-poms. I particularly like to dress up the gentlemen.

MS: Do most people know the password?

JK: It's interesting because each day is different. Tonight, only three people knew the password. But some nights, there will be groups of 20 or 30 coming in and everyone knows it.

MS: How do you think they know the password?

JK: Well, it hasn't changed in decades. So word of mouth, mostly. It's on the Internet but it's also wrong on the Internet. People always ask me for the password, but it's really more fun if you don't know anyway.

MS: Would you ever tell anyone the password?

JK: Absolutely not!

MS: Do you let people in if they get the password close?

JK: No! It has to be exactly right. I am very much a stickler on that.

MS: Do people sometimes not have a sense of humor or say they won't do what you tell them to do?

JK: Oh, sure. I've never had anyone refuse, but sometimes people aren't very enthused. If they're really against doing the spy clearance test I'll try to give them another one that's less silly: flexing muscles, James Bond trivia. And if they are really, really not feeling it I can say, as a last resort, that I just got clearance from control and they can proceed to their next mission.

MS: Were you a big James Bond fan prior to working here?

JK: Yes, that's what made me want to work here for so long. I came here when I was 12 with my parents but I never saw Ms. Moneypenney at the door because I came during the day. When I got older, I came at night, and I saw her and it was the greatest job I'd ever imagined. I said to myself, "I want that job someday."

MS: What's your favorite James Bond movie?

JK: It might be because I am a little younger, but I like all of the Daniel Craig movies. "Casino Royale" is probably my favorite.

MS: Are people still surprised by the trick bookshelf?

JK: Yes, I would say 50 percent of the people who come in are very much surprised by the bookshelf.

MS: The weekends at the Safe House are very different than during the week, right?

JK: The Safe House is a lunch and dinner restaurant during the week and on the weekends. But at night, it's more of a bar. On weekends, we have a DJ and we start carding and charging a spy clearance fee of $5 to get in after 8 p.m.

MS: Do you still get a lot of bachelorette parties here?

JK: Yes. Bachelor and bachelorette parties are very popular on Saturday nights. I just had three separate ones last weekend. I really like to administer "wedding readiness spankings" for the bachelorettes.

MS: Anything particularly weird ever happen while on the job?

JK: I have gotten a few surprise lap dances. Sometimes it's a perk of the job, sometimes it's really not.


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