Tonight, many of you will discover another difference between Columbia and all the rural/”college town” schools your friends are currently at: while they will make it through all four years being entertained by frat parties and “college bars,” if you want to experience all the nightlife New York has to offer, you will need to be in possession of some alternative identification. The first few weeks of the year are ripe with meetings in Carman doubles and on the Low steps, with anywhere from five to twenty-five students anxiously handing over passport photos and envelopes of cash to some big-shot kid from the Upper East Side who claims to know the best fake-ID manufacturer in St. Marks’ Place. But there are many roads to finding the ID of your dreams, that little piece of plastic that will carry the 26-year-old you through the next four years. Below, Bwoggers’ tales of their first fakes:
- When I arrived in New York, I had one acquaintance and no fake ID. She went to NYU and her friend group in high school consisted of three girls who referred to themselves as The Coven (when they moved to a renovated loft in Brooklyn, they became the Witches of Eastwick). It became immediately apparent that I had made an enormous mistake by not sending in for my mail-order, laminated 3.5″x2.25″ veritable key to Manhattan before leaving the west coast; but I knew who to call. She told me to meet her St. Marks-adjacent. I dressed up for the occasion in my tumblr queen best and still fell far short of her crippling cool. Anyway, she brought me into a tattoo parlor with a secret door in the back where a man who bore a striking resemblance to Manu Ginobili offered me lots of free drugs (I did not partake, but Circe was up on it). Eventually he took the pix and I got the card, which was, like, an inch-thick. Not convinced those snapshots of my terrified face aren’t tacked up in that shop still.
- This girl I vaguely knew was buying a group deal. Now I know it was mad expensive, but at the time it seemed about average—$120 for one ID that didn’t scan. I tried to be discreet depositing the money from my new debit account so my parents wouldn’t think anything was up. I got my pictures taken at Rite Aid, where I looked taciturn and awful. The lady asked if I wanted to take another, but I was so anxious I said it was fine. The girl got the ID back to me and it was bloody ridiculous: California but not at all resembling a real Cali license, heavily tinted yellow, fraying edges, and—best of all—Harry Potter font. But that piece of shit got me through 3 years of college.
- I too joined up in the group-buying frenzy: some guy living in Furnald had a connect and something like 50 people were all buying theirs at once. I coughed up my $120 for two IDs, but when I finally went to pick them up I was disappointed: cheap white background, no hologram, no magnetic strip, and I was supposed to be from inner city Baltimore. That got me by for a few months of furtive use, but I was always so terrified of getting caught that I eventually caved and turned to then-still-operational IDchief. After placing my order on a shady-ass website run out of the Philippines and wiring money to a random stranger in China, I finally had my hands on a legit-looking Pennsylvania ID. They got my birthday wrong by one month, but I’ve never had trouble getting in anywhere!
- In one of our first weeks at Columbia, my group of friends heard about a place on the Upper East Side from an acquaintance of an acquaintance of an acquaintance. The woman at Duane Reade taking “passport photos” for five freshmen the next day definitely knew what was up. Against a telephone booth on a street corner we scribbled down our basic information, and we each put $100 into a manilla envelope so our acquaintance could carry it up to the creepy man’s apartment. Later that day we received our very first fakes—two from Maryland that haven’t ever scanned, and don’t look much like real Maryland IDs, but that’s never stopped us. One of them has a “hologram” that’s really a raised sticker you could probably pick off. Anyway, we almost peed ourselves when we realized that the sketchy ID guy had assigned one of our clearly female friends the wrong gender, but he surprisingly re-printed them for her! Now I only use the bad IDs for local bars and save my older sister’s real ID for nice clubs. She made me pay for it, too.
- Word got around to me about an upperclassman PsiU brother who made IDs. So I text him, and he tells me that IDs cost $80, or $70 if you bring a friend. I’d heard about people dropping $200+, so I gave it a try. So late in NSOP this Carman floormate and I are in the entryway of the old PsiU house (of course we uncomfortably ignore one another now). We get up to the guy’s room, and give him our info and Village Copier passport photos. The next day, I pick up two shit IDs—three layers of peeling plastic, with visible glue. They had a “hologram” that actually read “GENUINE IDENTIFICATION CARD.” Needless to say, this ID never failed me in Morningside. The PsiU brother was a perfect gentleman; I remember there was some mistake on mine, and he made me another one free. I bought weed from him until Operation Ivy League, at which point he stopped returning my texts (I heard that he’d ceased all illegal activities).
- The name is [redacted]. [redacted] [redacted]. Or at least according to my first (and only) fake ID. I am [redacted], [redacted], and have long flowing locks. But in reality, I am just racially ambiguous with a big beard and thick glasses. Close enough! I actually inherited my crown jewel of a fake ID after stumbling across it behind the bar of my fraternity house. Sure, it might have expired in 2009, I might be six inches taller than my addiction enabling savior, and I might not have a wrestler’s physique, but who’s really keeping track!? All I know is that it’s a real California DL, it scans like a charm, it was *FREE*, and I have never once been turned away. A wise friend once told me, “A bouncer will always know a fake when he sees one. It’s just whether he wants to let you in or not. Act cool, don’t cause problems, and you’ll be fine.” Addendum: And bring a cute girl with you. That also helps.