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Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture Paperback

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (June 8, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767917359
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767917353
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #747,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

To anyone who's ever wondered what went on in the 1990s' most notorious nightclubs, Village Voice reporter Owen has a highly engaging answer. He weaves together three strands of masterful reporting, focusing on Peter Gatien, the nightclub impresario who owned Limelight and the Tunnel in Manhattan; Chris Paciello, the gangster who started Miami Beach's Liquid; and "club kid king" Michael Alig, the party promoter and Gatien employee who murdered his friend Angel Melendez. Alig's drug-addled story is the most grotesque and chilling: a few weeks before he hacked off the legs of his dead friend, he had thrown a "Blood Feast" party in which some guests "came covered in raw liver and slabs of beef." The author has apparently settled down now; "life is too precious to waste spending your time lurking around VIP rooms and getting high." At one time, though, he was a true believer in clubs and raves "as perfect but temporary democracies of desire," and is saddened by the crime that came to surround them. He has a distinctive writing style, recklessly mixing metaphors-one woman is "the proverbial tough cookie laced with arsenic straight from the pages of a hard-boiled novel"-and packing his chapters with noirish "wise guys" and "feds." It's a treat for fans of true crime, but armchair party animals will also appreciate the lengths to which this reporter goes-the book opens with Owen seeking, buying and tripping on the drug ketamine.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Ah, club culture! Was it really all glamour, heroin, and flashing lights? Owen considers that and other questions in his contribution to the continuing story of sex and drugs and rock and roll. He has a lot to work with, including real-life Pulp Fiction characters like Michael Alig, nowadays "stoned and puffy with jail food fat," but "the prince of perversion" when he was a party promoter in high demand. Alig had equally alluring playmates, of course--Mafia dandies, drug lords, and zany "club kids"--but his career screeched to a halt when he "chopped up his buddy's body." Owen came to his subject as a result of a Village Voice assignment to do an article on ketamine, an animal anesthetic and clubgoers' "mind-bending party favor." One thing led to another, and presto!--this chronicle-cum-true crime story in the gaudy, Mardi Gras-like trappings of a phenomenon that straddled the disco and rave cultures. A gripping story, pleasantly sleazy and well told. Mike Tribby
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Very well written.
M. Buchhalter
Frank Owen's style is easy to read, and he does a great job weaving a few different story lines together.
Ron Amdur
I could not put this book down until I was finished!!

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. Cloyce Smith on December 23, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
During the 1990s, Frank Owen made a name for himself as a chronicler of the darker side of Manhattan night life, focusing especially on the always outrageous, often seedy, and occasionally criminal exploits of a small cadre of club owners and party promoters. His articles in the Village Voice managed to combine both some truly commendable journalism with a disarmingly naive dismay at the excesses of the scene; many of us read his pieces at the time with both uneasy recognition and palpable shock.

"Clubland" is the summation of this reporting, focusing on a trio of truly larger-than-life characters: promoter Michael Alig, who spearheaded New York's "club kid" scene; club owner Peter Gatien, who owned the Tunnel, the Limelight, the Palladium, and Club USA; and Chris Paciello, who fled New York to preside over the burgeoning Miami nightlife. Owen broke many of the stories and scandals surrounding Alig and Gatien; his reporting on Paciello is largely after-the-fact for the Miami period, but it's still remarkable how much new material he reveals and assembles.

Owen's coverage was and is superb and, for the most part, even-handed; he treats with an equally skeptical eye the abuses and foibles both of "clubland's" then-presiding influences and of overzealous law enforcement authorities. He also writes well, providing page-turning accounts of the murders, assaults, blackmail, drugs, and even government malfeasance that plagued Gatien's clubs and employees. Impressively gaining the confidence of nearly every party involved with the crimes and misdemeanors he describes, Owen skillfully fills in many of the details that were missing from the newspaper coverage at the time. Overall, then, this is a fascinating and well-researched book.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Veteran journalist Frank Owen, regarding himself as "one of the last of the gonzo journalists", has probably written one of the most seductive moral tales brought to the press in a long time. With a list of characters ranging from the foolish to the fantastic, the absurd to the alluring, and delightful to the dangerous, set in the environs of New York City and South Beach, and coving a period of approximately 10 years within an immediate context of the last 40 years of the 20th century, he has managed to demonstrate the decadence and decline of western civilization with a stroke of linguistic genius amid an era of Caligula-like clowns and killers.
Coursing through this expertly written exposé, these character sketches become invaluable as the reader makes his way through the text. Not just a journalist, but a teller of tales like Hunter S. Thomson, Frank Owen works on many levels always starting with a very straight forward premise to be followed by social-historical and/or social-philosophical context and commentary, all woven with his own personal experiences in Clubland, becoming a filter and everyman as this tale is told.
"The era of Studio 54 that had been the scene of well-documented, glamorous decadence faded as a new empire of clubs - fueled by more potent drugs and an extreme culture of self-indulgence - stretched across American cities." To the point, Mr. Owen gives a very germane treatment of the decline of Western civilization in the latter half of the 20th century as seen through his experienced eyes in the Clubland of New York.
Excerpts from a review by:
Marc Mege
Real Detroit Weekly
May 21-27, 2003
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Camargo on January 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
It is difficult to overstate the merits of "Clubland."
From a literary point of view, it is brilliantly written. Owen's nimble narrative voice effectively combines dispassionate reportage with vivid prose, sprinkled here and there with moments of subtle, geniune wit.

Personally, I cannot disagree more with Linus Van Pelt's libelous review (below). Clubland is, without a doubt, marvelously written, and extraordinarily readable (a distinct quality that the other 16 reviewers unanimously agree upon). In fact, I would say the most impressive aspect of Frank Owen's opus is the degree to which he brings utter lucidity to an underworld that is, by nature, impossibly shadowy and inextricable.

From a cultural perspective, Frank Owen has done a hero's task in writing this book. Not only did he (quite literally) risk his life to illuminate the shadowy depths of this sinister underworld, but he successfully wrapped his mind around a colossal kingdom of nighttime pleasures, and pieced together a lucid collage for all of us to comprehend. Owen's efforts have ensured that this epic moment in america's "forbidden" cultural history is accessible to all.

For anyone remotely fascinated by the nocturnal side of human nature, "Clubland" will terrify you, edify you, and give you a deeply humbling awareness of a world you rarely, if ever, get a chance to see for yourself... one that you probably wouldn't want to see for yourself.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joe on November 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
After taking in an interest in the movie "Party Monster" I picked up "Clubland". Minutes after opening the book I was hooked. 36 hours later I was taken aback. The story and the little known details of the 90's Manhattan club culture came alive once again in my mind.

The story of Peter Gatien, Michael Alig and Chris Paciello is fascinating. A true journey through the best and worst of times.

Highly recommended+++++++++++++
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