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Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture Paperback – June 8, 2004

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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: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #674,693 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.

Customer Reviews

To dance @ Limelight with James St. James & Michael Alig...Too cool!
Cynthia Weathers
I was amazed at how many details were brought up in this book as well as how many different characters Frank was able to capture in telling one story.
Although those involved teach man a great deal about unity and love, something dark always seems to be present.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 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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8 of 8 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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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By "azucarblanca" on May 20, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book, to be colloquial about it, was OFF THE HOOK. I am one tough-to-shock reader, but there were passages in this book that had me literally dropping my jaw and gasping.
As I mentioned in my review of 'Disco Bloodbath/Party Monster', James St. James' frothy, breezy, and dishy account of the Alig fiasco, I enjoyed it immensely but was looking forward to reading Owen's book for a meatier, more in-depth examination of the seething underbelly of 1990s Manhattan. Happily, Owen does not disappoint.
Skillfully illustrating the gestalt of the era, Clubland offers us a nearly exhaustive account of Peter Gatien's nightclub empire and the shady-but-fascinating denizens slithering through one dank VIP room after another. Michael Alig is clearly the most well-known and notorious of Gatien's 'directors', but the story of wiseguy-turned-impresario Chris Paciello is compelling as well. Owen does a masterful job of keeping the Byzantine labyrinthe of squalid interconnectedness (reminiscent of Alig's infamous 'wheel of hepatitis') clear and understandable in a world that is anything but. What was most shocking is the sheer extent to which absolutely everyone involved seemed to be on the take in one way or another - a collection of ruthless, amoral characters all bent on getting one over on each other, the public, and even themselves.
While Paciello and Caruso, two promoters under Owen's microscope, were always tinged with Mafia flavor, the real tragedy seems to be that of Michael Alig and his crew of voraciously attention-hungry 'club kids'. Owen provides a riveting background portrait of Alig's Midwestern roots and past as a natural-born, from-the-cradle prankster and hustler nonpariel.
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Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture
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