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Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture Paperback – June 8, 2004
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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.
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.
Top customer reviews
Clubland begins with author Frank Owen attempting to do an article about the anesthetic drug ketamine, also known as "Special K", as he searches for the substance at the infamous Limelight disco. His near death spiritual experience then segues into an account of the major characters in the novel and how rampant drug use was at the time. (The key players being Peter Gatien, Michael Alig, Michael Caruso, Chris Paciello, Robert Gagne, and Matthew Germanowski.)
We learn in the first chapter the origin of notorious club owner Peter Gatien and how he started his business in a small Canadian town before coming to the United States and eventually setting his sights on New York City as his crowning achievement. He succeeds in opening the popular Limelight club at a time when holdovers from the Andy Warhol era were dying out along with the scene that rode its coattails. This is in large part due to Michael Alig, a gay kid from the Midwest who came to New York to fit in with the club scene but eventually wound up running it, and Michael Caruso. Caruso, known as "Lord Michael", started his trade in England but returned to New York as a carrier of the latest rave drugs and techno music. These two men together each brought their own styles to Gatien's venue making it the most popular and sought after club in Manhattan.
Chris Paciello, a Bensonhurst gang member, and DEA agents Bob Gagne and Matt Germanowski then figure into the plot to flesh out the rest of the players and establish the key conflict. Owen proceeds to describe each major player's background history before taking the reader into the hedonistic world of New York clubbing. This temporal moment in the club scene was mainly ruled by Michael Alig and his "Club Kids" who experimented with a wide range of drugs, distorted gender roles, dressed in outlandish outfits, lived by nihilistic dogma, and hosted odd and perverse theme nights at various clubs around the city.
Paciello and Caruso relocate to Miami to establish a club scene in South Beach after Paciello goes on the lam after being involved in a robbery that unwittingly turned into a murder and this is the point in the novel where the two cities parallel each other. Sometime after these two relocate a tragic event happens in NYC when Alig murders drug dealing associate Angel Melendez. Simultaneously agents Gagne and Germanowski are investigating all of Gatien's dealings after focusing on the drug MDMA's, also known as "Ecstasy", distribution throughout his nightclubs.
All of their worlds come crashing down when Alig, Gatien, and Paciello are arrested and indicted. Gatien wins his trial in court, mainly because he did not mastermind any drug distribution in his clubs, but winds up losing his empire in the legal battle. Alig and Paciello are not so fortunate with Alig convicted of the murder while Paciello is convicted of multiple crimes. Paralleling this series of legal battles is the fall of the actual club scene in both cities. While they were fun in the glory days they have both been tainted by the scandals of their leaders and have lost the innocence they once had.
Owen does a great job tying all of these events together into one fascinating tapestry that shows the decadent and epicurean nature of this moment in time. His novel is one that you won't be able to put down as page after page shows you the inner workings of the nightlife and of their promoters leaving none of the seediest details omitted. It's quite a visceral look at the underside of what we outsiders may see as just fun and games for adults.
If you're expecting more attention given to Alig and his Subculture I'd recommend St. James' take.
This is almost entirely devoted to how ecstasy gave law enforcement the license to shut down the downtown nightlife.
Most recent customer reviews
A MUST READ!