Clubland: The Fabulous Rise and Murderous Fall of Club Culture

From the Publisher

Outrageous parties. Brazen drug use. Fantastical costumes. Celebrities. Wannabes. Gender-bending club kids. Pulse-pounding beats. Sinful orgies. Botched police raids. Depraved criminals. Murder. Welcome to the decadent nineties club scene.

In 1995, journalist Frank Owen began researching a story on Special K, a designer drug that fueled the after-midnight club scene.  He went to buy and sample the drug at the internationally notorious Limelight, a crumbling church converted into a Manhattan disco, where mesmerizing music, ecstatic dancers, and uninhibited sideshows attracted long lines of hopeful onlookers.  Owen discovered a world where reckless hedonism was elevated to an art form, and where the ever-accelerating party finally spun out of control in the hands of notorious club owner Peter Gatien and his minions. In Clubland, Owen reveals how a lethal drug ring operated in a lawless, black-lit realm of fantasy, and how, when the lights came up, their excesses left countless victims in their wake.

Praised for his risk-taking and exhilarating writing style, Frank Owen has spawned a hybrid of literary nonfiction and true crime, capturing the zeitgeist of a world that emerged in the spirit of “peace, love, unity and respect,” and ended in tragedy.

The Onion

Sturdy reporting and impressive reach.

Boston Globe

Immensely Entertaining. It all plays like Saturday Night Fever remade with the cast of Goodfellas and directed in high grand guignol style by Luis Bunuel.

Miami Herald

Like a line of coke begs for another bump (or so we’ve been told), Clubland is a compulsive page-turner.

San Francisco Chronicle

Positively riveting…To be enjoyed even by those who’ve never stepped foot anywhere more stimulating than a Howard Johnson’s.

The Guardian

Nobody has drawn out links between the hedonist fervour of 1990s New York and organized crime as clearly as expatriate British journalist Frank Owen. The French Connection remixed for the ‘chemical generation.’

The New York Times

With Clubland, Owen has provided rich fodder for 100 ”Law & Order” episodes. —Hugo Lindgren

The Washington Post

What follow are interwoven stories involving drugs, sex, thievery and murder in a milieu of greed, arrogance, violence, cruelty and betrayal in the lives of some of the most dazzling players of that era’s nightlife, Lord Michael Caruso, Peter Gatien, Michael Alig and Chris Paciello. Equally frightening is evidence of an overzealous DEA that spends extravagantly, lies, connives, and victimizes innocents while ostensibly carrying out the country’s war on drugs. The “harsh truths” reported by Owen deserve to be reflected upon by inheritors of the partying life and society at large. — Mary Ishimoto Morris

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. Agent, Todd Shuster. (May) Forecast: This book will appeal to fans of mobster lore, celebrity DJs and drug culture. Both James St. James’s 1999 book Disco Bloodbath and this year’s film Party Monster, starring Macauley Culkin, treat Michael Alig, the character who takes up about a third of Clubland. Neither were mega-hits, but the story has a solid niche audience. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.