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Clubland the Nocturnal Carnival of Ecstaby Frank Owen
Synopses & Reviews
In 1995, journalist Frank Owen began researching a story on “Special K,” a new designer drug that fueled the after-midnight club scene. He went to buy and sample the drug at the internationally-notorious Limelight, a decrepit church converted into a Manhattan disco, where pulse-pounding music, gender-bending dancers, and uninhibited sideshows attracted long lines of hopeful onlookers. Clubland is the story of Owens six year journey behind the velvet ropes, into the cavernous clubs where any transformation was possible, every extreme permissible—even murder.
At first, Owen found an unexpected common ground between very different people: stockbrokers danced with transvestites, pacifier-sucking “club kids” with celebrities, thick-necked jocks with misfits. But as money flowed into the clubs, the music darkened, the drugs intensified, and the carnival spiraled out of control. Four men defined the scene, all of them outsiders, who saw in clubland the chance to escape their pasts and reinvent themselves by making their own rules. Peter Gatien rose from a small Canadian milltown to become the most powerful club operator in America; Michael Alig, a gay misfit from the midwest, escaped to Manhattan where he won a legion of fashion-and-drug enamored followers; Lord Michael Caruso left Staten Islands bars for the rave parties of England, returning as clublands leading drug dealer and techno music pioneer; and Chris Paciello began as a brutal Bensonhurst gang member, then recast himself as the glamorous prince of Miami Beach, partying with Madonna and Jennifer Lopez at the exclusive nightspots he created. Each of them had secrets that led them over the edge, and when when clubland fell, it left behind tragic human consequences: the disillusioned, the strung out, and the dead.
A tour de force of investigative and participatory journalism, Clubland offers a dramatic exposé of a world built on illusion, where morality is ambiguous, identity changeable, and money the root of both ecstasy and evil.
"[T]he book bursts with anecdotes too rich for fiction. But it also presses down purposefully on an epoch that built up and collapsed with embarrassing speed....Clubland does an admirable job of outing both the bad guys' crooked ways and the good guys' dubious march toward 'justice'....The dealings of the mobsters and club kids play like the darkest comedy of errors." Andy Battaglia, The Onion
"With Clubland, Owen has provided rich fodder for 100 "Law & Order" episodes." Hugo Lindgren, The New York Times
"It's a treat for fans of true crime, but armchair party animals will also appreciate the lengths to which this reporter goes." Publishers Weekly
"Even those who have never ventured near the velvet ropes of a club will find this book hard to put down....Owen's research is superb, his writing outstanding, and his story a sobering, frightening tale of modern urban culture." Library Journal
"Owen does an admirable job of surveying his subject from every angle, but there isn't a single one that makes the picture any less ugly. Expertly reported, but not for the squeamish." Kirkus Reviews
"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....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, Booklist
"Owen posts his readers as flies on the walls that matter, even when they may prefer otherwise...Clubland satisfies by meting out the justice that many '90s party kids never got to see — or perhaps never wanted to.... Clubland sees through the smoke, mirrors, and Ketamine; by the epilogue, Owen is disillusioned, but his angst makes for some pretty heady voyeurism." Bill Werde, Village Voice
This story of the nightclubs of the 1990s is the tale of the rise and fall of a decadent nocturnal empire that stretched over several American cities and spawned its own subculture of celebrities and wannabes.
A fearless journalists brilliant unveiling of a world of drugs,dancing, money, madness--and murder after midnight
Clubland is the sensational story of the rise and fall of a decadent nocturnal empire that stretched over several American cities and spawned its own subculture of celebrities and wannabes. Journalist Frank Owen spent nearly a decade inside the nightclubs of the 1990s--an era when disco gave way to more unsettling dance music, cocaine was supplanted by Ecstasy and heroin, "club kids" mingled with bully boys, transvestites danced with stockbrokers, and celebrities came to watch the scene. Clublands characters include:
• the Mafia punk turned elegant Gatsby, who, before he was arrested for murder, partied with the cream of celebrities and Miami Beach society
• the charismatic party promoter who created his own youth movement of thumb-sucking, diaper-wearing "club kids," then dismembered one of his followers
• the drug dealer and dance-music pioneer who became a government snitch to avoid jail time
• the enigmatic one-eyed czar in the shadows, who ruled Manhattans clubland with an iron hand.
A fascinating account of a secretive society, Clubland is outrageous, funny, intelligent, suspenseful, and honest--the striking debut book of a talented writer.
About the Author
Frank Owen was born in Manchester, England. A music critic for ten years, and now a full time writer, he has written stories for The Village Voice, Spin, Details, Vibe, Newsday, and The Washington Post, among others. He now resides in New York with his wife Chene.
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