What began as a simple reportage on the availability of Special K, a designer drug that was a mainstay of the post-midnight creatures rambling around the various hip Manhattan clubs, turned into a full-blown expose on the chic, cultured, and coked-out denizens and the places they haunted. These various high-profile nightspots - Roxy, Tunnel, Limelight, Sound Factory, and others - gave birth to the club kids, a generation of gender-confused adolescents who pledged allegiance to a philosophy based on hedonism, narcissism, getting high, and turning a blind eye on responsibility and productivity.
Fueled by the chemical birth of Ecstasy, Special K, and old standbys like LSD, heroin, cocaine, and alcohol, this high-spirited bunch of youngsters, in search of the ever more elusive narcotizing high, soon added robbery, strong-arming, and ultimately murder to the menu. The high was no longer enough; you needed to be recognized as the king bee or queen bee - in many cases, the same person - amongst your outrageously-dressed peers and apparent friends
The book focuses on Peter Gatien, clubmaster and owner of the Limelight, the spot to be seen during the '90s. The writer uncovers his connection to the mob, his endorsement of the selling of drugs in his clubs, and his own not-so-sanitary pleasure pursuits that oft times found him crawling on all fours in a three-day coke binge.
In many ways, what is here revealed mirrors the high hopes and aspirations of the '60s hippie, that long-gone, tie-dyed, spiritually attuned individual who believed, with the right mantra, could bring real change in years to come. The club kids at the advent of their adventure thought that E was the doorway to heaven and, by turning on everyone you knew, you could all reside within heavenly glow of the Creator himself.
Greed, over-indulgence, and a moral compass melted under the pressure of extracting every last dollar possible from the selling of this wondrous E. This plunged the entire scene into a war waged by club owners attempting to separate themselves from the free flow of drugs through their establishments, versus the clubbers, trying to save their own skins, ratting, squealing, and turning informant for the DEA, the DA, or any other agency willing to wave papers of immunity in front of those bloodshot eyes and severely damaged nostrils.
Peace, love, and respect degenerated into PCP, 'ludes, and Roofies. Money, the spotlight, and prestige brought down these clubs, resulted in the deaths of several high-profile characters, and like Studio 54 before this and the death of the hippie before that, all that was left in the end was a bunch of addicted and disillusioned partiers.
Author Frank Owen does an admirable job of removing himself from the tale, simply telling the story without editorializing or glamorizing.