Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Chemical Cowboys: The Club King Of New York

Limelight's Resurgence

In the summer of 1991, Caruso added a Friday night "Future Shock" party to his Limelight lineup. Record numbers of guests stormed the Gothic church when word got out about Lord Mike's free Ecstasy puncha special recipe of cranberry juice, vodka, and $1,000 worth of crushed pills. Caruso would mix up the concoction before the club opened and then serve it from a plastic-lined garbage pail around 12:30 a.m., handing the spiked cocktail out in plastic cups from the chapel floor or behind the DJ booth where he spun records. Clubgoers lined up an hour early waiting for the frenzied handout to begin. The punch would be gone in five minutes. Caruso's techno sounds, combined with the club's laser shows and strobe lights, only intensified the Ecstasy-taking experience. A good Friday night saw about three thousand guests. Caruso's "Future Shock" Ecstasy parties could bring in more than four thousand people and $66,000 at the door, plus another $25,000 to $30,000 at the bar.

Limelight's resurgence gave Gatien financial power. By 1992, he had bought up his competitors Tunnel and Palladium and added a fourth spot, Club USA, to his collection. Alig helped to oversee the design of new theme rooms and lounges for his old stomping grounds at Tunnel, including a padded room filled with plastic balls, unisex bathrooms, and a lobby area where a wall of urinals filled with sand served as ashtrays. Alig's parties drew an eclectic mix of gay icons, performance artists, and marginal celebrities who enjoyed rubbing elbows with the fabulous Club Kids. Alig idolized drag queen RuPaul and Lady Miss Kier of the band DeeLite, who were frequent guests. He threw campy glitter-fraught award ceremonies for actress Donna Douglas (Elly May Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies) and Tina Louise (Ginger from Gilligan's Island).

Bloodfeast flyer
Bloodfeast flyer
Alig's famous "Blood Feast" party at Limelight was an ode to the slasher films he grew up watching with his mother, Elke. The theme: dead Club Kids. They covered themselves in fake blood and screamed at guests from glass coffins. Club Kid James St. James wore a bloody white dress and fishnets, scraps of rancid, raw liver hanging from his body, as he writhed on a gurney. Aligwho arrived at his party with a fake bloody axe through his headwas depicted on the party flyers as a dismembered murder victim, with Club Kid doyenne Jennifer "Jennytalia" Dembrow sampling his brains with a fork.

Alig's Wednesday night "Disco 2000" parties at Limelight delighted in debauchery and questionable performance artists such as Ida Slaptor, who would spray champagne enemas onto cheering crowds and pull Christmas lights from her rump. Costumed exhibitionists went by such stage names as Clara the Carefree Chicken, Danny the Amputee, and George the Pee Drinker. Alig was known to urinate on people from the tops of stairwells and trick friends into drinking cups of the same.


Excerpt from Chemical Cowboys by Lisa Sweetingham