Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Chemical Cowboys: The Club King Of New York

"Emergency Room" parties

Club Kids who doubled as drug dealers dressed up too, including Limelight's most visible dealer, Andre "Angel" Melendez, a Colombian-born hopeful actor who wore a harness of white angel's wings that spanned nearly six feet. The dealers at Limelight and Tunnel offered a variety of pick-me-ups, downers, hallucinogens, and aphrodisiacs. Clubgoers could choose from ketamine (an anesthetic used in animal surgery, which can cause schizophrenia-like symptoms), GHB (a liquid depressant sold by the capful or swig), Rohypnol (the so-called date rape drug), speed, cocaine, and marijuana. But it was Ecstasy that defined the Club Kid era. Ecstasy induced self-confidence, hypersensitivity, a desire to touch and be touched.

The drug GHB
The drug GHB
At Alig's "Emergency Room" parties, a tent decorated with a medic crosstilted to resemble a giant Xwas set up on the chapel dance floor. Club Kids Junky Jonathan and Richie Rich dressed in nurse's uniforms and wrote out "prescriptions" for their favorite partygoers.

"I feel depressed."

"You need an Ecstasy prescription!"

"I'm too hyper."

"You need a K prescription!"

The drug Ketamine
The drug Ketamine

"Patients" brought the prescriptions to another area of the chapel where Club Kids in white lab coats would dispense the drugs like Pez candies into the patient's mouth.

Alig even took Ecstasy with his mother, Elke, at his birthday party at Tunnel. They arrived by limo and were escorted in by security as fans screamed, "Michael! Michael!" Alig led his mother by the hand through the club and danced with her on the main floor. Everyone wanted to meet Elke, the belle of the ball. Alig gave his mother a hit of X and told her it would take away her headache. She later told Geraldo Rivera on national television that she enjoyed Ecstasy, that it took away her headache.

At Peter Gatien's height he had a thousand people on his payroll and was making millions of dollars a month in combined revenues from Tunnel, Palladium, Club USA, and Limelight. By some accounts, his clubs earned up to $350,000 a night on cover charges alone. He branched out into movies, executive-producing A Bronx Tale, with Robert De Niro, in 1993. He funded several of Alig's creative projects, including Project X, a Club Kid magazine, and Klub Kid Kards, campy trading cards with photos, bios, likes, and dislikes. Michael Caruso's card depicted him at the DJ booth with a hit of Ecstasy on his tongue.


Excerpt from Chemical Cowboys by Lisa Sweetingham