Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Chemical Cowboys: The Club King Of New York

"the two Michaels"

Album cover: Moby
Album cover: Moby
When Caruso became a promoter at Limelight in 1991, he made $100 a week plus $3 per guest. By 1994, he was a club director, making $1,400 a week and living his dream. Caruso was photographed, high on Ecstasy, with counterculture icon Timothy Leary. He hosted Moby years before the DJ techno stylist became a Grammy nominee and multiplatinum recording artist. Lord Mike's fame and drug consumption would soar at competing rates. At the pinnacle of his celebrity, he was snorting cocaine four to six times a week, smoking pot six to eight times a week, and swallowing two dozen to three dozen Valiums and Quaaludes a week.

Caruso would later claim he had been corrupted by his sudden success and spoiled by Gatien's passiveness. Club security and employees knew that "the two Michaels" were untouchableif Alig or Caruso wanted to take bottles of liquor from the bar, throw people out, or comp admission for twenty strangers on a whim, it was best to fall into line. Peter Gatien took the two Michaels to private dinner parties, gave them cash and gifts, paid for trips to Europe, covered their rent when they were late. Caruso shopped for Versace shirts with Gatien's ex-wife; he was friendly with Gatien's daughters; he had personal conversations with Gatien about hockey, football, sex, music, and his relationship with his longtime girlfriend, whom Caruso wanted to marry. He felt like club royalty, the lord of Limelight, which was a far cry from his station a few years earlier, picking up auto parts for his dad's repair shop. Caruso believed that Gatien was a close friend, something Gatien would later deny.

In 1992, Caruso hired Robert Gordon, a small-time thug from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, to be his personal Ecstasy dealer. He started out by giving Gordon a baggie with twenty-five pills to sell to his friends in the clubs. Soon it was a hundred pills and he could sell to anyone. "Don't worry about the security," Caruso told Gordon. "Just tell them, 'I'm with Lord Michael.'"

Excerpt from Chemical Cowboys by Lisa Sweetingham