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Village Voice columnist Musto, the Boswell of New York nightlife, here offers a fictionalized account of a brief period on the nightclub circuit when the ruling coterie of self-obsessed trendies is eclipsed by (1) a younger crowd, (2) uptown society, and (3) AIDS. When Queens-born, Hollywood-gossip-fetishist, Dartmouth dropout Vinnie DiSlasio moves to Manhattan, his new roommate, Favio, introduces him to the in-crowd at Carcinogen, the happening nightclub. To Vinnie's new ""friends,"" everything is either fabulous or tired, and waving their press clippings, they vie with one another to be the most fabulous. Vinnie falls for beautiful Starla--soon to rise into uptown society by marketing cosmetics--and decides to publish his own gossip magazine, Manhattan on the Rocks. Forming a chaste alliance with Starla--he has performance problems, which suits her purposes--he quickly becomes a central figure on the scene, but, alas, the scene is dying. Carcinogen closes, supplanted by Zymurgy, the new in-spot, a staid and stuffy, Reagan-era sort of club, and downtown society starts covering the notice of uptown society. Vinnie's crowd finds itself hard-pressed to keep up, losing center-stage. Meanwhile, AIDS and the homeless come to Vinnie's attention due to fabulous uptown benefits. When Zymurgy's owner is revealed to have AIDS, some are sobered. His funeral downtown--a major ""event""--allows some gratuitous moaning about East Village gentrification and a heavy-handed epiphany involving another club-owner. References are of the moment, New York detail is well deployed, but Musto (the nonfiction Downtown--not reviewed) is no McInerny or Janowitz. Studded with bad puns (""faux became friend""; ""At these prices, they should serve gold, not beef, bouillon""), the story is as shallow and pointless as these characters' lives.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Henry Holt