THE CLUB KING by Peter Gatien


My Rise, Reign, and Fall in New York Nightlife
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A memoir from a giant of the 1970s through 1990s New York City club scene.

Pilloried in the press and portrayed by U.S. prosecutors as a diabolical drug lord, Gatien argues that he was just a hardworking entrepreneur from the backwoods of Canada who happened to fall prey to an unscrupulous big-city careerist named Rudolph Giuliani. At one time in the 1990s, Gatien—the poor kid from Cornwall, Ontario, who began his career by selling blue jeans—owned and operated four of the hottest dance clubs in NYC history: Club USA, Palladium, the Tunnel, and Limelight. The author paints a picture of a simple guy with big dreams who was always vulnerable to outside speculation and conjecture. Before delving into the sordid goings-on that led to his eventual downfall—illicit drug use and grisly club deaths—Gatien employs crisp, vivid prose to recount a warm tale of a local boy making good on the other side of the border. Readers will learn that the impetus behind his success in the nightclub business originated with the heartwarming holiday gatherings that the author lovingly recounts from his disadvantaged childhood. According to Gatien, he is guilty of both being an inattentive father who often confused material support for affection and, at one point, becoming a drug abuser. However, he insists that he never operated the “drug supermarkets” he was accused of running. “A ridiculous concept,” he writes after recounting a police raid on the Limelight. “Especially when the raid had actually turned up only a paltry amount of weed. But police, prosecutors, and the media fastened upon the term, as though Limelight operated some sort of illicit Duane Reade….A Big Lie was born and took on a life of its own. ‘Drug supermarket’ became a convenient catchphrase, a two-word package tied up in a neat bow and used to sway public opinion.” Sixteen years after his deportation back to Canada, Gatien tells his side of the story.

An arresting and provocative narrative.

Pub Date: April 1st, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-5420-1531-8
Page count: 280pp
Publisher: Little A
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1st, 2020


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