An engaging, if unlikely, memoir of a scholar by day, club hopper by night.
Corona is many things: a sociologist at NYU, a dreamer (in the sense of both having parents who were illegal immigrants from Mexico and having large ambitions), a gay Latino, and both a worshiper and student of celebrity. He combines all these interests and attributes in this spry memoir of New York nightlife, the bouncer-at-the-gate demimonde of loud discos and flowing drink and drug. As he writes, he is almost alone in chronicling the scene as a scholar: there have been a few who have parachuted in for a quick look and just a couple of other participant observers, including a former runway model who “accessed situations and had conversations that a big-nosed, non-white queer man like me simply couldn’t.” Inspired to come to NYC by the antics of the so-called Club Kids movement of the early 1990s, a whirlwind of outrageous behavior and costumes that ended in a morass of pharmaceuticals and murder, Corona exults in “the eventual education I would get downtown: the complicated yet very malleable nature of human identity.” Put on a costume or a wig, that is, and you become a different person—but in the club scene, you are who you want to be, whatever personality or gender you wish, and by Corona’s account, no one is particularly interested in the truth. Though written by a scholar, there are only a few nods to academic niceties here. The only obligatory moment seems to be a somewhat glancing history of the club scene as refracted through the pioneers at Andy Warhol’s Factory, whose escapades are well-documented elsewhere. Yet even Corona’s nods to those pioneers are lively, as with his homage to Susanne Bartsch, whose “pronounced Swiss German accent is a harsh flourish that only adds dramatic bite to her already expressive character, one that incarnates fabulousness.”
Sociology taken to the streets and basements, yielding a well-wrought introduction to a scene little known—and perhaps little imagined—to outsiders.