by Michaelangelo Matos – NPR Music
On Friday, a documentary ostensibly about the rise and fall of a one time club king named Peter Gatien opened in New York (it opens around the country next month). In the early to mid-1990s – the height of rave culture in the U.S. – Gatien owned the biggest clubs in New York City, including Limelight, which lived in a deconsecrated Episcopal Church in the Chelsea neighborhood. Today Gatien lives in Toronto, where he was deported in 2003 after pleading guilty to tax evasion. And Limelight has . It calls itself a “Festival of Shops.”
Much of the story told in Limelight will be familiar to readers of , a book chronicling mid-’90s nightlife written by Frank Owen, who covered Limelight at its height and followed its scandalous end in the pages of local alternative weekly the Village Voice. It certainly was to the documentary’s director, Billy Corben, who read the book as he was pursuing another documentary about the man who ran the biggest club in Miami in the mid-’90s. Owen appears frequently as a kind of expert witness in Limelight.
“I had read Clubland because of our interest in Chris Paciello and Liquid in South Beach, and the Miami angle,” says Corben, best known for 2006’s Cocaine Cowboys. Corben and producing partner Albert Spellman still intend to make a movie about Paciello. But first, they’ve made Limelight, which focuses on Gatien, the eye-patched Canadian nightclub impresario who owned Limelight, Palladium, Tunnel and Club U.S.A., who was brought to trial by the City of New York under mayor Rudolph Giuliani’s mid-’90s crime crackdown, alleging that Gatien was overseeing a massive drug ring in his clubs. [Read More]