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Log In / Register | May 27, 2018

Officer, I Swear It's Confectioners Sugar

Debauchery is no match for the power of franchising.

In another sign of the homogenization of New York City, the site of the infamous club Limelight is set to become a squeeky clean International House of Pancakes franchise. Coincidentally, a movie is being released at the same time that details those local days when "pagan Rome on acid" attracted 50,000 customers on a typical weekend.

Once an episcopal church, the building was sold to a drug rehab center. The problem was that the 1970s and 80s were the height of the drugs & dance craze, and New York was the epicenter. So the drug rehab center sold the church building to Peter Gatien, a Canadian who wore a pirate eyepatch over one eye.

While the media focused on Studio 54, the true debauchery (and better dancing) took place down in Chelsea at the Limelight. On opening night, Chazz Palminteri was the bouncer. He was soon followed by other then-unknowns such as Mark Sinclair Vincent (now known as Vin Diesel) and Dolph Lundgren.

Gatien stayed off the radar of the Internal Revenue Service, and so even after the collapse of Studio 54 the party continued at Limelight.

The crowd at Limelight was younger and edgier than 54, but every bit as serious about drugs of every kind... from ecstasy to heroin to cocaine, the Limelight became more famous for drugs than for the outrageous costumes worn by the patrons.

Gatien hired 20-something Indiana native Michael Alig to be a "party promoter" and Alig was very successful despite the fact that by the mid 1990s the club was regularly raided by the police and federal agents.

The beginning of the end came in 1996 when Alig was in the middle of a drug-addled rage and killed "club kid" and small-time drug dealer Angel Melendez. After killing Melendez, Alig and his roommate poured Drano down his throat, duct-taped and dismembered the corpse and dumped it in the Hudson River.

The sensational murder led to intense pressure on Gatien and was the subject of the 2003 movie Party Monster

Alig went to prison, Gatien was deported to Toronto, and Limelight became a boutique shopping and eating venue.

News of the IHOP lease appalled current tenants, who rely on the storied history of the building to draw an upscale crowd to buy the hand-made jewelry and eat at famed chef Todd English's Cross Bar.

Alig is scheduled for release in 2013.

He will be 47 years old. With his club days long past, maybe he will prefer to visit the more wholesome IHOP franchise.

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About Lionel Hutz PA

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Mr. Hutz, paralegal adviser extraordinaire to Louey the Lawyer, recaps important news.

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