August 8, 1952 |
Cornwall, Ontario, Canada
Peter Gatien (born August 8, 1952) is a Canadian club owner and party promoter. He is best known as the former owner of several prominent New York nightclubs, including Club USA, The Limelight, Palladium, and Tunnel. He was once dubbed as the "King of New York Clubs", during his time in New York City.
Life and career
Gatien was born in Cornwall, Ontario, the third of five brothers. His first business venture was a jeans store in his home town, which he opened with a $13,000 settlement after he lost an eye in a hockey accident. After that, he turned a former country western bar into a rock club called Aardvark and booked the band Rush to perform. In 1976, he read about a bankrupt nightclub in Florida known as Rumbottoms; the space became the first incarnation of The Limelight. Limelight Atlanta followed. The longest period of time in which The Limelight remained closed was from 1996 to 1998. It reopened from 1998 until Gatien sold it in 2001, to a real estate developer.
A 1996 federal investigation attempted but failed to link Gatien to the sales of party drugs, especially Ecstasy, in his clubs, but his acquittal in 1998 left him with huge legal fees. In addition, he was later arrested on tax evasion charges after a series of club raids; he was acquitted of most of the charges. He pleaded guilty to tax evasion in 1999, for which he was sentenced to a fine of $1.6 million and a 60-day prison sentence, along with 5 years' probation. In 2003, he was deported to his native Canada, under the Department of Homeland Security immigration laws which order the removal of any alien (non-citizen) convicted of a felony. However, because he is part Native Canadian, Gatien has since been able to visit the United States again.
Gatien relocated to Toronto, where he opened a 55,000-square-foot (5,100 m2) entertainment venue, Circa. By 2009, he was no longer involved with Circa and has been out of the nightclub business since that time. Circa was forced into bankruptcy and closed its doors in March 2010.
In popular culture
- Gatien and the histories of his clubs are discussed at length in the book The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night, by Anthony Haden-Guest. Haden-Guest's book chronicles the history of New York nightlife and all the significant people and events that impacted its evolution from Studio 54 through to the days of Club USA, The Limelight, Palladium, and Tunnel.
- Gatien is a prominent character in two books about scandals involving former club promoter Michael Alig, including:
- St. James' book, Disco Bloodbath, was later made into two films:
- Party Monster: The Shockumentary (1998), a documentary
- Party Monster (2003), a feature film starring Macaulay Culkin as Michael Alig, and Seth Green as James St. James, that chronicles the events leading up to the murder of Angel Melendez, committed by Michael Alig and his roommate, Robert D. "Freeze" Riggs. Gatien is played by Dylan McDermott.
- Gatien's daughter, Jen Gatien, produced the documentary Limelight (2011), about New York City night life in the 1990s, and the rise and fall of her father's club empire.
- Gatien is mentioned in the song, "The Fun Lovin' Criminal" by The Fun Lovin' Criminals: "I am always optimistic about human relations, I got more friends than my man Peter Gatien"
- He is also mentioned in the song, "Foundation" by Jay-Z, who raps: "Me and my operation, running New York nightscene, with one eye closed, like Peter Gatien"
- Mlynek, Alex (June 2006). "Live and Learn (CEO Interviews): Peter Gatien". Canadian Business.
- Cole, Stephen (September 23, 2011). "Limelight: Doc tells outlandish tale of Canadian's rise and fall in NYC". The Globe and Mail.
- Peter Gatien at the Internet Movie Database
- "Peter Gatien". Canadian Business.
- "Possible Trial Witness Dies". The New York Times. January 14, 1998.
- Murphy, Tim (September 21, 2011). "Peter Gatien, Club King Without a Club". The New York Times.
- "Bright Lights, Medium-Size City". New York Magazine.
- "Gatien returns to U.S. on Indian path". New York Daily News. August 14, 2007. Retrieved January 22, 2008.
- "Second coming for Toronto's club scene". Fab Magazine.
- "The Downfall of Circa Night Club". Globe and Mail.
- Owen, Frank (2003). Clubland Confidential. ISBN 9780091885786.
- Bose, Chew, Durga (March 14, 2011). "Jen Gatien Dives Into the Limelight (Again)". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 20 May 2011.
- "Yearly editions gallery". Kidrobot. Retrieved 16 February 2009.