Owning Studio 54 in the early 80s was all fun and games in the beginning, but just like with Steve and Ian, it came to an abrupt end for me as well. I’d been partying too hard and found myself mostly oblivious to the reality of what my day to day life had become. After two failed attempts at rehab I found myself at Rancho La Puerta, where I found my salvation, redemption and the warrior spirit to reinvent myself. It’s an incredibly special place to me, and one I continue to visit often. In fact, I’m headed there next week for Bar Method Week, which I’ve organized to share the ranch experience with our Bar Method clients.
In my latest excerpt from “The Studio 54 Effect,” I share how the party came to a close for me… and how “a new kind of party” was about to begin.
On nights that I wasn’t hitting the after hours scene, I hung out with a crowd of regulars, women, visiting actors and other assorted hangers on looking for blow. With the free drinks flowing, not to mention all the free drugs for my guests, we’d all sit around my office, sharing our personal stories, which went on for hours. We would often call it a night at 8am, rubbing our eyes as we walked out of the dark cavernous space into daylight with people rushing down Broadway on their way to work while we would head to our respective homes or hotels to crash.
This went on for several years. I’d take Valium to go to sleep and wake up around two in the afternoon. Then I’d do a few lines of coke to get going and start the routine again. I didn’t realize it in the beginning, but as time went by I was becoming physically addicted to cocaine and the excessive alcohol I drank to level off the speediness and other drugs that kept me in an altered state as well as the valium I took to sleep. I enjoyed doing lines with these fabulous people, but while most of them were doing coke more occasionally, I was doing it every night for more than three years and it continued to require more and more blow to get high. At the time I rationalized it, thinking this was part of my job, but in the end, I crashed.
I was down and out for two years, until Paul Jabarra (who wrote “It’s Raining Men”) told me about Rancho La Puerta, an organic fitness center just over the border in Tecate, Northern Baja California. “The Ranch,” as it’s known among devotees, sits at the base of Mt. Kuchumaa, a sacred mountain known by the ancient Yuman and Kumayaay Indians as the “Exalted High Place.” At the peak of Mt. Kuchumaa, a new spiritual reality came over me. I had experienced a similar sensation years earlier, when I visited the ancient Sun and Moon Aztec pyramids in Teotihuacán, outside of Mexico City. Something came over me there and I felt close to God, but that was during my hallucinogenic drug days. This time I was straight.
The next day, I went to the small library to learn more about the mountain. In a book about Tecate, Mexico and Tecate Peak (which is what the Mexicans call Kuchumaa), I read the following: “It is said that since recorded history, Shaman’s selected young boys from a number of neighboring tribes to come to Mt. Kuchumaa for initiation into the mystic rites of their people. There, in solitude, they sought and received guidance and wisdom.”
This is Mt. Kuchumaa: