Flex: The last few years, Peter was in trouble. We had seen what he was going through emotionally with the drug charges. And then the government kept the Tunnel open so he could pay back his taxes.
[Ed. Note—In 1996, Gatien became embroiled in a federal investigation that tried to link him to the sale of drugs in his venues. He was acquitted of all charges in 1998. Less than a year later, he pleaded guilty to state tax-evasion charges, leaving him with $1.88 million in back taxes and fines.]
Gatien: When I got acquitted on the drug charge, I should have folded my tent and moved out of New York, and not been naive enough to think that I could beat City Hall. I had a 20-year run, and quite frankly, it ended with the feds charging me with the drug thing, though I was acquitted. The campaign thrown at me was relentless. There was a period where, in 14 months, we were closed down twice, and both times went to court. Being closed for months, all of your expenses—rent, insurance, all that stuff—are still being generated. Let me put it this way: We never closed for a lack of business.
We didn’t really know it was amazing while we were doing it. We thought there’d be another club.
- Funkmaster Flex
Flex: Once the money was paid off, the club closed [in June 2001]. By then, there were more clubs open on Sunday nights, there were more black parties popping during the week and on Saturday—the game had changed.
Gatien: My clubs closed because of an aggressive campaign by the city, state, and feds to topple me. It’s that simple.
[Ed. Note—In 2003, Gatien was deported to his native Canada under the 1996 Immigration and Naturalization Act.]
Cipha: The club probably closed down four or five times all the years I was there. So when we closed that last time, I thought, “Oh, we’ll be back.” But we never went back. There was no grand finale. It just closed.
Flex: We didn’t really know it was amazing while we were doing it. We thought there’d be another club. But by the end, I was tired. Other clubs wouldn’t touch me on account of the Tunnel. For years they didn’t let me play at the Roxy—a club I always wanted to do my birthday at—because it was in the same [police] precinct. The Tunnel was a curse. I walked the streets and all I heard was “the Tunnel, the Tunnel, the Tunnel.” I wasn’t upset when it closed.
Parker: It was definitely a weight off the NYPD [when the Tunnel closed]. The crime stats in the 10th Precinct went down a lot. Most of those [earlier] stats could be attributed to the Tunnel—the slashings, the shootings, assaults, larceny.