In April, 1977, Studio 54 opened its doors in New York. That same month, I was being transferred from the Department of Justice (DOJ) in Washington, D.C. to the Los Angeles Regional Office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Little did I know that the two events would eventually cross paths.
I thought this new position meant my days of working undercover and being on the front lines of arresting Class-1 violators were officially over. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
During a meeting of my group to plan enforcement DEA activities for the third and fourth quarters of 1977, Studio 54 was discussed. There were a few places that imitated this New York nightclub in Los Angeles. None were of the magnitude of Studio 54, but they all had one thing in common, “open club drug use.”
I had to work undercover in these clubs.
Entrance to the Los Angeles clubs was easier than Studio 54, where there were extensive celebrity guest lists and entrance based on your appearance and style. I overcame all these by spending the coveted Benjamins / Franklins ($100 bills). I remember purchasing a membership, which granted you a seat in the orchestra section of the club. The cost was $1,000/seat. No problem! I’ll take two!
During one of my initial visits, I became enamored with the Candi Staton song, Young Hearts Run Free. On one occasion, I asked the owner to play the song. When he agreed, I said, “Thanks, buy the house a round.” This cemented my role as major player and certainly dismissed any notion I was a narc… No DEA agent buys a round of drinks for an entire club!
At the time, I didn’t know the Staton song was about women in abusive relationships. I just loved the song and her voice.
After retiring from the DEA in 1981 and starting a private investigative agency, I had a number of women who came into my office to have us conduct surveillance on their husbands/significant others. I was shocked at the number who said they were physically and mentally being abused. My simple answer was, “just leave.”
Little did I know, that is not always an easy departure.
Over the past 40 years, I have often given the lyrics to the song to hundreds of women in abusive relationships. The song itself became my go to anthem in an effort to inspire women that there might be an alternative to their unfortunate relationship.
Are you in this type of relationship? Maybe you know someone who is.
In my first book, “If You Only Knew,” (Griffin Publishing), I wrote a entire chapter on the subject of domestic violence. You can read the chapter or the entire book online at no charge at investigatorconfidential.com here. Please pay particular attention to the True-Life Story in the chapter about Karen Buske. Reading or sharing may save a life.
If I had a bucket list, meeting Ms. Staton would be high on the list. I would simply like to thank her for all the help and guidance she has unknowingly provided to so many of my female clients over these past four decades.