Wild scenes yield party-drug research

Wild scenes yield party-drug research

By Sara Isadora Mancuso, Inquirer Suburban Staff

Several Rowan University students ventured into pink and green laser-lit raves in Philadelphia this semester. They holed up in bathrooms to interview Ecstasy users and former drug addicts. One night, they stayed out for nine hours with Scorpion, a popular deejay in the club scene.

Three classes in Rowan's Radio/Television/Film Department will premiere the result of that research - TV and radio documentaries and public service announcements - this May. Some of their work will be distributed statewide and nationally.

The university's Center for Addiction Studies provided $20,400 for the equipment, radio actors, and other costs associated with the documentaries on Ecstasy and other party drugs, Pamela Negro, associate director of the center, explained.

Throughout the semester, the students cruised the Philly club scene, filming and recording numerous interviews with drug users, recovering addicts, and law enforcement officials.

Kathleen Berger, 23, and other students armed with video cameras, followed the Scorpion from gig to gig until 5 a.m.

The pounding beat of techno music relegated interviews to the bathroom, away from the club's black lights and lasers.

Finding willing subjects wasn't difficult.

"They all wanted to talk," Berger explained. "They were excited. They wanted to dance in front of the camera."

For another part of the documentary, the class staged a mock rave at Envy, a popular club in Philadelphia.

Frank Hogan, the course instructor for the radio class, said the students have created realistic documentaries.

"It's being created by people who are the targeted audience," he said.

Special K was just a brand of cereal to some of the 14 students enrolled in Hogan's course.

But they learned that Special K is the street name for ketamine, another popular party drug.

Former users, now in recovery, shared their experiences, as did drug counselors and law enforcement officers.

The radio class had so much interview tape that the students could initially pare down their documentary from an hour and a half to only 45 minutes, senior Nicole Cranston said.

Last week, final touches were put on the five-part radio series, titled "It's My Party and I'll Die If I Want To."

"Most radio stations wouldn't touch this stuff," Hogan said.

The public service announcements and radio and television documentaries will be played and shown at Rowan on May 15.

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Date Published: Sunday, April 28, 2002 - 01:00
Source URL: The Philadelphia Inquirer