X marks the spot, as they say, and in the 1980s, that unlikely spot was Dallas, Texas — specifically, the Starck Club (the pet project of French designer Phillipe Starck), a crucible of the American underground where a glamorous, pilled-to-the-gills crowd was entertained by a savvy selection of new wave, industrial, acid house, and, yes, hip-hop (Mantronix's "Who Is It?," Rockmaster Scott and the Dynamic Three's "The Roof Is on Fire," and Grandmaster Melle Mel's "White Lines [Don't Do It]" were in heavy rotation). Grace Jones, Chris and Cosey, Book of Love, and Stevie Nicks (an investor) all played the joint, which also hosted after-parties for the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Frankie Goes to Hollywood; in the bathrooms, patrons might bump into Robert Plant, KISS' Paul Stanley, or Michael Alig and his gaggle of New York club kids. There was even a Republican National Convention party attended by George W. Bush. Most importantly, you could buy pills from the cigarette girl — or, indeed, right from the bar, with your credit card.
Ultimately, the fact that so many residents of D-Town were seeing stars can be attributed to one person: Michael Clegg. A Catholic priest who refashioned himself as a missionary for the therapeutic potential of MDMA (he describes his experience with the drug as like "hearing Moses on the mountain"), Clegg is credited not only with coining the name "ecstasy," but also with setting up a formidable production and distribution network, complete with 1-800 numbers and Avon-style pyramid marketing. By 1985, when the drug was outlawed, the DEA estimates that Clegg was flooding the Dallas area with as many as 500,000 pills a month. PHILIP SHERBURNE