EPISODE NINE

Dimitri

 Dimitri Mugianis performing with his band Leisure Class in New York City in 1992. The band played in many underground clubs and bars. Along the way, Dimitri developed a drug addiction that lasted for decades.  Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis /    Russ Johnson   .

Dimitri Mugianis performing with his band Leisure Class in New York City in 1992. The band played in many underground clubs and bars. Along the way, Dimitri developed a drug addiction that lasted for decades. Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis / Russ Johnson.

Dimitri Mugianis is a rarity in Detroit: a white kid whose family stayed after everyone like them left. Growing up, he throws himself into the city’s avant-garde underworld, playing in art-punk bands and partying in gay clubs. But when his taste for the nightlife becomes a full-blown heroin addiction, he realizes that he’s in trouble—and, with a hot new drug called crack hitting the streets of Detroit, it’s only going to get worse.

LISTEN TO EPISODE NINE


DETROIT ROCK CITY

 Dimitri Mugianis’s band Leisure Class took many forms over the years, with a rotating roster of musicians. Pictured here is an early lineup in 1979 that went by the name "Leisure Suits.”  Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis / Russ Johnson.

Dimitri Mugianis’s band Leisure Class took many forms over the years, with a rotating roster of musicians. Pictured here is an early lineup in 1979 that went by the name "Leisure Suits.” Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis / Russ Johnson.

It was a little bit heady for a 14-year-old to do whatever the fuck they want.
— Dimitri Mugianis
 George Mugianis, left, often went to Leisure Class shows to see his brother Dimitri, second from left. Here, the band performs at Bunches in East Lansing, Michigan in 1982. The band was known for theatrical and confrontational live shows, which garnered them some local renown, though Dimitri says his drug use impeded their success.  Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis.

George Mugianis, left, often went to Leisure Class shows to see his brother Dimitri, second from left. Here, the band performs at Bunches in East Lansing, Michigan in 1982. The band was known for theatrical and confrontational live shows, which garnered them some local renown, though Dimitri says his drug use impeded their success. Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis.


Life at the Hotel Chelsea

 Dimitri and other members of Leisure Class moved to New York to see if they could take their music career to the next level. Dimitri lived at the Hotel Chelsea, which was home to many other artists and musicians. Heroin was a regular presence at the hotel, and Dimitri’s drug habit worsened.  Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis / Donna Johnson.

Dimitri and other members of Leisure Class moved to New York to see if they could take their music career to the next level. Dimitri lived at the Hotel Chelsea, which was home to many other artists and musicians. Heroin was a regular presence at the hotel, and Dimitri’s drug habit worsened. Courtesy of Dimitri Mugianis / Donna Johnson.

Drugs had a lot to do with nothing coming of it.
— Dimitri Mugianis

Another Fucking bar

 In August 1994, Dimitri Mugianis works the bar at his brother George’s establishment, Another Fucking Bar. George owned several bars and nightclubs, and says that, although customers loved Dimitri, he was a terrible bartender.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

In August 1994, Dimitri Mugianis works the bar at his brother George’s establishment, Another Fucking Bar. George owned several bars and nightclubs, and says that, although customers loved Dimitri, he was a terrible bartender. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

 A graffiti epitaph to crack users on the wall of an underpass along 8 Mile Road, near the Michigan State Fair Grounds.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

A graffiti epitaph to crack users on the wall of an underpass along 8 Mile Road, near the Michigan State Fair Grounds. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Crack came and everything fucking changed. Everything changed.
— Dimitri Mugianis

A Communal Experience

 Early on Friday, December 5, 1997, people began lining up early around Greater Grace Temple to get a seat for Coleman Young's funeral. Young died of complications from emphysema at the age of 79, after wrapping up his two-decade career as mayor of Detroit several years earlier.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

Early on Friday, December 5, 1997, people began lining up early around Greater Grace Temple to get a seat for Coleman Young's funeral. Young died of complications from emphysema at the age of 79, after wrapping up his two-decade career as mayor of Detroit several years earlier. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

There were other people there, other outcasts, because there was an identification with him. There was an identification of a guy who went through some shit.
— Dimitri Mugianis
Detroit_Free_Press_Sun__Dec_7__1997_ (1).jpg
Detroit_Free_Press_Sun__Dec_7__1997_.jpg
 People wave to the passing limousines in the Coleman Young funeral procession as it makes its way down Woodward Avenue.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

People wave to the passing limousines in the Coleman Young funeral procession as it makes its way down Woodward Avenue. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

 The casket of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young arrives at Detroit's Elmwood Cemetery in December 1997.  Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.

The casket of former Detroit Mayor Coleman Young arrives at Detroit's Elmwood Cemetery in December 1997. Courtesy of the Detroit Free Press.


A DEEP, DEEP TRIP

Dimitri unsuccessfully tried to kick his drug habit cold turkey numerous times. He eventually tried a hallucinogen called ibogaine after hearing it could help eliminate opioid withdrawal. The drug worked for him, and he has since administered the treatment to other recovering addicts. In order to do so, Dimitri often has to cross into Mexico to avoid DEA enforcement in the United States, where the drug is illegal.

I was able to wash it away, in a forgiveness of not only other people, but myself.
— Dimitri Mugianis
 Mugianis, second from right, now works at a harm reduction agency in East Harlem, New York. The program includes a holistic activities such as yoga, acupuncture, and tai chi. Here, Crimetown producer Samantha Lee, right, talks with Mugianis and two of his clients, one of whom offered a bit of production help.  Photo by Drew Nelles.

Mugianis, second from right, now works at a harm reduction agency in East Harlem, New York. The program includes a holistic activities such as yoga, acupuncture, and tai chi. Here, Crimetown producer Samantha Lee, right, talks with Mugianis and two of his clients, one of whom offered a bit of production help. Photo by Drew Nelles.


EPISODE CREDITS

Crimetown is Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier. This season is made in partnership with Gimlet Media and Spotify. This episode was produced by Samantha Lee, Ryan Murdock, John White, Rob Szypko, and Soraya Shockley. The senior producer is Drew Nelles. Editing by Zac Stuart-Pontier and Marc Smerling. Fact-checking by Jennifer Blackman. This episode was mixed, sound designed, and scored by Kenny Kusiak. Original music this season composed by Homer Steinweiss. We recorded some original music at Rustbelt Studios in Detroit in partnership with Detroit Sound Conservancy. Special thanks to Carleton Gholz and Maurice “Pirahnahead” Herd. Additional music by Kenny Kusiak, John Kusiak, Jon Ivans, and Edwin. Additional mixing by Bobby Lord. Our theme song is “Politicians In My Eyes” by Death. Our credit music this week is “I Love You More” by the Leisure Class.



We’ve got a Crimetown companion playlist on Spotify. This week we added a couple of Leisure Class songs, as well as some other classics of Detroit punk. Head over to crimetownmusic.com to check it out. Archival research by Brennan Rees. Show art and design by James Cabrera and Elise Harven. We’re on Facebook and Instagram @crimetownshow, and on Twitter @crimetown. To learn more about Dimitri’s work, you can visit dimitrimugianis.com and listen to his podcast here. You can also donate to New York Harm Reduction Educators, where Dimitri works, at nyhre.org. Thanks to the Detroit Free Press, Peter Bhatia, Allie Delyanis, Jim Schaeffer, Mary Schroeder, Mary Wallace, the Walter P. Reuther Library at Wayne State University, Melissa Samson, the Charles H. Wright Museum of African-American History, the Detroit Historical Society, Brendan Roney, James Rasin and everyone who shared their stories with us.