Evil Empire

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He remembers first hearing about English Shaun in early 1996, around the time of a party called "Icey." The touchy-feely effects of E were in full force that night.

"They had this big bouncy castle out in the parking lot at that party, and I was all E'd out lying in there, because of course by about 1 a.m. it had turned into a big cuddle-puddle chill room. . . . Everyone was coming down a little bit off their first pill, probably, and feeling more touchy-feely.

"This chick was sitting behind me with her legs over my shoulders, so my neck is pressed between her legs, and she's like rubbing on the back of my neck and massaging my shoulders by flexing her thighs, right? It was awesome."

Marcus takes a moment to savor the memory.

"Anyway, she starts talking about this guy English Shaun, how she bought her E from English Shaun, and how it was from London and it was pharmaceutical and it was really, really clean."

About this time in the scene, the first batches of bad E were showing up; either having no effect or making kids sick. For the first time, kids were beginning to pay close attention to the symbols stamped on E pills, to keep track of what brand they were taking.

"This chick who was giving me the neck massage, she told everyone in the cuddle-puddle that the E she bought from English Shaun wasn't even a pill, it was just white powder in a capsule, like a Tylenol, and I hadn't even heard of E coming that way yet."

At that time, Marcus was selling "Pumpkin Seed" Es, so named because of their shape and size; he bought them from a local middle man for $15 each, then re-selling the pills for $20 per. "I would go through 50 pills in a weekend, easy," he says. "I'd usually sell all 50 at one party, on a Friday night, then buy another 50 on Saturday and get rid of those, too. If I had a few left over, there was always some after-party at someone's house where they'd decided to keep the party rolling through Sunday night. And if you showed up there with a bag of 15 or 20 pills, you were the hero."

So he heard of English Shaun's powdered E and wanted to meet him. Two weeks after the Icey party, he says, he did meet him, at a rave at the Icehouse. "He was just this really sort of vibrant, attractive character, and I more or less had a friend introduce me, and came right out with it: that I heard he had really good E and I wanted to talk to him about buying in bulk. . . . He wasn't the guy going around the party doing hand-to-hand transactions. Already, he had people to do that for him. But he told me he'd flag me down that night as he was leaving, and I could follow him home and we'd talk things over."

Later that night, he did follow Shaun and his entourage to Shaun's home; Marcus won't say just where. Among that entourage that night, he says, were none of the people now indicted, except for Shaun. "I think it was more or less just a bunch of kids he'd met in the scene," Marcus says. "This was the very beginning of Shaun's syndicate. He was in the recruitment phase, seeing who worked out and who didn't. And I worked out very well."

The atmosphere that night was typical rave after-party chic. The lights were either dimmed, colored or black. Fractal videos played on TV monitors with the sound down low. "This was like 4:30 in the morning," he says. "There's people crashed everywhere, making out standing up against the walls everywhere, some guy who's all fucked up trying to make smoothies in the kitchen and getting frozen blueberries all over the place — that's one detail I remember, just that these frozen blueberries were flying out of the blender and then getting tracked all over the place, rolling around like little cold marbles . . ."

Business and pleasure were never far apart in Shaun's mind, as Marcus soon found out. "At one point Shaun is sitting on this couch with these two young girls, an arm around each of them, and they have glitter on their face and their arms and their legs. You know, glitter girls . . . really hot but really young. . . . [He] gets up with the girls and walks back to his room with them. But he's caught my eye as he's getting up from the couch, so he knows I'm watching him," Marcus remembers with a smirk. "But then as they're getting right up to the bedroom door, he flips his head back over his shoulder and sort of quickly nods for me to follow him."

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Susy Buchanan
Brendan Joel Kelley