On the surface, the NASA reunion party at Arc last month was a typical rave—with lots of acid house beats and P.L.U.R. (peace, love, unity, respect). But behind the scenes, you could say it was also far too typical of rave culture, with vicious backstabbing, money disputes, and accusations of slander, culminating in online physical threats from fans on the Breakbeat Science message boards.
DB, the drum’n’bass DJ and co-owner of Breakbeat Science record store, contends that his partner, SCOTTO (SCOTT OSMAN), a lighting artist who’s worked for Twilo and Limelight, owes him $12,000 from the NASA party on April 3. He says he is out $2,000 for flyers and DJ flight expenses and another $10,000 for the security deposit.
Both Arc and DB say that Scotto breached the contract by going to TicketLeap, a ticket vendor not stipulated in the contract. Contractually, only TicketWeb was to be used, with Breakbeat Science, Satellite Records, and Philly’s 611 Records also selling tickets. Scotto says that he went to TicketLeap out of frustration with Arc, which didn’t release tickets until five days prior to the event. Scotto says that after signing the contract, Arc’s MIKE BINDRA and NICK COOPER went to the Winter Music Conference in Miami, and “did not bother to get us tickets. Our one shot at making money is when the buzz goes out on the streets.” (Scotto concedes, however, that most tickets to club events sell in the few days prior to the party.) “If Arc had a problem with me selling tickets, they were required by the contract to serve me in writing and let me know that I caused a material breach and to allow me time to fix that material breach.”
Bindra says he verbally told Scotto to stop using TicketLeap immediately. Because Scotto had breached the contract, Arc refused to accept TicketLeap’s check (made out to Scotto, who doesn’t even have a bank account) on the day of the party, and asked that $10,000 in cash or a cashier’s check be presented up front—or the club would not honor the will-call list. DB offered to wire $10,000 of his own money to Arc for security in lieu of getting the check cleared. “Against our advice, DB came to the rescue,” says Bindra. “I told DB that Scotto was trying to pull a fast one—it’s been coming for weeks, we’ve been watching it happen.” The ticket funds are still frozen.
Scotto contends that Arc made an unreasonable demand—asking for cash or a cashier’s check after 5 p.m. on a Saturday, when all banks are closed. “He could have wired money online into an account. There are check-cashing places open,” says Bindra. “What was unreasonable was that at 5 p.m. he didn’t have it.”
Since only Scotto’s company, Drop.com Inc., signed the contract with Arc, Scotto contends that DB wasn’t his partner, and that he doesn’t owe DB money, the club does. DB says he didn’t sign the contract because he didn’t have an LLC to protect him, but that “in law, I have a past history with Scotto. It’s easy to prove he was my partner. The flyer says ‘DB and Scotto present.’ If I went to court with this, it’s not an issue.”
DB and Scotto ended their business relationship 12 years ago over a dispute regarding a NASA Music imprint for Profile Records, which later became Smile Communications. “It’s my own fault,” says DB. “I said to all my friends, ‘Make sure I never work with that cunt again.’ What happened is the mists of time obscured what really went on.”
Scotto is suing the club for $750,000 for breach of contract. Bindra says he has never been served with a legal notice. Scotto, who refused to provide the name of his attorney, also claims Bindra “blackmailed” DB; that Arc sold liquor after hours and without a proper license; that they stole money from the door; and that they never paid him his $4,500 promoter fee. Bindra refutes all charges: “As far as I’m concerned, we paid him. The person who stole money is not us. He had something like $27,000 in illegal ticket money that he was holding. I didn’t blackmail anyone. He has our share of the money, he has DB’s money, he has everything.”
Scotto says that DB is slandering him by posting messages on Breakbeat Science’s website saying that he stole money from the DJ. “If DB decides to stop slandering me and decides to help our case for him and me, then we’ll win,” he says. “If he decides to team up with Arc, then it’s all gone. I am going to Atlantic City when the money clears next week. And I’ll blow it all on the lawyers. End of story.”
This would not be the first time that Scotto has sued a nightclub. In 1999, he sued Studio 54 for breach of contract, also for $750,000, and settled out of court.
JASON JINX, one of the original NASA DJs who played the reunion, and who likens Scotto to a “used car salesman,” describing him as “slippery” and “shady,” volunteered to organize another party to reimburse DB. The name? Payback.