John Belushi’s final drug-filled nights in NYC before his death

Inside the "SNL" star's dangerous, drugged-up life in New York City.

Cary Silkin saw John Belushi’s uncontrollable — and, ultimately, fatal — urges firsthand. Some four decades ago, he was a low-level coke dealer. One night in 1978, at the Upper West Side rock club Trax, he headed back to a makeshift dressing room to negotiate a sale. “The guy was trying it and another voice rudely shouted, ‘Hey! You got a gram?’ ” Silkin recalled to The Post. “It was John Belushi. He was a drunken, sloppy-looking guy.”

Silkin and Belushi, each with a pal in tow, proceeded to “SNL” headquarters at 30 Rock to wrap up a deal. After a brief encounter with guest host Christopher Lee — “An immaculate guy, looking at four bums, with Belushi being the bummiest” — they went to Belushi’s practically barren office. Silkin slid two grams to the comedian, who overturned a glass ashtray full of cigarette butts, tapped out an oversized line of cocaine and hoovered it. He borrowed $200 from cast members before swearing Silkin to secrecy.

The dealer said he returned to Trax — only to see Belushi reappear an hour later, seeking two more grams.

“When he died it was no shocker, considering the way he handled his cocaine,” said Silkin, now the host of the podcast Last Stop Penn Station. “I was no angel, but Belushi huffed it like a pig.”

“The Blues Brothers,” the 1980 film starring Belushi (right) and “SNL” pal Dan Aykroyd, had a cocaine budget.©Universal/courtesy Everett / E

When Silkin encountered Belushi, the comedian was on the cusp of superstardom. The 30-year-old was the breakout star of “Saturday Night Live” and about to hit it even bigger with “Animal House,” which would set a record that summer as the No. 1 grossing comedy. In the fall of 1978, “Briefcase Full of Blues,” his debut Blues Brothers album with “SNL” co-star and close pal Dan Aykroyd, would top Billboard’s charts.

But, as is made clear in the Showtime documentary “Belushi,” airing Sunday, Nov. 22, his life was eroding as he partied hard all around New York City.

In letters written to his wife, Judith, the comedian vowed to “stay away from drugs and drug people” while fighting destructive ­urges. “He tried hard to get past drugs,” said ­director R.J. Cutler. “But I’m not sure he had access to the tools he needed. Friends describe him as having enormous appetites.”

Three years later, he would be dead from overdosing on a speedball: a mix of heroin and cocaine.

Born and raised around Chi­cago, Belushi landed in New York in 1972, loaded with promise. Quickly establishing himself as part of the city’s edgy comedy scene, he was recruited for the 1975 “Saturday Night Live” premiere.

Marcia Resnick photographed Belushi and was with him on his last night in New York, as he “voraciously” ingested “space coke,” a drug she said “would haunt you.”Patrick McMullan/PMC

As his star rose, Belushi dropped himself into Manhattan’s drug-friendly punk scene and even played drums one night with the Dead Boys — a notoriously rowdy bunch whose singer, Stiv Bators, was known for strangling himself with his microphone cord and claimed to have once died for a minute while on-stage.

“[Belushi] never seemed like a ­celebrity; he was just like us,” Gyda Gash, who dated a guitarist from the band and now plays bass with Sabbath Warlock, told The Post. “I think John was drawn to the rawness and edginess and celebration of being a misfit — which all of us punks really were.”

Judith Belushi was less enamored. “I think she thought of us as the kind of people who caused his demise,” Gash said. “It’s sad when you wonder how it would have been if he had not hung out with people drawn to the wilder side.”

Photo of Belushi taken by Marcia Resnick.Getty Images

Belushi and Aykroyd opened a private clubhouse on the western reaches of Soho, in an old seaman’s bar that became an anything-goes joint drawing the likes of David Bowie, Keith Richards and ZZ Top. As screenwriter Mitch Glazer says in the documentary: “It was tiny, it stunk and it had the most terrifying bathroom . . . It became the coolest party in New York.”

A frequent guest recalled that “the drug use was overt. A cup of cocaine would be passed around.”

Things weren’t much better at “SNL.”

“Everyone said that people didn’t realize that John was as bad as he was because he always pulled it together for 11:30 [on Saturdays],” show creator and producer Lorne Michaels says in the documentary.

But the 1979 episode hosted by Kate Jackson, during Belushi’s final and frustrating season, was an exception. Fresh off an all-nighter with the Rolling Stones’ Ron Wood, “his voice was a mess. He was coughing. He looked terrible. The doctor said he can’t go on. I had very little sympathy,” Michaels recalls.

“I asked what would happen if he went on. The doctor said he could die. I asked what the odds were. The doctor said 50/50. I said I could live with those odds. John looked at me, he did the show and he was bad.”

Photo taken by John’s wife, Judy.Judy Belushi Pisano/Courtesy of

For a while, at least, Belushi made some efforts to stay clean. Former Epic Records A&R man Tom Werman told The Post about hanging out with the comedian and his minder, a guy called Smokey: “John said that Smokey’s job was to take the cocaine out of his nose.”

But that was seemingly impossible. According to Vanity Fair, “The Blues Brothers,” the 1980 movie he did with with Aykroyd, had a cocaine budget on its balance sheet. The drug use was even worse on the set of Belushi’s last film, “Neighbors.” Producer Richard Zanuck in the doc recalls having people off-camera to hold the comedian up so he wouldn’t topple over during filming. “He couldn’t control it and then no one [could] control him,” Zanuck says.

During Belushi’s last six months in New York, drug-fueled all-nighters were not uncommon. Marcia Resnick, a photographer then shooting pictures for what would become her book “Punks, Poets & Provocateurs: New York City Bad Boys, 1977 – 1982,” encountered him in the subterranean VIP room of the after-hours Tribeca haunt AM/PM and asked when she could photograph him.

Another snapshot of Judy Belushi’s.Judy Belushi Pisano/Courtesy of

“He said, ‘How about now?’ ” Resnick told The Post. “I thought he was joking. Then, when I got home, at like 6 a.m., there was a limo in front of my building. John and his entourage came up to my loft.” He insisted on wearing a ski mask for some shots.

Six months later, Resnick heard from Belushi again on what would be his last night ever in NYC. This time he invited her to a mutual friend’s apartment. She brought contact sheets from their shoot.

“[The friend] had two kinds of coke. He had the good kind and the kind we called ‘space coke.’ You’d feel like you were in outer space if you did it. We all probably tried a little bit and realized it was a terrible thing that will haunt you,” Resnick recalled. “But John luxuriated in [the space coke]. He was voracious.”

Following a chat about music and film, “a limo came to pick up John for a drive to the airport. He bounded downstairs and I bounded with him. I handed him the contact sheets.”

Belushi’s coke dealer, Cary Silkin.Cary Silkin

Belushi glanced at them. “He said, ‘These are terrible.’ Then he gave them back, got into the limo and that was the last anybody saw him in New York.”

Five days later, Belushi was found dead from an overdose in a bungalow at the Chateau Marmont Hotel in West Hollywood. “Everyone was shocked,” remembered Resnick.

“He had never before done heroin. Speedballs are a dangerous combination. They make you feel really good but you have no idea that you did too much. With that, and everything else, he never had enough.”

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