Michael Alig was released from prison May 5th after seventeen years of incarceration for the murder of Andre Melendez. He was known as the king of the club kids, a New York City nightlife movement in the early nineties that focused on outrageous fashions, outlaw parties, and a very dark and dangerous drug scene. It was a typical night for partygoers to wear nothing but feathers and ransack the Times Square Burger King all while under the influence of various narcotics from cocaine to Special K to heroin – nothing was off limits and everyone was accepted. Alig’s exploits leading up to the murder were documented in ‘Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland’, a fabulously funny and heart wrenching memoir by James St. James, a fellow celebutante and Michael’s best friend at the time. James has since gone on to write a novel, ‘Freakshow’, and to work closely with production company World of Wonder (creators of RuPaul’s Drag Race). Disco Bloodbath was later adapted for the screen by filmmakers Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (of WOW) whom had previously directed and produced a ‘shockumentary’ about the club kid scene and Michael including interviews with many people who were involved. Party Monster starred Seth Green as budding author St. James and Macaulay Culkin as the drug fueled Alig.
Melendez, a drug dealer known as Angel among the club kids, was killed by Alig and another drug dealer Robert Riggs – who was known as Freez – over free drugs and money owed. The details are horrifying and gruesome, but unnecessary here, so I encourage you to pick up a copy of St. James’ book and give it many, many reads (as I have). Let’s just say it involved a syringe of drano, large kitchen knives, and the Hudson River. Alig received 10-20 years for manslaughter and was denied parole twice before he was released earlier this month. Despite the incident that ended in a tragic loss of life, Alig has remained a celebrity and creative icon in the clubbing community and many of his fans have been awaiting his return with open arms. He’s already done a slew of interviews, started tweeting for himself @Alig_Aligula, is working on an autobiography, and had a full day reunion with James St. James filmed by WOW, wherein they watch Party Monster together (Alig’s first viewing of the film). He’s now back to residing in the Bronx with his old roommate.
The first time I saw Party Monster I had taken it out from my local library and have since – oops – neglected to give it back. It was the flashy DVD case that lured me in at 14, but it was everything else that kept me coming back. I must have watched it at least a hundred times throughout my high school career. I couldn’t get enough of it: the stars (Macaulay Culkin, Seth Green, Chloe Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne, and Marilyn Manson to name a few), the fabulous soundtrack, the glamour, and the macabre. When I found out it was a true story my mind was practically blown out the back of my head, so to speak. To think of these wild characters as real people and this ‘tale of murder in clubland’ as an event that shut down this extravagant party scene before I was even old enough to walk, was exciting to say the least. I hungered for more information, and spent a good chunk of my teenage years trying to get my hands on a copy of the book, Disco Bloodbath. When I eventually found it, it had been republished under the name Party Monster to match the film. I facepalmed real hard over that one. Opening that book was like finding my soulmate (which I have, so I should know). I’ve probably read it just as many times as I’ve seen the movie, it’s just so good. St. James has an incredibly unique voice and flare for candid storytelling; it’s an absolute gem. Not to mention how fascinating the world of 80s-90s clubbing, costumes, and ecstasy is for the timid, social outcast I was in high school. Everybody loves a good downward spiral, and you won’t find one so infused with excess as this. So naturally I’ve been awaiting Alig’s release for many years now, having become infatuated with Culkin’s portrayal of his Peter Pan-esque character and his unique way of looking at the world as one big party that never ends. I have high hopes for his future work and reintegration into the spotlight.