Michael Alig was recently released from prison. He was convicted of first-degree manslaughter in 1997 and served 17 years for the crime. Alig is infamous for being a prominent figure in the 1990s “Club Kid” scene in New York City in the early 90s. Club Kids were notorious for their wild costumes and rampant drug use (the Club Kid scene is where Ecstasy and Special K first appeared) while partying in NY clubs such as Limelight. Alig pleaded guilty in 1997 for the killing and dismembering of sometime roommate and drug dealer Andre “Angel” Melendez.
Alig says that he and Robert “Freeze” Riggs (his co-defendant) killed Melendez (by hitting him over the head with a hammer), and then dumped his dismembered remains in the Hudson River. Exact details of the incident are unclear – Michael Alig may have tried to inject Melendez with drain cleaner, or may have poured it into his mouth and taped it shut – but details are in contention. It is also uncertain whether they kept Melendez’s remains in a trunk and possibly also a bathtub before they decided to dispose of his body. Michael Alig was released from prison four years after Riggs, who was released in 2010.
The story was notarized and told with dramatic license in the book Disco Bloodbath by fellow club kid and Alig’s good friend at the time, James St. James. Disco Bloodbath later became the movie Party Monster, starring Macaulay Culkin as Alig and Seth Green as James. The film spells out the decadent partying and drug use amongst the scene, as well as Alig’s rise and fall into pseudo-fame and eventual conviction, through the eyes of James. The NYC nightclub scene quickly died out after Michael Alig was convicted, as it was seen as one of the darkest points of that time. Michael Alig “destroyed nightlife for many years” according to Village Voice reporter Michael Musto, who first broke the story of Alig’s crime in 1996.
Michael Alig joked on Twitter that the camera following him at his release made him feel like Kim Kardashian, and he also Tweeted a photo of his “first burrito of freedom”, taken at a reunion meal with James St. James and other friends on the night of his release. Alig maintained a social media presence while he was in jail through phone calls to a friend, who would then post for him via his Twitter account. Some feel his flippant attitude towards his release implies no remorse or understanding of the severity of his actions. He is currently working on a book he began writing in prison titled Aligula.
As Michael Alig was released from prison, the subculture came alive again with talk of the party years. Some view Michael as a sort of anti-hero, while others are very vocal in their reproach of the justice department, calling for a review of Alig’s release by the Parole board. Those reminiscent for the time seem to be rallying around him, as others think his sentence was way to lenient for his crime.
by Sharon A. Daws