*Featured photo of Michael in top hat by: Michael Fazakerley*
Michael Alig is an entrepreneur and events promoting genius. The fact that he and Freeze brutally killed and dismembered their heroin dealer “Angel” Melendez in 1996 over a $2,000 drug debt often obscures all other facets of this multi-faceted character.
Fast-talking, intelligent in the extreme and wide-ranging in the variety of topics he covers in a short amount of time, Michael Alig is a great conversationalist. One thing I appreciate is Michael’s raw, no holds barred, direct form of talking. You feel like you can talk with Michael about anything, nothing is off-limits. He is open to discussing everything, which says a lot about his character and personality.
On May 5th, 2014, just over two years ago, Michael Alig was released from prison after serving 17 years for first-degree manslaughter. The 2003 movie Party Monster, starring Macaulay Culkin as Michael Alig, is a quasi-fictionalized account of his life. Since being released from prison, Michael has been living in Coney Island, Brooklyn, NYC and will be off parole in November 2016.
New Developments & Upcoming Happenings
“Getting out of prison was surreal and a bit anti-climatic. They have counseling for people before they’re released. So I was expecting to be let down… and I was. Everybody in prison says ‘I can’t wait to go home and be in the real world’ but in the end it doesn’t really matter where you are. Whether you’re here or there, you’re alive. I have a sort of zen attitude about it.”
“A few days ago, Steve Lewis and I just re-launched a club called Rumpus Room, at 249 Eldridge @ Houston, on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The club features two rooms, a dance floor, lounge and two bars. Steve and I worked together at Limelight, Palladium, Danceteria and Tunnel. We’re old friends, we go way back.”
“I’m trying to get my new clothing line, SkroddleFace, out in August, so we can have booths at the trade shows. But the closer we get to the deadline the more it’s looking like maybe February.”
“I’m working with World of Wonder on Party Monster 2 (the second part of Party Monster, the shockumentary), and another documentary Glory Daze, about the Club Kids. All documentaries about the Club Kids have been hijacked by the crime, so I don’t think the Club Kids have really gotten their due, how they evolved and what they’re doing.”
“I’m also preparing two book proposals. My memoir Aligula is being split into two separate books. When you extract one storyline from something, it changes the entire book. I also have a coffee table book of original club invitations coming out soon, too.”
Michael Waxes Philosophic on How American Society Has Become a Cultural Wasteland
“I was locked up in 1996. It’s now 2016 and in the past 20 years, I have noticed huge changes. It’s like the boiling frog theory: people who slowly experience the change don’t realize just how Orwellian the scope of the change has been.”
“I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist but it definitely seems like a group of people have turned Americans into robots, taken away their rights, given them 5,000 flavors of ice cream and every television channel imaginable and used this stuff to hypnotize them into docile zombies.”
“Western culture used to produce creative thinkers. Now, the educational system is being dismantled; it’s taking away the process of creating new ideas out of nothing. It’s like a Twilight Zone episode. The future isn’t looking great. It’s already Idiocracy.”
“Most people right now seem to be re-formulating pre-packaged ideas. It’s dangerous. American Culture has been on the verge of death since the 1980’s. Talk about diminishing returns! It’s a problem.”
Michael’s 17-year Long Prison Shuffle
Michael Alig had a long and torturous journey throughout the New York Department of Corrections.
“When I was arrested, they had me in The Tombs. Then after I was convicted, I went to Clinton APPU, a satellite unit for high-profile inmates. It was actually pretty nice, you know, for a maximum security prison. Freeze and I didn’t appreciate it because we didn’t have any comparisons at the time.”
“But let me tell you, when I started going into the general population of other New York State prisons, those places are pretty scary. The entire system is controlled by gangs, and it’s like a scene from Mad Max. Trust me, it’s not a place you want to spend much time in.”
“The worst facility I was ever in was Southport, where I was housed from 2000-2005. It’s a “supermax” facility where they keep you locked in for basically 24 hours a day. I honestly think this kind of thing should be illegal but for the most violent inmates–unless you’re hurting other people or yourself. Then I did time at Rikers, Attica, Elmira, Eastern, Coxsackie, Mid-State, etc, you lose track of time.”
“I went to lots of different facilities, because when you go to prison they test your I.Q., and I guess I scored high enough to cause them to be concerned I’d be smart enough to figure out how to escape. It was mandatory I be moved every 12 months to a new facility.”
Michael Alig on being in prison for 17 years after killing his drug dealer
On March 17th, 1996, Michael Alig and Freeze killed their drug dealer, Angel Melendez, over a drug debt at their Riverbank West apartment, on West 43rd Street, in Hell’s Kitchen. They had spent the previous four days on Special K, Rohypnol, cocaine, crystal meth and heroin and were hallucinating in a dissociative fugue state.
Freeze hit Angel over the head repeatedly with the wooden handle end of a hammer, while Alig and another friend, Daniel Auster, sat on Angel and ultimately suffocated him. In a drug-fueled haze, the trio carried Angel’s body to the bathtub, filled the tub with ice, poured Drano and baking soda on the body and left the apartment for 8 days. UPON returning, for 10 bags of heroin, Alig dismembered the body, and the pair put Angel in a box and threw him into the Hudson River.
On April 12th, 1996, Angel’s legless torso washed ashore on Staten Island. Michael was finally arrested December 4th, 1996 in a New Jersey motel room.
“I was surprised at how well prison can work, if you want it to. Most inmates just sort of vegetate, but for the few who want to better themselves and are willing to spend time and effort, it can be very effective.”
“I spent time in over 15 different prisons during my 17 years in the prison system. Southport was the worst by far, on lockdown 24-hours a day. It’s notorious in New York State for being run like a concentration camp. They take your food away as punishment and you almost never see the sun.”
“For 5-years at Southport I was in solitary confinement. Solitary confinement is an unproductive tactic. All inmates do in lockdown is plot, so they’re ticking time-bombs when released, unusable in society. It’s insane.”
Heroin Addiction & Solitary Confinement
“When I was arrested, I was a heroin addict. Even after getting locked up, I continued using heroin and my urine kept testing positive for opiates. So I got a year in solitary for every dirty urine.” Heroin comes into prisons either from corrupt guards or from people visiting inmates in visiting rooms.
“Solitary confinement is one of those asinine laws created by cruel people who’ve probably never seen a solitary confinement cell for themselves, let alone spent years inside one. At Southport, when I was taken to the rec area for 20 minutes, an 8 x 10 pen with a little light from the sky, I was in shackles and handcuffs. Then back to solitary. It’s psychologically debilitating. Even most officers are against it.”
“On an upside, solitary confinement provided me with enough downtime to come up with tons of great new ideas. I have over a thousand pages of ideas, categorized, in countless notebooks, which I’m putting into action as we speak.”
“There are 7 levels of mental health. Craziest is level 1, sanest is level 7. I was a level 3 when I went in. If you get to a Level 1, they legally can only keep you 30 days in solitary. The problem with this system is that all the inmates in solitary purposely do crazy stuff to get to level 1. I swallowed batteries, drank toilet cleaner, cut my legs with safety pins. I was doing anything I could to get out of there. They finally let me out after I swallowed 120 Tylenols. They took me to the hospital and pumped my stomach.”
“When they’re assessing your levels at the mental health unit intake, it’s like something out of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. You’re in a room, sitting on a mat, naked, no possessions or eating utensils, nothing. People are watching you 24 hours a day. It’s very uncomfortable. The lights are super bright; it’s a form of torture, actually.”
“You have to endure 30 straight days of this abuse. After 30 days they have to get an executive order signed by the Governor of New York every single day to keep you longer. It creates bitterness and resentment among inmates but it made me a stronger person having to go through it.”
Michael Now Lives in Coney Island, Brooklyn, NYC
Michael Alig was born April 29th, 1966 in South Bend, Indiana. In 1984, he moved to NYC to attend Fordham University, however it was short-lived. Bored by school, he soon dropped out to start working as a busboy at Danceteria, a 6-floor nightclub located at 30 West 21st Street, NYC, and he worked here from December 1984 until the club closed in May 1985.
“Right now I’m living in Brooklyn, Coney Island. It’s beautiful. My room is in a gigantic, brand new house with 200-feet of private beach, we can see the Manhattan skyline. Everyone says Brooklyn is a trendy new borough but my favorite still is and will always be Manhattan. There is no place in the world like Manhattan.”
“My hobbies are writing and painting, and I have some art shows already scheduled for 2017. I don’t watch TV, I try to stay busy.”
“The movie ‘Family Possessions’ was filmed but I wasn’t in it because I couldn’t get permission from my parole officer to go to North Carolina to film it. The justice system is infamous for their deafening silence. They will do anything to justify their programs. My P.O. didn’t even know what to do with a letter from someone offering me a job because they never see it!”
“Also, in 2015, I acted with rapper Melle Mel in an independent movie called ‘Vamp Biker Dos’ where vampire bikers battle witches in Brooklyn.”
Michael Alig discusses the 2003 movie ‘Party Monster’
“Macaulay Culkin, who played me in the movie, visited me at Southport to prepare for his role. All the inmates were trying to get his autograph. We went over a lot of my mannerisms and idiosyncrasies. However, the film’s director, Fenton Bailey, has a British accent and it seems like it rubbed off on Macaulay. Fenton consulted with me on a lot of things, but the final edit of the movie was a huge shock. I barely recognized anyone.”
“Party Monster, taken as a window into a time, the clothing, music, etc, is great. But the storyline is so exaggerated. The whole Drano thing. We did not inject Angel with Drano. We poured the Drano and baking soda all over Angel’s body and in his mouth in order to hopefully mask the odor. James claims he doesn’t understand the difference. ‘You killed him. Why does it matter how?’ But I see a huge difference. I think the method of murdering someone does matter. It implies premeditation, intent, something forgivable or unforgivable. It’s something we’ll argue over till the day we die.”
Michael on his friend James St. James
James St. James is from Saginaw, Michigan. James and Alig met in NYC in the early 1980’s and have been friends ever since. In 1999, James wrote a memoir called Disco Bloodbath about his life with Alig.
“When I first met James, he was going in a completely different direction. He was a “celebutante” in 1984, but by 1987, he joined the Club Kids that I started. James was one of the main inspirations for creating the Club Kids. But so were Ronald McDonald, Bugs Bunny, and Lucille Ball.”
“In 1995, James moved to Los Angeles. We talk all the time. He’s visited NYC two or three times to film Party Monster 2. He misses New York. We have that timeless cosmopolitan fabulousness here that you just don’t get in superficial L.A.”
Michael on Growing up in Indiana
Michael grew up in South Bend, Indiana where he attended Penn High School. His mother, Elke Alig Blair, has been one of his main steadfast supporters throughout his entire life and they are very close. Elke is originally from Bremerhaven, Germany and her husband, John Alig, was an American serviceman. Michael also has one brother named David who’s a retired military man.
“I grew up in South Bend, Indiana. Chicago was the big city for us. When I came to New York, I saw the difference. NYC made Chicago look like South Bend. There is just nothing in the world like New York City. Experiencing NYC made me realize how sheltered I was and how Americans in general are too isolated. I do miss Halloween and Thanksgiving in Indiana. My Mom still lives there. I’m dying to check out Detroit. I’m planning a visit there in 2017 and can’t wait!”
Andy Warhol & Alig’s Warhol Superstars
In 1992, Michael Alig created the now famous “All American Superstar Tour”, a group of his Club Kids which included James St. James, Larry Tee, RuPaul, Jenny Talia, Amanda Lepore, DJ Keoki, the It Twins, Gitsie, etc.
“IT was basically a tour of the USA where we went looking for the two coolest people in each state. We had a party at a club in each city, then flew the 100 finalists back to NYC to attend the opening of our newest club called USA. Suddenly, NYC had 100 more fabulous people. Richie Rich, Sophia Lamar and Tobell von Cartier were all winners of this contest.”
“I was a big fan of Andy Warhol and got to meet him once. It was in February of 1987, the day before he went to the hospital. Andy Warhol and Miles Davis, the jazz trumpeter, were modeling in our fashion show at Tunnel, which was run by me and Steve Lewis. Warhol could barely walk. He had some kind of gall bladder issue, I think. But he still did the runway, then immediately went to the hospital. At the time, Warhol and Davis were sort of has-beens so it was funny to have them modeling for us. No one could believe it a few days later when Warhol died.”
Peter Gatien, Talk Shows, and Obliterating Misconceptions
In 1990, Michael was hired by eye-patch wearing Peter Gatien to throw parties at Gatien’s then awful club Limelight, in Chelsea. Angel Melendez, a drug dealing club kid from Columbia, worked inside Gatien’s clubs, and wore his trademark white feathery wings everywhere he went. That’s how he met Alig. By August 1990, Michael started his famous weekly Wednesday night party, Disco 2000, at Limelight.
“Peter Gatien had a real eye-patch. A lot of people think it was just for show but no, it was real. I worked for him from 1990-1996. It was an interesting relationship. I’m an introvert disguised as an extrovert and Peter is the opposite. He would lock himself in his office during all of our parties. He would let us do basically whatever we wanted and never really get involved.”
“We did the Geraldo Rivera talk show in 1991, and our popularity skyrocketed overnight. Suddenly, we were the hot new global sensation. Then we did Oprah, Joan Rivers, Phil Donahue, all the talk shows. We were famous and fabulous.”
“During this time, I worked for 4 clubs simultaneously: Tunnel, Palladium, USA and Limelight, bringing in close to 9,000 people every night.”
Will it be difficult for the “Party Monster” to get along in this brave new world of iPhones and email? Will he be able to get a job? Will people forgive him? His reputation caused by the film won’t help.
“There are so many other things in the movie that aren’t true–too many to mention. We didn’t have parties after the crime; Christina didn’t drive the disco truck. My friends are all such drama queens though… nothing is ever big or exciting enough for them. They have to make everything outrageous.”
Michael Alig’s Homepage
Aligmart (Michael’s online shop)
Club Kids on Phil Donahue Talk Show (1993)
Rumpus Room (Michael Alig’s new club)
James St. James Explains Ketamine