Superstar Andy Warhol once said, “In the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” Infamous “Club Kid Killer” Michael Alig had much more than his fifteen minutes when he was the undisputed king of nightlife in the ’90’s, but his time as a creative force in New York ended abruptly after the murder of Angel Melendez in 1997, a drug dealer and periphery member of Alig’s inner circle. Ninety percent of people who know the name Michael Alig, know him from 2001 movie Party Monster with Macaulay Culkin, but his exploits were again chronicled in the recently released Netflix documentary Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig.
For those who haven’t watched the documentary, Alig and Melendez had a physical altercation over drug money and Melendez ended up dead. Rather than calling the authorities, Alig and friend Robert Riggs, also known as Freeze, stuck the body in a bathtub with Drano. High on heroin, Alig then proceeded to chop up Melendez’s body, store it in a box in his apartment for several days and use a cab to dump it in the Hudson River. Following the crime, Alig told everyone. While he must have figured no body, no crime, even for murder some part of him wanted attention.
As depicted in the film, Alig was attention hungry in the ’90’s, following his dream of celebrity and pitching the idea of the Club Kids to misfits in the suburbs who just didn’t fit in. Like Warhol, he put together a group to reside in the upper echelon of New York nightlife who weren’t beautiful celebrities, but alternative people. One prominent example would be transsexual Amanda Lepore, who still serves as a nightlife personality in gay clubs all over Manhattan even today. Alig would do anything for attention back then, to the point of appearing in Times Square for an Outlaw Party wearing almost nothing but feathers.
In one of the many interviews following his release in 2014, Alig was asked why it was so important for him to do these appearances. The “New” Michael Alig claimed that he was “ambivalent” about it and had almost cancelled on HuffPost. A memorable sentiment from the documentary is that the man who went inside didn’t care what anybody thought, but the man coming out is going to care what everybody thinks.
Since his release, and probation that ended in November 2016, Alig has appeared in Page Six twice, once for a drugs and trespass arrest and once for a domestic dispute with a lover, who remained unnamed in the press. As recently as February 2nd, Alig was arrested for drug possession and criminal trespassing in the Bronx. Officers reportedly spotted what appeared to be a white, rock-like residue in a pipe stuffed in his pocket. He allegedly admitted that it was crystal meth, but then retracted that to Page Six and claimed that they were “healing crystals.”
Alig may have spent 17 years in prison for the murder, released with no knowledge of social media and smartphones, but he latched on to the arguably most powerful, Twitter, and hung on hard. One glance and it is so obvious how mired he is in the glory days of the Club Kids, and he and Disco Bloodbath author James St. James are even creating a new film called Party Monster 2, proudly touted in hashtags all over his account.
From the photos of Alig wearing a garbage bag or underwear in the club plastered all over his feed, it appears not much has changed, only that the Club Kids in the photo are older, and infinitely less attractive. Don’t let that baby face fool you, Alig is 50. His new party is thrown every Monday night at the Rumpus Room in Manhattan, and throughout Glory Daze, Alig expressed the desire to “reinvent himself,” the way Times Square has since the ’90’s. If reinventing himself is fliers that are identical to the Limelight advertisements of the 90’s or Warhol-esque art available for purchase on his website, it appears Alig has been left behind.
The trouble with Alig is that he hasn’t figured out that the scene he is trying to reproduce in Manhattan has moved to Brooklyn, specifically Bushwick. Unless he wants to be the creepy guy at the warehouse rave, he is simply too old for it. People still do party in Manhattan, despite the legal restrictions, but you don’t see Amanda Lepore in any of the photos. The way for his party to be successful is to leave the Limelight in the past, and accept itself for what it is, a tourist attraction at the Rumpus Room. Tourists from the Midwest that watched Party Monster or Glory Daze who are looking for local nightlife will be enthralled, but probably not as much as they are by Times Square.