26 December 2020 06:39
Michael Alig, the New York City club promoter who in the early- to mid-1990s made a name for himself as the leader of the "Club Kids," and was subsequently convicted of first-degree manslaughter for the 1996 death of Andre "Angel" Melendez — the inspiration for the 2003 film "Party Monster" starring Macauley Culkin — has died of an apparent heroin overdose. The New York Daily News reported that Alig was found in his Manhattan apartment on Christmas Day. His death is believed to have occurred on Dec. 24. Alig's story, from wide-eyed Indiana teenager to notorious downtown NYC hipster who helped put famous nightclub The Limelight on the map, garnered significant attention outside of the local scene thanks in large part to a 1999 book written by his club friend James St. James, "Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland." Later renamed "Party Monster," it, along with reporting of the murder, served as the inspiration for the movie 2003 movie co-starring Seth Green as St. James. First gaining attention with several television apperarances, including one in 1987 on a daytime talk show hosted by Geraldo Rivera and featuring a panel that included Alig and Rupaul, Club Kid parties were often themed and, like raves, could take place spontaneously anywhere in the city or its outer boroughs. Information concerning Melendez's March 17, 1996 murder, which was carried out by Alig and his then-roommate, Robert "Freeze" Riggs, was first revealed in an April 1996 article in downtown weekly the Village Voice written by Michael Musto.
Although Musto disguised the identities of those involved, it was known to many in the scene that Alig was responsible for the heinous act — after killing Melendez with multiple blows by hammer, Alig and Riggs dismembered the body and packed it into a cardboard box which they dumped in the Hudson river — largely because he was openly boasting about it. In the city's PR efforts to bring down the club business, the Limelight was labeled a "drug supermarket" in the press, an albatross that Gatien asserts was untrue in his book "The Club King: My Rise, Reign, and Fall in New York Nightlife," released in April of this year. But once federal agents got involved in investigating drug transactions at the site — Melendez was in fact dealing to club patrons and Alig had owed him a significant drug debt — the Limelight's party nights were ostensibly over. Melendez's remains were discovered off Staten Island weeks after the murder and in October 1997, Alig and Riggs both took plea deals — to first-degree manslaughter — and were sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison. The film "Party Monster," released while Alig was imprisoned, brought the story of the Club Kids to the world.
Alig, who reigned over the Manhattan club scene as a party promoter for Peter Gatien's immensely popular Limelight and Palladium dance clubs, was already infamous outside the city's lushly attired demimonde even before the murder, having made frequent designed-to-shock Club Kid appearances on daytime talk shows such as The Joan Rivers Show and Geraldo. The seemingly all-for-fun facade of the Club Kid scene turned irrevocably dark with the March 1996 disappearance of Andre "Angel" Melendez, a nightlife staple who DJ'd, wore angel wings and dealt drugs. Though the case initially drew little media coverage, a Village Voice blind item written by nightlife columnist Michael Musto all but named Alig and fellow Club Kid Robert "Freeze" Riggs as the killers. The murder became something of an open secret on the club scene, and both Alig and Riggs pleaded guilty in 1996 to the murder. Alig served 17 years in prison, was released in 2014 and in 2017 finished his parole, soon making attempts to return to the city's nightlife culture, selling artwork and, once, getting arrested for smoking crystal in a city park.
The murder and the club scene were chronicled in two documentaries: 1998's Party Monster: The Shockumentary and 2015's Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig. But Alig's story is most widely known via 2003's Party Monster, starring Macaulay Culkin as Alig, Dylan McDermott as Gatien and Seth Green as James St. James, Alig's Club Kid friend and mentor upon whose book, Disco Bloodbath, the film was based. After his release from prison, Alig cohosted, with fellow Club Kid Ernie Glam, the YouTube talk show The Pee-ew. "Club Kid Killer" Michael Alig — the famously flamboyant party promoter who ended up busted for murder — was found dead on Christmas Eve of an apparent heroin overdose, officials said Friday. He was known in his heyday as the self-proclaimed "King of the Club Kids," a group of outrageously dressed, drug-fueled hedonists staging the most sought-after nightclub parties in the 1980s and early 1990s. In March 1996, Alig and another friend, Robert "Freeze" Riggs, got into a beef with a small-time drug-peddling pal, Angel Melendez, while they were all on ketamine. Alig recalled to The Post how he and Riggs beat Melendez to death, then dismembered his body and tossed the parts into the Hudson River.