Notorious Club Kid Michael Alig was released from prison last week after serving 17 years for killing his roommate, drug dealer and fellow Club Kid Andre “Angel” Melendez over a debt. In 1997 Alig pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree manslaughter in State Supreme Court in Manhattan. (He said he fought a murder charge so he could get to use a VCR while locked up.) Alig’s co-conspirator in Angel’s murder, Robert “Freez” Riggs, was released in 2010.
In his confession to police, Riggs said that Alig and Melendez had been fighting and that he had intervened to save Alig, hitting Angel over the head with a hammer and knocking him unconscious. Then Alig strangled and smothered Angel, but not before pouring Drano down his throat to ensure his demise. After leaving Angel’s corpse in the apartment bathtub for about a week, Alig dismembered the body and then he and Freez took a cab with the remains in a box and dumped it in the Hudson River.
Months later the box washed up onshore, eventually leading police to the killers.
Alig described Melendez as “one of those copycats that we hate, so we killed him.”
As disturbing as this murder is, it’s the callousness with which it was treated that I find striking. Apparently other Club Kids on the scene at the time had knowledge of Alig’s and Riggs’s involvement in the crime, yet they offered no help to police or the victim’s family. Melendez’s brother was baffled by the indifference of the police and of the scenesters Angel had considered friends.
The documentary Party Monster: The Shockumentary was released in 1998 and made Michael Alig more famous than he ever was on the New York club scene. It was later made into the feature film Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin. The notoriety of Party Monster and its story of fabulously debauched downtown nightclubbing also raised the profiles of the filmmaker’s World of Wonder Productions (RuPaul’s Drag Race, Million Dollar Listing) and “celebutante” James St. James, who wrote the book on which the film was based.
Now all involved are ready to cash in on Michael Alig’s newfound freedom with a media blitz. Within minutes of being released from Mid-State Correctional Facility in Marcy, NY, he tweeted:
A few days earlier he had tweeted:
So overwhelmed: A 15-person van filled with friends, writers, photogs, film crews & WOW will pick me up from prison on Monday.
To help Alig prepare for his reentry into society, St. James published an open letter to his old pal full of cute, tongue-in-cheek tips on how the world has changed:
Stay away from Beliebers, Little Monsters, and Directioners. They make Holocaust deniers seem well reasoned. And they will cut a bitch if you cross them.”
His release has been trending on news sites, Facebook, and Twitter, where his @Alig_Aligula account has over 28,000 followers. Camera crews from two different documentary productions were on-hand for the Alig’s celebration dinner on May 5th. World of Wonder captured the reunion to augment Shockumentary, and actor Ramon Fernandez recorded the gathering for the documentary he is producing, Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig. Fernandez says he is shooting Alig’s first two weeks of freedom for the film and is even taking the subject of his documentary to the former site of his old haunt, the Limelight nightclub.
This is all par for the course, I suppose. Fenton Bailey of World of Wonder Productions said:
I think if you look back at the Club Kids, it’s so interesting in that they were pioneers of the social media saturated environment in which we find ourselves living now. People said they were narcissistic and fame seekers and wanted fame for fame’s sake-and I think if you look on social media now you see that en masse. People are interested in their own brand and celebrity more than ever. People are doing all sorts of things to get attention. So I think he’s uniquely positioned to be able to anticipate where we’re all heading next. I think [the Club Kids] were very prescient.
Alig is reportedly circulating a memoir to agents and pursuing writing assignments.
So apparently serving hard time did not temper Michael Alig’s appetite for fame. And no doubt many will oblige him with fawning idol worship. He obviously appreciates that the world has not forgotten him and that his 15 minutes aren’t up. But there are also those that have not forgotten what he did. There are those who cared for Angel, and for them this must feel like a very painful old wound ripped open again.
Some of Angel’s loved ones might think the chance to get even with the man that killed him would be fabulous.