April 29, 1966 |
South Bend, Indiana
|Occupation||New York party promoter|
|Criminal charge||Murder of Angel Melendez|
|Criminal penalty||Pled guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to ten to twenty years in prison|
|Criminal status||Incarcerated at the Elmira Correctional Facility|
|Conviction(s)||Manslaughter 1st degree (Cat B) October 24, 1997|
Michael Alig (born South Bend, Indiana, April 29, 1966) is the co-founding member of the Club Kids, a group of young clubgoers led by Alig and his long-time best friend James St. James in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In 1996, Alig pled guilty to the manslaughter of Andre "Angel" Melendez in a confrontation over a drug debt.
Underground club scene
Alig moved to New York to attend college at Fordham University from which he later dropped out. He began working at Danceteria in 1983 as a bus boy. A natural at throwing parties with little or no resources he soon began to rise in New York's party scene. Alig was mentored by socialite James St. James and club owner Peter Gatien while rising in popularity and prominence in the national underground club scene. Alig was also influential in the early promotion of his then boyfriend DJ Keoki who studied under DJ Brian Telfair, top DJ at the time in Alig's and Gatien's clubs, most notably the New York club The Limelight, owned by Gatien and designed by Ari Bahat. In Sept 1995 the Limelight was closed by the police on suspicion of drug trafficking, but subsequently reopened several times during the 1990s. In September 2003, it reopened under the name "Avalon".
Alig's Club Kids
Alig's other protégés included Gitsie, Jennytalia, Robert "Freez" Riggs, Richie Rich, Charlie "Dash" Prestano, Amanda Lepore, RuPaul, and many other Club Kid personalities. The Club Kids' outrageousness resulted in their appearing on the news and the television talk show circuit—they appeared on the Geraldo Rivera show five times.
Murder of Angel Melendez
Andre "Angel" Melendez worked at the Limelight, and after the bar's closure by federal agents, Melendez was fired. With no job he moved into Alig's apartment. Increasingly affected by substance abuse, Alig and his friend Robert "Freeze" Riggs murdered Melendez after an argument over many things including a long-standing drug debt. Alig has claimed many times that he was so high on drugs that the events are quite cloudy. On December 9, 1996, Riggs confessed to police that on March 17, 1996:
On a Sunday in March of 1996 I was at home ... and Michael Alig and Angel Melendez were loudly arguing ... and getting louder. I opened the room and started towards the other bedroom ... at which point Michael Alig was yelling, "Help me!" "Get him off of me" [Angel] started shaking him violently and banging him against the wall. He was yelling "You better get my money or I'll break your neck" ... I grabbed the hammer ... and hit Angel over the head...
Then according to Riggs he hit Melendez a total of three times on the head. Then Alig grabbed a pillow and tried to smother him. When Melendez was unconscious Riggs went to the other room and when he came back he noticed a broken syringe on the floor. However, Alig's story was that he injected Melendez with Drano, while Riggs claims that Alig poured it down Melendez's throat and duct-taped his mouth closed. Since Alig and Riggs did not know what to do with the body they put it in the bath tub that they filled with ice. They kept the body from rotting, but after a few days the corpse began to smell. After discussing what to do next (and who should do it), Alig injected himself with heroin. He then cut the legs off the corpse, put them in a garbage bag and stuffed the rest in a box. Afterwards he threw the corpse into the Hudson River.
Investigation of the disappearance
While Alig was in rehab, rumors of Alig's involvement in Melendez's death were reported in the Village Voice by Michael Musto. Although no names were used, Musto's reports included the details of the murder. Musto had previously reported on Alig's firing from the Limelight and noted the buzz about a missing club person. On April 27, 1996, the New York Post's "Page Six" column ran a lead item about the murder mystery, citing Musto's reporting as well as a New York magazine piece quoting an evasive Alig. Over the coming weeks, the Village Voice continued to report and make accusations about Melendez's murder; however the police department was not that concerned about the disappearance of a Colombian drug dealer.
Through September, the police had still not questioned Alig about the murder; they were focused on his business partner Peter Gatien, wanting Alig to testify against him. Since several months had passed many people believed Alig would get away with it, until a dismembered torso was pulled from the waters off Staten Island. James St. James recounts how Melendez's brother was baffled by the callous indifference of the police and of the scenesters Angel had considered friends.
In the fall of 1996, to escape the scrutiny of the media, Alig fled New York. He and some of his close friends took a road trip to Denver, Colorado, stopping in Chicago and his hometown, South Bend. While in South Bend, he saw his mother for the first time in three years. Once in Denver he missed New York too much and moved back into the city, trying to make a comeback at another midtown night club by hosting a new party night, called Honey Trap.
In November 1996, the coroner reported the body had been identified as Melendez. Every rumor was confirmed by the appearance of Melendez's body and the police could not ignore it. Alig fled New York, staying in a hotel in New Jersey with boyfriend Brian McCauly before the police surrounded the location. In December 1997, Alig and his accomplice Robert Riggs pleaded guilty to manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 to 20 years in prison for Melendez's death.
While in prison, Alig told Musto, "I know why I blabbed. I must have wanted to stop me. I was spinning out of control. It's like the old saying 'What do you have to do to get attention around here - kill somebody?'
Alig's prisoner number is #97A-6595. While incarcerated in the New York prison system, Alig has been transferred from prison to prison and has also spent time in the psychiatric ward at Rikers Island.
Alig became eligible for parole in 2006. His first parole request, in November 2006, was denied, allegedly after parole officers watched the fictional movie based on Alig's life Party Monster, starring Macaulay Culkin. He was again denied parole in July 2008. His most recent parole hearing date was in July 2012. His next parole hearing is scheduled for July 2014.
In popular culture
The events of Michael Alig's years as a club promoter up to his arrest were portrayed in the 1998 documentary Party Monster: The Shockumentary and the 2003 feature film Party Monster starring Macaulay Culkin as Alig and Seth Green as St. James. The events are also covered in St. James's memoir, Disco Bloodbath, re-released with the title Party Monster after the release of the movie of the same name. Alig was interviewed while in prison for Limelight directed by Billy Corben. His case has also been featured on the TV series American Justice, and Notorious, as well as Deadly Devotion on Investigation Discovery.
In June 2001, David M. Lambert of the British artists' collective The Satori Group visited Alig at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, New York. He made recordings that were used in the creation of A Terrible Beauty featuring Michael Alig, a nine-track music CD using samples from the documentary Party Monster, original lyrics and Alig's vocals, among other content.
- Jonathan Van Meter (November 20, 2006). "Party Boy in a Cage". New York Magazine. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- "Inmate Information - Michael Alig". New York State Department of Correctional Services. 2008-05-22. Retrieved 2008-05-22. "Parole Hearing Date:07/2008"
- JOHN SULLIVAN (September 11, 1997). "2 Men Plead Guilty in Killing of Club Denizen". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-03-23. "Mr. Alig, who pleaded guilty in State Supreme Court in Manhattan to one count of first degree manslaughter, admitted that he and a friend smothered Andre Melendez, known as Angel, chopped up his body and threw it into the Hudson River."
- Michael Musto (March 26, 2002). "NYC Life". villagevoice. Retrieved 2008-03-22. "Alig and his then boyfriend, Keoki,"
- "Ari Bahat, Architect, 48". New York Times. August 25, 1989. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato; (1998) Format:Documentary Party Monster: The Shockumentary
Party Monster (1998) at the Internet Movie Database
- ANDREW JACOBS (November 22, 1998). "A Fallen Club King Tries a Comeback". New York Times. Retrieved 2008-05-22. "The born-again Limelight, he predicts, will usher in a new era of clubbing ...Although the club has operated sporadically since last summer, it is still a work in progress. Mr. Gatien says he has spent $1 million so far renovating the church interior -- a reinvention, as he calls it -- but much remains to be done."
- "Robert "Freeze" Riggs written confession". The Smoking Gun. 2007. Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- Michelle Goldberg (August 16, 1999). "Clubland Horrorcoaster". metroactive. Retrieved 2008-03-22. "One of the most poignant scenes in this story occurs when Angel's brother appears on the scene and is baffled by the callousness and indifference both of the police and of the people Angel considered friends."
- Bill Kurtis, Host (2000). "Dancing, Drugs, and Murder". [American Justice]. Series 126. A&E Network. http://www.tvguide.com/detail/tv-show.aspx?tvobjectid=194507&more=ucepisodelist&episodeid=2405366. Retrieved November 11, 2010.
- Ross, Barbara (September 11, 1997). "Nightclub Pals Own Up to '96 Killing". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2008-03-23. "They left the body in a bathtub for a week, then cut the legs off and dumped the pieces into the Hudson River. The torso washed up on Staten Island."
- Tricia Romano. "Michael Alig: The Life and Death of the Party". TruTV Crime Library: Notorious Murders: Celebrity Crimes. Retrieved 12 November 2010.
- "Celeb Antics a Musto read". New York Post. December 25, 2006. Retrieved 2008-03-22. "'Club Kid' Michael Alig told Musto, who first reported that Alig had committed the 1996 murder of drug dealer Angel Melendez, "I know why I blabbed. I must have wanted to stop me. I was spinning out of control. It's like the old saying 'What do you have to do to get attention around here - kill somebody?'"[dead link]
- Michael Alig and James St. James (August 5, 2004). "Phone Call from a Felon, or Fabulous but True Tales from Inside the Big House". Retrieved 2008-03-22.
- Michael Alig and James St. James (October 21, 2004). "Phone Call from a Felon - Part 11". WOW. Retrieved 2008-03-23. "You know, James, you don’t know any of this: When I first got to Rikers Island, do you know that they put me in the mental ward?"
- "Inmate Information" on NYS Department of Corrections website. Specify DIN number 97-A-6595
- James St. James. Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland (August 11, 1999 ed.). Simon & Schuster. p. 2222. ISBN 0-684-85764-2.
- "the satori group". Michael Alig Club Kids. 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-16.
- Interview with Michael Alig
- December 1988 cable TV interview with Alig and Keoki
- "Party Boy in a Cage" by Johnathan Van Meter for New York magazine
- "Prison Life Boredom Behind Bars" by Michael Alig for Paper magazine
- Party Monster (1998) at the Internet Movie Database
- Party Monster (2003) at the Internet Movie Database
- Prison Phone call transcripts between Alig and St. James