Club Kids

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The Club Kids were a group of young New York City dance club personalities led by Michael Alig and James St. James in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The group was notable for its members' flamboyant behavior and outrageous costumes. In 1988, writer Michael Musto wrote about the Club Kids' "cult of crazy fashion and petulance": "They . . . are terminally superficial, have dubious aesthetic values, and are master manipulators, exploiters, and, thank God, partiers."[1]

Members[edit]

The group included (among others), its creators Michael Alig and his mentor James St. James, as well as:[2]

History[edit]

Alig moved to NYC from his native Indiana in 1984 and began hosting small events. In 1987, he supplanted Andy Warhol as a leading New York partier; in an Interview Magazine article, Alig said: "We were all going to become Warhol Superstars and move into The Factory. The funny thing was that everybody had the same idea: not to dress up but to make fun of people who dressed up. We changed our names like they did, and we dressed up in outrageously crazy outfits in order to be a satire of them--only we ended up becoming what we were satirizing." [13]

The Club Kids' aesthetic emphasized outrageousness, "fabulousness", and sex. Gender was fluid, and everything was DIY. In Musto's words: "It was a statement of individuality and sexuality which ran the gamut, and it was a form of tapping into an inner fabulousness within themselves and bringing it out." [14]

As the group's influence grew, they spread from the back rooms of lesser-known clubs to venues such as Area, Rudolf Piper's iconic Danceteria, and the Palladium. From there, Alig and his gang went on to virtually run Peter Gatien's club network, including the notorious Club USA and The Limelight, a large Chelsea club in a desecrated church. To draw crowds into these venues, Alig and the Club Kids began holding guerilla-style "outlaw parties", where, fully costumed and ready to party, they would hijack locations like Burger King, Dunkin' Donuts, McDonald's, ATM vestibules, the old High Line tracks before their conversion to a park, and the New York City Subway blasting music from a boombox and dancing until the police cleared them out. They ensured that such events always happened in the vicinity of an actual club to which they could decamp.[15][13] At the height of their cultural popularity, the Club Kids toured the United States and appeared on several talk shows, including Geraldo, The Joan Rivers Show, and the Phil Donahue Show.[16][17][18]

The beginning of the movement's decline was marked by an event in March 1996, when Alig and his roommate Robert "Freeze" Riggs killed former Limelight employee and reputed drug dealer Andre "Angel" Melendez. After nine months, Alig and Riggs were arrested.[16][19] The group dissipated in the mid-1990s after Mayor Rudy Giuliani's crackdown on Manhattan's nightclubs.[14]

In art, entertainment, and media[edit]

Books:

  • The events of Michael Alig's years as a club promoter up to his arrest are covered in James St. James's memoir, Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland (1999),[20] re-released with the title Party Monster after the release of the eponymous 2003 film.[21]

Films:

Music:

  • Alig and Melendez's friend, Screamin Rachael, wrote the song "Give Me My Freedom/Murder in Clubland" after Alig and Gitsie took a road trip to visit her in Denver, arriving five weeks after Melendez's "disappearance". The lyrics to a backwards loop in the song include such lines as, "Michael, where's Angel?", and, "Did someone just cry wolf, or us he dead?"[26][27]

Television – Melendez's murder case has also been featured on the TV series:

Theatre:

  • Clubland: The Monster Pop Party (2013), a musical adaptation of St. James' book Party Monster and its 2003 eponymous film adaptation, debuted April 11, 2013 at the American Repertory Theater's Club Oberon, with book, music, and lyrics by Andrew Barret Cox and produced by Jacob S. Porter[31]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Musto, Michael (2002-03-26). "NY Mirror". Village Voice. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  2. ^ a b c Fernández,Ramón (Writer and Director) (2015). Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (Crime documentary). Electric Theater Pictures. 
  3. ^ a b c "REVIEW: Glory Daze – The Life and Times of Michael Alig (2015)". World of Film Geek. December 8, 2016. 
  4. ^ Musto, Michael (May 18, 2016). "'I NEVER WANT TO STOP DRESSING UP': TALKING TO NIGHTLIFE LEGEND KENNY KENNY". Paper. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Turner, Megan Turner (January 23, 2003). "THE DAY THE DANCING DIED – CATCHING UP WITH THE CLUB KIDS IN TRUE-CRIME INDIE". New York Post. 
  6. ^ "Obituary: Cynthia "Gitsey" Haataja". The News-Press. January 16, 1997. 
  7. ^ Alig, Michael (May 12, 2014). "Club Kid killer relives bloody crime". New York Post. 
  8. ^ Musto, Michael (March 26, 2002). "NY Mirror". Village Voice. 
  9. ^ Nichols, James Michael (August 31, 2014). "After Dark: Meet Kenny Kenny, Visual Poet And Nightlife Icon". Huffington Post. 
  10. ^ "The Stories Behind These Striking Photos Show Club Kids Are More Than Just Pretty Faces". Mic. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  11. ^ "What Michael Alig's Club Kids Are Doing Now". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  12. ^ "The Party Monster Lives for the Applause; Michael Alig's Second Act". The Daily Beast. 28 February 2014. 
  13. ^ a b "The Comeback Kid: Michael Alig's Return to New York Nightlife | Thump". Thump. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  14. ^ a b "Michael Musto on the Prevailing Influence of Club Kid Fashion". The FADER. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  15. ^ "Party Monster: New Michael Alig prison interview". DangerousMinds. 2010-05-08. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  16. ^ a b "Michael Alig". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 2017-01-31. 
  17. ^ Carrie S. (2006-02-20), the joan rivers show - club kids interview, retrieved 2017-01-31 
  18. ^ theflush (1993), "New York Club Kids on Phil Donahue talkshow", Donahue 1993, retrieved 2017-01-31  (Complete TV show.)
  19. ^ Alig, Michael (May 12, 2014). "Club Kid killer relives bloody crime". New York Post. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ Romano, Tricia (May 9, 2014). "Michael Alig's Next Move? 'Club Kid Killer' Seeks Post-Prison Job". Billboard. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  22. ^ Andersen, John (September 23, 2011). "Review: 'Limelight'". variety.com. Retrieved December 22, 2014. 
  23. ^ Fernández,Ramón (Writer and Director). Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (Crime documentary). Electric Theater Pictures. 
  24. ^ Murthi, Vikram (July 26, 2018). "'Glory Daze' Exclusive Trailer & Poster: Explore the Rise and Fall of Michael Alig, One of NYC's 'Club Kids', The film will be released on VOD on August 16". IndieWire. 
  25. ^ Bar, Daryl (23 August 2016). "Review – Glory Daze: The Life And Times Of Michael Alig". Battle Royale With Cheese. 
  26. ^ Anthony Haden-Guest, Anthony (2015). The Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night. 
  27. ^ Alig and Rachael discuss the song and its inspiration in Party Monster: The Shockumentary, starting at 41:40
  28. ^ Kurtis, Bill (Host) (2000). "Dancing, Drugs, and Murder". American Justice (Series 126). New York City. 
  29. ^ "Becoming Angel". Investigation Discovery. 
  30. ^ Stasi, Linda (July 15, 2013). "Revisiting two 'Deadly' stories that rocked NYC". New York Post. 
  31. ^ Blank, Matthew (April 10, 2013). "PHOTO CALL: Meet the Club Kids of the New Immersive Musical Adaptation of "Party Monster" at A.R.T.". Playbill. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • St. James, James (1999). Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0-684-85764-2. 
  • Bailey, Fenton; Barbato, Randy (Directors) (1998). Party Monster: The Shockumentary (documentary film). Picture This! Entertainment. 

External links[edit]