Saturday, 13 November 2010

Party Monster: The Shockumentary (1998) and Michael Alig

Angel Melendez is dead. Michael Alig and Freeze are currently residing in a New York penitentiary, paying for his murder. James St James is living in Hollywood and working for World of Wonder, the production company managed by Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato, the directors of this here documentary. All six characters were previously friends that existed in the bubble of the Club Kid scene. As the drugs got stronger, the nights became darker and eventually the bubble burst leaving Angel dead and a bunch of fucked up addicts drowning in their own mess.

It is easy to forget, whilst watching the documentary, that Michael Alig is not the victim of the story. Yet the nature of the documentary would have us believe he is. Alig's mother speaks of the heartache she felt when her son confessed the crime. Alig's friend Gitsie, who died of an overdose shortly after the release of the documentary, sheds a tear as she reads details of the crime which she helped to keep secret. The only character that shows any vestige of emotion regarding the actual victim is Angel's brother. There is a firm barricade surrounding Michael Alig. The death of Angel Melendez is a minor blip on the flamboyant biography of what should be an abominable Party Monster. However, the predisposed nature of the film has the susceptible viewer embracing its affable antihero, myself included. Perhaps the cartoon-like environment in which the Club Kids exist is so far removed from reality that the viewer finds it hard to accept as real. Angel is not introduced as a character, but as a prop and the viewer is invited to sympathise with his death as a child would sympathise with the horrific accidents that Wylie Coyote endures in the Roadrunner cartoons. The artificiality of the reconstructions can be blamed for this, along with the excerpts of Blood Feast (1963).

Party Monster is an education in the Club Kids bizarre existence. It draws no conclusions and the only real regret is that the good old days are over. That being said, it is an intriguing insight into the 90's club and the Club Kids influence on fashion and popular culture is more evident now than ever (see Lady Gaga, Fame Monster, she even refers to her fans as 'little monsters' and uses the Club Kid ethic of celebrating your differences and embracing your inner freak).

Whilst researching Party Monster and other interpretations of the story including James St James book Disco Bloodbath and Bailey and Barbato's feature of the same name, I befriended Michael Alig by writing to him in prison. For 2 years we sent letters back and forth. During this time I also befriended James St James, we emailed one another regularly. One day I received a letter from Michael Alig's mother asking me to send her some money for him. I found this quite odd and Michael denied all knowledge of this, even though he must have supplied her with my address. Alig then ceased all communication with me. James St James also ceased communication after I criticised aspects of his book. It appears that only gullible sycophants are welcome in Club Kid circles.

In my letters to Michael, I used to suggest books for him to read and suggested New York Trilogy by Paul Auster. In the letter I received dated 19th Feb 2004 Alig responded with this...

Paul Auster...yes, I was dating his son Daniel... In fact he was the mysterious "third party" who was at my apartment and who helped us kill Angel... his father doesn't really like me anymore because of that... but then he doesn't like Daniel very much either. You should read the book Paul's wife Siri Hustvedt wrote about me and Daniel's relationship, it's called ‘What I Loved’ and it's disguised as fiction...but anyone who knows the story will recognise the similarities. 

Me and my big mouth, he’s not so mysterious now is he? There's no wonder they ceased all communication with me.

If you enjoy/have enjoyed the documentary, then I thoroughly recommend the book Disco Bloodbath by James St James. I do not, however recommend the feature film Party Monster (2003).

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  1. I'm your biggest fan Leigh.

  2. Thanks very much whoever you are but your anonymity makes it look like I wrote that myself.

  3. is a great new blog about michae alig

  4. i think hes a freak and a junkie and should be known for that and nothing else this whole story sickens me yet i cant belive this is the world we live in and i hope the fag burns in hell i hope he is killed before he ever gets out hes a abomination and i hope angel haunts him forever

    1. That's odd, he speaks highly of you.

    2. Junkie, yes. Freak, no. Miscreant & homophobe that you are, I don't expect an intelligent, insightful comment.

  5. The film was so well made. MICHAEL will love it once he's seen the whole thing. Once he gets out of prison, they're making a new film all about him.

  6. I have been fascinated by this story since I watched Party Monster years ago.
    The lesson learned, our interpretation of this story is described by the drug-addled minds of those who Michael befriended-- thus this glamorization of an innocent, fun-loving scene enthralls a mass audience to create their own entangled web of experiences.
    While The Club Kids taper out by the fall of its idol and representation, we come to realize dangers of refined drugs have on the psyche.
    Yet aren't we all so self-loathing that we numb our reality with substances, and we must masquerade as a way to cope with our past?
    "your past is just a story. and once you realize this it has no power over you."