Michael Alig wasn’t just another “Club Kid”, you could say he was King of the club kids. This was Manhattan’s underground party scene back in the late 80’s through the 90’s. It was a good time, people would dress up in their most outrageous costume and party all night long. Michael was the biggest event organizer in the area; the owner of a popular night club called “The Limelight”, Peter Gatien, hired Michael to plan all the big events and ensure all of the coolest “kids” in town attended every party. It was a big deal, artists Cindy Lauper and Marilyn Manson performed there, among others. Owner Peter Gatien was busted for drugs more than once and the club was shut down, but that didn’t stop Michael and his buddies from partying. The club kids were even featured on several hit daytime talk show including Geraldo and Donahue.
Originally from South Bend, Indiana, Michael was a brilliant student but he’d always had a difficult time fitting in. He was attracted to men, something which his peers often found unacceptable, and a young Michael suffered a great deal of bullying. When his first love’s father had walked in on the boys wrestling, he demanded that the two never see one another ever again. Michael became very depressed and even suicidal.
After graduating highschool at the top 10% of his class in 1984, the young man moved to New York City where he attended college. It was here that the he finally found his niche in the night club scene. At first he stayed away from the hard drugs, but they were constantly offered to him and eventually Michael gave in. Towards the end of his heyday the drug dealers were actually on Michael’s payroll, he ensured that the best party favors in town were readily available at every single one of his events.
By the time of the murder, Michael was abusing heroin. The substance changed him, it dulled his mind; many say that his ideas became desperate, and he was arrested more than once. One of the drug dealers hired to frequent Michael’s parties was a Columbian immigrant named Andre “Angel” Melendez. Andre obtained his nickname, Angel, due to the angel costumes he constantly wore. At first Michael and the dealer were very friendly, with the dealer often sleeping over at Michael’s house after an all-nighter.
Michael’s boss, Peter Gatien, had been in a ton of legal trouble over the drug fueled parties he’d financed, and Gatien eventually demanded that Michael not permit entry to any big time drug dealers. Michael continued to let Angel in as long as possible, but when he did finally deny him entry, Angel became extremely angry and the friendship was ruined. Angel claimed that Michael’s boss owed him more than a thousand dollars for drugs, and two men even got into a fist fight over the disagreement, which left Michael with a large bruise on his neck.
On March 17th of 1996 a group of men had been getting high at the apartment which Michael had shared with Robert “Freeze” Riggs. Michael’s account of this day is that his boyfriend had overdosed on heroin, yet Angel had refused to give him some cocaine to help revive him. Once his boyfriend was out of the woods, they continued to argue over said drug money which was supposedly owed. The disagreement turned physical, and Angel was threatening Michael while beating him up; at this point Michael beckoned for his pal, Robert “Freeze” Riggs, to come help him out.
Michael bashed Angel in the head with a hammer, strangled, and then suffocated him with a pillow. The murder itself is pretty gruesome, and the exact chain of events remain a bit fuzzy even to this day. Some reports claim that the men used Drano on their enemy, that Angel was shot up with the cleaner; it’s said that they poured bleach down his throat then placed duct tape over their victim’s mouth. Others say that these substances were poured atop the corpse at a later time to help with the stench of a rotting corpse. There’s really no telling what happened; Michael didn’t deny that the chemicals were used, he was always pretty candid about what happened but he did admit that his memory was a bit blurry due to all of the drugs.
So when Angel was good and dead, Michael and Freeze didn’t have a freaking clue as to what should be done with Angel’s corpse. They placed him in a bath tub filled with ice and that’s where the man remained, for more than a week! Eventually the smell became so rancid that the men simply couldn’t ignore it any longer, and the men knew that they must remove the rotting corpse from their apartment. Michael got very, very high and cut the corpse up into tiny pieces; he placed the legs and head in plastic bags and the rest of him inside a box. Finally, what remained of Angel was thrown into the Hudson River.
An older Michael stated that, looking back, he believed that he must’ve wished to be caught, considering he told so many people exactly what had occurred. He’d pulled no punches, and even told people of the Drano! Most who heard this wild tale tended to believe that the murder was just a fantasy, a lie, and those who weren’t told directly by Michael thought it must be just a rumor. Still, it did not go unnoticed that the big time drug dealer with the massive wingspan had gone missing.
By this time, Michael had lost all control. For his thirtieth birthday, on April 29th of 1996, he threw himself a party titled “Bloodfest”; the party’s theme was murder, blood, and severed limbs. This is chilling, considering he Angel had been murdered just weeks before, on March 17th!
The authorities finally caught wind of the deadly rumors, and articles were written on the subject, but the police weren’t in too big of a rush to find a missing Columbian drug dealer. Who knows, Michael and Freeze may have gotten away with it forever had Angel’s dismembered corpse not been found by children playing in the water on Staten Island. Plenty of body parts were discovered, but the coroner originally had mistaken Angel for an Asian man.
Finally, in November, Angel was positively identified; Michael skipped town, he ran to New Jersey where he took shelter in a hotel with a lover until police came to arrest him. Once in custody, both Michael and Freeze admitted to what they’d done, but Michael claimed self defense; had Angel not attacked him none of this would have happened.
Considering how gory this murder was, you’d think a life sentence would’ve been in order, right? Wrong – see, regardless of the brutality involved, police were most concerned with taking down the much bigger fish whom they’d set their sights on: club owner Peter Gatien. A deal was offered, and in December of 1997 both Michael and Freeze pled guilty to first degree manslaughter; the men were sentenced to serve a measly 10-20 years in prison.
The King of the Club Kids had a rough time behind bars; he was a target for the other inmates and spent much of his time in protective custody. He lived this way for 17 years, until 2014 when a clean and sober Michael was released.
After his release Michael maintained a bit of his celebrity status; he was often paid to make an appearance at parties, and gave multiple interviews for various news stations and documentaries. Macaulay Culkin even played him in one movie about his life, “Party Monster“. A couple of years back Michael was busted for smoking crystal meth, old habits die hard I suppose. As of July of 2019 there were articles about Michael being homeless, abusing Ketamine again, and hooking up with men on Grindr just for a warm place to sleep at night. He came to have a heavy social media presence, and had a popular YouTube channel in which he appeared to be high as a kite more often than not.
This is a blog which was started in 2004 by James St. James, a good friend of Michael’s. It’s called “Phone Calls From A Felon” and contains transcripts of phone calls from when Michael was behind bars. Interesting read, but I am very fond of this case so I may be biased. The word “outrageous” is the only one that really fits Michael and his life:
As of yesterday, Christmas of 2020, the infamous 54 year old Michael Alig is dead. Police are saying that he passed away from an overdose.