Michael Alig: How I Did It
By Alex Panisch
After 17 years behind bars for the manslaughter friend and drug-dealer Angel Melendez, New York nightlife impresario Michael Alig is now a free man. In a piece for the New York Post, Alig tells his story, from being a “a gay teen coming to terms with [his] sexuality,” to the King of the Club Kids, to a murderer, to an inmate. You can read the entire article here.
Alig begins by relaying the heroin-induced hallucination—of being cornered by police choppers—he experienced while disposing of Melendez’s body in the Hudson River with his accomplice, Robert “Freez” Riggs, before delving into his arrival in New York City.
“I was overwhelmed and exhilarated. It was liberating,” writes Alig on being introduced into New York’s nightlife scene in the mid-'80s. He came to the city in August 1984, to attend university at Fordham. He would soon dropout to become a full time club promoter.
“I dropped out of college, earned $50 plus tips as a busboy at Danceteria and started organizing my own party nights. The first one at club owner Rudolf’s venue Tunnel was themed ‘Consumer Hell.'"
Soon he and friend James St. James came up with the idea of The Club Kids. Following a credo based on the “Warholian scene of self-proclaimed celebrities,” he joined the likes of John Sex, Billy Beyond, and Sister Dimension in “doing the fame thing backwards.” Fame became a means to its own end.
Alig claims that, “In the early days of Club Kids, it really was quite beautiful and positive.” They “helped the disillusioned and the disenfranchised believe in themselves — the gay kid from Iowa who didn’t dare tell anyone for fear of being mocked.” Alig says it was the drugs, which came along in the early '90s, that poisoned everything.
Soon Alig became and addict and in 1995 the DEA began cracking down on Club Land.
“In the middle of March 1996, we got word that the DEA was coming to our clubs on a certain Saturday night to arrest 30 or so dealers. The agency was going to threaten them with a lot of police time unless they turned state’s evidence against Peter [Gatien]. My job was to call them all and tell them not to show up that night and explain why. But Angel came to Limelight anyway around 2 a.m.”
The rest of the story you probably know by now. Melendez came to Alig’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment and he, Alig, and Freez quarreled.
“What happened next was a silly, pushy catfight,” laments Alig.
Melendez threw Alig into a cabinet and tackled him. Freez tried to pull him off.
“Freez reached for a hammer that was lying on a nearby table and hit him with the wooden handle. Angel fell to the floor. We sat on top of him and, wrapping a sweatshirt around my hand, I smashed it into Angel’s face.”
After realizing that Melendez was dead they put him in a bathtub full of ice and, over a week later, bought some butcher knives from Macy's and dismembered the body.
“We did it relatively quickly, cutting at the joints,” writes Alig. “There was really no blood left because it had dried. Freez sprayed Calvin Klein’s Eternity all over the bathroom to disguise the smell, which was ironic. That night, we put the legs in a duffel bag and threw it into the river by the Intrepid around 4 a.m. Then we put the torso and head in a TV box and took it down to the Hudson at 26th Street.”
Eventually Melendez’s remains were discovered and Alig was arrested. Nearly 2 decades later, Alig has only regrets. “Eighteen years on, looking back at the person I was at that time, I feel nothing but shame and disgust,” writes Alig. “I was a selfish junkie who killed another human being.”