Michael Musto (left) photographed with Michael Alig in the mid-'90s
As onetime club kid leader Michael Alig prepares for a May 5 prison release after serving 17 years for collaborating on the killing of drug dealer Angel Melendez, I have to look back on the weird times, the creepy times, and even the fun stuff. The flamboyant former Pied Piper to young clubbies with a lunch box and a fractured dream, Alig has always been many things, but boring is not one of them. Here are the 10 times he raised my shackles with the most demented glee.
1. One of my first interactions with Alig had him entering a 1980s talent contest I judged at the wild and wooly club Danceteria. Before the competition, the Indiana transplant nervily cooed to me that he'd give me "sex, drugs, and rock and roll" if I voted for him. Much as I like rock and roll, I didn't grant him the nod because his talent was merely gogo dancing, and besides, he was awful at it--awkward and completely lacking in rhythm. It was behind the scenes that the guy really shined (like a possessed jack o'lantern).
2. Once, Alig left me a phone message about how thrilled he was that shock rocker GG Allin had died of an OD. Why such joy? Well, Alig said he'd just taped a talk show with Allin, during which the performer had promised to commit suicide. "Now, the show will get lots of publicity!" chirped the club icon.
3. Alig was responsible for the weekly Disco 2000 bash at the Limelight, which featured a Weimaresque presentation called the Unnatural Acts revue. Among the low highlights, the notorious "Woody the dancing amputee" pranced around onstage, only to have his stump fall off in the heat of performance. A drunken girl from the audience promptly ran up and got intimate with both the stump and the prosthesis. Talk about making lemonade! Meanwhile, another blotto young lady gamely mated with soda bottles and one week, a guy blithely made a toast and drank his own urine. Again, talking about making...never mind. Anyway, when I reported on that last stunt in the Voice, gay activists complained that I was writing about stereotypically twisted gay people. It never occurred to them that the pee drinker could have been straight. And he was!
4. Alig and I were in a limo riding to some club or other. He was wearing a really terrifying ski mask, for no particular reason. He kept trying to unzip my pants and go down on me, but I wouldn't let him, not finding the Freddy Krueger act alluring. Besides, as I wrote in the Voice, it's not like he was into it, it was basically just another Unnatural Acts revue.
5. I once saw Alig try to push pills into the mouth of someone who resolutely didn't want them. The party thrower pushed harder and harder while emitting a demented laugh. And don't even ask about the times he spiked the punch bowl. No, really--don't.
6. There was talk about Alig keeping some German boy as a drugged-out indentured servant. He then allegedly pawned him off on another promoter for money when things got too messy. Charmed, I'm sure.
7. In 1996, he called me, sounding completely fried, and telling me he was fired from Limelight and padlocked out of his apartment. Alig listed all sorts of reasons for why he'd been so rudely victimized, but I wasn't sure whether to believe his spin, knowing how devious he could be. So I went to the Tunnel (a popular nightclub) and asked around: "Are those really the reasons why Michael was let go from Limelight?" "Yeah," came one seasoned reply. "Plus he and Freeze killed Angel Melendez." Oh, that!!!!
8. As the buzz swirled, Alig still managed to throw some parties. Like the party with an invitation that made a light mockery of all the murder talk. Alig was making it into a big joke! Even if the talk wasn't true, a lot of people suddenly wanted him to rot--and it was true!
9. In 1997, I interviewed Alig at the Metropolitan Detention Center on White Street. He was refreshingly honest about the way drugs could have served his purpose at the moment. "This is the worst place to be off drugs," he admitted. "My nerve endings are working again, but I'm in here! Heroin cures boredom. If I were on heroin, I could stare at that chair for eight hours and not need any other stimuli. But I'm adamant that, once outside, I'm staying clean."
10. From jail, he wrote me a manipulative 10-page letter begging me for a recommendation so he could try to get his sentence commuted. At the same time, Michael's doting mother was calling me to complain of her son's treatment, following up with, "What have you done for Michael?" "Gee," I thought, "maybe I should just start collecting his clown paintings."