Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Alig: The Life and Death of the Party

Party Over, Out of Time

Movie poster: Party Monster
Movie poster: Party Monster

The ego to which the judge had referred so accurately in the courtroom, proved to be heartier than anyone knew. Even in prison, Alig was something of a star.

While he was awaiting sentencing, he made the gossip pages. The New York Daily News reported that he was having trouble kicking his heroin habit while at Metropolitan Correctional Center, and that his boyfriend, Brian McCauley was being denied visitation rights because they were gay. In fact, his boyfriend had been busted for trying to smuggle in methadone — charges were later dropped.

While he was locked away, two major motion pictures were made about his story. They were both called Party Monster, and were directed and written by the same duo, Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato. The first film, a documentary, was more favorably received by critics and featured interviews with Michael mere months before his arrest.

The second, released in 2003, was a dramatized treatment featuring former child star Macaulay Culkin as Alig, Oscar-nominee Chloe Sevigny as his friend, Gitsie (who had since overdosed), Seth Greene as James St. James, and Justin Hagan as Freeze, and Wilder Valderrama as DJ Keoki. The poorly-reviewed movie was based on Disco Bloodbath, written by James St. James, the clubber who gave Alig his entrée into the nightlife.

Book cover: Disco Bloodbath
Book cover: Disco Bloodbath

It is interesting to note that Alig's conspirator, Freeze, isn't given nearly as much screen time.

The movies and books on the Club Kids scene that came out after Alig's imprisonment, including Frank Owen's Clubland, and Lisa Sweetingham's Chemical Cowboys, helped keep Alig in the public eye.

PAPER magazine ran a piece written by Michael himself in 1997. It was a diary of his first days in the jail: He read Crime and Punishment. In 2004, he and James St. James recorded a series of their conversations, which were posted on the World of Wonder website.

Each time Alig is up for parole, the media runs a story about his possible release. In 2006, New York magazine ran a piece titled, "Party Boy In A Cage." The piece displayed Alig's charm and narcissism and detailed the ups and downs of living in prison.

During his incarceration, Alig has moved throughout the prison system. In 2000, he tested positive for heroin and was sentenced to two and a half years in solitary confinement at the Southport Correctional Facility. He has been in the mental ward at Riker's Island, and has been moved from different facilities, including Elmira, Coxsackie and Washington Correctional Center in Comstock, N.Y.

Michael Alig
Michael Alig

Alig has been up for parole two times — in 2006 and 2008 and was denied both times. This year — with a release in sight in the next — he had been showing his prison art, bright colorful paintings of club friends from days past, when Percocet was reportedly found in his system. Alig has claimed that he suffers from a nerve disorder in his lower back that makes him incontinent, impotent, and experience chronic pain. He was sentenced to up to four years in solitary confinement, which has reportedly sent him into a suicidal state. He is currently on suicide watch.

In his mugshot, taken when he first entered the Department of Corrections, Alig doesn't look fabulous. He is pale and pasty, wearing a blue jacket, his hair is dark and seems to be receding. He has thin wire-framed glasses. He is not wearing makeup or glitter, and his hair isn't dyed an unnatural shade of green. He looks like so many other men in prison: a common inmate. To a man like Alig that may be the harshest punishment of all.

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