Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Alig: The Life and Death of the Party

King of Queens

Michael Alig's Club Kids
Michael Alig's Club Kids

At the time of the Joan Rivers show, Michael Alig was king of the Club Kids. He was running the best parties at the two biggest nightclubs in New York City, Tunnel and Limelight, both of them owned by Canadian club owner, Peter Gatien, a thin, mysterious man who wore an eye patch over his left eye lost in a high school hockey match.

Alig's rise in clubland began in the trifecta of New York megaclubs. He swept the floors and bussed tables and was an errand boy during the early 1980s at the Palladium, Club USA, and Danceteria. After a few years of working his way up, he was able to start "Disco 2000," the Wednesday party at the Limelight that drew legions of avant-garde and exhibitionist creatures of the night, many of whom would eventually become world famous through the mutually beneficial relationships they struck up with the New York media. Here, Walt Paper, Sophia Lamar, Jenny Talia, Desi Monster, Richie Rich, and Kenny Kenny would descend on the dance floor and gallivant to the trance and techno beats of DJ Keoki every week.

"Disco 2000" flyer

For a spell, Alig was the toast of the town. He threw "Changing of the Guard" parties, crowning old-school New York clubbers king and queen, while doting on his newer charges. When his mother Elke had a birthday party at the Tunnel, Alig had a limo bring her in and gave her a hit of the designer drug Ecstasy. He was featured in the celebrity gossip Page Six section of the New York Post and in The Village Voice. At the height of his fame, he was featured in national publications like People, and appeared on many TV shows, including Geraldo and The Joan Rivers Show.

Alig and the Club Kids had socially toppled the previous caste of nightclubbers, the leftover Warholian hanger-ons from the early eighties, the upper crusty society mavens who had made Studio 54 so fashionable in its heyday. They were the It Kids, and they dominated New York nightlife.

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