Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Michael Alig: The Life and Death of the Party

What Goes Up Must Go Higher

James St. James (left) and Michael Alig
James St. James (left) and Michael Alig

As the years wore on, Alig's antics became more and more absurd. It started innocently, if somewhat childishly, enough: he had kicked off his career with a "Filthy Mouth" contest in which the contestants would shout obscenities; later, he had a Disco Truck — an 18-wheeler and trailer complete with a disco ball and heavy speakers that weren't properly secured (thus toppling over onto the clubbers inside when in motion) — that literally made the 200-odd revelers he recruited for the cruise around Manhattan breathless, as the trailer was completely lacking ventilation for its human cargo. He held underground renegade spontaneous parties in subway cars and at Burger King, long before the Internet made such instantaneous "flash" happenings easy. When confronted, he gleefully outran the police and treated such brushes with the cops as part of the anarchic fun.

Alig and his band of merry makers staged more and more outrageous party stunts: Alig would urinate in a cup and hand it to unsuspecting friends and watch as they drank it. Alig would flood the Tunnel basement and call it a pool party. At one infamous Disco 2000 party in 1992, the theme was "Blood Feast," invoking gory B-movies and cult films. In hindsight, the flyer now seems prescient — it featured the severed head of Alig and party girl Jenny Talia eating his brains, with a hammer in the foreground.

At the event itself, the Club Kids smeared themselves in real slabs of liver that quickly turned sour and gave off a disgusting stench, petrifying even the most jaded of clubgoers. Just when it seemed it couldn't get more absurd, it did. At one Disco 2000 party, an amputee danced until his prosthesis fell off; a drunken girl then humped the prosthetic. One woman would insert soda bottles into various orifices and spray the unsuspecting crowd. It was even rumored that Alig sold a German kid into sexual servitude. Alig's parties gave new meaning to the terms "sick and twisted" and "shock the bourgeois."

In the so-called Emergency Room — where people would play doctor and nurse and prescribe pills — Ecstasy and ketamine being the two favorites — or marijuana to the customers, who would fill their prescriptions with the help of a dealer lurking nearby.

Blatant drug use — and the promotion of it on flyers — earned the Tunnel and Limelight repeated raids and closures courtesy of the DEA and the New York Police Department, who would eventually launch a full-scale investigation of the drug ring supplying the Club Kids that the DEA alleged was overseen by Gatien, although he would later be acquitted.

In the meantime, though, Alig and his cohorts were doing more and more drugs.

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