Letter from Musto: Dear Michael Alig

April 2014 | by | in Daily Eye

Michael Alig at Tunnel

So you’re out, kid. May 5 was your release date after serving approximately 17 years for the killing of Angel Melendez, which you carried out with “Freeze” (a.k.a. your roommate, Robert Riggs, who’s already free) in one of the most heartless crimes of the decade. In some kind of drug-hazed fight, the two of you used a hammer, a bottle of Drano, a pillow and—the final prop—a box full of body parts, before you ran around crying victim and/or blabbing about what you’d done, knowing that your war-painted acolytes would protect their icon. Some party, huh? 

You not only killed Angel, you basically murdered nightlife because, as Mayor Giuliani kept looking for ways to crack down on clubs so they became safe for tourists and community boards, you gave him every reason to put further restraints and make going out an exercise in constantly looking back to see who’s watching your every move. In fact, you made it very uncool to go out at all, especially dressed with any flamboyance, because the association was with a hateful, grisly act of violence that was substance-fueled and totally demented. It was years until people were able to dress up and laugh again, and if you find the nightlife still a little too restrained when you reenter it, you mainly have yourself to blame!

But your other immediate actions are what concern people since you’re now able to pursue an actual future as the alternately dreaded and appreciated-despite-it-a Michael Alig. I’d actually like to get together and have a talk since I’m no hypocrite—I followed your every move all those years, put my name on your invites, and defended the club kids’ sense of cathartic liberation on various talk shows, in between criticizing you when you went too far or behaved too crudely. I was sort of the elder statesman of the group—someone who was privy to everything going on and was free to lash out in print about it since, as I constantly told my lawyer, “Don’t worry, Alig will never sue. He loves the press—any press.”

And I still have fond memories of the fun, the frolics, the outrageousness and the kick in the pants you regularly gave to society’s complacence and bad taste. You didn’t get on the cover of New York magazine early on for nothing; you represented the new wave in nightlife and the dramatic possibilities that were bringing a jolt to the mwah-mwah world of polite clubbing. You shook all that up, but then you screwed it up by abusing your freedoms, forgetting your guidelines, and thinking you were above the law and beyond human decency.

And now, I hear, you’ll be living in NYC with a friend and will apparently be finishing your memoirs and working on art, among other things. That’s fine. I want to hear what you have to say and have been waiting for the Aligula book since you first announced it ages ago. Just don’t martyr yourself in it and don’t fake compunction either—I need you to really feel it, O.K.? And while you’re at it, don’t get too attracted to the glitz of whatever publicity you get (from people like me, for example). This time around, the ink is not for your legend after midnight, but for your heinous criminal acts, and that’s nothing to gloat about, dear Michael.

Charity work—any charity work—would be a good way to take you out of yourself and to give back to the world in a way that might bring some gratification. Starring in reality shows or throwing parties (if anyone would let you) might sound appealing, but going down those hollow paths won’t lead to anything substantive. Those kinds of résumé entries were for the old Michael Alig. The new one needs to catch up with technology, adapt to our city’s more privileged populace and come up with something digital that will be creative, constructive and conciliatory. Use your imagination while quelling your baser instincts.

I’m not one of those people who feel you should be deprived of human rights. You served your time and you’re now free to pursue honest, ethical actions as a citizen of the world. I just hope you approach that seriously and soberly, especially since you blamed your messy behavior on all the drugs you’d taken. So raise a glass of cranberry juice and be grateful you’re alive. Not everyone is around to say that. 

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