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a terrible beauty featuring Michael Alig  

On 30 June 2000 at 8.45 am the doors of Clinton Correctional Facility, Dannemora, New York State, swung open, enabling David Lambert to meet, interview and record Michael Alig. Alig - decadent dandy, creator and King of the Club Kids, the night-club phenomenon of the 1990s, had two years earlier been sentenced to between 10 and 20 years for the murder of Angel Melendez. He had found himself incarcerated in the century-old prison with seven years to go before any chance of parole.

Lambert walked through the labyrinthine Facility with two video cameras, a mini disc recorder and small recording studio. He and Alig had started corresponding six months earlier when Alig had been notified by friend and Club Kid collaborator, James St James, that The Satori Group from England (i.e. Lambert) was working on the creation of a contemporary ‘opera’ based on Alig’s decadent New York life. Alig immediately wrote to Lambert offering his ‘services’. Six months later he and Lambert were sitting around a prison table.

But let’s go back ten years... Michael Alig had moved from South Bend, Indiana, to New York City to go to art school. Within six months he was working at top nightclub, Danceteria. A year on he had become New York's hottest party promoter, and in so doing had created The Club Kids, a group of disaffected young people waiting for the next Big Thing. They found it in Alig’s no-holds-barred parties. Sex, drugs and the emerging rave culture were all placed in the cocktail shaker of life to produce one of those phenomena that no one can plan or predict. As The New Romantics had been created in the UK by Steve Strange a decade earlier, so Alig had given birth to his own bizarre utopian youth culture scene.  

It was difficult for Alig to recognise exactly what he had created, but in a relatively short time he had galvanized a fragmented night club scene into a potential New World movement: something that had the potential to influence contemporary popular culture for decades to come.

And then he went and killed Angel Melendez. Angel Melendez was an alleged drug-dealer. He had been living with Alig and Robert ‘Freeze’ Riggs for only a few months. Angel was supposedly saving the profits from his deals in order to become a filmmaker. Alig revealed to Lambert that no one liked Angel and that the scene never missed him. On Sunday 17 March 1996, Freeze heard Alig and Angel arguing in one of their apartment bedrooms. Within twenty minutes Angel was dead. Freeze had struck Angel over the head with a hammer; Michael had poured drain cleaner into Angel’s mouth; both had placed duct tape over his mouth until he was dead. Both had undressed Angel and placed him in their bathtub, where it remained for five to seven days. Some say parties were thrown during that week, with people stumbling onto the corpse.

What did happen is that Michael, high on ten bags of heroin, went into the bathroom and cut off Angel’s legs, placed them in black garbage sacks and disposed of them in the river. He and Freeze then wrapped the torso up in sheets and more garbage sacks and placed the body in a large cardboard box, caught a taxi to the Westside Highway around 25th Street, and threw the box into the Hudson River. After nine months of carrying on as if nothing had happened - at one time Michael threw a party called Blood Feast, which had the self-declared Queen Of the Club Kids, Jenny Talia, eating the brains of Alig, whilst his corpse lay beside her - Freeze walked into the 84 Wooster Street Police Precinct and confessed to the killing.  

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Both were found guilty of manslaughter and sentenced to between 10 to 20 years.

'a terrible beauty featuring Michael Alig' begins to tell the story in words and music. But it is only the beginning...Part One of a trilogy. Whilst at the Facility Lambert captured amazing footage of the now bespectacled Alig; footage that tells of Alig’s realization that the death of Angel had saved him from his own death; footage that sees Alig telling jokes, explaining his ‘blueprint’ for world domination, and much, much more. Footage that will over the next two years via various media inform you of how one of America’s shrewdest thinkers of the 1990s plans to spend the next decade and beyond.

CD Samples (mp3)

 the emergency room
 the epoch of belief

images from cd