May 7, 2014
With the recent release of the King of the Club Kids, Michael Alig, after serving 17 years in prison after being convicted of 1st degree manslaughter in 1997 for killing his Latin drug dealer Andre "Angel" Melendez, injecting his corpse with Drano, dismembering his body, and throwing it in the Hudson River, among others, I felt that there was no better time to re-watch the film that influenced the campy cocksucker's parole officers to deny him parole in 2006. Indeed, a film about the rise and fall of the NYC Club Kid scene, Party Monster (2003), which is based on Alig’s best f(r)iend and fellow alpha-Club Kid James St. James’ 1999 memoir Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland (which was later changed to ‘Party Monster’ in 2003), depicts a group of talentless fag and fag hag narcissists led by the ultimate alpha-fag narcissist Alig that adopted Andy Warhol’s Factory lifestyle (in fact, as St. James once stated, “I think Michael’s big break was when Warhol died...”) of imaginary self-centered superstars and hedonism to ungodly extremes of excess that would ultimately lead to murder. Co-directed by subversive queer producers-cum-auteurs Randy Barbato and Fenton Bailey (they would subsequently direct the documentary Hidden Fuhrer: Debating the Enigma of Hitler's Sexuality (2004) which takes a look at the evidence as to whether or not big H was gay), who previously directed the documentary Party Monster: The Shockumentary (1998), which the film is also largely based on, Party Monster, despite its seemingly exploitative and vulgarly campy essence, is a debauched docudrama that is quite faithful to the facts right down to little details regarding the curious case of Michael Alig and his Club Kid cohorts, as a work that never degenerates into hagiography (knowing Hollywood’s homophilia nowadays, one can expect that if Gus Vant Sant had directed the film, it would have portrayed Alig as a misunderstood hero of sorts). Admittedly, when Party Monster was first released over a decade ago, it was sort of a dream come true for me because, like many kids my age growing up during the early-1990s, I would often joke about Macaulay Culkin being gay and having been molested by Michael Jackson, so for him to make a very unexpected comeback as a hysterical homicidal homo seemed like pure kismet. Directed by two men actually connected to the Club Kid scene and starring a number of the original Club Kids wearing the same the repulsively flamboyant costumes that they wore during their prime as coke, cock, and ecstasy addled drug children, Party Monster depicts the height of Reaganite degeneracy (indeed, in the Shocukumentary doc, Alig and his friends confess they were all part of that materialistic mentality) where trust fund degenerates delighted in their own degeneracy and demanded that the entire world worship them for it despite the fact they lacked any sort of talent or trade. An unflattering, if not reasonably objective, portrayal of the bastard son of an eccentric German immigrant woman from a small town in Indiana with an unhealthy obsession with horror movies who learned how to con and charm people as a child by peddling candy at inflated prices and who, naturally feeling misunderstood, inevitably came to NYC to become rich and famous, which he almost did but also developed multiple drug addictions and homicidal tendencies, Party Monster is ultimately a damning depiction of the American dream gone awry set in arguably the most spiritually sick city in the world.
When Michael Alig (Macaulay Culkin) was 10 years old, his Sunday teacher taught him how to French kiss, “among other things,” and around the same time he taught himself how to be a parasitic capitalist by buying candy in bulk and selling it to his co-students at a 200% markup rate, thus the so-called ‘King of the Party Kids’ learned everything he needed to know about being a psychopathic poof conman while he was still just a wee lad. When he became an adult, Alig left his remote hometown in Indiana and headed to New York City to seek fame and fortune and soon realized he was practically made for the shitty city. After enough pestering and flattering, Alig convinces an underground socialite/trust fund transient by the name of James St. James (Seth Green) to teach him the “rules of fabulousness” in terms of gaining a reputation in the underground. After begging a one-eyed nightclub owner named Peter Gatien (played by Dylan McDermott in easily his most interesting film role ever) to host his parties at his nightclub, Alig soon becomes the uncontested Führer of the Club Kids. While St. James is Alig’s arch nemesis as both queens are determined to one-up one another in terms of popularity and reputation, Peter acts as a sort of father figure to the bastard Club Kid. On top of setting up parties in tribute to Herschell Gordon Lewis’ pioneering splatter flick Blood Feast (1963), Alig also pioneers a number of illegal parties in places ranging from an 18-wheeler truck driven by a tripping tranny (played by Marilyn Manson in drag) to a trashy fried chicken fast food joint. On top of conning people into giving him money for parties, Alig is so slick that he even manages to convert an ostensibly heterosexual fellow named Keoki (Wilmer Valderrama) into a homo and even transforms him into a ‘Superstar DJ’ in the process. Unfortunately, Keoki soon develops a coke problem and Alig gets back at his boyfriend by using all his white powder, which he shares with their cat (or ‘lovechild’), thus ushering in the beginning of the King of the Club Kid’s life-destroying addiction to drugs. Indeed, on top of keeping his slavishly hedonistic Club Kids under control, including his German-born mother Elke (played by Diana Scarwid of Mommie Dearest (1981)), by feeding them drugs and alcohol, especially ecstasy, Alig also invents his own childish droog-like language (using invented words like ‘skrod’, ‘skrink’, ‘Skrinkle’, ‘Skroddle’, etc.), which he actually convinces his followers to use.
With the growing popularity of the Club Kids, Alig and his low-camp comrades are featured on talk shows (although John Stamos portrays the talk show host in the film, Alig and his friends went on the Geraldo Rivera show, as well as the Jane Whitney Show where they found solidarity with GG Allin of all people!) and even do national tours to recruit members, as if the Club Kids are like some degenerate sodomite SS. During one of these performances, Alig, who is dressed like a campy Hitler with an Uncle Adolf mustache and a really gay lederhosen outfit, espouses his wanton psychopathic Weltanschauung to audience members, declaring, “Greetings, citizens. We are living in the age where the pursuit of all values other than money, success, fame and glamour, has either been discredited or destroyed. Money, success, fame, glamour.” One of the people to see Alig and his human accessories on TV is a gay Latino named Andre "Angel" Melendez (Wilson Cruz of My So-Called Life fame), who comes to NYC and becomes a top drug dealer among the Club Kids. While Alig has no problem devouring Angel’s drugs, he hates the Hispanic homo as he sees him as a dimwitted fraud and shameless copycat. Alig also starts a pseudo-romance with a hot fag hag named Gitsie (Chloë Sevigny) and spends a lot of time with a dapper hat maker turned drug dealer with a rather flat affect named Robert "Freez" Riggs (Justin Hagan). Eventually, Alig and Angel get in a fight over a longstanding drug debt and Freez ends up bashing the winged Latino in the head with a hammer. From there, Alig and Freez smother Angel with a pillow, poor Drano down his throat (although, according to the real-life Michael Alig, they also injected his veins with the cleaner), cut off his limbs, put his dismembered corpse in a cardboard box, and threw it into the Hudson River. Ever the braggart, Alig even goes so far as boasting of the murder and since the cops want to bust his boss Peter Gatien, he stays out of prison for a period of time, even going on a “Second Honeymoon” to drug rehab with Gitsie (indeed, Alig overdoses), but Angel’s body eventually turns up. In the end, Alig’s rival James St. James becomes quasi-famous for writing the “Great American Novel” aka Disco Bloodbath (the book the film is based on) while the King of the Club Kids is denied fame due to his imprisonment, though he brags, “You know, prison isn’t all that different from a night club…everything’s for free and I don’t have to get out of bed in the morning. And I can get all the drugs and sex I want.”
In Party Monster: The Shockumentary, the real-life Michael Alig is so flagrantly arrogant and confidant that he will get away with his sick criminality that he gives the following superlatively shallow excuse as to why he killed Angel, “he was a…he was a copycat…he was one of those copycats we hate so much and so we killed […] I killed Angel and… That’s the kind of thing that gets me in trouble” (keep in mind that this interview was filmed 3 months before Alig was arrested). Indeed, as far as I can tell from seeing him speak in interviews and documentaries, the real Alig makes Macaulay Culkin’s portrayal in Party Monster seem at least somewhat more empathetic and likeable by comparison. As far as I am concerned, the only good thing that ever came out of the whole Club Kid pseudo-kultur was the movie Party Monster, which is the modern day equivalent to a midnight movie and a true instant cult classic if there ever was one, as a highly quotable work with seemingly infinite replay value. Aside from appearing in Party Monster: The Shockumentary, Alig and his cracked out cocksucking Club Kid comrades also appeared in the obscure ‘gaysploitation’ flick Shampoo Horns (1998) directed by Spanish auteur Manuel Toledano. Additionally, Alig is also the main subject of the upcoming documentary Glory Daze: The Life and Times of Michael Alig (2015) directed by Spanish actor-turned-director Ramon Fernandez (indeed, it seems the Spanish have a special affinity for Alig for whatever reason). Incidentally, the trailer for Glory Daze mentions nothing about the fact that Alig is a killer. Upon being released from jail on May, 5 2014 after serving 17 years behind bars, Alig was also the subject of a ‘public letter’ written by gay wop journalist Michael Musto which declared, “You not only killed Angel, you basically murdered nightlife.” Additionally, Musto had the gall to dictate to the King of the Club Kids that he should do the following, “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.” Of course, as a man who used to date a neo-nazi skinhead, loved the word “spic” (not to mention the fact he killed one), routinely pissed in people’s drinks (and would coerce other people into drinking piss and vomit), and wrote libelous articles claiming his friends were involved in the less than flattering trade of enslaving 12-year-old boys and forcing them into white sex slavery, Alig would certainly look like a pathetic phony were he to attempt to turn over a new leaf and become another Hollywood humanist hack, especially with an innately incriminating biopic like Party Monster in existence that has immortalized his moral insanity, drug addiction, and scatological sadism. Like a contemporary Paul Morrissey flick minus the moral compass, Party Monster is not just an endlessly fun and entertaining film that is as addictive as coke yet shot on the price of crack, but also an epitaph for an entire degenerate generation of excess who thought that they were pure gold, but were more akin to excrement, thus making Michael Alig an aberrant alchemist of sorts. As for Macaulay Culkin, he should have won an Oscar for his performance in a truly singular role where he singlehandedly destroyed his reputation as a loveable childhood actor forever.
Posted by Soiled Sinema at 11:45 PM
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