James St.James – Disco Bloodbath

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The Story of Michael Alig – King of the Club Kids
Sceptre 1999

This is a true story from New York City, ca. mid-90’s. It’s the story of a final episode of glam club culture and a story of drugs, a story of murder. With the sensationalising “he came, he partied, he killed” printed on the cover do we detect some triumphalism here? A scene that wasn’t good for anything but make up, at least achieved a murder? La da doo.
The scene: Trashing the elitist and tired NY club scene of the late 80’s/early 90’s, Michael Alig was a main proponent of the ‘club kids’, a fan of Hershell Gordon Lewis’ movie Blood Feast and an excessive conoisseur of Ketamine, organising theme parties and club nights, launching their own magazine Project X, shooting star of the night life, before disappearing into the void of heroin, crack and more K, eventually murdering and dismembering drug dealer Angel, and failing to sink the body parts in the Hudson river. Instead they floated, got fished out by the police in New Jersey, and were lying around in the morgue for months before the connection was made, by which time the gossip columns were already full of talk of dismemberment, and the initial thirst for fame started mistaking the corpse for another vehicle for publicity.
James St. James isn’t “critically analysing” the alienation having been too much a part of the club kid thing, and therefore rather than peeling off the layers of deception adds more smudges to the make up – and gets terribly upset about it, realising “that nothing could ever be the same for me anymore, that I could never be happy just dressing up and going out”. He concedes that it was “silly” to say that – in the face of the death and destruction – but doesn’t see that it’s not silly, but sick. I am not saying that from a moral or judgemental point of view, because there is nothing to moralise and no one to judge. The club kids are merely a symptom, not the disease; they almost perfectly embodied the total emptiness, the extreme void that dance music and drug culture can reach.
The book reads like a ramble on the third day of a binge, and that in fact is its strength, and it’s certainly entertaining in its own way, also because it reduces the distance to the void.
It’s as if Alig had to murder in order to get a book written about him, and a review in datacide and countless other lines of text, because otherwise, without a corpse, after the fact there would have been nothing, nothing at all.

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  • 1 leona // Jan 19, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    thankyou for this post! im doing a journalistic piece on the club kids for uni and this was very helpful!!

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