Michael Alig got out of jail the other day. It didn’t go according to plan…
The plan was for him to be greeted by a small group including myself, Esther Haynes, Victor Corona, Ramon Fernandez, a producer and director, and his camera crew, to film the final scene for a documentary called Glory Daze about Michael’s dubious path. There was also to be the crew from World of Wonder updating their “shockumentary”, and a New York Times reporter. My past legal woes precluded me from going. Victor Corona, a sane influence on Michael, expected him to be released from Brooklyn and couldn’t make the trip five hours upstate, where he was instead released. The rest did show, along with surprise guests (and former club kids) Scott “Scotto” Osman and Astro Erle. An old friend of Michael’s, the infamous James St. James, represented World of Wonder (WOW).
Things went bad when the film crews were detained by prison security who, understandably, didn’t want the facility shot. Michael was transported by van to the end of the prison road and dumped there.
Exclusive footage from Michael Alig’s reunion dinner with James St James.
Confused and elated, Michael posed for pictures that were shot instantly into social media. The images of him mugging with club kids who haven’t really grown up much disgusted his detractors, and those on the fence. He was off to a bad start. His prison haircut and ill-fitting clothes made the vain former fashion prince look and feel like a pauper. But he was out, and that’s all he was thinking about.
I spoke to him a couple of times and chided him that he wasn’t seen being humble or remorseful, and he started to understand how sound bites and Instagram images have changed the world he hopes to live in.
I spoke to Scotto and asked him why he went up there, and Scotto said he did it on his own, grabbed Erle and a camera guy. He said he only had Michael’s well being on his mind, and I believe him, but the subsequent media frenzy made him look like an exploiter.
My social media world was filled with I-told-you-so and predictions of Alig’s recidivism. Debates raged, and I felt my own belief in him starting to erode.
Years of effort trying to convince people that Michael was coming out a better man went down the drain.
Michael Alig meeting James St. James and friends outside of the jail.
It got worse from there. At dinner a small affair designed to give Michael a taste of life on the street, James St. James took over and baited Michael into looking like the obnoxious asshole so many believe he is. He coached Michael telling him that when he, James said or did something mean or awful Michael was to fight him, resist. James told Michael he had to do it, implying it was his job, that it would look good on camera, make the story better. Imprisoned for 17 years Michael wasn’t exactly savvy to the ways of reality filming. At dinner, Scotto made a joke about not allowing Michael to use a knife with his fork. Then James led Michael into a bathroom implying drug use. I heard that a dinner guest called Perez Hilton and gave him that scoop. Michael, to be tested for drugs the next day of course didn’t do any drugs, but the play acting and social media reporting of it all disgusted plenty, including me.
Michael Alig and James St. James posing for pictures after their reunion dinner at Almond restaurant.
Michael Musto wrote Michael a letter that he published on Scene magazine’s site. Michael cut out of the hoopla for a minute as the New York Times claimed exclusivity for the big interview, and his story seems a bit bitter in his attack… but only a little. I believe that his open letter is fair and honest. Musto and Michael Alig were close back in the day. Alig often paid Musto to appear or host or celebrate something. Michael Musto broke the murder story that everybody in the scene knew about; that is at the heart of this matter. Musto chronicled the scene better and of course longer than anyone. He deserves a place at the table.
James St. James took a much harsher route while being super friendly on the phone with Michael. He seems to be backstabbing him in his column, creating a swirl of club kid antics. Last I heard they were taking Alig to the Limelight to pose and prance. It’s anything for a snarky smile when seriousness should be the agenda. I have never seen James St. James serious. Maybe the first time I met him when he was living with my assistant Ce Ce Peniston on 4th or 5th Street. He was James Clark then and CeCe and I chided him as he pretended he was straight. He was trying to act serious about it. He had some muscle car, a Camaro or Firebird, and dressed in Midwest fashion. He did the door for us at The World until others who took the job seriously came along. He wrote the book that became the movie that created or expanded Michael Alig’s fan base. They call it Party Monster and it’s a fairytale with an unhappy ending.
James and some others lived happily ever after living a life less ordinary while others were far less fortunate. James likes to take credit for the whole shebang, but never any of the blame. Yet he and others including myself knew the scene was spinning out of control and either ignored it or just rode it. Alig and Freeze did the deed but we all set the stage.
In a letter that James published on the WOW site he flippantly informs Michael of all the things he has to look forward to in the new world. It’s a fun, clever read that doesn’t help the Alig’s image. James teases about sex and drugs. Not cute, that drug thing, for an addict entering a world of plenty. Yet it plays into the intrigue needed to make a good film.
Michael Alig used a cell phone for the first time yesterday. He couldn’t figure out how to turn on a ton of things, had trouble using a key, and last I heard was jumping on a computer. James is playing into Michael’s naiveté. I hope James tries to be his friend and forego the fluff, and helps Michael take baby steps to a better life. It seems, however, that the show must go on.
I’m not a big fan of James St. James. Although tasked to direct the clubs he worked in I never saw him in a meeting, creative or financial. I never felt he had any real impact besides dressing up and seeking boys and drugs. His actions in the last of couple days, camping it up for the cameras for WOW, clearly shows he doesn’t have Alig’s best interests in mind.
Photos and video courtesy of Scotto.TV