Visiting Michael Alig In Prison: His Past, Present, & Soon-To-Be Future

I visited Michael Alig at the place of his incarceration: Elmira, N.Y. It’s about a four-hour drive unless you stop at Friendly’s or Dobb’s Country Kitchen to commiserate with locals. On the way, I stop a lot. I get gas. I buy cigarettes. I buy Redbulls, coffee, water… mixed nuts too. I pause to watch the rapid waters of the Susquehanna roll by. If I had seen roses on the way…I’d have stopped to smell them too. 

Part of me hesitates heading up to a joint. Elmira Correctional Facility is nice compared to other such places. Even the concertina wire and steel gates seem less foreboding than at Coxsackie or Rikers or the other places where Michael has been rehabilitating over the last 16 years. It’s been 16 years. 

Jeter was Rookie of the Year when this started. The Taliban had just taken Kabul. Tupac had just died. The O.J. trial had begun. Braveheart was best picture. Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was caught. The Summer Olympics was in Atlanta, and Yassar Arafat and the Israelis dropped the removal of each other as a plan. Peace seemed at hand. Clinton was president and some people were talking Whitewater. A cloned sheep named Dolly was the buzz, and Motorola introduced it’s easy-to-handle StarTAC cellphone. The world was changing fast as Michael was forced to slow down.

Michael went in an asshole, a murderer, an out-of-control drug maniac. I had long stopped being a friend. He needed to be locked up. His world of wonder, glamour, glitz, destruction, and self destruction ended the hard way. Michael rarely chose the easy way. His moment in the sun has been filmed and written about and discussed in magazines and on the world wide web, which he has yet to experience firsthand. 

People tweet for him, spewing out his snarky, daring, and eyebrow-raising takes on everything. He is very prolific. He has a lot of time on his hands. He paints a lot. He sent me home with a bunch of good ones. He has become an artist while inside. The guard at the desk on the way out told me "we have a lot of artists in here." There’s some sort of scandal going on with some of his paintings. I’ll get to it soon, but want the opportunity to talk to "Mary" who allegedly sold some of Michael’s work, claiming they belonged to her. Life has taught me that there are at least two sides to every story. 

Michael looks better than ever. I met him back in ’83 when he was a busboy at Danceteria. He threw some small parties and rose quickly. Me and mine picnicked in Central Park with him and his. We took day trips to farm country, saw concerts at night. Drugs and the scandals that rocked our worlds would come later. We were very naive.

He is healthier now. Muscular and trim from working out in his spare time. Everything except working on his book, painting, and flirting is spare time in the joint. I am amazed at how focused and coherent he is. His incarceration seems to have rehabilitated him mentally as well. He laughs and tells tales of days of yore – the good days, not the chaos – and hate at the end. Everyone who meets with him or corresponds with him looks for remorse as a measure of the man who may soon join the living.

Around me, he is wholeheartedly remorseful. I believe in him fully, knowing that he knows remorse is the price of admission for a continued friendship with me. I wasn’t born yesterday and will judge Michael on his actions till our end. 

He is finishing a drug program aimed at preparing him for life in the real world. The real world is scary. He is worried how he will be viewed. When told "so and so" won’t want to see him again, he is visibly upset. The desire to have everyone love him which drove him to massive success and a massive crash and burn still runs deep. He needs to be loved and hates being hated almost as much as not being noticed. Although supremely informed about tech stuff, cell phones, social media, reality TV, and the internet – he has never experienced these things directly. 

We who love him for the most part understand him and fear the bombardment of food, sex, and media that awaits. I have a feeling on a possible release date, but will just cross my fingers and say a silent prayer. i don’t want to jinx it. Release is inevitable. There are those that will never accept his return to society. They have a right to their stance. They have lived for 16 years without Michael, but without Angel Melendez as well. 

A new life is Michael’s fate, while no such fate belongs to Angel.There will be books and films and TV shows. There will be interviews and public appearances. Someone is even trying to bring a musical about it all to Broadway. Those who haven’t been blessed with Michael and his charms will be made aware of them. 

Old friends and companions hopefully have outgrown the "old" Michael. The fans, zealots, and losers who worship at the old alter must not have a say. Michael will be lifted in a sea of attention. 

Will all this attention unleash the long-buried, controlled-by-incarceration Party Monster, or will the Michael I hung out with on visiting day with Victor Corona and Amanda Noa emerge? We’ll see.

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Sara Bareilles Is Writing A Musical Based On Indie Film ‘Waitress’

She’s "not gonna write you a love song," but she’ll definitely write you a musical. Sara Bareilles, the singer/songwriter who’s sold over four million singles in the U.S. alone, is bringing her sincere, driving, and sob-inducing songs to the new musical adaptation of the tender indie movie Waitress

The 2007 shocker-hit starring Keri Russell is about a pregnant, unhappily-married waitress who starts whipping up tasty, inventive pies to escape her own life. When she meets the charming doctor who moves to town, the pies slowly become inspired by the events that follow…

Aboard the Waitress musical team are Pippin‘s producers and director, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Paula Vogel, who’s writing the script. 

Need a Waitress refresher or simply craving pie? Watch the film’s trailer.

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Broadway Gets Kinky: Tony Award Nominations Announced

Well, well, well, the truth comes out. The Great White Way’s kinky, laced-up, leathered side has officially slinked its way into the public eye with the announcement of this year’s Tony Award nominations – specifically the 13 nominations for Kinky Boots – the musical about a failing shoe factory’s success when it starts producing fetish footwear. With music by Cyndi Lauper, the musical adaptation of the 2005 British film garners the greatest number of nominations of any show this season. Couple that with the over-$1 million it makes a week, and it’s clear the people want kink with their song and dance, and Broadway knows how to deliver.

But beyond the sex, rock and roll, and more sex, the nominations also reveal that movie musicals are the only musicals worth producing on Broadway. Best musical nominees include: Bring It On, The Musical, A Christmas Story, The Musical, Kinky Boots, and Matilda The Musical, thereby proving that if you once paid $12 to see this story in cinemas, then it’s worth paying $125 to see it live and with song, percussion accompaniment, and revolving, wooden sets.

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Broadway’s ‘Rock of Ages’ Cast: Where They Rock Off-The-Clock

Where do professional rockers rock? That’s what I asked the cast of Rock of Ages, who rock Broadway eight times a week. Find out where they go and why on their one night off, before the show, and when the curtain comes down. Here’s our list: Where They Rock Off-The-Clock

Uncovering The Secrets Behind Broadway’s Bad Boy Hit ‘Rock of Ages’

Every rose has its thorn, every town has its rebel, and when it comes to the Great White Way, Rock of Ages is it. Flanked with a panties-covered set, a cast with amazingly toned abs, and a score full of the best ‘80s songs, this powerhouse Broadway musical defies the conventional stay-in-your-seat theatergoing experience, and transforms it into a sex-soaked rock concert that melds sincerity with parody; beer and shots are proffered in the aisles, rock posters dress the walls, and audience revelry is encouraged and inevitable. This bad boy breaks the rules, and it’s working; in its fourth year, Rock of Ages is selling better than ever. This month, it served its one-millionth customer, and has consistently been one of Broadway’s top 10 most-attended shows this year.

Of course, there are questions: How? Why? What is its mystical secret?

I sat down with two stars of the show to try to unlock these very questions: Jeremy Woodard – who plays Stacee Jaxx, the near-washed up, wild rock star – and Justin Matthew Sargent, who plays Drew, the aspiring rock star.

Apart from the music, what do you think people love about this show?
Jeremy Woodard: There’s something nostalgic about the ‘80s. Seeing as the economy is where it’s at, this show lets you just kick back and enjoy. There’s no drama – everything is said in jest. And when things are bad out there, you need to laugh a lot.
Justin Matthew Sargent: The story, too. It’s not your usual rags-to-riches tale. The characters start with a dream, until they realize the reality of it and that it’s not the kind of life they want to lead. They reevaluate and find new dreams in it all.
JW: The show doesn’t take itself too seriously. At all.

Unlike other jukebox musicals that stick to just one band’s music, Rock of Ages features the songs from a bunch of different ‘80s artists – Poison, Twisted Sister, Journey –  attracting all the fans that come with them. That’s a pretty brilliant, commercial concept.
JMS: Oh, totally.The fans go nuts for this show. It’s all built-in. And even though it’s ‘80s rock music and a niche kind of thing, you have a lot of versatility – you’ve got your power ballads, your songs that kick ass, sweet songs like “Every Rose Has Its Thorn.” There are so many different genres that make up ‘80s rock. And the coolest thing is when the people from those bands come to see the show.

What rock stars have been in the audience?
JMS: We’ve had Journey come to see the show, Phil Collins. We had Dee Snider in the show for a little while, and he’s just the nicest. I was such a big fan of his before we worked with him, and still am.

Jeremy, since you play Stacee Jaxx, the magnetic, women-obsessed rocker, do you receive any crazy emails, dirty underwear, etc. from fans?
JW: Thankfully, no dirty underwear. When I had Facebook, I used to get crazy messages that crossed the line, so I bowed out. There hasn’t been anyone that’s been scary. We sometimes get weird letters, but the girls get stuff more than we do.
JMS: Fans make us food all the time though – lots of cookies. They’ve also made real dolls out of us.
JW: Early on, our original Stacee – James Carpinello – had a lady come out and ask him to sign her shoulder as Stacee Jaxx, and then she got it tattooed afterward. She still comes around every now and then. That’s the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.

What a souvenir. I’ve heard there are fans that have seen this show over 250 times.
JW: Oh yeah. I ask people sometimes how they can afford to see it that often. I like Krispy Kreme, but I don’t think I can eat that many donuts.

Rock of Ages

Markèta Irglová: Star of Movie “Once” on its Move to Broadway

When most 19-year-olds were grinding through midterms, Markèta Irglová was accepting an Oscar for her music in the film Once. Five years later, her passion project is coming to Broadway.

The first time she saw rehearsals for the stage adaptation of Once, Markèta Irglová knew it would be a success. "I simply couldn’t find any faults with it," says the 23-year-old Czech-born singer and songwriter. The musical, which had barely begun its off-Broadway run when it announced its move to Broadway, is the latest iteration of the hit 2006 movie of the same name, a story of unattainable love between two musicians which co-starred Irglová and fellow singer/songwriter Glen Hansard. The stage adaptation of Once is performed by a whole new cast of actors, and the stage itself transformed into a jovial Irish pub. But the music – co-written by Irglová and Hansard and fashioned with heart and soaring melodies –  remains the same. 

"I was always award that that what you do affects those around you, but I was honored to see it affecting other people who worked with it and molded it into their own thing," she says.

Though being a part of the audience is a new experience for Irglová, she welcomes the change. Since being discovered by Hansard at the age of 13, she’s won the Oscar for Best Original Song for "Falling Slowly," toured the world with Hansard under the moniker The Swell Season and, after they ended their two-year relationship, released her solo record, Anar, which she’s currently touring in support of. 

"What’s different is I’m now in a position of leadership,"  Irglová says. "I have to dream everything up and manifest it and put a lot of thought and energy into it, but the rewards are bigger.