Exclusive: Steve Lewis Letter to Michael Alig’s Parole Officer

Editor’s note: BlackBook contributor Steve Lewis asked us to share with our readers his letter to Michael Alig’s parole officer. 

Dear Sir or Madam,

Michael Alig was a good young person who fell into a world of drugs, lust, power and mayhem. He, in an addled state, killed a man and dismembered and discarded his body. He, as you know has spent 17 years of his adult life in prison. He is now on the street surrounded by people who would corrupt him. Please advise him or demand from him a complete break from the so called Club Kid culture. He must be specifically prevented from associating with people like James St. James (James Clark), Astro Erle, Scott Osmon and an ilk of fans that worship or flitter about a candle that must not again turn into a bonfire. Michael is an addict not just a drug addict but an attention addict, a media addict, an adulation addict. It’s what drives him. There is a hole inside him that cannot be filled. His life has been spent trying to fill it with drugs, sex and the love or devotion of thousands. Millions wouldn’t help, nothing has calmed him. Now remorse rather than photo ops, humility rather than snarky tweets and selfies, charity rather than a quest for fame must replace an image that killed a man. There are good people who want him to thrive and there are thousands who want to bask in an ancient light that need not be seen again. Those thousands have always drained him of his good qualities and exploited his creativity. He needs new friends and some sane old ones. There is no leash short enough, there can be no limits to the supervision. He needs help to be what I believe he needs to be, a productive man in a new century. This can go either way. Many believe in him but there are many doubters. He talks the talk help him walk the walk. I know him for 30 years and have seen the good the bad and finally the ugly side of him.  For years i have visited him in prison and seen the good in him emerge and purge his demons.The Party Monster and all it’s trapping and entourage needs to be bannished . Help him help himself. Help him embrace the chance he is being given a chance many don’t feel he deserves.

Prison Visit with Michael Alig

The trip up to the Mid-State Correctional Facility to visit the soon to be released  Michael Alig is a trip back and forward in time. It is impossible for me to drive the five hours there and five hours back without hearing the echo of my own past and seeing the ghosts of clubs and people gone by. It is also a trip into the future as the future is what Michael and my passengers, professor Victor Corona and digital designer Amanda Noa, will discuss in the packed visiting room. Cows, crows, and small herds of deer frame the drive on Interstate 87. The grass does not seem greener as we travel north. The trees haven’t awoken yet and the fields lay bare. As we pass Albany, water bleeding out of shale freezes into ice and snow, and memory of our winter of discomfort plays with our spring optimism. Spring is all about new beginnings and as Michael is about to be sprung, those close to him are in a strange, cautious yet euphoric state.

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Michael’s view

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The gas station malls are filled with ancient hairdos and don’ts as the fashion forward of my Williamsburg life gives way to fashion backward. My phone says it’s noon but my surroundings say 1981. I wonder out loud if they’re still watching season two of Game of Thrones. Ozzie and Harriet is suggested. As we travel north into this land that time seems to have forgotten, we understand that the inmate we visit has not been forgotten. The public rubbernecks to find out what’s next.

Michael is again at the center of great attention, a role he was born to play. Give him a crowd and he will surely do something amazing. Well he has his crowd… the media attention says it’s so. The offers by so many media outlets beg him to expose more, to be seen and heard. It’s a feeding frenzy of sharks who understand his creative impact and smell the blood in the water. Those close to him were unprepared for the onslaught caused by the release announcement. Carefully laid out plans that took 10 years, 17 years to define are being rethought.

Michael is an energizer bunny as we talk of his release. Who will be there at that moment and what happens as the moment turns into the next as the bright future overpowers the dark past is the topic of the day. That’s the plan I guess. To create, to live, to walk around… To meet the living while the death is relegated to a chapter in the life. It hangs over us always. It is always taken seriously. We all know that no amount of Hail Mary’s, apologies, baring of souls or good deeds will ever brush the brutal death of Angel Melendez away. Angel will sit on Michael’s shoulder till the end, defining his life, reminding him of the horror, the trial and errors, the imprisonment. and the shame.

Michael is aware, completely remorseful, and determined to do all and anything it takes to be seen in a light that defines him as more than the crazed club kid that took a life. It’s been 17 years, and as with all long term convicts he has dreamed of May 5, the day of his release. He will strive to make use of his time. He has a zillion plans, great creative jobs lined up, and a huge support network.

I was surprised at the feeding frenzy that followed my April 15 announcement of his release. My Facebook was deluged with well-wishers and haters. I talked to both. I asked the haters to accept his release and rehabilitation until he fucks up and to be “Christian” and forgive. I never ask anyone to forget.

In the visiting room I was surrounded by rapists and killers and other evil-doers. All were with family and friends. Toddlers played with toys. Girlfriends and wives stole touches and kisses. Most of these men are doing long, hard, time, and most will be freed at one point. Judges, parole boards and correctional system workers will determine the date of their return to society. We are a society that, in most cases, grants second chances.

As I sat with Michael and Victor and Amanda we spoke of what this club kid or club owner was doing now and of things that went bump in the night those eons ago. We laughed as we remembered the time this or that happened. He has no intention, by the way, of throwing an event on the Williamsburg Bridge or a club or warehouse. His path will take him elsewhere. There were inevitable pauses as someone said something like, “but Angel…” or “this one hates you still because of Angel.” Angel is always there and of course, he isn’t. Charities are talked about, apologies and remorse to always be stated and shown. He knows what he did and knows he can never hide from it.

F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said “there are no second acts in American lives.” Michael will be an exception, I feel. Of course there he has a big advantage over Angel Melendez.

With a few others, I’ll meet Michael by the train station or prison gates as he rejoins the living. We will give him some new clothes and walk forward with him. How the stimuli of our world, his new world affect the former Party Monster is the big story.

Read more on Michael Alig:

Breaking: Michael Alig to be Released from Jail

Michael Alig: 16 Years Later

A Note from Michael Alig

Synth-Pop Singer-Songwriter Charli XCX Talks True Romance, Tasting Sweat, & Lena Dunham

Charli XCX is no newbie to the music scene, though her age might indicate otherwise to those not in the know. The 20-year-old Brit, born Charlotte Aitchison but recognized by her hotly debated stage name, has been making people move since she was an adolescent.

At 14, XCX was already on the radar, albeit far from mainstream, discovered on MySpace and invited to play raves at the weekend. An only child, her parents would drive her to and from performances—sometimes staying, watching on like ever-adoring chaperones—then take her to school come Monday. What might have remained a fond memory or a passing phase, however, evolved into a career, with a capital “c,” her warehouse party past giving rise to a girl who knew her pop hooks and dance beats.

The past half-decade has seen her morph from girl to woman, as well as release several solid songs, among them one of her best, “Nuclear Seasons.” At 16 she signed a record deal, catapulting the former club kid from promising act to legitimate artist with a single signature. For the past four years she’s worked towards today, which sees her major label release of True Romance. Her lyrical prowess and knack for catchiness continue to impress with this sweeping and anthemic debut, a 13-track album featuring favorites like “Lock You Up,” “What I Like” and “Cloud Aura.”

XCX, who also co-wrote Icona Pop’s “I Love It,” (which, if you’ll recall, was a huge hit following a particularly entertaining episode of HBO’s Girls) is currently touring Europe and the U.K. with Ellie Goulding, and will touch down in the States come May. New Yorkers can catch her supporting Marina and the Diamonds at Rumsey Playfield on May 29 and alongside Little Daylight on May 31 at Glasslands Gallery.

In the meantime, hear from the hard-hitting goth-pop princess herself. She’s got plenty to say, from her outlook on love (which she’s in, with Ryan Andrews) to her fantasies surrounding calling all the concert shots (think outlandish creative direction as it pertains to set design, à la Girls dreamboat douchebag Booth Jonathan).

You titled the album True Romance. Is this record the embodiment of “true romance,” to you? It’s such a bold statement to make. To say, like, Here it is. This is the definition.
This record is, for me, what true romance is. I’ve been writing the record for the past two to three years, but one song I wrote when I was 16. So, I feel like I’ve been writing this album as I’ve been growing up. Your views on love and life change over time. You experience different relationships, that kind of thing, and I think the record is kind of about that. It’s about love from different angles. Different periods of your life. There’s a bratty breakup song, when you went out with a bad boy. Then there’s a song about falling in epic, amazing, real, true love. And I feel like that’s what happened to me during the process of writing this album. I feel like I’ve fallen in love, massively. I feel like the record looks at how you can be on this love trip, in this dream state, but at the same time you can feel lonely and isolated. I think it’s interesting how schizophrenic love is. And that’s what the record is to me. It’s schizophrenic. It sounds that way. It sounds like love.

Did the title come at the end?
The title came last, actually. It was kind of, like, a reflection. I never wanted to make a concept album and come up with the title track and write songs around the title. I wanted to write the songs as naturally as possible and as naturally as they came to me. It just so happened they were about love. Once I started writing them, I supposed that was an appropriate title.

Makes sense. Can you tell me a bit about being so young coming up in the music scene?  
It was kind of crazy. At the beginning, I was very, very excited about everything. I was 15, signing a record deal. I was so elated by it. So, whenever there were highs and lows—which there definitely were, and still are—I took them really personally. It was a quite traumatic experience making this album, especially when I was younger. It can be emotional making an album, putting all your thoughts and feelings on a CD. I found the industry very difficult. There were so many expectations I thought I had to live up to. I was unsure who I was. I wrote the song “Stay Away” then. I began to find myself and what kind of music I wanted to make. I feel like I’ve changed a lot. I realized I don’t have any criteria I need to meet. I’m just doing my thing. I’m not feeling like I have to please anyone.

Even with the tumult, it had to have been a blast.
It was really fun. When I was younger, I’d go to raves, and that was crazy. Then, I’d go to school on Monday, and that was weird. But, it was cool. I kind of feel like I got sucked into that. I’m glad I left that scene and started making real music on my own.

Oh, yes. You’re talented, your debut’s a gem and, on top of that, you’ve traveled the world touring in support of Coldplay, Santigold, Ellie Goulding. Was it difficult to adjust to the limelight? MySpace and late-night raves are one thing, but stadiums are another thing all together. That’s rock star status.
For me, I can’t think about going on stage as the “limelight.” I think about it as playing my songs for people and losing my mind. When I’m on stage, I feel completely free. I feel completely inspired. I’m not thinking about anything else. I’m getting lost in the moment. It’s like one big trip.

Speaking of trip, do you have a favorite place to play?
I love America. I love L.A. and I love New York. And I haven’t been there yet, but I know I’m going to love Tokyo so much when I go. It sounds so magical.

It does. So, which one: New York or L.A.?
I don’t know. People compare them, but they’re so different. It’s so difficult to compare the two. I feel like L.A., maybe, for me, just because it’s so different from London. Whereas New York is so similar.

Aww, shucks. So, do you have any down time when you tour?
Never. It’s constant. But, that’s fine. It feels good to play shows and have people come listen to my music. That’s really nice. I mean, it’s weird doing promo every day. You have to talk about yourself all the time, and I don’t really like doing that. It’s just strange. I’m starting to get used to it. It’s all right.

You’re adjusting. How’s tour going so far with Ellie?
It’s fun. The crowds are big. She’s cool. I think I managed to convert her into a platform shoe-lover. She tried on my Buffalo platforms and was like, Oh my god, these are amazing!

How would you compare the experience of performing at big venues versus small?
Playing big venues is always less personal. Like, when I was doing the Coldplay tour, there were, like, seven screens. Only the front, like, five rows can see you up close. But, in a club it’s wild. You can taste everyone’s sweat, which I really like. I feel so much more alive. You can really get in touch with the crowd and make it, like, an apocalyptic, end of the world party. So, I really like that. Obviously, it’s a dream to play in front of as many people as possible, so big stages are good. But, when I have my own massive shows, I want the walls and ceilings and floors to be made of screens. So you’re in a screen box. And it’s, like, my favorite videos and mash-ups of my favorite movies playing. It’d be a mindfuck.

Do you watch Girls?
Yeah! Like that artist [Booth Jonathan]’s thing. Exactly like that, except on a massive scale.

That’s also, as you know, the episode featuring the song you wrote, performed by Icona Pop.
That was really cool. I’m a big Lena Dunham fan. I feel like she’s this sexy, hilarious, fierce super-girl. So, it was really cool seeing her singing that song. It was quite funny.

Is Hannah your favorite character on the show?
I don’t know. I also really like Adam. And I really like Shoshanna. And I love to hate Jessa, because I know so many people like that and they’re so frustrating.

Do you have a lot of super-fans?
I do, actually. They’re all sweet, but they’re crazy. It’s cute, though. They’re all young. They message me all the time. Like, everyday. It freaks me out that my music can mean that much to someone. I didn’t have that. Even if I did, I wouldn’t have had the power to tell them, because I didn’t have Twitter. Now, everyday, you can build up this false relationship in your mind. It’s scary. It’s mad.

I’d agree with that. After all this, the journey so far, what do your parents think?
They’re proud. Whenever I’m in London they’ll come to my show. They’re really supportive. They took me to the raves when I was younger, came with me and were really cool. I’m really thankful for that, actually.

That’s awesome. I imagine a lot of parents wouldn’t be as nurturing when it comes to their young daughter rocking the sometimes seedy rave scene. You also dress pretty provocatively. From where does your aesthetic sensibility derive?
I’m really inspired by movies. The Craft. Clueless. Empire Records. I just love that nineties aesthetic. I like basics, grungy stuff. I’m a big fan of the Spice Girls. Some of their music videos are my favorites. Like, “Say You’ll Be There.” I feel like I came through the third wave of the club kids in London. I was watching Party Monster, finding out who Michael Alig was. Part of me will always be interested in that world. DIY, but high fashion at the same time.

So, do you have a dream collaboration?
I’d love to work with Bjork. She’s incredible. I admire everything she does. Her voice is like butter. So angry but so sweet and beautiful at the same time. I think she’s wonderful.  

Whose music are you really into right now?
Jai Paul. I’ve always been a big fan of his. Kitty Pryde. I think she’s really cute. I love her lyrics. I always listen to the same stuff on repeat. Like, Uffie, Kate Bush, The Cure. Robert Smith is, like, my hero.

Last but not least, what would you be doing if not this?
I’d be crying probably. 

Why It’s Time for a New Breed of ‘Club Kids’

I was in high school when my father showed me a Boston Globe article about the Club Kids in NYC. Michael Alig and the rest of his beautiful outcasts were the central focus–this was a couple years before Alig ended up in jail for murdering Angel Melendez.

Since I was about 15 at the time, I soaked in the article like a sponge that needed validation for my own freak-dom. They were colorful, and they didn’t play by anyone else’s rules. They were, in my mind, spectacular. I ripped out the article and placed it on my wall: this was the world I wanted to know; this was the world in which I wanted to live.

I moved to New York City in 2004, eight years after Melendez’s murder. Michael Alig was in jail and I had seen Party Monster more times than I was willing to admit, despite the fact that Macaulay Culkin was horrible in the role of Alig.

When I moved to New York City, it was no longer the city that embraced the “freaks” that I had loved from afar based on the Boston Globe article I read so many years before. Granted, New York will never be short on freaks, but the Club Kids, the group of individuals whom I learned to love through articles and then documentaries after the murder, the people with whom I thought I could be best friends were long gone. Their time in the sun had fizzled, Peter Gatien’s Limelight was no longer, and although it was turned into the club Avalon for a short time, it is now a fucking market place. If Alig and Gatien were dead, they’d be rolling over in their graves.

Some of the best parts about New York is that it’s forever changing. A restaurant you love is something else a month later, the bookstore you adored eventually becomes a boutique, and Starbucks are subtly putting proper cafes out of business one by one. It’s either gorgeous, or a heartbreaking sort of affairs—depending on what side of change you reside.

But if change is part of NYC, if evolving, embracing the new is how we roll, then isn’t it time for a new breed of Club Kids? Someone has to step up and take their place, and fill the void they left behind. Why? Because being a freak should never go out of style.

Michael Alig, realizing he was an outcast in his Indiana hometown, moved to New York City to find a place in which he could fit in and feel at home. James St. James had a similar story in that he, too, left Michigan behind to pursue a life far more extraordinary than the one he knew. Together they indulged in a life of excess, and were the leaders of a pack of misfits who had come to New York City for the same reason they had: to find others like them. They may not have been a voice of a generation, and no one would probably ever consider them perfect role models, but what they did do, what they did that was more important and for which that era will always be remembered, was that they made freaks the world over feel less alone.

Kids, like me, read about them, watched them on talk shows, and although some would argue that they dressed and acted that way purely for attention, who the fuck cares? They were living the life they wanted; the life they chose.

In a world where mediocrity is practically championed, and the conventional expectations of working nine-to-five, living in a house in the suburbs, and having three kids with names that will be out of style by next year, the Club Kids stood for something else. They stood—and still do, although they’ve all grown up and moved on from that part of their life—for a polar opposite of the mainstream. They were distinct on all levels, and their uniqueness, I imagine (although I was too young to have known it intimately), was contagious.

I’m not sure who we can delegate to start a new wave of Club Kids, but it has to happen. There’s too much emphasis put on people like Kim Kardashian and other two-bit, semi-celebrities who have nothing but the mundane to offer, and a mundane that the masses eat up. The masses are boring and lack originality. Club Kids, on the other hand, are colorfully exempt from such a drab adjective. And if one kid from somewhere in middle Ohio can look at a Club Kid and realize that’s the person they are, too, then it will be worth it.

So do we have any volunteers for someone to take Michael Alig’s spot sans the murder part? It’s not as though he’s getting out of jail anytime soon, and we really need to start working on this revolution now. 

Follow Amanda Chatel on Twitter.