Monday, 15 September 2014

Michael Alig & The Killing of Andre Melendez

There are always underground scenes all over the world, but the story today concerns a scene centred around the Limelight Nightclub, and one man in particular; Michael Alig.  This was a club in New York that catered for what many would call the "oddballs"; people who dressed outrageously and were consuming drugs by the bucket load.  Alig was the focal point for these people, but his inner circle of friends was very exclusive.  Nobody could approach and be accepted.  The outrageous dressing up attracted the attention of TV and led to appearances on shows like Geraldo & Phil Donaghue, getting the ire of "decent conservative people" but the truth, as revealed by a reporter, was that these "Clubkids" were "trustfund kids", offspring of wealthy parents who have unlimited funds for their children to indulge themselves as much as they want.  One man tried to get into that inner circle, but it ended in his violent death and dismemberment.  His name was Andre Melendez.

     Michael Alig was born on 29th April 1966 in South Bend, Indiana, and he went to Fordham University in New York but ended up dropping out.  He did what jobs he could but then he befriended a socialite James St. James, remaining close friends.  He made a reputation as a party organiser.  Then he started nights at the Limelight, which turned into a huge success with him as the centre of attention.  He would dispense drugs to whoever he decided to.  On the go were heroin, cocaine, crack & ketamine.  Not hard to see addictions coming there but who cares.  Andre Melendez and his family moved to the States from Colombia and settled in New Jersey.  As he grew into a young man, his moods and attitudes changed.  The reason for this was he accepted that he was homosexual, a bit of a taboo matter with macho Colombians.  He found his calling card when he eventually managed to get entry into the Limelight.  He soon realised Michael Alig was the centre of it all, but was not allowed into his circle.  He hit upon a persona.  Dressed in white with wings attached, he became "Angel" which caught the eye of everybody, including Michael.  But the reason why he could not get in that circle?  He was a kid from the streets, whereas these people were middle and upper class.  They do not mix.  That snobbery is as prevalent over there as it is here.

    He then started pushing drugs, and soon became the main man in the club.  He was allowed in the inner circle, but some believed Alig only allowed this so he could use Angel as he saw fit.  Alig hated the fact that Angel did not consume drugs.  To him, the pusher was there to liven up the party and be part of it.  In this respect, did Alig have the perceived ideals of the so-called "counter culture of the 60`s - share and indulge, whereas pushers in the 60`s & 70`s only wanted the money.  ( amazing how this part of capitalism is ignored by hippies spouting their shit!)  How many were addicted to their own products?  But then another pusher arrived on the scene, Robert "Freez" Riggs.  He was now the favourite of Alig, and Angel felt pushed out.  Then one day, Angel disappeared. Angel`s brother started extensive searches for him.  He went to the cops, who were not interested. All he got from Alig and his circle of friends was denials of anything.  Then reports started in newspapers hinting that Alig had admitted to killing Angel.

    It was in 1996 that a box washed ashore on Staten Island, containing body parts.  The torso was identified as Andre Melendez.  Now cops started to take an interest.  Alig fled to New Jersey but was arrested by cops.  Robert Riggs was taken in for questioning and immediately cracked, telling the story.  Then Alig confessed.  They said that Angel had an argument with Alig over a drug debt, and in a struggle with them both, Angel was hit over the head a number of times with a hammer.  As he lay, he was smothered with a pillow, had Drano allegedly poured down his throat.  Not knowing what to do, they put his body in a bath of water.  Then they went out doing their usual thing.  After a week, the body was smelling, so it was said that Alig took drugs then sawed off the legs of Angel and put them in garbage bags.  The torso was put in a box and dumped in the river.  Both were convicted of 1st degree manslaughter in October 1997.  Riggs served 15 years before being released in 2012.  Alig served 17 years before being released in 2014.