My Meeting With Michael Alig At Elmira Correctional Yesterday
This Mayan thing right in the middle of Christmas shopping is very annoying. I’m messengering everything just in case. Fed-Ex might not do. On the other hand, I think I only know one Mayan. He’s an actual priest and and lives in Guatemala. I saw him in Puerto Rico a few weeks ago and he assured us that we "had nothing to worry about." But then again, he doesn’t speak much English so maybe he was telling us something completely different like "the end is near so there’s nothing to hurry about." I’m not believing this end of the world stuff, but I am finding myself peeking up at the sky a bit more often lately and I haven’t been putting money aside for January’s rent.
Speaking of world’s end and such, yesterday I visited that good ol’ party monster and dear friend Micheal Alig at his place of confinement: Elmira Correctional Facility. I hadn’t visited Mike in a minute. His last address was 12 hours away and that meant overnight stays at cheap motels and I’ve had enough of that for a lifetime. Elmira is a mere 4 1/2 hours away. I stayed up from the night before and depended on my nightlife stamina and sugar-free Red bull to get me there and back again.
We started out arguing as we often do. He was upset at me for believing the last charge he caught which guaranteed his parole denial and a life spent mostly in solitary. In retrospect, the concept of Michael smoking pot is ludicrous. He hated the stuff, always opting for the more sensational.
He has used his isolation well. He looks better than he ever has…a major concern for him. He has lost close to 50 pounds and has been working out like a fitness model in a late-night info-mercial. He showed me his six pack and his bulging biceps. His mind is sharp. He is making art and refining his book Aligula. When I’m with him he picks my brain for clarification of events of yore and people’s names as he is striving that this tome be an accurate account of his era. He will have a chance to join the living as early as this year if the cards fall right and the Mayan thing doesnt get in the way.
Michael has media projects in mind and a good attitude. He is genuinely remorseful and ready and willing to do all he can to right as many of his past wrongs as possible. He understands that Angel will still be dead and that he can’t expect to ever crawl out from that. He understands that a whole lot of good-doing won’t get him close to even. But it’s been 15 years and the man who is eventually coming out is not the same as the one who pranced in. I believe in Michael and think that a great deal of his story is still ahead of him.
I traveled and visited with Victor P. Corona, Ph.D., a sociologist at Hofstra University. Victor teaches courses on culture and gender. He earned a Ph.D. in sociology from Columbia and a B.A. in sociology from Yale. His work is available here. He is currently writing a book that traces a social and aesthetic lineage from the Warhol Superstars to the Club Kids and the current generation of performers, artists, and nightlife personas in New York. In addition to ethnographic research, he has interviewed Warhol Superstars like Jane Forth and Ultra Violet, former Club Kids like Walt Cassidy and Zaldy, and current nightlife stars like Darian Darling and Ladyfag, among many others.
Victor was a great person to have in a car for nine hours of driving. He picked my Red Bull-racing brain to better understand the feel of what happened back then and who the players were. It’s impossible for any individual to grasp or define a huge scene that was taking place in numerous clubs during numerous nights. The scene was 24 hours, with real work being done during work hours. Most pedestrians believe that nightlife just happens; no, nightlife is planned, adjusted, tweaked, and theorized in offices during the day. Operators diagnose mistakes or think of ways to support successes while the sun is up. People are hired and fired, and concepts are floated.
I was part of that inner circle – as was Michael. During those meetings, the supreme leader of the so-called Club Kids was a formidable brain and contributor to business meetings…although sometimes he would get up and pee in a cup right in front of everyone. I had always thought of Andy Warhol as the second coming. I believed at that time that Michael might be the 3rd. I still have hope. He claims he has a zillion ideas that will blow my mind. He is ultra-aware of our culture, despite being locked away in very dark places for so very long. He has never used a computer or cellphone, but has absorbed our world through magazines and information sent to him from his ever-loyal followers.
Victor and I spent a great deal of time debating Michael’s role with his fans. I have always preached that Michael must avoid his cult followers and embrace friends who can help him further his art and establish a positive media presence. The Michael I visited yesterday was sharp and focused on the important things of his future. I told him I believed he is finally ready to join the living.