Michael Alig's Failed Apologia

by David Hershkovits
Today's New York Post cover. [via the New York Post]

Michael Alig's right up there with Monica Lewinsky in the eyes of the New York Post where a front-page article by the paroled club kid killer tells the sordid story in his own words: "Eighteen years on, looking back at the person I was at that time, I feel nothing but shame and disgust. I was a selfish junkie who killed another human being. But that's not the Michael Alig I am today or the Michael Alig I was before I became an addict -- the misfit from the Midwest who came to New York City in search of acceptance, opportunity and a whole lot of fun."

On April 28 I wrote What's Next for Michael Alig, an article where many of Alig's former associates speculated on his new life and offered advice for his reentry into society. They counseled humility, charity, staying away from the spotlight for fear that what once burned too brightly would again lead to his undoing.

Well, fuggedaboutit. Any expectation that Alig would quietly slip into seclusion, a humbled, remorseful individual, is dispelled in one bold article that he chooses to publish in the sensationalist Post, the newspaper of record for ex-Mayor Rudolf Giuliani's crusade against nightlife.

Here, we get the triumphant return of Michael Alig telling his story about the murder of Angel Melendez in a series of events that begins with him coming to New York to go to college and ends with him getting out of prison and re-experiencing the thrill of seeing the city from the George Washington Bridge as he did for the first time 30 years ago. Alig is credited as the author of the piece, though I can see the editors at work cutting and pasting to give it the flow of a greatest hits package.

He writes: "One night, Keith [Haring] threw a party at Area, one of the coolest clubs in the city. In my hometown of South Bend, Ind., a nightclub was a honky-tonk of men with beer-gut bellies watching sports on TV. This was a modern-day speakeasy with 300 people lined up outside. The doorman selected who got in, one at a time, like a florist chooses roses and carnations for a bouquet. Grace Jones was there. Cameras flashed. [My roommate] Ludovic, who was led out of our limo on a leash, wore nothing but underwear and white body paint."

What did he learn: "First thing I did was ditch the tacky Izod pants and Mondrianesque T-shirts which I'd thought were so cutting-edge in South Bend."

Out of prison only a few days, the public relations onslaught has already begun, the Post's story surely planned well in advance of his release. HuffPost Live, TV interviews, People Magazine, Vanity Fair all presumably repeating the official story as presented by master media manipulator Michael Alig, with surely more to come.

The front page headline, boasting an exclusive, reads: "Chops of Horrors: Notorious Killer Relives Bloody New York Crime." Reading this makes me squeamish, the story itself tending to blame drugs for the murder. Personal responsibility is sacrificed for the narrative that's most likely to play well in the media. Yes, he's paid his debt to society from a legal perspective but nowhere in his "apologia" does he address his moral duty. Fame for fame's sake is his raison d'etre. That hasn't changed. I'm expecting an Oprah moment when Alig goes on her show to beg for forgiveness.

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