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Michael Alig appearing on Geraldo, 1990
Michael Alig appearing on Geraldo, 1990Via YouTube

Michael Alig, former New York club kid, has died aged 54

The prominent party promoter, who spent 17 years in prison for manslaughter, died of a suspected heroin overdose

Michael Alig, a notorious figure from the New York City club scene, has died aged 54. According to his mother (via the New York Times) the cause of death was an accidental heroin overdose in his Washington Heights apartment, where he was found on the morning of Christmas Day. 

Born in Indiana, Alig found fame as a party promoter – and a notable figurehead for the club kid era – after moving to New York City. In the late 1980s and 90s, he was an influential member of a creative, often-outlandish, and drug-soaked scene, including the likes of RuPaul, James St. James, Amanda Lepore, and Leigh Bowery.

However, he was dubbed the “Club Kid Killer” following the 1996 death of Andre ‘Angel’ Melendez, whose dismembered body was found in the Hudson River after a dispute over drug money. Having publicly claimed that he killed Melendez, Alig pled guilty to manslaughter in 1997, and spent 17 years in prison. The killing was also the subject of the 2003 film Party Monster, based on a book written by James St. James, and starring Macaulay Culkin as Alig.

Alig’s accomplice and roommate, Robert ‘Freeze’ Riggs, was released from prison on parole in 2010, while Alig himself was released in 2014, at the age of 48. In interviews, he explained that he continued to struggle with addiction behind bars, and was arrested for drug possession in 2017, though the charges were later dropped.

Prior to his death, Alig had returned to New York City, and received backlash for media appearances and an attempted return to the New York party circuit.