Remembering The Early Days of The Michael Alig Crime Coverage

Categories: Nightlife

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I'm no Woodward or Bernstein, but I was at the forefront of getting out the buzz on the famed club kid slaying when word started percolating in 1996.

I had chronicled Michael Alig's rise and fall from day one. I was the first one to write about him and was involved in many of his events, celebrating what was exciting about the scene while also acting as an elder statesman and critic who chided him when he went too far, which was often.

And he had started to go so far over the top that I'd decided to stop writing about him. There was no fun around him anymore--just caked-on makeup, drugs, and desperation.

But suddenly he was newsworthy again.

The first week of April 1996, Alig called me to say he'd been fired by Peter Gatien, owner of Limelight, where Alig threw his outrageous and colorful club kid bashes for years.

Alig sounded jittery and messy--really on the edge--and was giving various suspect reasons for his firing.

My column about our conversation came out on April 10, 1996, with a big photo of Alig and Gatien.

I quoted Alig saying of Gatien and company, "They pretended that they cared about me and sent me to rehab. When I came back, the firing and padlocking had happened!"

He made himself the victim.

I also quoted a clubbie saying Michael had actually escaped from rehab and needed a lot more help.

I mentioned the talk that someone close to Alig had disappeared, and there was chatter about who did what. At that point, it was just talk, and hadn't reached the deafening levels it was growing towards, but this was the first public attention to the buzz about a missing person.

Two weeks later, Alig admitted to New York magazine that he had a money fight with drug dealer/clubbie Angel Melendez and knew about the detached body part rumors (which he was evasive about).

In our issue that week, I ran my famed April 23 blind item ("Night Clubbing"), which the lawyer made even blinder, though I snuck in some extra clues.

The item detailed the buzz about Alig and Freeze's destruction of Angel Melendez--the fight over drug money, the hammer, the Drano, and the disposal into the river--while including the obligatory evasive reaction from "Mr. Mess."

It raised a ruckus, especially since anyone insidery and/or who reads was able to figure who it was about.

Page Six certainly got it. They ran an April 27 lead item that picked up the New York piece and my item, and that really put it over the top. It was huge.

The Page Six story, titled "Mystery of the Missing Club Kid," put together all the current reporting while quoting Gatien's publicist shamelessly claiming that this was all scuttlebutt that had gotten ridiculously out of hand.

Meanwhile, a reporter who had viciously implied in my own paper that I was old and out of it didn't know about any of this at this point. Waiting by the elevator several days after the Page Six item, I mentioned the Alig thing to him and he replied "WHAAAAAAAAAT?" It pained me to have to save his ass and tell him everything! This, you'll recall, was the guy who'd called me too pathetic to know what's happening in nightlife.

And after writing a cover story in which he nicely credited me for breaking the details of the story, he went on to try to get producers to bump me from coverage of the whole mess. ("Why are you using him? It's my story!!!!")

Even though I was part of the club kid scene from day one--and again, had handed him the story, despite my reluctance to talk to him at all.

(Also, what he'd called me irrelevant for saying--that clubs were becoming too loungey--was something he ended up screeching again and again. That's a complicated story, so I'll have more on that later.)

Several times I felt forced to fight back and almost sink to an icky level. But I'll say this: At least he did delve into the story and investigate, so kudos to that. As I said, I'm no investigative reporter--though over 16 years later, I was still winning awards for Best NYC Nightlife Writer.

Anyway, from there, the story grew and grew--and horrifyingly enough turned out to be true, true, true.

When Alig gets out of jail, I will be on top of that too.

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33 comments
davidtayler
davidtayler

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whocares
whocares

face it with Michael Alig in jail all you can really do is rehash the same old story every few years and hope you get asked to comment in a documentary about.... well .. anything it seems.... lay off the hubris......

jackson30
jackson30

And it would have been nice if the St. James book had included all the above context instead of whatever he vaguely remembered and/or was dictated.

jackson30
jackson30

I can just hear that sad cry of cluelessness: "WHAAAA?????" Hilarious. And the professional jealousy and backstabbing that goes with it. What a package.

bethesda
bethesda

MM, you've gotten so much appreciation lately, with those pieces in the NY Times and Daily Beast and on and on. You are truly loved and worshiped. I'm not surprised to hear that the one naysayer is a sleaze who backstabs and who owes you his career.

flamebot
flamebot

So that bloated guy (Owens?) called you out of it, then was COMPLETELY out of it about the biggest story in ages, and you had to fill him, in and then he kept on backstabbing you?? He sounds almost as bad as Alig (who at least had charm). But I know the type.They can't rely on their own limited skills, so they have to push everyone else under the truck while shrieking "ME! Use ME!"

rickshur
rickshur

For people who are curious about Michael Alig, here are two links that may be of interest.

The first one is of a 1988 interview I did with Keoki and Michael (partners at the time), right before the opening of Mars. Days later, after a NY Times piece, Mars investors got nervous about Michael and replaced him with Chip Duckett.

http://www.rickx.com/movies/Alig.htm

The second link is to a slide show of a 1990 Burger King, Times Square Outlaw Party. You will find Angel among the celebrants:

http://www.rickx.com/slideshows/OutlawParty.htm

Michael (Musto), thanks for your years of hard work at the Voice. If you continue your blog, I'm betting that a lot of us would be happy to pay a subscription fee. I know I would 

XOX, -Rx

SouthernDave
SouthernDave

I'm going through withdrawl, too, Savannah.

SavannahMontgomery
SavannahMontgomery

WAAAH!!! MY MORNING RITUAL IS DISTURBED!!!!  How does one drink coffee unassisted??

MSpeer
MSpeer

Michael you will be very much missed. Loved your column in the paper and your blog here online. Look forward to following you on to your next chapter!! Keep us posted.



candy
candy

I remember reading this in 96' I had gone away from the city to go to college at stonybrook, well best of luck to you , you are amazing and you always brightened my day when I read your articles. You are a true nyer and I always have admired you, thanks for the vitamin e tip, its working, good luck and best to you, thanks for making me smile all these years.

nostradavid
nostradavid

Best of luck in your future endeavors, Michael! 

Whenever I've had to move on to the next gig, things only got better. Will you resurrect a favorite show on cable as "Countdown with Michael Musto"? Co-write a musical with Harvey ? Write your memoirs - that would be great fun for us all. Enjoy your freedom. Thanks for all the fun over the years. 

I liked this on The Daily Beast: 

'The Village Voice' Was Crazy to Fire Him: 5 Reasons Why Michael Musto Matters'

Jonnnn
Jonnnn

Last time I read the voice...can't wait for Michaels next gig..

lubriare
lubriare

poor village voice: no more mr. musto so now poor village and poor voice

SouthernDave
SouthernDave

I'll bet people are already beating down the door to get you.

ZAP! That's me deleting the Village Voice from my Favorites Menu.

You're a social reporter who's really a stylist.

A theater critic without fear or peer.

A gutsy gay advocate and activist.

You give good dish.

You also give some of the funniest, most pointed and perceptive journalism I've read in more than four decades of devouring  every periodical I could get my ink-stained hands on.

You are quite simply THE BEST, Kid!


ralphbenner
ralphbenner

Don’t cry any tears for Musto. He’ll get a new outlet soon enough. (He’d be perfect for The Daily Beast, but Tina would likely hold the reins on his meat fever.) This particular gig was flashing warnings of its end for the last several months. There’s only so much of "me, me and more me" and that cipher daughter of Joan Crawford any editor and a declining readership can take, and after those vids of his singing at the disco memorials, the self-congratulatory triggered hurlings. The drag queens will have to find a new pusher and few will miss the laments over the drugged up gay porno studs. If Tina’s smart, she’ll hire him for what he remains good at — theatre reviewing.

musto
musto moderator

Thank you, everyone! If you want to keep up with me, please follow me on Twitter (@mikeymusto) or Facebook ("like" my fan page) or message me on Facebook. It's been an honor to inform and entertain you. Let's keep in touch.

ajmilner
ajmilner

I read the news today, oy vey. Best of luck wherever you land.

logan
logan

Ouch, just heard you got fired. Now who's gonna cover the film version of Master Class when it finally opens?

RobertAllenFirth
RobertAllenFirth

Mr Musto, you were the only reason I read the Voice anymore.  Now I don't have any reason, except please let us know where you land!  

(Can you imagine a world raised on TMZ and Paris Hilton?!  To quote a song left out of movie version of "Chicago," "Whatever happened to class?")

SavannahMontgomery
SavannahMontgomery

WHAAAATTT!!!  At first I thought this was some snark.  It can't be true....oh Lordy!


SUMMBODY CALL THE PO' LEASE!!!  THAT WOMAN DOWN THERE, DUN' STOL' MY MAN!!

JohnnyDeep
JohnnyDeep

To the King of the NY Beat. Thanks for everything all these years Michael. Salut!

tampontammy
tampontammy

WHAT???  What do you mean Michael no longer at the Voice?  I've read the Voice since it's print days and I don't know what else I will read in it.  We love you Michael and will read you wherever you go.  Hopefully to the Post!

NYCKim
NYCKim

As a NYC native I am so sorry to hear that you will no longer be with The Voice, Michael. Whenever I've had the paper in my hand your column was the first thing I'd read. Their loss. Not sure we're they're heading. But please let us know where YOU are heading. Best of luck.

musto
musto moderator

Thank you everyone for the support. Love you lots.

toobad
toobad

This is definitely off topic, but I just heard that Michael Musto got fired.  I am really sad and sorry to hear this.  There is no reason for me to read the VV if you or Sietsema aren't here.  I have been reading your column since I came to NYC as a sophomore in college in the late 90's.   I can't wait to see which lucky place hires you so that I can continue to read your fascinating quips.  Getting fired sucks, but sometimes it means better things to come.  Just remember that you have many loyal fans who will follow you to your new place.

williamHK
williamHK

Did the murder take place at 43rd & 10th..?

Username
Username

@rickshur why does Angel look so much like Keoki in this slideshow...it's a little creepy because I honestly can't tell who it is...

FinalGuest
FinalGuest

@musto Thanks for all of the great columns (and blogs) over the years.  Your talents as a writer and observer of the current scene point to a continuing bright career for many more years.  As for the Voice--well, for now, it's great for wrapping fish and lining birdcages!

RobertAllenFirth
RobertAllenFirth

@SavannahMontgomery My favorite Yvonne Fair song!  Definitely sharing the pain!  That woman could tear the roof off the sucka!  (And she got to dance and act a little too in "Lady Sings the Blues"!)

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