A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland
Simon and Schuster Paperback edition 2003
Previously published as
A Fabulous but True Tale of Murder in Clubland
By James St James
Published 1999 by World of Wonder
A review by Lindsay Morrison
Party Monster is a smartly written True Crime novel. Writer James St James is no stranger to presenting a highly entertaining time for many. He manages to execute a portrayal of drug addiction and murder while keeping the story with fun and whimsy. Not to mention the absolute brutal candor he uses to express all players involved. James St James has an advantage with this because he was directly involved with the events that lead to writing of this book; and the story that lead to a documentary, a feature film, newspaper articles and other books. This is a story involving a drug dealer, brutally murdered, and the lengths to which some went to ignore it. It takes us into the minds of drug addicts; how they cope with normal everyday life, and how they handle tragedy.
James St James begins with an Authors Foreword. He intricately explains the drug Special K, how to make it, what it does, and where is comes from. This is a key part of the tale, and he does a fine job explaining the drug.
The novel is broken up into parts. After the foreword, he begins with the date he found out about the crime. "March 31, 1996" Michael Alig confesses his murder to his best friend, James. James lays out the events as they happen in Michael's details. There is a fight over money and drugs, and it gets heated.
Michael and Freeze kill Angel Melendez. But wait, they do not just kill him. He is bludgeoned with a hammer, stuffed full of chemical cleaner, dismembered; and his pieces are put in various bags and box, and then thrown into a river. This dismemberment only after this dead body lay in their bathtub for 5 - 7 days. They were not the only ones in the home either, a week of having a dead body in the bathtub, many people filed in and out of the place and the bathroom.
The story moves on to, "In the Beginning". James St James explains how these key players in this crime came about. New York, in the 1980's and 90's there were Club Kids. They dressed in outlandish costumes, did copious amounts of drugs and hopped from club to club. James St James and Michael Align created these people for lack of a better term. While everyone created their own identity, (there is a variety of Characters with equally amazing names they give themselves) James was a trendsetter and Michael took it further than anyone else could have.
"Strange Interludes" is the next part of the book. It is 7 stories the writer tells to explain Michael Alig. Little pieces over years and degrees of importance, but all needed to accurately display what is in the mind of the person we deal with here.
Next we explore the "Freeze and Mavis Chronicles” Freeze is the other accomplice along with Michael Alig in the murder of Angel. However, as the book tells, everyone is responsible for Angel's death. Michael and Freeze made the actual killing blows.
Mavis is an important part of the story because she, a friend of Freeze's is convinced by James St James to give up her entire life and her savings and team up with them to sell drugs in the club scene.
Mavis a business woman, James is a manipulator, and to supply his need for drugs and fame, convinces her that this is the best opportunity she could ever have. Freeze and Mavis sell the drugs while James gets sets up connections.
The spiral that takes place because of these three, and it shines light on how far gone this circle has become. People go further in to their addictions. Tempers flare, money goes missing and friendships change drastically.
Every one of these people involved, directly or indirectly seem to fall apart in their own ways, even before the murder takes place. The murder is the final nail in the coffin, not only for Angel - the victim, but for everyone. When Michael and Freeze decided to kill this person, everything changed.
Michael virtually confesses the murder to anyone who will listen. Regardless if they want to know or not, he makes what he did on fall on everyone’s shoulders. Reporters write article after article about the murder, they contact police and no one cares.
People care about the gossip, but deep down these club kids do not allow themselves to believe what happened. Police will not do a proper investigation because; now let's break this down the way the writer does in the book; why should they? A drug dealer is dead. Not only is it a drug dealer, but a gay Latino drug dealer who may or may not be legal in the country. This is a nobody (in the eyes of the police) who gives pathetic little club goer’s drugs.
Twist; what is the real investigation here? It is the owner of prominent night clubs Peter Gatien. The police are really concerned about taking him down.
Peter is like a father to Michael. He supplies him endless amount of money to promote his clubs. He pays for his drugs, his rent, his food, and gifts. He allegedly allows other drug dealers on the payroll.
Peter is a big problem that needs to be taken down. So police do not give the murdered victim a proper investigation. Instead, they offer Michael a deal once they do get the confessions they need and find the murdered body (after it had been in a different police station for months), a deal to take down Peter. Like a good son Michael takes a deal and him down.
Michael Alig takes everyone down with him in some way.
"And fast-forward to...The Aftermath". The next part we travel to in this story is where things finally sink in. Reality hits the story teller hard and life is forever changed. People have died (other overdoses or suicides, there is only one murder in here). Minds altered forever, with and without the rampant drug use. Some people deny what really happened. It is just too hard to wrap your minds around. These people loved each other and were there for each other no matter what they did. It is hard to comprehend how this crime really happened the way it did. No amount of drugs or lack of makes this comprehendible.
The "Confession" explores Freeze's confession. He and Michael's confessions differ and there is no telling what the actual truth is anymore, or if there ever was a truth to either of them.
"Dear Michael" is an open letter from James to Michael. It is how this murder affected him. How so many lives were changed because of this murder. How James feels about the entire scenario.
"Epilogue” is an expression James' freedom and truly a hallmark moment in literature.
The book, in essence is a coming of age story interlaced with a tragedy. Replace child growing into adult with adult waking up and realizing they need to integrate into the real world. Society as it stands is no longer a world where they make up their own rules to live by. They come to realize things about themselves that they tried to hide behind for so long. To grow and to be old. No longer young and flawless.
James St James, in my opinion, wrote this book as his own confession. He confesses his role in the murder. His role in creating the players of this crime and the many lives lost, including his own. On how to take the high road of sorts leaving this world behind to creating a new. Saying goodbye to the old and the realization that young and free is wanted, but it is no longer. A confession for the murdered victim, Angel Melendez, and his family; to pay tribute to a person who lost their life at the hands of a person James did and still does love dearly.
To accurately portray events and characters the way James did is astonishing. He, without question, displays the human condition in ways not often experienced before. He has amazing talent and will certainly portray more of life for us.
Review Copyright 2014 Lindsay Morrison
P.S. Jason Kapeluch
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I would love to get my hands on this: