What Michael Alig’s Club Kids Are Doing Now

By
James St. James in 2011. Photo: Amanda Edwards/2011 Amanda Edwards

On Monday, May 5, ex-club-kid impresario Michael Alig was released from Mid-State Correctional Facility, where he'd been incarcerated since his 1997 first-degree manslaughter conviction, after Alig and Robert “Freeze” Riggs bludgeoned fellow nightlife denizen/drug dealer Andre “Angel” Melendez with a hammer before dismembering him and throwing him in the Hudson River.

Alig was picked up at the prison gate by some old nightlife friends: lighting designer turned DJ Scotto and former club kid/current hairstylist Astro Erle. (James St. James was supposed to be there to film Alig's return for production company World of Wonder, but of course, he missed his plane.) The church that housed the Limelight, where Alig's Disco 2000 party reigned supreme, is now a dreary shopping mall (and will soon become a David Barton Gym). As for the club kids — those decadent nightclub celebrities who were once talk-show fixtures — they've changed just as much as their old digs. Here's what the scene’s figureheads are up to now.

Freeze/ Robert Riggs: Alig’s partner in crime was paroled in 2010. According to St. James, Riggs is attending NYU and “disappearing into academia, I think comparative literature. He’s moving on with his life and not seeing anybody.”

James St. James: Wrote the memoir Party Monster about his relationship with Alig. “I looked like I was having fun,” he says of the Limelight years, “but I was tweaked out of my mind and too wasted to have fun.” He’s been in Los Angeles since 1997. “I came out as a bedraggled drug addict,” he says. He’s contributed to World of Wonder since his move. His second book, Freakshow, about a bullied high school drag queen, has been optioned by Drew Barrymore’s Flower Films and is in the casting stage.

Richie Rich: With partner Traver Rains, Rich designed the now-defunct clothing line Heatherette, and then went solo with Poplux, which showed a few times during Fashion Week. He and Rains are planning a Heatherette reboot, and Rich is working on a self-titled solo line. “I’m trickling back into the glitter puddle,” he says.

Amanda Lepore: Is still an internationally sought-after mystery blonde.

Keoki: Alig’s former boyfriend and Disco 2000 resident is still working in music and lives in Houston.

Walt Cassidy: Known as Walt Paper, Cassidy is a tattooed, muscled multimedia artist. He is represented by Invisible Exports and his work has been exhibited at venues like MASS MOCA, Paul Kasmin Gallery, Deitch Projects, 303 Gallery, and the Watermill Center. On the 20th, he is releasing his one-of-a-kind jewelry collection using materials like quartz, pyrite, and coconut shells. “I see them as mini sculptures,” he says.  It will be sold at ODD. Starting May 29, a light sculpture will be part of "Trip the Lights Fantastic" at High Line Gallery.

Jenny Dembrow: Once known as Jenny Talia, Dembrow was the perennial club kid "It" girl and one of the most prominent of the Limelight crew, bounding down the Calvin Klein catwalk in all of her bald-headed glory. Now the club she's most interested in is the Lower East Side Girls Club, where she's associate executive editor, and she has recently become a mother.

Desi Santiago: The artist formerly known as Desi Monster has become a rock star in the fashion and art worlds. His broad scope of projects has included making the bizarre mannequin heads for the 2012 “Louis Vuitton Marc Jacobs” exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, doing runway design for brands as disparate as Patrik Ervel and Loewe, and draping the entire Lords Hotel with an ominous demon for Miami Art Basel. The current issue of sexy/weirdo men’s fashion magazine Crush Fanzine is entirely devoted to him.

Larry Tee: Former host of Disco 2000’s “Hot Body Contest,” Larry Tee has been one of the most visible of the Limelight denizens. After becoming chief electro-clash Svengali in the early-'00s and instigating Williamsburg’s ascension to Funkytown USA with his party “Berliniamsburg,” Tee decamped to London, where he runs a record label called Carnage.

Kabuki: Became a top-tier makeup artist. His work can regularly be seen in Vogue (American, Italia, and Paris), Elle, and Purple.

Astro Erle: Is a hairstylist at Jersey City’s most outré salon, Balance. “The owner, Carla, used to be a dancer at Limelight in the '80s,” says Erle. “It’s a punk rock anarchist hair place and we believe in aliens.” He still throws parties during his off hours. “They’re more glam and rock and roll,” he says. “I don’t have to get so done up; I can just be myself. I don’t have to be a lady anymore. Well, I wasn’t a lady; I was a clown, honey.”

Tobell Von Cartier: Tobell followed the '90s Limelight scene with a Larry Tee–produced electro-clash music career in the early 2000s. Her singles included “Black Pussy Surprise,” “Clap That Ass,” and her genius piece de resistance, “Useless,” where she proclaimed “I’m Catherine Deneuve!” She's now on her third act with a clothing line, VON, available at Patricia Fields. She credits sobriety. “It's gonna be four years in May,” she says. “It gives you clarity. I was a party girl. Now people take me more seriously. There is a lot to come from Ms. Tobell, honey.”

Kenny Kenny: No one got into Disco 2000 without Kenny Kenny’s say so. “I was a caustic door person,” he says. “I cut people down when I needed to, and I often needed to. Sometimes I was too mean. But you treat people how you see yourself, and I’m a little hard on myself. I’m not using it as an excuse, but I have issues. But I’m not a narcissist even though I take a lot of self-portraits." Kenny’s photography goes beyond cell-phone selfies. He elaborately costumes himself and paints his apartment walls and then himself to match. He is compiling the images into a book. “It’s insular and isolating, but it fulfills a certain need to dress up,” he says. He recently ended the go-to Sunday gay night at Van Dam and hosts occasional parties.

Lahoma Van Zant, a.k.a. Jon Witherspoon: Was an editor at Parade for 13 years and is now senior editor of Grapevine.

Brooke Humphries: She has since sheared her dreadlocks and is a major nightlife player in Dallas, owning stakes in two locations of Barcadia, Beauty Bar, It’ll Do Dance Club, and a coffee shop.

Ernie Glam/Ernie Garcia: Is a staff writer for the Journal News in White Plains and wrote the foreword to Alexis Diblasio’s club kid photo exhibition and book Fabulosity—A Night You’ll Never Forget … or Remember. "I'm shopping around a manuscript,” he says. “Tunnels, my gay pulp fiction novel set in NYC in 1989 about a nightclubber who witnesses a stabbing in a subway tunnel on his way to the Tunnel.” He will soon gain a couch surfer in Michael Alig.

Sophia Lamar: Still works in nightlife and has just wrapped a movie called Zentuary, "about the human condition and human trafficking,” she says. “I play a stressed young mother who has her child killed accidentally.”