But even with her so-called magic pill, “she succumbed to what she fought against—the global corporate concept that all women have to be thin and perfect,” says Hall. The laxative abuse had gotten so bad, according to friends, that Margaret lost control over her bowels. “I’d get phone calls from her telling me that she’d had an accident in the dressing room of Victoria’s Secret,” Holmberg says. “When I cleaned out her apartment, I found dozens of pairs of boys’ socks. She never wore socks. She was carrying them around so she could stow her accidents in them.” She had also lined her apartment with towels. If she didn’t make it to the bathroom, she would go on the towels and throw them out the window onto Thompson Street.
“I saw several soiled towels that I knew were Margaret’s on the sidewalk,” says Jennifer Flynn. Toward the end, the thing she obsessed over and cherished most—her youthful good looks—disintegrated. Her hair started falling out, so she began wearing wigs. Her hands had the shriveled, cracked look of an old woman’s. And she was achingly thin. “She looked like she’d aged twenty years,” says Juskow. And her appearance wasn’t the only thing that was deteriorating rapidly. “She came to my house a few months before her death and was yelling, threatening that she could beat me up and throwing stuff around,” Juskow adds. “I had to threaten to call the police to get her to leave.” She also began talking about suicide, leaving long, frightening messages on friends’ answering machines. “She went so far as to say who she wanted to do the makeup on her corpse and where to find the dress she wanted to wear,” says Holmberg. “But it always came back to her looks. One night she called me, completely hysterical, so I walked her around Washington Square Park to calm her down. All she could talk about was getting money for her next eye job.”
Even Susie, one of her closest confidantes, found her impossible. “She’d call me and beg me to get her mother to give her money,” says Susie. “She was fired from Scores. She thought that if her mother just set her up, bought her a dress shop or some business to run, everything would resolve itself. She was terrified because she said she had no real work experience.” At one point, she was calling Minifred 50 times a day, begging her to set her up financially.
It almost seemed like she was going into retirement, as if she were a wizened Miss America trying to hang up a tiara she’d never had.
On October 16, 2003, Margaret called 911—she had an itchy rash and couldn’t handle it. The paramedics took one look at the state she was in and brought her directly to Bellevue. Initially, the therapy there seemed to be helping her heal. She told friends she was president of the patients’ association, and she was eating and gaining weight. “On the day she died, she called and asked me to bring her doughnuts and other treats,” says Danielle Fenton. “During our visit, she gobbled up the food in her funky pajamas and wacky makeup—she was made up, even though she was in Bellevue. She seemed lucid to me, better than I’d seen her in a long time.”
But even Margaret seemed to sense that this was the calm before the storm. “I’m going to die in here,” she said breathlessly on Fenton’s answering machine. On November 16, 2003, she was found dead in her hospital bed. According to autopsy reports, her official cause of death was a heart attack resulting from prolonged amphetamine abuse. Bellevue will not comment on her death.
Though some in Margaret’s world were surprised, others saw it as an inevitable end to years of agony. Margaret Trigg was the New York cliché—the country girl who comes to the city to make it biggone horribly wrong. Ambition is usually romanticized. In her case, it was a fatal disease.
On December 7, 2003, dozens gathered at Collective: Unconscious for a memorial service honoring Margaret. Those close to her spoke of her talent, wit, and spirit. And on girlbomb.com, a Website celebrating alternative art and performance, there are more than 100 postings, some sweet (“You were so valiant. Sometimes the tiniest stumble can be fatal. What happened?”), some bittersweet (“Damn it, Trigg. I was just starting to like you”), some wishing Margaret happiness in the next world. “Shortly after her death, I had a dream about Margaret, a dream that felt incredibly real. We were on 14th Street, and I told her I felt bad about what had happened between us,” says Juskow. “But she told me everything was okay. She said, ‘I like it here. I’m young and beautiful.’ ”