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Saturday, August 29, 2009

STEVE LEWIS TALKS TO MICHAEL ALIG

Michael Alig’s Progress, Liskula Cohen’s Prowess, Ted Kennedy’s Egress

I hear from Michael Alig quite often, although for many months I have stopped writing and visiting him. His bust in jail for illegal drugs indicated to me that he wasn’t taking my advice and efforts to reintroduce him to the world in a positive light seriously. He is in a repeat drug offender facility in solitary, with few privileges, about five hours from where I write. In a letter I received from him the other day, he was coherent and remorseful and understanding of my position. He has cut out many of the enablers from his ridiculous “fan club,” taking himself off their message boards. He seems to be trying again to get himself ready for the world. Our mutual friend, the brilliant artist Fernanda Cohen, visited him and read him the riot act. He swears he will embrace the “normal” and adult and creative friends he still has and forsake the Manson-like cult followers that celebrate all that is wrong about him.

Michael said, “That’s when it dawned on me ... it’s really the only thing you could do. A time away, like a long ‘time out,’ is what’s needed to instill in me the importance of being good. If I’m really understanding this completely, you’re doing this because you really do care.”

The right words for sure, but their sincerity coming from Michael—the master manipulator—is of course in question. I am of course an optimist and will always try to find the good in people, probably because so many have tried hard to find the good in me. Michael has been shown some leniency from the powers that control his destiny, and he may be getting out sooner than previously thought. I think a year from next May is a good bet. I will give him a holler in the next couple of days, as you all knew I would.

Today I got a message from Malaysia. I took most of it out because Malaysia has all sorts of repressive rules, and I didn’t want to cause any pain. The writer speaks of Michael and his influence and that of the club kid movement that Michael helped create. The club kid movement gave hope to gay people and disenfranchised young people all over the world. The creativity and love at the core of the movement needs to be celebrated—possibly preserved and maybe reborn. A freed Michael surely will not be much more than a reminder of how wrong things can go if drugs and greed corrupt good ideas, but a Michael purged of his demons or in control of them can be a positive influence. Here’s the letter with certain elements redacted:

… I am a former club kid. In my last year of school, we had a club in Kuala Lumpur by the name of Boom Boom Room, which was the home to many of us. For the first time, we weren’t stuck in dingy, decrepit gay clubs which were really in a pathetic state then. Not so surprising for a country which is a Muslim majority nation and quite strict on a lot of matters. You may have come across the recent headlines of a Muslim woman to be whipped for consuming beer.

So Boom Boom became my home from 1993. I had never heard of club kids before that, and never read Disco Bloodbath or watched the Party Monster documentary or movie until a couple of years ago. The “freaks” in us—just bonded for some reason, and it just disappeared for no reason sometime in 1997.

While I’d say we were more Disney compared to the more hardcore partying that must have been the scene there then, fashion, sex, drugs and booze was very much present.

The scene here however is now gone. People don’t really know how to have a good night out now—and club inhabitants now don’t celebrate the whole clubbing experience. I have followed the comments to your articles on Michael with much interest, and I share your sentiment. I am amazed how you can hold on to friendship. I may have found it way too difficult in your position as I see Michael—the positive and beautiful side of who he is aside, extremely self destructive.

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