When he talked about killing Melendez, he almost always referred to it with some disconnect, as “the crime”—like something that was over there and not the gravitational center of his life’s then-current trajectory. He maintained he did it in self-defense, something he said he remained sure of even though many of the details were hazy because of all the drugs that were involved. That said, he did discuss his accountability and the role drugs played with insightful ambivalence:

To say [killing Melendez] was an overreaction is beyond the pale. Have you ever done Special K? I’ve never been a big fan but when you’re at that point, it’s like, sure, whatever, I’ll take it. It alters your sense of time and, in this case, we’ll say strength. I’m sure it was one of those I’m on him too long and putting too much force. I don’t want to blame it on drugs because I was sober when I decided to take the drugs, so I have to accept responsibility for what I do on the drugs, but I can say that but for the drugs, it would not have happened. A) He wouldn’t have been there, and B) I’m kind of a cowardly person so I would have run instead of fighting back. Definitely, I would have had my wits about me to know not to sit so long…there were three of us and we were on top of him. And everyone was kind of morphing into each other and melding into each other like goop. It’s hard to separate the two. It’s hard to say what percentage the drugs are responsible.


Alig, nonetheless, repeatedly assured me he was a good person. “I did something really terrible, but I’m not a bad person,” is how he put it at one point. I asked him how he could be sure and he stammered. It took him a few seconds to figure out an answer, which involved citing fan mail from young people who were just coming out that looked up to him as a queer inspiration.

“I know that I’m not a bad person because…because I care too much,” he explained. “I care too much about that girl in Scotland, or about whoever.” And then immediately, he pivoted to self-aggrandizement of his legacy: “The Club Kids were started because we wanted to create a family. That’s why people come to New York—they don’t fit in anywhere. You’re looking for the family you never had. We wanted a concentrated version of that because enough is never enough for us. That made me feel good, that I was providing jobs, we would get places to live—Richie Rich and Sophia [Lamar] and Astro. We got the ball rolling for everybody.”


Alig waffled between claiming to be off drugs and admitting to doing “a bump” here and there. He told me he’d been on Xanax and drank during the Outrage party I attended. Even his duplicity was telling, and I put it all in the piece, which you can read via the Wayback Machine if you are so inclined. I wasn’t particularly surprised when, about a month after its publication, Alig was arrested for smoking meth in public (outside the Bronx Supreme Court building, no less). I had seen him (or someone using his picture) on Grindr at some point between our interview and his drug arrest, looking to “parTy.” Naturally, I didn’t keep in touch with him, but the report of his death last week didn’t surprise me, either. He never got it back together. Whether he deserved a renaissance, a second chance at cultural relevance, it never happened. And even with the particulars, even keeping the despicable act that defined his legacy in mind, that’s a shame because all waste is a shame.