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Disco Bloodbath: A Fabulous But True Tale of Murder in Clubland Hardcover – August 11, 1999

181 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

In 1996, New York City drug dealer and "club kid" Angel Melendez was bludgeoned, injected with Drano, dismembered, and tossed into the river. James St. James was there when the killer confessed, but before that, there were the clubs, the parties, the drugs, and the many fabulous (and some not so fabulous) outfits. Disco Bloodbath is "celebutante" St. James's story, equal parts confession and attempt at closure. This is no square-jawed detective's account of the investigation of the crime; St. James is a drug-addled clubster who wears a wedding dress out on the town and invokes Judy Garland as he talks about the scene in which he and Melendez immersed themselves before the murder. His story, despite its gruesome subject matter and frequent, shocking lucidity, has a chatty and anecdotal quality that's compelling, endearing, and unrelentingly human. --Lisa Higgins

From Publishers Weekly

When suspected drug dealer Angel Melendez disappeared in March 1996, the arrest of party promoter Michael Alig, impresario of the debaucherous "club-kid" scene of the early 1990s, sent shock waves through the New York City club scene. Alig and his roommate were later convicted of the grisly murder and dismemberment of Melendez. According to St. James, who describes himself as "a rather needy diva" and Alig's "best friend," the conviction was no surprise: days after the murder, Alig had confessed to him while they did drugs together in Alig's apartment. St. James's account of the rise and fall of Michael Alig is a most unconventional contribution to the body of true crime. Mixing dish on the outrageous exploits of club queens with "the running commentary of a babbling drug addictAme," St. James fuses the unrepentant humor and narcotic gusto of Hunter S. Thompson with pure campAand the result is a flamboyant and engrossing first-person narrative. But while St. James's flashy approach is artful and engaging, it ultimately serves to solidify the tabloid nature of his tale. St. James has no sympathy for the victim of the crime. The closest thing to emotion on display is St. James's obsessive need to document the highs and lows of life with the maddening Alig and his own self-pity at the end of his carousing days with Alig. "How superficial to say that because of a murder, I didn't feel like dressing up anymore!" Yes, and how. (Aug.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 286 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (August 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684857642
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684857640
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (181 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #314,746 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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56 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer VINE VOICE on September 17, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Personally, in the early 90's I was enchanted with club kids, but would never let them in my apartment for fear that several somethings would turn up missing. James St. James' wonderful book lets me know I probably did the right thing. Although the story regularly digresses from Michael Alig and Robert Rigg's murder of Angel Melendez, he does so with purpose, and the book is an intriguing read. He shows how Alig transformed from an unwelcome wannabe to a creative force in New York's club scene to a heroin-addicted nightmare. Similarly, He explains Freeze's (Robert Rigg) three phases as well from a reticent but clever costume designer to a "well-respected" drug dealer to a practically homeless ball of anger. Instead of blaming it all on Michael's upbringing like most authors would, St. James finds that changes in the music, the scene and, most particularly, the drugs of trend led a lot of club kids, particularly Michael Alig, down a path of darkness.
Not that Michael was very nice to begin with. St. James relates that Michael's first "superstar" was Christina, an ugly drag queen. By foisting her on the club scene, he hoped to garner approval from everyone who enjoyed making fun of her.
Some have argued that both club kids and St. James' book are too self-absorbed to warrant any warm feelings. It is true. However the author makes himself very three dimensional, focusing on his foibles as well as his successes. And his moral conflict is depicted beautifully. On the one side Melendez, an acrid drug dealer (probably connected to a dangerous cartel) was hurting so many people that death didn't seem like a bad fate for him. (After all, St. James argues, no one arrested Dorothy even though she accumulated a body count of two wicked witches.
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56 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Ron P on December 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
I waited a long time to read this book. Partly because it dredged up people and events I knew, and partly because the story was just too strange to be anything but real. Nobody would believe it. But it all happened.
I couldn't put this book down. Maybe that has to do with my being there, and knowing all the characters in this book. It was painful but also hysterically funny. I have to hand it to James. He did a good job recreating the mood of the times, which is a little odd to say, considering the subject matter.
While I thought James was as fair as possible about himself, and doesn't try to portray himself as anything but what he really was: A fabulous mess, he also tries (and mostly succeeds)walking a thin line with his portayal of Michael.I only wish James spent more pages exploring Michael,
Michael can be the sweetest person, but he has a very cruel, dark side, as those of us who know him have had a taste of at some time. While it's very hard to be sympathetic to Michael considering the horrendous and unexcusable thing he did to Angel, there's an undeniable charisma about him. It was Michael after all, who was the Pied Pier of New York's club scene. Everyone gravitated towards his circle, and we all know what happened to those who followed the Piper.
When I heard the story, long before it became public, I was shocked. But at the same time I said to myself: "that's Michael for you." I commend James, because it takes a certain amount of guts to say "I was Michael's best friend" (I don't think too many people are going to try and take that title away from him). James does a good job capturing a very fun, sick, twisted moment in New York's nightlife.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 26, 2004
Format: Paperback
This is one of the many books which is best enjoyed if you're able to dedicate a good block of time to it and just sit back and dive in. The drama is all in the language and James St James knows it.
He uses all the cues and tricks of writing to excess (ALL CAPS, italics for those naughty phrases you just have to lean in for, bold passages for "can you believe it" statements, and constantly hitting the return key to ensure that well planned break in the story where you wait just long enough to make sure everyone is hanging onto your every word and will sell their mothers out to hear how it all ends) and for some reason it works instead of becoming the obnoxious mess it should have been. You can actually hear James St James in this book, as if he's squeazing tight into the bar booth with you and telling you the whole thing over a cocktail, spilling most of it on himself AND YOU in the process... but you can't leave...
You have to hear it all, by God. So be prepared to read it all and quick. If you can read it one sitting all the better, or two or three days if you must... but don't drag it out or try to balance it with a few other paperbacks you're halfway through. This is GOSSIP. And you might as well accept the charges and get settled in for a wildly entertaining, vivid, dishonestly honest tale of one club creature's scattered memories of his years as a New York City celebutante.
P.S. Although this book claims to be mainly centered on Michael Alig and the murder of his drug dealer, it's not 100% anywhere or on anyone. So don't expect a fair or even picture to be painted of Alig, for as James St James explains at the very beginning NEVER, EVER DISH ANYONE IN PRINT. And if you simply must, there's just no way out of it... well, the entire book is sort of a portrait of this very predicament. A little love to coat a lot of hate, or is it the other way around?
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