Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Dear Un Chin magazine: Angel Melendez was somebody

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Jenny Rodriguez
Editor
Un Chin Magazine

via e-mail: chmail@unchin.com

Dear Ms. Rodriguez,

Let me first congratulate you on the sixth issue of Un Chin magazine and your openness in covering issues related to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as we are definitely part of the vibrant Latino community in the United States.

Unfortunately I must take issue with "Club Kids: A take on the bizarre" (Un Chin, Issue 4). The article takes a look at
Manhattan's infamous "club kid" culture and does acknowledge the scene's underbelly by mentioning that club kid Michael Alig is "serving time for the murder of a drug dealer." But then the article stops short of mentioning that the crime for which Alig is serving in prison remains one of the most heinous murders committed against a Latino gay man in the city of New York (an unfortunate oversight considering that the piece then launches into a 9-page 'club kid' fashion spread).

If you had walked down Christopher Street in the summer of 1996, it would have been impossible to miss the flyers taped to lamp-posts and walls with a black-and-white image of a stocky dark-haired young man with a goatee. What was striking were the big white angel wings spreading from his shoulders, kept in place by a harness that hugged his chest. It was a "missing" poster asking for people to give information as to the whereabouts of Colombian-born Andre Melendez (whose nickname was "Angel").

Point blank: When Melendez tried to get some money owed to him by Alig, Alig tried to choke him while a friend of Alig's, Robert "Freeze" Riggs, hit Melendez in the head several times with a hammer [NOTE: CORRECTION POSTED IN COMMENTS BELOW]. According to Riggs' confession, they proceeded inject Melendez with Drano to finish him off before sawing-off Melendez' body in pieces, stuffing the body parts into a box, and throwing the box into the Hudson River.

Michael Musto of The Village Voice summarized the sordidness here and has been one of the few reporters who seems to never get tired of reminding others that, while club kid culture should not be blamed for the murder, it does not mean that Melendez deserved to die in such a horrible way.


Andre "Angel" Melendez was someone's son, he was someone's brother, he was someone's boyfriend. He might have been a drug dealer, but he certainly did not deserve his death. By avoiding mention of the details of his murder while trumping up the fabulousness of the scene in a fashion spread, it only helps to glorify certain aspects of 'club kid' culture while dismissing things that should never be forgotten.

Sincerely,

Andres Duque
--
SIDE-NOTE: Club legend Jackie Beat gets it.

--
Photo of "Angel" Melendez on the "missing" posters that appeared all over the West Village before his body was found.

18 comments:

Jimmi said...

Hey just stubled upon your blog. Pretty interesting...
Its very creepy how people have become obsessed with this "Club Kid" thing since the movie "Party Monster" was released. I remember hearing bits and pieces about this when it happened but it didn't gain much momentum until the movie. I hope Hollywood didn't over glorify his actions. It's good of you to defend Angel, even though he had his downfalls. Its disturbing how many people think Angel got what he deserved and how some have some obsession with his killers. Is it because Michael was an innovator in the club seen? If Michael worked for Taco Bell and just did drugs you wouldn't know anything about him. Its because he created a name for himself and people want to be like him, sans the murder aspect. I have to admit I was intrigued with him and what made him tick, after seeing this movie, but certainly don’t warship him. Perhaps he has paid his due in jail, that is not for me to decide, but I do wonder how Angles family feels. Any word if Alig got paroled this year?

Other club kids seem to have made something of themselves and that is shocking in itself. One minute they are drug addicts and the next they have careers on TV. Case in point, Richie Rich. I have seen him on TV at least twice once with Paris Hilton and another time on MTV for some teenage makeover show "MADE"... Perhaps this is setting the wrong examples for our children?

Anonymous said...

andres Duque got his facts wrong ANGEL was choking MICHAEL not the other way round and yes he was someone's son, brother etc he is also responsible for MANY deaths during the 80's and 90' due to the drugs he sold. Those misguided souls were someone's family too. lets not start demonising one person without demonisng the cause too. Michael killed Angel while high on the drugs Angel gave him. They were both wrong and both victims of the same thing. Drugs. This is a cautionary tale kids and it's a simple one to remember: dont do drugs

Andrés Duque said...

"Anonymous:"

Oops, you got me. The article - and Robert Rigg's confession - do state that it was Angel who first started to choke Alig. Of course, this is based on Riggs' confession (and maybe Alig's?) because Angel never got a chance to corroborate or deny if this was how things happened.

As to Angel being responsible for "MANY deaths" in the 80's and 90's, is that a hunch or a fact? I've followed this murder from the time that the flyers appeared on Christopher Street and have never heard that Angel had killed anyone. I'm not saying that Angel was an "angel," he might have been a horrible person for all I know. Still not a reason to kill someone.

As for Alig being high when he killed Angel, that may be but that must have been a mighty long trip if he stayed high for 6 or 7 days, the time Alig and Riggs left Angel's body in a bath tub before cutting him up and stuffing him in a trunk (never mind that Alig started boasting that he got away with the killing later on).

So, without condoning drug dealing or drug use, I still say, nobody deserves to be killed and disposed in the way that Alig and Riggs got rid of Angel.

Kajmera said...

There are two things that I feel I should mention. First being directed to Andres. Does the fact that Angel was both latino and gay matter in this situation? It wasn't a hate crime, it was all about the drugs. The second part is directed to *Anonymous.* Michael Alig wasn't high on drugs that Angel gave to him. He was high on the drugs he STOLE from him.

Andrés Duque said...

Kajmera

Thanks for your comment. I'm surprised this post has gotten the level of attention it has since I wrote it.

I don't think I've ever said that it was a hate crime and the fact that Angel was both Latino and gay should not make it a less or more heinous murder.

The fact that he was gay and Colombian DOES matter in one simple fact: So am I, which is why the murder sticks in my head after all these years and why I thought I'd give another perspective.

Kajmera said...

Andres,it was indeed a heinous crime. You never said it was a hate crime but his nationality and sexuality had nothing whatsoever to do with his murder, and the way it came across to me, was that it was a major part in why he was killed. That is the point i was trying to get across.

Anonymous said...

i remember when this happened. a friend of mine new angel and when he went missing she went crazy. knowing that he and michael had argued before, she had a gut feeling that even then michael was responsible. it was a really sad day back then. many times i told my friend rosie not to go out with michael, but back then she was into so much shit, it was hard for her to say no back then. now shes paramedic that most of her calls are overdosed people. she re-lives this horror over and over.

Anonymous said...

Hey I was around as these things went down and Alig was a freak more than any of you will ever know. Angel was just a guy yes he sold drugs but he was not a pusher he sold drugs to people who wanted them. Alig is sick and it is gross how some people want to make him an idol. When will people understand he is mentaly ill he enjoyed the killing and told many of us afterward that the only thing he regreted was the smell.

Anonymous said...

I came across this blog, article, whatever... while I was searching for information on Angel Melendez. As I searched and searched and searched, for the life of me, I cannot even find an obituary on the guy. I'm simply curious to find out where he was buried (if he was buried)and how the family handled all this. I also am appalled at the amount of attention and notoriety Michael Alig has received over this. Yes, he is an amusing character and unfortunately fell into the drug-scene, but drugs should not be an excuse; especially not for murder. I do hope that now that he's sober, he feels some sort of remorse for his actions and that he does something positive and productive upon his release from jail. As far as Angel is concerned, I just want to know more about him. If someone knows where he was laid to rest or anything else, please post. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

i am was a close friend of late angel melendez i remember him living by 12 ave and 26 or 28 i belive with jackie and astro and a few others, roomates he asked me for a gun one time so he can take care of some business, i couldnt supply him with one or my friends, however i sold him drugs and he sold drugs and there was money that wasent paid by some people of him, he was really concerned and scared, has i remember,carracter wise he was and exelent person. very funny person joked alot.sad that for some bs he is gone now.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I just want to say that it was a big hardship on our family to read about what happened to my cousin. To this very day we cannot speak of it, its a non-spoken topic. Yet, for me I cannot let go the horrible death that my cousin had to suffer. When "Party Monster" came out and I watched it for the first time, my heart was at my throat seeing my cousin's killing. Like a worth-less piece of trash. My cousin was NOTHING of how people picture him. He was a sweet, caring, goof-ball type of a guy. Yes serious and always in business mode, but never a asshole. The last memory that I have of him was on the day before my birthday, I was turning 8 years old. He was there and it was him who brought me out to the living room where our family was waiting to surprise me. He then recieved a call and next thing I know, he was gone. His last words to me was "Happy Birthday Cuz". Regardless on how people feel about the incident that occured that day, let me ask you this: Were you there at the time and place of the incident? Did you PERSONALLY see what was going on? Did you do ANYTHING to stop it? Im guessing your answer is one and simple: NO. Well as to everything in this life, it goes to being an opinion, just that a opinion. Yes, my cousin SHOULDNT have been selling drugs, that much i agree with, but it still doesnt justify for him to have been murder. I want to give thanks for all those who had our family in your prayers.

Anonymous said...

I want to answer to one of the questions that was made here referring to if Angel was buried. No he was creamaided and sent to Colombia to be next to his grandparents. Also, to the one person on here who, posted that he couldnt supply a gun to my cousin, why would you in the first place?.. Even worse, why did you start to sell him drugs.. do you realize how if you would never had done that ..maybe he would have been here a little longer to see his family. Im not directly blaming you, its just questions as why would a "FRIEND" let another "FRIEND" do that?

E said...

From the voice, experience, and soul of a gay sober drug addict, clubber, and scene socialite...

The one thing I learned was, no matter how many negative factors I have faced in my life as a result of my drug use, and being heavily caught up in the scene, you never regret any of it. You learn so much about your limits, who you are, and who you dont want to be. I am lucky to have made it out on the other side alive and free...

Its hard believing that anyone can ever see through an act as terrible as this....

When you are coming to terms with being gay, especially in a society that is very uneducated about it, more so in the day of the "Club Kids" you have to wonder how gay people have coped. The Club Kids werent bad people. They were people trying to force an identity on themselves to give themselves purpose and meaning. Drugs allow people to mold themselves into who they want to be, who they feel they are at that moment. I am in no way saying drugs are acceptable. But if even for 10 minutes you can become someone that you never knew you could be, if for 10 minutes you can feel something you never knew was physically possible, all by taking a pill, or snorting a line you would know how it was so easy to get tangled up in the scene.. The Scene made the club kids. The club kids were just smart enough to take this small opportunity and manifest it into this wild lifestyle of subconcious soul searching, and wild club excursions.

At the time that the Club Kids were at the top of the world, so was the club scene. They set a stage of intensely planned parties in some of NYC's most noteable venues. They lived a life of drug induced fantasy. This world is uplifting, and social.. The scene is so incredibly superficial. It enabled them to dominate a society that for so long held them back. They were just very extreme..

When you are under the influence and on as many substances that Michael Alig was on, you get to a point where you dont even know you are human. You become a product of the scene and social spotlight. He wasnt Michael Alig, he was a puppet of the club life. One day you are testing waters and the next you are hooked on a lifestyle that you convince yourself that you have complete control of, yet it is running you mad.

People arent making Alig their idol.. People are making a connection with a man that before the murder, was not afraid to act out and be himself. They want to cry out and be that person that pioneered the club scene. Alig is not a monster. He is a victim of his own lack of self control and need to prove himself to the world. Good or bad, Alig made a statement, well before the murder. He just stepped over that fine line, and lost control.

With this said, Angel has remained in my prayers for years. No one deserves to die. Angel wasnt a pusher and Angel wasnt a dealer to break the law. He was there to make people feel good. And that says a lot about his character.. As hard as it may be for some of you to understand...

Anonymous said...

The Club kids: Legado de una generación ?

No se, llevo horas pensando en esto y lo tengo que escribir. Recuerdo cuando conocí a Ángel Meléndez, salía del
Gay Communy Center en el Village y comenzamos a hablar, era el año 1987, después nos encontramos varias veces en Christopher Street y siempre nos saludábamos. Una vez fuimos a tomar café a Tiffany’s, el restaurante que esta en
West 4th y 7th Ave. Nunca hablamos de drogas, de sexo o de nada “fuera de lo común”. Otras veces lo veía en
Limelight, cuando hacian aquellas fiestas de cosas “goticas, macabras y desagradables”, o en The Tunnel, tarde, tarde en la madrugada.

Me mude a Los Angeles, regrese a New York y luego, un día en Puerto Rico, viendo la tele, me encontré con un documental de A& E hablando de su asesinato. Antes de morir mi amigo Arhur Wallace, hablamos de todas aquellas locuras que hacíamos, de los lugares que visitábamos, y de lo horrenda que fue la muerte de Ángel, que al final siempre veía con sus alas blancas sentado en Sheridan Square, frente a Stone Wall.

¿Fue su muerte parte de la cultura en que vivíamos todos en New York en la década de los 80 y principios de los 90?
¿Fueron the Club Kids una parte tan importante de esta etapa de nuestras vidas , cuando trabajábamos como dementes,
íbamos de disco todas las noches y la pasábamos de lo mejor en The Saint , The Monster y los piers de West Street ?

Acabo de postear esto en Yahoo, me he pasado la noche pensando en esto, y de momento, buscando mas informacion encuentro que hoy (5/17) se conmemora la fecha de la muerte de Angel, algo que me ha parado los pelos. Casualidades ?
Cosas paranormales ? No los se !

Alex said...

"It has been a long time". But I still remember Andres as when he arrived to the U.S... His siblings, his parents who are great people, and my prayers are with them since the lost of there great one...
Andres will always be remembered in the hearts of who he was close to. And this comes from a heterosexual person.
ANDRES, May God Bless You and have giving you bigger wings than the ones you wore on this world...
My best goes to his Parents, Siblings, And cousins who I grew-up with...

Eliz-NJ... AV

Anonymous said...

Wow! I remember these days as if it were yesturday. The club scene was synonymous with drugs. U cant look at drug dealers as bad people, they are no different then people who sell alcohol. They are just providing a service and its up to you how you use that service. I Remember going to the clubs and taking drugs I would love the dealers who took care of me and my friends. Never was any drugs pushed on me. It was always by choice, The key was not to abuse it. The fun we had and the memories we hold are priceless. It was all done in moderation, the problem is that sometimes the drugs get ahold of the weak. Not everyone can control it. It is easy to go over board specially for if you dont have a strong support group. I lost a friend during that error. That use to hang with Alig, Kenny Kenny, and all those extravagants. He unfortunately couldnt separate the fantasy world from reality and it cost him his life. I the end of the day we are all responsible for the choices we make.

Anonymous said...

F*ck Michael Alig. He is a Sociopath who can not see beyond himself, he is not at all Sorry for what he did to Poor Angel and that is a Fact. I am a Ex Club Kid, I knew both Alig and Melendez. And Angel did NOT deserve what happened to him! Me and Alig were not close but even I can see beyond his Lies! The majority of us all first felt kind of Sorry for Angel when he first came into our "scene" he was always alone and didn't have a group of his own to fit in with. A few of my friends told him about the Club Roxy and that's when he fell in with "Michaels group" a bunch of stuck up Spoiled, Sociopathic Drug addict Snobs who thought they were truly better than everyone else. We told Angel to stay away from Michael, but Michael was one of his main Customers. The only ones I met and who were ever really Sweet or Honestly "Friendly" to everyone was Brooke, Gitzie and Amanda Lepore. James St. James was indifferent towards anyone who didn't have something he wanted or wasn't on "His Level of Popularity" and Michael only become Popular because of his Outlandish and shockingly yet to some Halariously Rude Behavoir. Behind closed doors Alig was a Cut Throat Douchebag towards the majority of people and only cared about three things and three things only! #1 getting High #2 His Reputation as the "King of the Club Kids" #3 getting on Geraldo. He stole a lot of Gay Misfits Creativity and called it his own. There is NOTHING Fabulous about Alig. He is a fucking Loser who got what he Deserved in the End! He should have gotten LIFE in Prision really! And I am not Hating, I had the BIGGEST Crush on Michael when I first met him and he was rather sweet to me when I hung out with him at first. But I soon saw his Personality traits and it was a BIG Turn off! He was Shallow, Cruel, Heartless and TRAINWRECK Mental! R.I.P Angel :(

Anonymous said...

Hey it is me again, the person who said Alig was Trainwreck mental. I Just came to see if my comment got posted. I am glad it did. I was a little Tipsy when I wrote that lol. But it honestly upsets me how Michael Alig got so glorified in these later years. And it is only due to the Party Monster movie which wasn't even accurate if you ask me. A lot of stuff on Angel's side of the story got left out. Michael was indeed a freak and if anything Angel was just lost and looking for acceptence. Remember this was 20 years ago or so, the GBLT community has come a very long way since then. A lot and gay people felt shunned at that time still and it was nice for some of us to finally have a world we could finally feel free in. Michael Alig had just entered the scene when I met him, which was if I remember correctly a few years after Gia Carangi *another lost soul* died of AID's (and I was once lucky enough to meet her a few times at Party's in New York and was the sweetest thing I have ever met but if you made her mad you had better run lol.) I met Angel when he was still a punk kid and a loner at times. Then he became a Tiara, Wing wearing Club Kid. I think a few of us even told Angel to stop selling Drugs and get a real job but he was too far gone at that point. And sadly his drugs did cause one death that I know of but it wasn't his fault that person overdosed. All in all it was a great time in my life and a once Amazing world that sadly Crumbled away taking dozens of lives with it. And I do still think about Angel a lot and his desperate need for acceptence and his tragic death still haunts me after all these years as does Gia Carangi's. Drugs have destroyed so many good hearted people. Godbless