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Club kids and flash mobs

While folding a big pile of laundry I just watched Party Monster, the Macaulay Culkin vehicle about king of the club kids Michael Alig. Despite all the negative reviews it wasn't bad -- at least its arc didn't conform entirely to the obligatory Horatio Alger story of most biopics, and the wardrobe alone would have been enough to hold my interest.

It made me wonder about the real story so I did some Googling and found too many accounts to make sense of. One that starts off lurid but turns into an almost musicological history is Alix Sharkey's Death by Decadence piece. It's worth a visit if only for the throbbingly bad design of the michaelaligclubkids.com site which hosts it; I love their admonition, "If you have difficulty reading the text go to <view> in your browser." That's a new take on user friendliness!

Music wasn't really the point, though -- early on in the movie one character tells another that all he needs to know as a DJ is to play Studio 54 compilations and Madonna -- so I suspect that people who care about dance music would be happier with 24 Hour Party People.

Anyway, something that caught my eye in Sharkey's piece was this description of one category of parties that Alig threw:

Now making enough money to do things his way, Alig started organising Situationist art events in the form of impromptu "outlaw parties". He and his merry band would just turn up and party in a public place, generating chaos and disorder. They set up detour signs on the Washington Bridge and broke out the vodka, handing drinks to astonished commuters; to celebrate the birthday of Disco 2000's club mascot, Clara the Chicken, Alig and 100 others in blonde wigs, chiffon, hot pants, feather boas and platform shoes boogied on the platform of 34th Street subway station. These events rarely lasted more than 30-45 minutes before the cops arrived and broke them up, generally with good humour. Home video tapes showed the NYPD laughing and wishing Clara the Chicken a happy birthday as the party engulfs the next downtown train.

Yes! Flash mobs! (Which Google also tells me is far from an original comparison, but what the hell.)

movies 2005.03.24 link

Comments

There is a documentary that goes by the same name, Party Monster. I highly recommend it as a companion to the movie.

Dan [mybloodyself cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.04.15
I'm not sure if your comment that my Guardian piece "starts off lurid but turns into an almost musicological history" is one of approval or not, but anyway...

If you found the Alig story intriguing you should know that Party Monster is based on the book of the same name by James St James, which is simply one of the best nonfiction works I've ever read. (It was originally called Disco Bloodbath, but retitled to coincide with the movie based on it).

If you liked the movie, you'll love the book.

Alix Sharkey [alixsharkey cxe yahoo punkto com] • 2005.08.19
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