Just in time for the Halloween season I thought we would hit up on the Party Monster days. Otherwise known as the ‘Party Monster and the Club Kids age’.
Just so you know where we’re coming from here, there have been books written and film made about a real group of people known as The “Club Kids”. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s groups of young people went clubbing – nothing remarkable about that. But somehow they got themselves known, well known, famous and then infamous simply for being guys and gals who went partying – it was a social group that, up until then, had not been seen. There was something in the music and the culture of the time that drew this glamorous, outrageous way of dressing out of young people and the Club Kids went all out to get themselves known for being known.
We might call them ‘IT’ girls now but back then they were simply Party Monsters. To be one of the set you had to be young, usually under 25, you would have to have a sense of self styling and would have to be prepared to be outrageous. They’d get up to all kinds of antics in their efforts to get themselves noticed, putting on false airs and graces, false personas and wild costumes. All of these folk were very gifted at self promotion, making something out of yourself, or making something out of nothing you might say, and they were also good at organising the wild parties they soon became associated with. Their lifestyle was fast and furious and often self destructive, with drugs and alcohol addiction going hand in hand with late nights, the wild parties, the outrageous costumes and the antics. But, at a time when the New York (and elsewhere) scene was recovering from the seventies and calming a little, these guys stood out and soon became notorious.
And once they started to get well known the self perpetuation started: they were known simply for being known, they got invited to clubs so that the public would come and gawp at them and that night the club sold out. They were invited onto TV shows to talk about their way of life and ratings went up; they were paid a fortune just to turn up and be at a night spot, a bar, a club. It was a good job if you could get it! They did actually do some work though, they organised club nights, party nights and events at the Limelight club but also at a McDonalds restaurant.
But this kind of fast living and wild partying only leads to one thing; well, it can’t last forever. The ‘king’ of the Party Monsters of New York was a guy called Michael Alig. He rose to fame as one of the Party Monster set, started his own magazine and record label but then the hedonistic lifestyle took over and he spiralled down through drug addiction and finally ended up killing his live in dope dealer and going to gaol.
A movie of his story, and the other party animals around him, was released in 2003 to mixed reviews. Titled “Party Monster” it stars Macaulay Culkin playing the bisexual, self promoting drug addict Michael Alig. The movie also features a performance by Seth Green as James St James and a cameo from Marilyn Manson. It is based on the book “Disco Bloodbath” by James St. James who was another of the original party monsters. The co-adapter/directors of the movie (Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato) have also made a documentary with the same title so if you’re interested to buy the DVD make sure you are getting the version you want.
I can’t promise that watching the movie will help you understand why the “Club Kids” became so famous so quickly but it should go some way to explain the history. Maybe it’s just because they were young, wild and outrageous… Whatever the reason there is a lesson to be learned and a moral too and maybe that’s the appeal of the story: live fast, die young.