Party Monsters: Remembering Macaulay Culkin As Michael Alig

Oliver Lunn

After serving a 17–year sentence for the brutal killing and dismemberment of his roommate, the notorious “King of the Club Kids" Michael Alig was released from prison yesterday. Alig immediately took to Twitter to post a selfie with the caption: “Happy to be free and so grateful for this second chance”.

Happy to be free and so grateful for this second chance. Can't wait 2C @JSJdarling at dinner. #frenemy

— Michael Alig (@Alig_Aligula) May 5, 2014

Back in 2003, a darkly hilarious film was made about Alig’s exploits, based on the novel ‘Disco Bloodbath’. Party Monster featured Macaulay Culkin in drag, replete with floppy hand gestures, camp accents and colourful garms. To state the obvious, it was somewhat of a departure for the cheek-slapping star of Home Alone (1990). To the adoring fans who found little Kevin Mccallister so irresistibly cute, Party Monster was the desired beaker of acid in the face.

An actor attempting to escape their pigeonhole is nothing new, of course, and we’ve seen it more recently with Robert Pattinson, timidly working on David Cronenberg’s Cosmopolis in an attempt to shed his tweenie Twilight skin; and with Emma Watson, again less daring, being so "naughty” in Sofia Coppola's The Bling Ring. But with Culkin, the vastness between his cute kid days and partying in a truck with Marilyn Manson seemed genuinely bold, seductive and wholly necessary.

Alig discusses his nocturnal habits on a US talk show. 

Culkin as Alig in the 2003 film.

Delivering lines like “I want you to teach me how to be fabulous”, “I’m getting away with murder and you’re just jealous”, and singing “Money, success, fame and glamour” through a megaphone, Culkin’s turn as Alig was aptly plastic and theatrical. More shocking than Culkin’s new look, though, was the fact that the actor actually pulled it off, and by the end of the film, I had totally forgotten that this was the same kid who had battled the Wet Bandits in the Mccallister residence.

With Terry Richardson’s iconic photo of the actor sans shirt, phlegm oozing out of his mouth, released just before the film, Culkin and his publicist were obviously attempting to cultivate a new “bad boy” persona. The result, however, was kind of different. The character that emerged still had innocent-looking, tattoo-less skin and a childlike voice, yet in the press this image of an off-the-rails teen was still being perpetrated, ultimately creating a disconcerting, conflicted character of sorts.

Party Monster did in part have the desired affect of obliterating Culkin’s family-friendly image, but to predict it would kick-start some kind of Matthew McConaughey-style renaissance of reputable roles later proved presumptuous. Culkin’s Alig will no doubt go down as a high-point in the actor’s meandering career, but looking ahead, we might have to assume that his recent pizza-inspired musical endeavors will be as good as it gets. 


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