A New Century

1996–2005: from Aids in Africa to 9-11, Clinton's blowjob to Cindy Sheehan

Looking for Angel
Did king of club kids Michael Alig really kill Angel Melendez? Or is it all a hoax?

By Frank Owen

June 25, 1996

Standing over 40 stories tall, the Riverbank West apartment complex is a beacon of faux luxury amid the drab, workaday surroundings of the far west 40s. Until recently, the building's most notorious resident was kid Michael Alig, who lived in a two-bedroom, blond-wood floor apartment paid for by his then employer, the indicted club owner Peter Gatien. It was at the Riverbank, in the walled redbrick courtyard, with its circular drive and feeble attempt at a fountain, that Johnny Melendez last saw his brother Angel. Angel, a 26-year-old small-time drug dealer and friend of Alig's, had come to New York from Colombia 18 years ago. He had ambitions of becoming an actor-filmmaker, but in his late teens he fell in with a racy nightlife crowd and became a full-time scenemaker instead.

In early March, Johnny dropped Angel off at Riverbank after a rare get-together over a Chinese meal in Manhattan. The two brothers didn't hang out very often. Though they look alike physically, the worlds they moved in were vastly different. The conventionally attired Johnny is a salsa DJ who spins insmall Latino clubs in New Jersey. Angel, on the other hand, inhabited a trendier milieu; he was a conspicuous figure at the Gatien-owned Limelight, where he could often be spotted selling Special K and Ecstasy while wearing his trademark, Barbarella-style feather wings. . . .

Several confidential sources, only one of whom would speak on the record, claim that former Limelight promoter Michael Alig has told them that, his press denials notwithstanding, he did indeed kill his sometime roommate Angel earlier this year.

Notes on Girl Power
The Selling of Softcore Feminism

by Joy Press

  • see full text
  • September 23, 1997

    From the moment do-me feminism was coined (by a male Esquire writer) in 1994, it was inevitable that a magazine like Jane would be born. Although the term was reviled by the women it supposedly defined—attractive, prosex feminists of the Naomi Wolf genus—it did expose a growing trend among young women: a backlash against the perceived puritanism of traditional feminism, and a move toward the politics of pleasure.

    But do-me feminism also described an emerging niche in the marketplace: young, free, and single 18- to 34-year-old women. Targeting this demographic, Jane—the monthly that made its debut last week—is the grown-up sister of Sassy, Jane Pratt's legendary teen magazine of the late '80s. Sassy had a serious agenda: to break through the sickly sweet fodder of Seventeen and its ilk, and put teenage girls in touch with the pleasure principle. Says Debbie Stoller, coeditor of the zine Bust and one of many then-twentysomething women who guiltily enjoyed reading Sassy, "The other teen magazines were about 'just say no' to everything, whether it was french fries or dick. Sassy was all about yes—the older you get, there's more and more things you can say yes to, and isn't that cool."

    Jane arrives with little of this heady idealism. With more than $5 million of Fairchild money riding on it, Pratt's not likely to make many daring moves. At an idle glance, it looks a lot like your standard women's magazine: beauty and fashion advice, and endless ads featuring models so skinny it's hard to see where their internal organs might fit. Yet, within the narrow confines of the genre—one pretty much defined by its ability to stoke female anxieties and insecurities—Jane makes some subtle inroads. It avoids old chestnuts like "How to lose 15 pounds in 10 days," or "How to trap a man," instead continuing Sassy's emphasis on fun and independence with first-person accounts of a nudist retreat, kickboxing, and the hazardous life of a female pirate-radio DJ. The tone is feisty and the attitude is encapsulated in the subscription card: "Ever notice how most magazines are either for teenyboppers or baby boomers—filled with lame stuff about how to get a life? Hey, you've got a life! You're in your prime."

    In her debut letter from the editor, Pratt, the perpetual teenager, admits that her first choice for a magazine name was Girlie. The appeal of that word is no fluke. Girl power has come to represent a whole new school of softcore feminism for thousands of (mostly) white, hip, middle-class young women. Girl reserves the right to think about clothes and makeup, but she still expects to be taken seriously. Girl isn't afraid to be obnoxious or snarly for fear she'll be seen as unfeminine. Girl wants a boyfriend but values her female friendships more. Girl knows she's as good as a guy, but she's proud to be girlie and to wield her girl power. Independent but not adult, pursuing a career but not exactly a "career woman," fierce but feminine, girl is a mess of contradictions and conflicts, sure. But when you get right down to it, she expects a lot from the world. As the online girlzine Minx puts it: "Can we please be smart AND want to get laid? We propose: Yes. We demand satisfaction. Meaning: Don't waste our time. Stay true to your word. Equal pay for equal work. And make us come."
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