Though it will probably be shelved in the True Crime section, Disco Bloodbath is only ostensibly about ultrahip New York party promoter Michael Alig's 1996 co-murder and dismemberment of his drug dealer. The gruesome act and Alig's subsequent imprisonment bookends what is really more of a fascinating memoir by St. James, an Alig friend/foe and well-known gadfly on the city's predominately homosexual nightclub circuit.
Chronicling the scene and all its excesses between the demise of Warhol and the rise of the Club Kids, St. James is the catty tour guide to a Felliniesque netherworld. In it, days are spent deciding which outrageous way to dress or dye your hair for the evening's activities, Special K is a designer drug and not a breakfast cereal, and the after-party entertainment just might include a middle-aged drag queen pulling fully lit Christmas bulbs out of his (or her) anus. St. James is the epitome of the literary convention known as the unreliable narrator. His recollections (amazing that he even has them, since he admits to being drugged up during much of the period) are filled with subjectivity, petty and pithy personality shredding, and yes a flamboyant queenly bitchiness accentuated by the hefty usage of bold, italic, and all-caps typefaces. But rather than off-putting, this is actually the book's biggest strength, as St. James's inimitable voice in full Diva mode rings through loud and clear even if it is a bit shrill at times.
Along the way he introduces many true-life and pathetic (but unforgettable) characters, happy when they've schmoozed successfully or gotten a mention inThe Village Voice, but desolate when their supply of coke and the latest boy toyhave run out, sometimes simultaneously.
So while the title might bring to mind a bad '70s drive-in flick and no literal carnage takes place on the dance floor populated by has-beens, wannabes, and never-wases, Disco Bloodbath is a journey into a land of strange creatures with bizarre manners. Hmm, maybe they could also put a few copies in the Science Fiction section.
Bob Ruggiero is a freelance entertainment journalist based in Houston.