WORK$ OF ART

World Of Wonder Helps Convicted Murderer Michael Alig Sell His Prison Art

michael-alig-artIn March 1996, Michael Alig killed his roommate and drug dealer Angel Melendez by smashing his head three times with a hammer and injecting Drano into his veins.

Weeks later, Alig dismembered the body, placed the parts in a cardboard box, and threw it into the Hudson River.

Today, World of Wonder, the production company that brings you RuPaul’s Drag Race, is helping him sell art that he created during the 17-year prison sentence he served for the conviction of Melendez’s murder.

The art, which is now available for purchase online, is inspired by the drug-fueled club scene that helped motivate Alig to murder Melendez.

But why?

World of Wonder has been in bed with Michael Alig since the beginning. In the 1980’s, WOW founders Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato were known as disco/pop duo The Fabulous Pop Tarts, and associated with Alig as scenesters who attended his parties along with some NYC’s most infamous Club Kids, including Amanda Lepore, Richie Rich, and James St. James.

Michael Alig’s conviction and Giuliani’s crackdown led to the demise of their scene, so while Alig served his prison sentence (and painted, apparently), Barbato and Bailey launched World of Wonder.

To their credit, Barbato and Bailey have created some fantastic projects through WOW, including Inside Deep Throat, The Eyes of Tammy Faye, Party Monster, and RuPaul’s Drag Race. They’re also credited with helping RuPaul launch some of her earliest radio singles, and in turn, her career.

When Alig was released from prison earlier this year, WOW was there to pick him up, reintroduce him to the world, teach him social media, and help him launch a successful post-prison career.

The company was immediately met with criticism over accusations that it was trying to “profit” off of Alig’s crime and fame associated with the crime (something they obviously already did with Party Monster).

But in this case, WOW is helping Alig sell his artwork on a third-party site by alerting their fans. The art listed includes a self-portrait, a “Special K” key ring, and a painting of a “zombie girl” jumping rope. Needless to say, people are a bit miffed by the promotion.

On Facebook, one commenter writes: “I tried to get WOW to mention my art show with Phyllis Diller, Ru girls and 50 others. Not one mention. Guess I needed a murderer as a participating artist. Now I know what it takes.”

Another chimes in: “Unless the profits from this are going to the Melendez family or charity, this is very distasteful.”

We’re all for acclimating Michael Alig back into society, but something about the WOW powerhouse promoting these crime reminiscent lithographs feels a bit like a crime in itself.