Michael Alig: There’s something in here called the ILC –The Inmate Liason Committee, and they have a president of the ILC, and he’s, like, the liason between the superintendant and the inmate population – and I thought I would run for the office. I figured it would be sort of like what I was doing with Peter [Gatien] – like I was Peter’s right hand man. I would relay to him what the people in clubland were wanting and thinking and feeling, and then report back to the people how Peter can pay them or can’t pay them or what’s going through his mind, stuff like that. And I thought that would be a really good thing for me to do in here, you know?
James St. James: Right.
Michael: Because I’m smart, I can articulate things, and, you know, a lot of people in here are not very smart. I said I would really work for the inmate population and I would work to make a kinder, more colorful facility. So we’re at the meeting, and they’re deciding who should be nominated to be president, and anyone who wants to be nominated goes up to the podium, and talks to the crowd and says why they want to be nominated and what their platform is.
James: How big a crowd is this?
Michael: It’s about 40 people. So I go up and I’m talking about all of the things I wanted to do. I talk about my old job and how I was sort of the same thing in the street and I’m thinking I’m going to revolutionize prison, you know, vote for Michael, vote for Michael, and I’m telling them that I have ideas for fun things for the inmates to do, and they said. “Well, give us an example.” I said all right, well: Halloween is coming up, I thought it would be really fun if everybody goes to the commissary and stocks up on candy bars and chocolate and little sour candy and things like that, and on the 31st we go trick-or-treating from cell to cell with pillow cases and give candy to each inmate!
James: Well, that sounds like fun!
Michael: And they were all going along with it and everything and I said we could put white sheets over our heads, you know. . . and you could have heard a pin drop. (James laughs) And the moderator, who was black, and a member of the Nation of Islam or something said, “Why white sheets?” I said, No no no— GHOSTS! GHOSTS! But from then on nobody wanted to listen to me at all. There was, like, booing and hissing and I had to get down.
James: So you weren’t nominated to be president?
Michael: I guess not. It’s amazing how touchy they are over something like that though. Right away their mind goes to that.