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The Curmudgeon of Rivington Street

The hat-making business had successes — a mention in Women’s Wear Daily and wares sold in Barneys, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, and at a Bergdorf Goodman trunk show. “We were in every one of those crusty old lady shops,” Mr. Tyler-Leonard said. In “Party Monster,” Mr. St. James described the apartment as “a regular sweatshop” with Mr. Riggs “forced into indentured servitude — running up saucy little frocks for Bella — sunrise, sunset — all day, every day, in exchange for room and board.”

Mr. Tyler-Leonard described himself as the creative force behind the business, as Mr. Riggs sewed. They had a dispute over profits and rent, Mr. Tyler-Leonard recalled. “Freeze and I were living polar opposite lives,” he said. (Mr. Riggs did not respond to requests for comment.)

Eventually, Mr. Riggs moved into Mr. Alig’s Hell’s Kitchen apartment. There, in 1996, the two killed Mr. Melendez, 25, who went by Angel, a nod to feathered wings he wore. As Mr. Alig and Mr. Melendez entangled in a fight over money, Mr. Riggs bludgeoned him with a hammer. Mr. Alig then suffocated him, poured detergent down his throat, and duct taped his mouth shut. They stashed the body in the bathtub before dismembering it and dumping it in the Hudson River. Mr. Alig and Mr. Riggs were sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Mr. Tyler-Leonard maintained contact with Mr. Alig,who later died of a drug overdose. Mr. Riggs, now 56, was released in 2010, and studied urban anthropology at CUNY and sociology at NYU.

He and Mr. Tyler-Leonard haven’t spoken since their Club Kid days.

After Mr. Alig went to prison, Mr. Tyler-Leonard scrambled for income. “I had to get a job to supplement my job being fabulous,” he said. He leased a space to start a bar, Lulu’s, on Norfolk Street, in May 2002. A week later, he learned that he had H.I.V.


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