Potion Magazine - Poetry + Fiction
Trevor Dodge
Dear Michael Alig

Dear Michael Alig,

I understand you are writing a memoir whose working title is ALIGULA. I saw that somewhere on the internet and wanted to know if it is true. I recently saw a movie about you starring Macauley Culkin, but the film was based on someone else’s book, this queen named James St. James’ book called DISCO BLOODBATH. I tend to trust things I see in movies so I’m assuming everything that happened in the movie happened in real life too. See I don’t like to read much. I certainly would never read anything called DISCO BLOODBATH; it sounds way too much like a Chuck Palahniuk novel. But I’m getting off track.

So this ALIGULA thing has me wondering if you’ve ever seen Bob Guccione’s film about Caligula. It’s called CALIGULA. Bob Guccione is the guy who published Penthouse, but I’m pretty sure you know that. His son, Bob Guccione Jr., founded and publishes SPIN magazine. You may not have known that. But I’m getting off track.

The thing is with this CALIGULA movie is that Malcolm McDowell, who plays Caligula in CALIGULA, always has to wear a long, flowing gown or cape or smock or whatever you want to call it. And he’s always wearing this smock in the scenes where he’s got a lot of fucking to do. See, when he has to get it on, he flips this smock thing he’s wearing up and over the action, so the viewer never gets to see any hoo-hah. We’re just supposed to infer that he’s doing all this fucking, even though the smock is covering everything up and probably getting in the way of the action. And he flips it up so ceremoniously before he gets to work, with this grand smirk on his face, as if to say “Ah hah! I am Caligula! Watch me fuck! While I wear this smock! Ah hah!”

The woman, of course, doesn’t care that he’s wearing a smock. I mean, come on; the guy *is* Caligula after all. What’s she going to say about it anyway? “Umm, Caesar...” (see, they call him Caesar not because he’s actually Caesar, but in that crazy ancient Greece, if someone called you Caesar, that meant the same thing as being called king. This, of course, all happened after Julius Caesar crowned himself Caesar. But what confuses me is why he crowns himself something he’s already known as. Really, now: if you’re going to go through all that Veni Vidi Vici shit, you could call yourself anything you want. Why go through all the trouble to call yourself Yourself?) “...ummm, excuse me, Caesar? Could you mind removing your smock, please? It’s giving me a nasty rugburn.” No, see, you can’t say something like that to Caesar. Especially a badass like Caligula. That’s a guy who wore his smocks, that guy.

My question then, Mr. Alig, is actually tri-fold:

1) In the movie version of your life, Macauley Culkin plays you. I don’t know if you noticed, but he has a lazy eye and bats his eyelashes accordingly. I’m wondering if that’s something you noticed when he visited you in Attica.

2) Is it really appropriate to title your memoir ALIGULA? What I’ve heard is that you’ve written nearly 600 pages, and you’ve only discussed your life up to 12 years old so. From what I saw in the movie, you’re no Leslie Fielder. You grew up in South Bend, Indiana. That’s Domer country if I’m not mistaken. Nothing interesting happened to you when you lived there, and especially nothing so compelling that you’d need 600 pages to talk about it. Unless you’re writing about Joe Montana, who would have been there at the time you were growing up. What I’m saying is that if I pick up your goddamn book, there better be a ton of shit about Joe Montana in it.

3) Lastly, if you’ve seen this Bob Guccione movie, what do you think of the sores all over Peter O’Toole’s face? They kinda reminded me of the blue and red dots you painted all over your body, like you were one of those Dippin Dots ice cream cones from the mall. There’s also a Warner Bros cartoon with Daffy Duck, in which he bitches and cusses at the animators for drawing him like a purple cow/flower thing with big yellow dots all over him. Eventually the animators get pissed and erase him all the way down to his bill. And when Daffy still can’t take a goddamn hint, they erase his bill too. I’ll bet they took a lot of satisfaction in that.

I’m hoping you can shed some light on any of these issues, not because I’m particularly convinced that you have the answers, but I know you don’t have a whole lot else to do in there. I do know that you have a VCR in your cell, though, because the documentary featurette thingy on the DVD shows you talking about how you plead to manslaughter because murderers don’t get VCRs. I’m figuring if you have a VCR in your cell, the odds are pretty good you know what I mean.

Take care and write soon.


TREVOR DODGE was born amidst the sad cartoon of Nixon's America and Evel Knievel's ill-fated jump across the Snake River Canyon. Since then, he has taught courses in literature, writing, and cultural studies in Illinois, Idaho and Washington; he currently teaches creative writing and literature at Clackamas Community College and the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR. His novella, Yellow #10, was published in September, 2003 by Eraserhead Press, and he is the co-editor of Northwest Edge: Fictions of Mass Destruction (2003 Chiasmus Press). He can be found online at http://www.trevordodge.net.

Copyright 2004 Trevor Dodge.