In the late 80s and 90s, Club Kids were a conservative midwestern family’s worst nightmare. While most accepted American norms consisted of conformity and stability, a whole new group of underground fashion revolutionaries were ready to tear these conventions apart in what seemed like the most grotesque, over-the-top way possible.
Like their name suggests, Club Kids frequented nightlife hotspots and embraced partying as more of a lifestyle than a weekend hobby. Fashion-wise, it was as if drag queens, clowns and a risque rock star had all mated to conceive a wonderfully refreshing, rainbow vomit of avant garde style. Also incorporated were BDSM elements, extravagant makeup, and an abundance of nudity.
(James St. James, Michael Alig & Richie Rich)
But stripped of the outlandish getups and its bad rep with the middle-aged demographic, the Club Kid scene was a safe haven and ultimate creative outlet for misunderstood LGBT youth, lost souls and starving artists alike.
The movement started where most subcultures often do –– in the Big Apple. Led by king-clubber Michael Alig, the ragtag group of avant-garde personalities (which also included trans muse Amanda Lepore, Alig’s lover DJ Keoki, designer Richie Rich, the cleverly named “Jenny Talia” and present-day blogger James St. James) soon exploded onto the New York social scene –– even appearing in full garb on popular daytime talk shows such as The Joan Rivers Show and Geraldo to make their case to a crowd of disapproving suburban audience members.
While some notorious icons from the club scene were ravaged by substance addictions in the mid 90s –– Alig’s fate ending in incarceration for murdering friend Angel Melendez over a drug-fueled conflict –– others drifted out of the limelight and into more substantial entertainment careers. Despite the fall of the original Club Kid kingdom, the path they carved out for young partygoers and millennial misfits has stood the test of time.
Fill your wardrobe with flashy synthetic fabrics and daring looks by following these revamped 21st century examples below.