updated 05/12/2014 AT 9:15 AM ET
•originally published 05/12/2014 AT 12:25 PM ET
Party monster Michael Alig’s release from prison on May 5 outraged many of his detractors. And a video that hit the Internet showing him celebrating at dinner with former club kids didn’t win him any fans.
“The dinner was probably not a good way to gauge my sense of remorse,” he told PEOPLE at an IHOP in New York on Thursday, three days after becoming a free man. “It was the first time I could really be myself again and be who I really am in front of my friends. I may have gone a little bit overboard with my exhilaration.”
Alig, 48, spent the last 17 years in prison for killing his roommate, Andre “Angel” Melendez, a fellow club kid, who also supplied him with drugs. The body sat in Alig’s bathtub for a week before he chopped it up and dumped the remains into the Hudson River.
“I can’t remember every tiny little detail, because we were extremely high on drugs. I was on Special K and went into a k hole – your senses are shut off,” he said. “We were in another dimension. We felt like we needed to do something other than call the police or an ambulance and we didn’t know what that something was.”
“The reporting that we had parties and invitations mocking the death categorically never happened. When this started going around in the media that I was a sociopath then I thought, ‘Yes, I am. I must be,’ but this was stemming from stories that weren’t true,” he said. “Drug addiction mirrors almost the same symptoms of being a sociopath, and I didn’t have those symptoms until I became a drug addict.”
Alig has been clean since 2009 and says he has no desire to reenter the nightlife scene.
“I’m not going to be going out to nightclubs. I have a curfew from 8 p.m. to 7 a.m.,” he said. “I need to be a lot less self-indulgent in this half of my life.”
Alig has been writing a memoir titled Aligula and painting Warholesque portraits of his club kid friends, with whom he remains close. And while he’s not allowed to contact Melendez’s family, he says he thinks about his death every day.
“I want [his family] to know that however things may appear in the media or in the movie, he did have a family. We did care about him and he did mean something to us in spite of what happened,” Alig said, choking up. “I think about things like that. I feel guilty being alive.”