Viva was born Janet Susan Mary Hoffman, the first child of a devout Catholic family. Her father, a well-to-do lawyer, and her mother had eight more children. She told her mentor, Andy Warhol, that her father was a religious fanatic and her mother worshiped the Irish-Catholic Witch-Finder General Joseph McCarthy, insisting that the children watch the televised Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954.
Janet Hoffman was educated in parochial schools and attended a Catholic college, Marymount, in Tarrytown, New York. She spent her junior year in college abroad, studying art at the Sorbonne in Paris, boarding at a convent. Hers was a life that made her ache for rebellion, and rebel the young Ms. Hoffman eventually did. She became the first non-anonymous performer to perform an act of sexual intercourse on screen, in Warhol’s Blue Movie (1969), at the end of the turbulent decade that was the 1960s.
Reportedly, she had had a nervous breakdown and was institutionalized by her parents when… read more