I recommend David’s interview—and I’ll Be A Mirror in general. Also worth seeking out is Stephen Koch’s book Stargazer on Warhol as filmmaker.
Mary’s a friend of mine. Yes she played Hanoi Hannah. She and Paul Bertal were a teriffic comedy team. Among her Hollywood films she was most recently in Joe Dante’s “Looney Tunes Back in Action” where she played Steve Martin;s love interest. Mary and I recently did an appearance at Beyond Baroque here in L.A. where we talked about Jack Smith with the filmmaker who made the excellent documentary “Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis.”
Viva’s in “Midnight Cowboy” but not Paul.
Andy Warhol was great for giving pop culture something edgy and punk rock in the 1960s, along with Jim Morrison and The Doors. The Velvet Underground would have never seen the light of day had it not been for Warhol. I don’t know what it was about the guy that made him such a flourescent-bulb fly trap for the hipsters of the late 60s and early 70s, but it worked. I agree with the aforementioned that the idea of his art, and not the art itself is what Warhol was all about. Ideas alone can sometime retain greatness. As for his films, I would recommend to anyone the one that everyone seems to have forgotten about, “Bad.”
That’s cool David. I would have loved to be in the Factory scene. I’m not sure if I could have handled all the hard drugs, but I think it would have been a very exciting place and time. I’ve always thought Andy would be disappointed that his Museum isn’t in New York. He never wanted to look back at where he came from. (Except for remaining close with his mother.)
I just remember the Hanoi Hannah scene from Chelsea Girls where she’s coaching this spaced-out chick to say the lines, “Your mother is coming up the walk, you’re very happy to see her” or something like that, over and over again, and she’s just towering above her and really giving her a hard time. It’s so perversely amusing.
David, could you give us some kind of summary of what [4 stars] is like, for those of us who will probably never get to see it?
It consists of literally everyhting he shotin 1967. The films “Imitation of Christ,” “Tub Girls” and “The Loves of Ondine” are part of it. Whereas "The Chelsea Girls projected two 16mm films alongside one another, * feature sperimporsed projections. Plus it’s all in color.
It ends with thirty minute shot of the sun setting on Fire Island with Nico, just offscreen talking and singing to the sun.
I caught the Andy Warhol exhibition (“other voices, other rooms”) at the Hayward in London recently.
They projected about 15 of his silent black and white films all at once throughout a cavernous viewing room interspersed with cloud-like lounges. There was never a better way to appreciate his film work. A heavenly sensory experience.
The simplicity of someone stirring in their sleep beneath rumpled sheets or a closeup of eyes, just staring back out at you, makes for powerful viewing but requires patience and quietude. You almost want play it on your wall-mounted plasma like a piece of art – sombre eyes just blinking at you occasionally – so that you can appreciate it blissfully in passing rather than watching it for 3 hours waiting for something to happen.
I’d definitely love to see it on Criterion. I intend to collect some of his work anyway and it would be fantastic to have some expert commentary.
That’s really the ideal way to see these particular Warhols. They’re like moiving paintings.Ideal for installations that can be viewed casually. “The Chelsea Girls,” on the other hand requires that you sit down and watch it like any other movie.
Has anyone seen the new screen tests dvd with the music added to it by some folk/pop group? They’re performing in Boston in March but I’m very skeptical.
Hi there sorry to interupt your discussion but i’m actually writing my dissertation on Andy Warhol’s films so find your knowledge and debate very interesting! I study theatre and performance and i am very interested in looking at his films from a theatrical outlook as a lot of them could be classed as improvisational theatre as Warhol himself points out, the line between real and acting is very hard to distinguish. I was just woundering if (especially you David) you could give me your thoughts on a few things. In his films such as trash, flesh and heat, why are they so badly acted, (perhaps there not in your opninon!) all of them seem as if they are on drugs, why did Andy let this happen if that is so? And also his ‘superstars’, because of his obsession with celebrities, fame, glamour etc, do you think his aim was to make these people celebrities and then destroy them for personal reasons because a lot of his films show the actors being very degraded and used. Sorry to seem anti Warhol i’m definately not i’m just trying to understand his methods and films.
Eclipse Series: WARHOL SHORTS. I’m sure they can pull it off. Morrisey’s Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for Dracula were among Criterion’s early releases, so why the fuck not? Years ago I saw Chelsea Girls in a theatre back2back with Blue Movie and a short about Lana Turner, with some guy in drag. Oh brother!
“Trash,” “Flesh” and “Heart” are Paul’s films, not Andy’s. And I don’t think they’re badly acted at all given the kind of performing style Paul was insterested in — theatrical and over-the-top (ie. Sylvia Miles, Holly Woodlawn)) set aloingside a steaming stud (ie. Joe.)
Andy’s films featured real people “being themselves” which worked in the context that said “selves” created. That is to say people who were ‘on stage" in life at all times: Edie, Ondine, Gerard Malanga, Taylor Mead et. al. Here you’ll find such films as “The Chlsea Girls,” “Beauty #2,” “My Hustler,” “Horse,” “Vinyl.”
It’s also important, I think, to consider that warhol is playing with assumptions of narrative as well as surfaces insofar as behavior, language, action are all presenting external signs that we read and respond to. I mention this especially in terms of the screen tests but also with figures who are acting (the activity of) acting. Also, in terms of Duchamp (ad the question of context, particularly institutional context), what happens to behavior when it is put on film? How do we respond to it differently than we otherwise would? How and why do expectations change? This is the sort of thing Warhol does with the Brillo boxes as well.
David, that’s how I feel about them. Those people weren’t actors, they were interesting personalities. There’s basically 4 different types of people in Warhol movies:
neurotic straight girls (typified by Edie, but also Andrea Feldman and others)
“dumb-lug” studly straight guys (Gino Persicchio, the blond guy in My Hustler, and later indelibly, Joe Dallesandro)
gay men, usually flamboyant (Rene Ricard, Taylor Mead, Ondine)
drag queens (Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn)
The idea was to see how all these people interacted with each other. Warhol films sometimes feature women/gay men/drag queens fighting over a straight guy, for instance. I think the subjects of the films were basically taken from day to day life at the Factory, with everyone sort of “playing himself or herself.”
These performers acted the same way when they were out drinking at Max’s Kansas City. Andrea Feldman was known as a great natural comedienne; she would jump up on the bar, say “It’s showtime!” and do a 15-second stripper flash, to everyone’s entertainment.
I don’t think Andy destroyed anyone. He was very laissez-faire. He didn’t try to control people. A lot of the people around him were junkies and very self-destructive. He himself went through a speed addiction and was nearly shot to death, so he was as much a victim of the total freedom he created as anybody.
Man, which movie is this scene from? – Paul Bartel( I think ) and his girlfriend were talking to a counselor chick to have their welfare benefits extended. Things were goin’ well until the chick commented on the girlfriend’s shoes. He then tried to convince his girl, who’s now having a hissy fit to just give the counselor the damn shoes so she can extend their welfare. A fight ensued and the welfare got canned.
Yeah, I know it’s a silly inquiry but I just thought you might remember ’cause it was hilarious…
I remember. It’s from Trash, and it’s Holly Woodlawn and Joe Dallesandro. Joe says, “Just give him the fuckin shoes.” “These are my shoes!” Holly says.
@ Richard D, Yes I just saw the show entitled “13 most beautiful, songs for andy warhol” this weekend as a matter of fact. It’s worth the admission price, the selection of screen tests are very good, yet the music and showmanship was lacking in some areas. PM me if you have any more questions about it.
@JUSTINB – Right that’s Joe. Ha-ha that scene was a real howler. Thanks man!
You’re welcome. Yeah thats a great one.
I’m a Salvador Dali type of person. I don’t get what the big deal is with Warhol’s paintings. I’d give a film he was involoved in a try though.
Yes the scene’s from “Trash.” and the actor who played the Welfare investigator who wants Holly’s shoes is Michael Sklar. He was also featured in “L’Amour” wiht Jane Forth, Donna Jordan, Patti D’Arbanville, Karl Lagerfeld (yes, you read that right) and Max Delys.
@Justin Biberkopf…I realize this is 3 years after you posted but just to set the record straight (or not) Gino Piserchio was not straight and he was an accomplished musician and music pioneer (he did three performances of classical and original compositons on the MOOG for the Guggenheim museum). Joe Dallesandro’s bisexuality went beyond ‘gay-for-pay’ into later years before he married his 3rd wife. He comes from troubled immigrant working class New York, no doubt, but he is not stupid by any stretch. Your characterization of these actors as ‘dumb lug studly straight guys’ is way off base. Paul America was so drug-addled it is hard to tell about his relative intelligence or lack of. He could not have been characterized as ‘straight’ however.
Warhol has a handful of films in my top 100. San Diego Surf by him and Morrissey has recently been unearthed, cannot wait, review from hollywood reporter:
long-unfinished feature shot in 1968, Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey’s goofy excursion into Southern California surfing culture had its world premiere at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
NEW YORK – It’s not technically a plot spoiler when there’s zero plot. So it’s fair game to reveal that the long-unfinished, unscripted 1968 Andy Warhol feature, San Diego Surf, is almost 90 minutes of preamble to Taylor Mead getting a golden shower from the Factory’s pretty-boy surfer, Tom Hompertz. “We middle-class people really suffer watching you surfers out there,” groans Mead, who plays a restless married man yearning to put his bourgeois golfing days behind him and acquire SoCal surf-culture status. “Can’t you just piss on us?”
Given that the middle class were well-heeled back then, it sounds like a sly reversal of Mitt Romney’s political philosophy. In any case, that watersports scene typifies the ambisexual absurdism of this piece of rescued Warholiana. More a flaky souvenir of a stoner vacation than an actual movie, the non-narrative 16mm artifact had its belated world premiere as part of MoMA’s “To Save and Project” film preservation series, ahead of a Jan. 23-28 run at the Museum.
Warhol was the victim of a near-fatal shooting by Valerie Solanas soon after returning to New York from the San Diego location, making this the final film project in which he was directly involved before handing over the reins to longtime collaborator Paul Morrissey. The Andy Warhol Foundation commissioned Morrissey to finish editing the film in 1995, based on existing notes and a rough cut. While the actual print contains no credits, available information indicates that Morrissey and Warhol were co-directors, as well as sharing camera credit.
Following Lonesome Cowboys and featuring many of the same core cast, San Diego Surf is less intent on celebrating male beauty and fraternity, despite the obvious opportunities presented by its subject and setting. It sits midway between the aesthetic principles of Warhol’s purely experimental work and Morrissey’s increasingly narrative- and character-driven later features, like Flesh, Trash and Heat. A string of static scenes and rambling, improvised conversations, the film mixes affectless banality with droll humor. It’s an exercise in boredom that can be intoxicating, excruciating or both. As such, it will be of interest chiefly to ‘60s underground cultists.
There’s undeniable charm in watching Warhol darling Viva sip cocktails and bat her massive false eyelashes on the beach. She plays Susan, an East Coast transplant to sleepy La Jolla, desperate to divorce her effete husband (identified as Mr. Mead), and escape the stifling monotony of housebound motherhood. Describing herself as “a nice, normal middle-class wife with a penchant for surfers,” Susan opens the film with a semi-incoherent direct-to-camera monologue that evokes ‘Little Edie’ Beale in Albert and David Maysles’ Grey Gardens. “They don’t even raise girls in California – just boys,” she whines, musing on what she imagines is a hotbed of homosexuality.
Despite Susan’s doubts, the dissatisfied couple open up their stately home to a bunch of beach boys, among them Hompertz, Joe Dallesandro and Louis Walden. There’s also a Hawaiian dancer (Nawana Davis) who sings “The Muffin Man” to Mr. Mead, briefly fanning his fire. In one horrifyingly hilarious moment, a distracted Viva drops a baby while attempting to hold a child in each arm; Dallesandro’s lucky catch saves the poor kid from hitting the patio.
While the sexual appetites of both husband and wife are teasingly indicated, the focus – if that’s the right word – shifts to finding a man for pregnant family friend Ingrid (Ingrid Superstar). This midsection becomes something of an insomnia cure as Ingrid, Viva and others drone on about nothing. But then, tedium was always a substantial part of the point of Warhol’s films.
Eric Emerson of glam-punk band The Magic Tramps turns up briefly to accuse Ingrid of seeking a husband to hide her lesbian tendencies, admitting himself that his three marriages have been acts of sexual subterfuge. More diverting is the small talk between Ingrid and a surfer dude with fabulous mutton-chop sideburns. “What do you think about all this space exploration going on?” she asks, without much interest. “Oh, I don’t know,” he replies. “It’s groovy. Maybe they can find some waves there too.”
While Hompertz and some of the local recruits reportedly had board-riding skills, the full extent of action on the waves is a few brief shots of surfers paddling in low swells. But that’s perhaps appropriate given the flagrant fraudulence with which the amusingly verbose Mr. Mead accesses the subculture. “I’m a surfer now!” he exclaims in triumph as urine splashes his face in the film’s outré coda.
In these days of hi-def crispness and digitally perfect images, the raw splendor of sun-drenched exteriors captured in 16mm is a refreshing nostalgia trip. As a countercultural comedy of manners, San Diego Surf is not-quite-equal parts dull and funny. But it’s a useful reminder that Warhol and Morrissey’s work opened doors for a whole line of subversive filmmaking personalities, from John Waters and Paul Bartel to Larry Clark and Harmony Korine.
Where do you start with Warhol or Morrissey? Perferably something a little mild, if that’s at all possible.
I know very little about Warhol, but this sort of surprised me (at least from my limited knowledge of the man or his works. I guess it’s an open fact that Paul Morrisey is a self described conservative as well, which, as someone who hasn’t seen their work but is aware of it, seems sort of surprising as well—although maybe it shouldn’t be.):
“According to the wonderful book The Religious Art of Andy Warhol, by Jane Daggett Dillenberger, the man remained celibate, a fact revealed by his own declaration of virginity and at his eulogy, where it was recalled that “as a youth he was withdrawn and reclusive, devout and celibate, and beneath the disingenuous mask that is how he at the heart remained.” He deliberately concealed who he was to the public — famously answering questions with “uh, no” or “uh, yes” — and he certainly concealed the fact that he wore a cross on a chain around his neck, carried with him a missal and a rosary, and volunteered at the soup kitchen at the Church of Heavenly Rest in New York. He went to Mass — often to daily Mass — sitting at the back, unnoticed, awkwardly embarrassed lest anyone should see he crossed himself in “the Orthodox way” — from right shoulder to left instead of left to right. He financed his nephew’s studies for the priesthood, and — according to his eulogy — was responsible for at least one person’s conversion to the Catholic faith.”
Andy Warhol was a unique personality in the art world of the 20th century; i think his character and persona were much more interesting than his art (quite a mediocre artist, to be honest; and he borrowed a lot from Duchamp’s ideas), but i like the fact that he didn’t take himself seriously and he was a “free spirit”.
Interestingly, i’ve read a couple of interviews with serious directors like Visconti and Antonioni, and they said that they liked some of Warhol’s movies.
Can’t wait to see it. Sounds like a color remake of “My Hustler.”
“Brigid Polk Detective” is anohter film from this period that deserves to be ressurrected.