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The Nude Restaurant (1967)

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16mm/95mins/color/sound/24fps
filmed October 1967
(SG150)

Viva/Billy Name/Allen Midgette/Joe Campbell/
Electro Banana (aka Electrah)/Rod LaRod/
Taylor Mead/Louis Waldon/Ingrid Superstar/Julian Burroughs

Andy Warhol shot two versions of The Nude Restaurant on the same day at the Mad Hatter restaurant in October 1967. The original concept was to edit both versions into a final one. One version contained footage of an all nude all male cast and was never released publicly as an independent film. The other version, with both actors and actresses wearing G-strings, was shown at the Hudson Theater on West Forty-fourth Street as one of Warhol's series of sexploitation films or "nudies" as Warhol liked to call them. (BN124)

The all male nude version is often referred to as Restaurant but should not be confused with the film of the same name from 1965 that starred Edie Sedgwick. The nude footage may also have been included in Warhol's twenty five hour movie, *** (Four Stars) as Allen Restaurant. (BN124)

In his book, Stargazer, Stephen Koch gave this description of The Nude Restaurant:

Stephen Koch:

"It was 1967 and porno time, Warhol's answer to Fun in the Sun. A restaurant is found and rented. A large group of men, and one woman, are decked out in little black cache-sexes, because that is thought to be a terribly cute to the new pornography. Viva plays a waitress, Alan Midgette a waiter... Some of the Spanish-American horrors of Loves of Ondine reappear, though, mercifully, this time without any garbage to throw. People talk. One can hardly listen. Other nudes are present. Some leave. Others arrive. They talk. Watching and attending is laborious. One tries to pay attention. There are numerous shrieking in-camera jump cuts called 'strobe cuts'. The camera weaves around a little. The waiter and waitress move from table to table, trying without success to think of something amusing to say. Hairy tushes laconically slide from point to point. Taylor Mead (one of the most mythologized of all 'underground' film stars) sits smirking at the fountain. He conducts an exceedingly long conversation with Viva about her Catholic childhood, and we are favored with more information about the lascivious priests so important to Miss Hoffman's [Viva's] personal obsessions. There is more strobe cutting. At one point, Viva turns to the camera and asks that it be turned off. The camera is turned off and, after the unperceived interlude, turned on again, so that Viva can continue this monologue. More people arrive. Others go. It is absolutely impossible to imagine how anyone could conceivably give a damn... I cannot think of a single inch of footage in Nude Restaurant that seems to me worth looking at. Watching it is rather like being present at the most boring party of one's entire life... Oh yes, the superstars. They get on one's nerves." (SG103)

Needless to say, Koch's opinions do not reflect my own. I found Viva's relentless monologue entertaining and Mead's performance hilarious as he feigned interest in the anti-war movement to get the attention of Julian Burroughs. Burroughs' personal appeal to the viewer to protest the Viet Nam war showed that the horror of the Viet Nam debacle was unavoidable in the sixties - even in the amphetamine induced reality of the Factory. Burroughs was a draft dodger in real life when he made the film.

Gary Comenas
Warholstars

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Andy Warhol