"The Bed" at the Gershwin
by Robert Heide
John Gilman (left) with Robert Heide at the Gershwin
mockingly acting out a scene from The Bed
John Gilman opened the proceedings of the showing of the Andy Warhol film of "The Bed" where we projected portions of the movie shot by Andy's associate cameraman on the movie Danny Williams. John read a section from the book "Playing Underground - A Critical History of the 1960's Off-Off Broadway Movement" written by Stephen J. Bottoms who is a Professor of Theater, Film, and TV studies at the University of Glasgow. The book contains a three page critical analysis of "The Bed" at the Caffe Cino. Professor Bottoms writes about Warhol's coming to see the play there and then filming it at Richard Bernstein's Bowery loft with Andy shooting straight on from a ladder and utilizing Danny Williams to film the two original Cino actors Jim Jennings and Larry Burns from different viewpoints and at different angles as well as close-ups. This portion of the split-screen Warhol version is silent and runs over one hour. We used Dave Clark Five music that was recorded on an LP in l965 the same year the play was first presented and in which we played the Dave Clark's rendition of "Anyway You Want It." This tune was played all-the-way through twice in the play with the immobile actors just staring straight forward into space.
This Gershwin event was the first full showing of this footage anywhere. Audience members were very enthusiastic feeling that it all held up in its own right and that the Warhol style is very much in evidence in Williams' astute camera work. It is well known that at the time of filming "The Bed" that Andy and Danny were an item. Esther B. Robinson, Danny's niece has made an incredible documentary film called "Walk Into the Sea - Danny Williams and The Warhol Factory" (available on DVD from Arthouse Films) about her uncle, his intense relationship with Andy, and his tragic suicide.
Following the movie showing actors Gordon Ramsay and Tim Cusack performed a staged reading of "The Bed"; and after this their was a talk and discussion led by myself which included the Peculiar Works Project producers Katherine Porter, Barry Rowell, and Ralph Lewis. It was Ralph Lewis who came up with the idea of doing "The Bed" on the streets of Greenwich Village where a good number of classic Off-Off plays were performed all over the streets over a period of three weeks. Peculiar Works Project won a Village Voice Obie Award in 2006 for their effort in 'taking back the streets.' A vast undertaking it was amazing for me, the playwright, to see two actors in a bed with rollers being pulled up Seventh Avenue.
It was a back to back full house at the Gershwin back-room theater. In the audience were Jim Rado of "Hair" fame who showed up as did the fabulous costume artist disco party hostess Collette as well as Warhol scholars and friends Thomas Kiedrowski, Victor Corona and Ben House (the latter owns a vast collection of books on the subject of Andy Warhol.) The bon vivant man-about-town Anthony Haden Guest also appeared to view the film. Jim Jennings, one of the actors from the l965 play and film talked and took questions from the audience about the process involved in making the movie. A film distributor also came with the idea of showing the movie in a legit movie house.
In any case I truly enjoyed myself. For me it all was literally like a trip back into the year 1965! I sure wish Andy could have been there this year of 2013. He would turn 85 on August 6th. Time for an Andy Birthday celebration?