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Warholstars Condensed... sort of

PAGE 23

Andy Warhol

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Andy Warholline graphic

As 1971 drew to a close, Warhol had still not found a distributor for Women in Revolt. Although it had been shown in Los Angeles under the name of Sex and although several versions of it had been screened privately at the Factory, it had still not opened at a public cinema in New York. In February 1972 Warhol rented the Cine Malibu on East 59th Street and showed the film there. After the premiere there was a dinner in Candy Darling's honour at the restaurant, Le Parc Perigord. After dinner, the guests retired to Francesco Scavullo's townhouse to watch television reviews of the film. Channel 4 called it "a rip-off", Channel 2 said it "looked as if it were filmed underwater," and Channel 7 said "It proves once again that Andy Warhol has no talent. But we knew that since the Campbell's Soup cans." (BC85)

Among the guests at the party were D.D. Ryan, Sylvia Miles, George Plimpton, Halston, Giorgio di Sant 'Angelo and Diane and Egon von Furstenberg. When a security guard asked "My God, what are they giving away in there" in reference to all the party-goers, one of the guests responded, "Would you believe a transvestite?" (BC85)

Jackie Curtis was not invited to the party and was left outside with hundreds of gate-crashers. (BC85)

Bob Colacello:

"By December [1971], Jackie [Curtis] was persona non grata at the Factory... Candy had the most close-ups, and top billing in Andy Warhol's Women in Revolt. (BC84)

The day after the opening, when the cinema started showing the film to the public, a group of women liberationists demonstrated outside the cinema. Candy's reaction was: "Who do these dykes think they are anyway?... Well, I just hope they all read Vincent Canby's review in today's Times. He said I look like a cross between Kim Novak and Pat Nixon. It's true - I do have Pat Nixon's nose." (BC86)

Canby's review in the Times was generally favourable, hailing the film as a "madcap soap opera." Stuart Byron in the Village Voice called the movie "frequently hilarious", but ultimately a "reactionary film" because of its viewpoint on women. (LD332)

The demonstration outside the cinema was not the first time that Warhol had encountered a problem with the women's liberation movement. In 1968, when Valerie Solanas was undergoing psychiatric tests after shooting Warhol, two representatives of the National Organization of Women (NOW) argued in court that Solanas was being detained improperly and was being treated prejudicially because she was a woman. One of the NOW representatives, Florynce R. Kennedy, referred to Valerie as "one of the most important spokeswomen of the feminist movement." (DB288) Ti-Grace Atkinson, the president of the New York chapter of NOW (and a former director of the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia) maintained that Solanas "would surely go down in history as the first outstanding champion of women's rights." (DB288)

In the same year that Women in Revolt premiered, Warhol brought out the recently completed Heat. It opened on October 5, 1972 at the Lincoln Center Film Festival. It was a low-key event because Andrea Feldman had committed suicide two months prior to the opening. (BC132)

Leee Black Childers:

"Andrea and I were engaged at the time and we were going to get married. It was sort of a ploy at first but it started to get serious. Her parents would commit her to Bellevue now and then to keep her under their thumb. Things seemed a little strange between us when I got back from doing Pork, a play we were performing in England. It was real wild for a while there, and Andrea was acting very strange toward me, like she didn't trust me. All of a sudden in the middle of all the mayhem, Andrea stood up on a chair and held a picture of Marilyn Monroe over her head, and she just stood there. And a couple of people at other tables said, "Oh, it's Show time!" After a long time of just standing there, she said, "Marilyn died; love me while you can!" The next day, she jumped from the fourteenth-floor window of her uncle's fifth Avenue apartment." (HR165)

Jane Fonda and Roger Vadim
watch Andrea Feldman
performing "Show time"
at Max's Kansas City
(photo: Archie Strips)

Andrea jumped to her death on August 8, 1972 - just a few days after the tenth anniversary of Marilyn Monroe's death. Geraldine Smith, who had appeared in Flesh and was a close friend of Andrea, wrote her obituary for the Village Voice:

Geraldine Smith:

"Andrea Feldman, one of Andy Warhol's superstars, jumped to her death on August 8 at 4:30 pm from a 14th floor window at 51 Fifth Avenue, taking with her a crucifix and Bible she found in a church a few days before... Andrea left a note addressed to everyone she knew, saying she loved us all, but 'I'm going for the big time, I hit the jackpot!" (www.warholstars.org/chron/fotos/afnews.gif)

Rumours spread that the note that Andrea left behind wasn't as kind as Smith's obituary implied:

Bob Colacello:

"Andrea had apparently made dates for that afternoon with half a dozen guys she had gone out with, including the poet and diarist Jim Carroll, so that they would all be down on the sidewalk when she flew out the window... In the back room of Max's the old Superstars were saying that Geraldine had been kind in print - the note wasn't to everyone and it wasn't about love; it was to Andy and it was very, very nasty." (BC128)

Andrea Feldman's performance in Heat did not go unnoticed by the critics. Judith Christ wrote: "The most striking performance - in large part non-performance - comes from the late Andrea Feldman as the flat-voiced, freaked-out daughter, a mass of psychotic confusion, infantile and heart-breaking." (DB322) Although Vincent Canby gave the film a good review, he wondered what had happened to Holly, Candy, Jackie and Viva: "Have they been junked by the Factory? I surely hope not. Andy Warhol-Morrissey films without them is an Our Gang two-reeler without Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat, and sweet little Darla Hood." (DB322)

The success of Heat encouraged Warhol and Paul Morrissey to continue making more commercial films for a larger market. Their next projects were two horror films co-produced with Carlo Ponti, starring Joe Dallesandro:

Bob Colacello:

"Andy was in Rome a lot in 1973, co-producing Andy Warhol's Frankenstein and Andy Warhol's Dracula, with Carlo Ponti, Sophia Loren's husband and then the most important producer in Italy... Andy, Archie [Warhol's dog] and Fred [Hughes] commuted between New York and Rome that spring while Frankenstein and Dracula were being shot at Cinecitta. Paul [Morrissey], Jed [Johnson], and Pat Hackett, who was helping Paul with the scripts that Ponti had insisted on, lived in the rented Villa Madorli off the posh Appia Antica, next door to Valentino's. It was a tough schedule: Ponti had given them eight weeks, and an $800,000 budget, to shoot both movies back to back... and the first film, Frankenstein, was shot in 3D - you could barely make a move without everything going out of focus. This meant that every shot had to be very carefully choreographed in advance, which severely crimped Paul's improvisational style. When it came time to start Dracula, with time and money running out fast, 3D was abandoned... Paul [Morrissey] was very much in charge on Frankenstein and Dracula; it was the success of Heat that led Ponti to finance the films in the first place... Both films were commercial successes by Factory standards in the United States, Europe, and, for the first time, Japan. Frankenstein alone took in $4 million in the United States according to Variety, and as much as $20 million worldwide (though these figures were disputed by Ponti, and the Factory sued). And if the film itself lacked social significance, its opening at Cinema One, on Third Avenue in New York, made some kind of social statement, with the likes of Lee Radziwill, Pat Lawford, Nan Kempner and Lilly Auchincloss, plus John Phillips, Bianca Jagger, and Halston, all sitting in the dark in those special 3D glasses. Somewhere, in one of Andy's time capsules, there's a photo of that audience..." (BC144-147)

Frankenstein and Dracula were the last Warhol-Morrissey films that Joe Dallesandro appeared in. When the filming was finished Joe stayed in Italy to pursue a European film career and continue a romantic liaison he had started with his Dracula co-star Stefania Cassini. The European films he appeared in included Louis Malle's Black Moon and Serge Gainsbourg's Je T'Aime Moi Non Plus based on the song with the same name and co-starring Jane Birkin.

And while Joe Dallesandro pursued a film career in Europe, his Trash co-star, Holly Woodlawn, was doing cabaret in New York...

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Andy Warhol