Paul America was a six foot tall youth from New Jersey whose real name was Paul Johnson (DB211). According to Warhol, Lester Persky had discovered Paul America at the discotheque Ondine (not to be confused with the Warhol star, Ondine). (POP126)
"Paul America was another strange cup of tea. He was everybody's lover... he was marvelously satisfying to everyone. Imagine having that type of curse. People would go to sleep in his arms... Richie Berlin [Brigid Berlin's sister], me, just everyone! He was the personification of total sexual satisfaction. Without a brain in his head. Just beautifully vapid. He was a wonderful creature. Anybody who wanted anything from Paul could get it. He was there to satisfy. And he did. (EDIE212)
According to Paul, he met Edie Sedgwick at Ondine.
"I met Edie Sedgwick at a discotheque called Ondine . It was my first night in New York, actually. A friend of mine had told me to meet him there. I only had two dollars, and the drinks cost two something. So I was waiting at the bar for my friend, realizing my time was short. He turned up and asked me to sit with everybody in the back - Chuck Wein and Andy and Edie; they were having a dinner party because Edie had been on the Johnny Carson show that night. When they went back to the Factory, I went with them, and I stayed for three years. Most people didn't know I lived there, because I was taking speed - I figured if I took speed, I wouldn't be paranoid - and I only slept about twice or three times a year...
I put together a motorcycle for Andy. He gave me that name, Paul America. When he gave me the name, I figured it was all right. Except I went through a period of paranoia about it. I mean, every time I saw that word - and it's everywhere - I related it to myself. The country's problems were my problems...
Andy was very secluded. He would come into the Factory and stand off by himself. Sometimes I would go up to him and suggest something that we could do, and he would listen very nicely and ask Gerard to give me his reply. It was pretty strange. He wouldn't talk with me directly. He looked down on me, I guess. Took me for a fool, which I guess is what a lot of people do. Andy didn't dig me at the time. Like, every time I opened my mouth he made me feel paranoid. So I laid back. I said, 'Go on, you fool,' and I would just sit and watch when I could have helped him a good deal.(EDIE213)
Edie was fascinated by Paul, who lived with her for a brief period in the Chelsea Hotel.
"Paul is such a strange, zombie like guru. I hate him, but I have this strange fascination, this kind of love and sexual addiction for him. I remember on the way to the Cloisters... poking up speed in the car. I saw him like some vision of a Martian... somebody from outer space. Maybe it was because he took so much acid that he had this strange alienation from the human race. I'm not sure what attracted me to him unless it was a kind of admiration brought about by the drugs which I was so heavily inundated by. But that morning at the Cloisters was truly beautiful. It was great. (EDIE323)
It is unknown exactly what happened to Paul America, but it is thought that he died in the mid-west after serving a prison sentence. His last (attempted) contact with Warhol was in July, 1982 when America rang Warhol at his office.
Andy Warhol (July 6, 1982):
"... Paul America called - I don't know from where - but the office has a list of 'Do Not Take Calls From' people so they didn't put the call through. And they said he was saying that he was one of the superstars, but he was never even in one of my movies. Oh wait! My Hustler! I forgot (laughs) he was the star. He [laughs] was My Hustler."(AWD450)
My Hustler also featured Joe Campbell, who was known as the "sugar plum fairy."
"If you're in the world of music or drugs, there is always a Sugar Plum Fairy - the one who delivers, who brings the stuff [drugs] to you - now during this time from '64 to '70 there were two individuals I knew who were called the Sugar Plum Fairy as a nickname. Neither of the individuals who were the Sugar Plum Fairy were important to remember - their only significance is that they became that character at that point. (WW)
During the filming of My Hustler, Joe Campbell may have spiked the orange juice they were drinking with acid, although Warhol always denied that he actually got high from it.
"Everybody has different stories about who had acid that weekend and who didn't. All anyone agrees on is that we had a Crystals record called He Hit Me (and It Felt Like a Kiss) playing over and over day and night, which everyone loved because the lyrics were so sick. Gerard said that the acid was in the eggs and that everybody ate the eggs, including him. Shephen Shore said that he saw the Sugar Plum Fairy put in in the orange juice and that everybody drank the juice, except him. For months afterward Gerard insisted that the acid was in the scrambled eggs and that I had some. We had long fights about it..." (POP125-6)
In October of 1965, Warhol had his first solo exhibition in an America museum at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Although he made a personal appearance there with Edie, the general public was unaware that their relationship was already disintegrating.
The exhibition had been arranged by art dealer Sam Green, who had also appeared in Warhol's Batman Dracula and had recently been appointed the Director of Exhibits at the institute.
"When we walked into the Philadelphia opening, there were floodlights turned on us and television cameras... There were four thousand kids packed into two rooms. They'd had to take all my paintings - my 'retrospective' - off the walls because they were getting crushed. It was fabulous: an art opening with not art!...
When the kids saw me and Edie walk in, they started actually screaming... They had to lead us through the crowd - the only place we wouldn't get mobbed was on some iron stairs that led up to a sealed-off door. They put guards at the bottom of the steps so nobody would rush us...We were on those steps for at least two whole hours. People were passing things up to be autographed... I signed some things but Edie was signing most of them 'Andy Warhol' herself.
There was no way to leave - we knew we'd be mobbed as soon as we came down. Finally the officials ordered the fire department to break through the sealed off door behind us with crowbars, and we were led out that way, through a library, onto the roof, over an adjoining building, down a fire escape, and into waiting police cars. (POP131-2)
In December of 1965, Warhol filmed his last film with Edie Sedgwick before she left the Factory.
"By now we were obsessed with the mystique of Hollywood, the camp of it all. One of the last movies we made with Edie was called Lupe. We did Edie up as the title role and filmed it at Panna Grady's apartment in the great old Dakota on Central Park West and 72nd. Panna was a hostess of the sixties who put uptown intellectuals together with Lower East Side types - she seemed to adore the drug-related writers in particular. We'd all heard the stories about Lupe Velez, the Mexican Spitfire, who lived in a Mexican-style palazzo in Hollywood and decided to commit the most beautiful Bird of Paradise suicide ever, complete with an altar and burning candles. So she set it all up and then took poison and lay down to wait for this beautiful death to overtake her, but then at the last minute she started to vomit and died with her head wrapped around the toilet bowl. We thought it was wonderful." (POP127)
During the shooting of Lupe, Bobby Neuwirth arrived and allegedly gave Edie some acid. (LD235) Neuwirth was Bob Dylan's "right hand man". He had met Dylan in May 1961 at an obscure folk festival at a hotel in Branford, Connecticut. (BD69)
"Bob Dylan and I occasionally ventured out into the poppy nightlife world. I think somebody who had met Edie said, 'you have to meet this terrific girl'. Dylan called her, and she chartered a limousine and came to see us. We spent an hour or two, all laughing and giggling, having a terrific time. I think we met in the bar upstairs at the Kettle of Fish on MacDougal Street, which was one of the great places of the sixties." (EDIE166)
According to Warhol biographer Victor Bockris, it was at the filming of Lupe (in December 1965) that Neuwirth asked Edie to come to the Kettle of Fish to meet Dylan. (LD235) Robert Heide, who had written Lupe, was at the Kettle of Fish on the same night.
"I knew Edie was going to be there, and she was there before anybody else arrived so I sat with her. Then Dylan's limousine pulled up outside and he came in all dressed in black. Edie said something like, 'I've tried to get close to him but I can't,' and Dylan said, 'Who?' She said, 'Andy', and he muttered, 'Oh'.
After a long cool silence Andy was the last to arrive... It really was dramatic... There was a dynamic underneath the meeting, something was definitely happening... Right after Andy came in she more or less turned around and said goodbye. She and Dylan left together and got into his car. Andy showed no sign of reaction to this. He just said something like 'Edie's on the road down, I wonder who the next girl will be'...
After we left the Kettle of Fish we walked up to Cornelia Street. I showed Andy the spot where Freddie Herko had jumped out of the window and he said, 'I wonder if Edie will commit suicide. I hope she lets me know so I can film it.' (LD236)
In February of 1966, Bob Dylan visited The Factory and Warhol filmed him for a Screen Test. Although Warhol's description of the visit in Popism included Brian Jones among Dylan's entourage, Jones is not mentioned in accounts written by other people who were at the Factory at the time. (POP150)
It was also in February that Edie made her final break with the Warhol crowd. According to many accounts, the break-up occurred at the Ginger Man restaurant, although Gerard Malanga has identified it as Maxwell's Plum restaurant.
"Andy believed Edie had money... She had none to speak of, except for a modest monthly allowance from her parents, which was quickly spent on lavish dinners, usually at her favourite restaurant L'Avventura...
It was an occasion not more than a year after becoming the darling of New York Society, February 1966, at a crowded table at Maxwell Plum (present were Andy, Paul Morrissey, Donald Lyons, Ingrid Superstar, Barbara Rubin, Nico, Chuck Wein, Lou Reed and John Cale) that Edie confronted Andy about money. She was not footing the bill to this banquet...
Her parents had long since cut her off from the $500 monthly allowance, because they didn't approve of her activities in New York - her activities with Andy to be precise. And Andy wasn't paying her for the films she'd appeared in; but, then, Andy was having troubles of his own. He wasn't making any real money from the films because they weren't paying for themselves. He was subsidizing the films with income earned from the sale of his paintings and he wasn't about to have his artwork subsidize more than that...
Andy's interests were also beginning to drift. He started, at about this time, seriously catering to the Velvet Underground and to Nico... While he was trying to figure a way of fitting Edie into the scheme of things, she perceived that in no way could she contribute actively in this collaboration that left little for her to do, much less lose the spotlight...
She had other options in the works. Bob Dylan's manager at the time, Al Grossman, had taken an interest in her, or so it seemed. He convinced her, according to Edie, to cut a demo (I discovered that it never materialized)... Edie, as talented as she was, had no voice." (GMW117)
Although Lupe is often credited as the last film that Andy Warhol made with Edie Sedgwick, the truth is that he would later film her one last time for a film that has never shown publicly and exists only through the anecdotal comments of the people involved. It was called The Andy Warhol Story and featured poet/artist Rene Ricard as Andy Warhol.
"I made a film with Edie about nine months after she left the Factory. Andy suggested, 'Let's do a movie with you as me in it - The Andy Warhol Story'
I really hated Andy by then. I realized his was a passive exploitation - that it could be humiliating and horrible. He had been asking me to do this for a long time and I had refused. But one night I took an Obetrol - a very powerful twenty five milligram amphetamine pill, the best. They were very hard to get, rare and very good.
It's a good high, very gay, very lovely speed.
That night we were making this Tiger Morse movie, part of a twenty-four hour four-star movie in which I was supposed to be an extra. 'Don't do too much talking', I was told. Well, the pill got me hysterical and I was amazingly good at it. Andy fell in love with me for it. Once again he said, 'Oh, you're so good tonight; let's do that movie I've wanted you to do.'
So I finally said okay. The only reason I agreed to do his film was to get even with him.
I said, 'Okay, let's go to my place and do it.' I was living in a very beautiful apartment on Fifth Avenue with Avery Dunphy, who was being kept in this luxurious place by a doctor who was mad for prissy Wasps...
When we all got to the apartment, Andy asked, 'Who do you want in the film with you?' I said 'I only want Edie Sedgwick. Who else is there in your life but Edie Sedgwick?' Andy said, 'I don't know if we can get her.' I said, 'I won't do it without her.'
I took another pill and I got wired. Wired! There's a point when you take speed when you talk a lot, and yet there's also a point where you take too much and you don't talk. That's the point that second pill got me to.
So Andy got Edie on the telephone and offered to pay for her taxi, and about three hours later Edie turned up. I didn't want to make the movie when I saw her. She was wearing a dirty blond fall. She looked like the cheapest piece of filth.
Here was my Edie, my Edie, and I was making a movie with her - co-stars! No longer was I an extra, and she looked like hell! She was wearing a kind of Marimekko type dress, and mean! She, too, hated Andy at that point: she had been eighty-sixed.
When she was with the fairies, she was on speed and she was Edie, she was 'on'. When she was with Bobby Neuwirth, who was a hetero, she was on downs, and Edie on downs was not pretty.
Well, when she arrived at the apartment, the cameras started rolling. I had my own personal vendetta against Warhol, and so did she. And I was playing Warhol. So I played him the way he behaved to the people under him. She played herself according to how she felt about him then. The things she said to me were horrible. I don't remember them. I don't even remember what I said. I was awful. I have nightmares about what I did in that movie... saying things about Andy that were true, how he disposed of people.
Paul Morrissey, who was behind the camera, was white with rage. I went through the paintings... how Andy doesn't actually do the paintings himself. Stupid things like: "Gerard get me an egg. Do you want to know howI paint my pictures, you people out there?' I'd crack the egg in a glass and then I'd say to Gerard: 'Cook it!' That's how I paint my pictures.'
We did one reel and stopped. Then Andy in his sick, masochistic, dreadful way - after all, here were these two people on camera saying the most ghastly things about him - said 'Let's do another reel.' He had been standing holding his fingers in his mouth, which he does when he's anxious, and he was loving it... getting the truth.
So we did another reel, and in this one it got violent. Edie started it. At some point I gave her some orchids. I said, 'You're not dressed up enough for this movie. So do something. Take these flowers.'
She took them and crushed them. I got very upset. And I - me, Rene Ricard, not the Andy Warhol me - was just made demented by that. I love orchids. It was a personal thing from me to her. I said, 'You really need to fix yourself up, my dear. Put them on you somewhere.'
She cried out, 'I hate them! I don't want to be beautiful!' She wrecked the flowers. Edie was hating me. We were both hating each other because of the roles we were playing... I loved Edie, but I couldn't stand being in a movie with her the way she looked. She was horrible in the movie, and mean. The things I was saying were so horrible.
Paul Morrissey suddenly reached out from behind the camera and ripped my clothes off me - a new white silk shirt and new pair of white linen pants. He ripped them. The camera was turning. Paul was out of the frame. I guess he was livid because of the things I was saying about Andy.
So we finished the film - two reels. Edie rushed home. I didn't care about her at that point. My clothes were a ruin. I was a mess. I was wiped out by the pills. Dazed.
You'll never guess what happened then. Andy Warhol at that point was close to a guy called Rod La Rod. He was handling the sound on this film. They asked me to see the rushes in the Factory. I sat there watching it - Paul, Andy, Rod and a few of the other serfs were there -and I saw what they had done to it. Edie's voice is there, but when I speak, you can't hear it. They were in glee." (EDIE285-7)
Rene Ricard had had run away from home in New Bedford, Massachusetts to Boston and had ended up in New York at the age of eighteen. He had made a brief appearance with Edie in Kitchen.
Ricard's comments about Warhol's reticence about contacting Edie reflected the fact that Warhol had already severed relations with her earlier that year, in February 1966, after the argument at Maxwell's Plum (and/or The Ginger Man restaurant). Warhol had already replaced Edie with two new superstars - an office temp from New Jersey named Ingrid and a German fashion model who was also trying to pursue a career in film and music named Christa Paggen...