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Wonderboy: The life, loves and death of Eric Emerson

Gary Comenas (2016)

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The Warhol/Morrissey films that Eric Emerson appeared in included The Chelsea Girls, Lonesome Cowboys, San Diego Surf and Heat. (In addition to appearing in the Warhol/Morrissey films, he also appeared in a soft-core porn film, The Mind Blowers, in 1968, which featured another Warhol star, Ingrid Superstar.) He also made an attempt at a singing career which was cut short by his death in 1975. The cause of his death remains problematic. Although the press reported that he died as a result of a hit-and-run, it has also been claimed that he died of a heroin overdose (accidental or otherwise).

Eric was an object of desire for quite a few people. He had sex with both men and women at Max's Kansas City and, despite the popularity of the birth control pill in the '60s, he managed to father numerous children with numerous women - the total amount unknown. Soon after I started this site I was contacted by one of his partners (and the mother of one of his children) who told me about their time together and offered new insights into both his life and death.

The original version of this site had a bulletin board where people could post messages. In 2002 someone posted several messages saying that she was the daughter of Eric Emerson and that she was looking for her siblings. One message suggested that she needed to make contact with them because she had a rare blood disease. That turned out to be untrue - there was no blood disease - but it was true that she was one of Eric's daughters. I was aware at the time of a child that Eric had with Elda Gentile (of The Stilettos) named Branch. And that he had also fathered a child with Warhol star Jane Forth called Emerson Forth. But this daughter was called Monique and her mother was called Krysteen or "Krys." (Some of the messages turned out to be by her mother writing from her daughter's email address.)

In addition to Branch, Emerson Forth, and now Monique an additional daughter was named in a New York Times article on the Dom in 1966, titled "Black Jeans to Go Dancing at the Movies: It's Inevitable."

New York Times, April 11, 1966

The mention of Eric, his wife Chris and their daughter, Erica, appears at the end of the article. A woman named Sharon MCluskey says "we're not authentic" and refers the journalist to "Mr. and Mrs. Emerson of 436 East 9th Street." They describe Eric as wearing black Levi jeans and his wife, Chris, as being "18" with her "blond hair cut in a Dutch bob."

The New York Times article is also interesting for other reasons. It gives specific information about Nico (including her shoe and dress size and the fact that she was a Ford model) and refers to the Superstar hierarchy: "Mr. Warhol's followers are insinuating that Nico, born 23 years ago in Cologne, Germany, is his replacement for Edie Sedgwick as underground movie superstar. Miss Sedgwick has chocolate-colored eyes, silver rinsed hair, and Proper Bostonian ancestors. She succeeded Baby Jane Holzer, a Park Avenue housewife with a lion's maze of blonde hair."

The "Chris" mentioned as Eric's wife in the article was not the "Krys" who contacted me. In an email dated August 5, 2002, Krysteen wrote, "Eric's first child Erica moved to San Francisco I, think, back to where her mom was from. There is a 5 year difference between Christine's daughter and mine. My daughter Monique was born in July 1969 [in] Beth Israel Hospital, New York. Branch was the name Eric told me he wanted Elda to name their kid. My name is Krysteen..."

Krysteen's hair, like Chris' hair, was also cut in a "bob." But it didn't start out that way. According to Krysteen, "He [Eric] told just before he cut my hair off I was going to be his boy and girl. I had hair down to my waist and he cut it real short." (Email, June 12, 2003 06:09)

Krysteen's short haircut is visible in this photograph taken at the Factory by Cecil Beaton.

From Americanphotomag.com
(© Cecil Beaton, Courtesy Sotheby's Picture Library, Cecil Beaton Studio Archive, c. 1969)

Krysteen is standing in the back, next to Eric.

Krysteen (August 12, 2002 19:58):

... I remember the day he took it. It's not the only picture he took that day. There were lots I think, unless there was also another photog. guy up there. There were shots done against the mirrored poles and all over, that day. Eric and I were there talking to Andy about a movie idea Eric had. And Andy was not going for it. I remember it was a long day. I am already 6 or 7 mo. preg. in that picture.

Eric's "movie idea" was that Andy should film Krysteen in childbirth.


I was preg. you know but Eric, he was always trying to think of ways to get money for us. And... you can see I don't look very happy. It was because of the movie idea. Eric wanted Andy to do this movie and in that movie he wanted me to give birth, so you see why I was not too happy. I was glad when Andy said he was not ready to do live birth. It would be too unappealing. I think that was how he put it.

I was very glad he said no and when I did give birth to Monique I had [a] very hard time. After two days of labor in Beth Israel Hospital and an induced labor I had her. Eric showed up that night drunk with a friend to see the baby and I was drugged. But stupid Eric, in front of this guy he brought with him, wanted to inspect my [p....] to look for damage. And he did.

After the inspection he asked me if I would have another baby because he wanted a boy. I lied and said yes. (Email August 12, 2002)

So, now I knew that there were four children by four mothers - Chris and her daughter Erica, Krysteen and her daughter Monique, Elda and her son Branch and Jane Forth and her son Emerson. Any others? Possibly. After mentioning on an early version of this site that Monique was looking for her siblings, another person contacted me, who I will refer to as "C."

"C" (Email November 22, 2002 07:38):

Currently I am going through a divorce, and I am changing my name back to my maiden name. This has forced me to deal with some issues that I have avoided in the past. I had a very difficult growing up, and used to get into serious altercations with my mother. In a fit of rage, she blamed the situation... on a "one night stand with a junkie." I was shocked but later it was BRIEFLY explained to me. She was 19, lived 30 minutes from the city, and met Eric one night at a bar. She told me he was Eric Emerson, one of the Warhol actors. She was pregnant and quickly engaged to a friend of her brother who would take care of her and the baby (me.) That was the fucked up father that I had known. He was evil, and controlling and now I know why. She never had contact with Eric after that one night.

I left my family to live in NYC when I was 16. I have stopped all communication with them almost 10 years. My relationship with that family is over and will never be reconciled, so this is the only information I have on my birth father.

I DO NOT want to get involved with brothers or sisters, or ANY of that stuff. I am completely happy with my family of friends. I am just trying to understand this whole thing. Trying to figure out why I am who I am, and it is really making a lot of sense... I guess what I want from you is maybe a little info on how the other kids were made? One night stands or relationships? Did he know any of them? Are they healthy?... Maybe whatever you would like to share with me about these kids. Thank you again Gary, "C" Emerson (Born 1-28-75)

If "C" was another daughter, Eric fathered at least five children with five different women: Chris and her daughter Erica, Krys and her daughter Monique, Elda and her son Branch, Jane and her son Emerson, and possibly a one-night-stand that produced another daughter, "C."

But it was Krysteen who had initially contacted me. Although she was in a relationship with Eric for only a few years during the late 1960s, she was able to flesh out what Eric was like as a person, give an insight into the what the late 1960s were like, and she was ultimately the person who relayed to me the information about how Eric had died.

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