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Warholstars Condensed... sort of

page ten

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The currently restored version of The Chelsea Girls features twelve different episodes. The original version also included two other episodes - The Afternoon and The Closet. The Afternoon starred Edie Sedgwick and, according to Paul Morrissey, was edited out of the film at Edie's request who told Warhol that she had signed a contract with Bob Dylan's manager, Albert Grossman. (EDIE283) The Closet starred Nico and Randy Bourscheidt and is now shown as a separate film.

According to Robert Heide, Warhol also incorporated some footage into The Chelsea Girls from a film made the previous year, in 1965, of Heide's play The Bed:

Robert Heide:

I first met Edie Sedgwick in 1965 when Andy Warhol was making a film of my play, The Bed, which had been having a stage run at Caffe Cino. After a successful screening at the Cinematheque on 41st Street, there followed a quarrel with FuFu Smith, the producer, about who owned the film. Andy put The Bed into his secret vault though he later spliced portions of it into The Chelsea Girls. (VVR)

According to Callie Angell in the first volume of the film catalogue raisonné, "In the fall of 1965, Warhol and Dan Williams shot a double-screen film version of Heide's play. In 1966 Warhol appropriated the basic idea of the play, without using Heide's script, for a three-reel remake called The John, two reels of which, Boys in Bed and Mario Sings Two Songs, were included in The Chelsea Girls." (AD193)

Warhol filmed most of the footage for The Chelsea Girls in the summer of 1966.

From Popism:

All that summer we were shooting the short interior sequences that we later combined to make up Chelsea Girls, using all the people who were around. A lot of them were staying at the Hotel Chelsea, so we were spending a lot of time over there. Often, we'd have dinner and sangria at the El Quixote Restaurant downstairs and everybody would be coming and going back and forth from their own rooms or somebody else's. I got the idea to unify all the pieces of these people's lives by stringing them together as if they lived in different rooms in the same hotel. We didn't actually film all the sequences at the Chelsea; some we shot down where the Velvets were staying on West 3rd, and some in other friends' apartments, and some at the Factory - but the idea was they were all characters that were around and could have been staying in the same hotel. (POP180)

The Chelsea girls who actually lived at the Chelsea Hotel were Nico, Brigid Berlin (aka Brigid Polk) and Susan Bottomly (aka International Velvet). Gerard Malanga also stayed there for a couple of months when he was having a relationship with Susan.

From Popism:

Gerard stayed with Susan at the Chelsea for the first couple of months she was in town, and all that time he was writing poems to her and about her. Her parents weren’t happy with her new ‘career’ - modeling in New York - and later on, when she was the cover of Esquire, photographed in a garbage can (‘Today’s Girl, Finished at 18’), they were really upset... but they went on supporting her, and she went on supporting lots of her friends. (POP176)

Susan Bottomly came from an old New England family and went to boarding school - where she was thrown out four times. (VY107) Her father was a district attorney in Boston. (POP175) In 1966, at the age of 16 she met Andy Warhol at a party in Boston - the same year that her modeling career took off with a front cover for Mademoiselle magazine. Bottomly moved to New York in the summer of 1966 and went straight to the Factory. (VY107). Her rent at the Chelsea was paid for by her family who also sent her a living allowance. Bottomly managed to survive the Warhol sixties and currently lives in Hawaii.

Just prior to appearing in The Chelsea Girls, Bottomly appeared in a Warhol film that has never been screened for the public. It was:


Susan Bottomly (Left), unidentified surfer as Superboy and Mary Woronov (photo: Stephen Shore)

According to art historian Debra Miller, "Superboy was never screened for the public. It remains one of Warhol's unknown films, hitherto uncatalogued in filmographies and unpublished in art historical literature. Nevertheless, one of the images associated with its production - of the young superstar International Velvet - is among the most famous of Billy Name's Factory Fotos." (BN70)

During the filming of Superboy, Billy Name took some photographic stills - one of which (of Susan Bottomly) was later used to publicize The Chelsea Girls:

Billy Name's photograph of Susan Bottomly that was used to publicize The Chelsea Girls but actually taken during the filming of Superboy

Susan's co-star in Superboy - Mary Woronov - also appeared with her in The Chelsea Girls. Woronov would later become the most prolific of Warhol's stars, writing four books and appearing in more than sixty non-Warhol films. Most of her post-Warhol films would be 'B' movies produced by Roger Corman and/or directed by her husband at the time - Theodore Gershuny. She would also appear in Paul Bartel's Eating Raoul (1982) and play the part of Miss Togar in The Rock and Roll High School (1979) which also featured the Ramones...

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