At the time of her greatest notoriety in the 1960s and 70s, Julliard-trained blues singer Tally Brown was a zaftig bohemian cabaret artist associated with NY’s underground art scene, Warhol’s Factory and a performer at Reno Sweeny’s and the Continental Baths. Brown’s social circle included the Living Theatre, Holly Woodlawn, Taylor Mead, Grace Jones and Diane Arbus.
Her obituary in the New York Times described her as:
“A short, stout singer with wild black hair, Ms. Brown was known for her intense, dramatic renditions of songs by Kurt Weill, the Rolling Stones and David Bowie.”
Intense and dramatic she certainly was! Tally Brown was also good friends with Divine and often mistaken for the infamous drag queen/actor.
If it wasn’t for her appearances in a few of Warhol’s films, the 1974 cult classic schlockfest, Silent Night, Bloody Night and German director Rosa von Praunheim’s 1979 documentary Tally Brown, New York she would probably be long forgotten, but in fact, since her death in 1989 (mostly due to the von Praunheim film) she’s become a bit of an LGBT cult figure. (Another obscure film that Brown was in, Wynn Chamberlain’s Brand X has been getting a second life in recent years)
Above, Mick Ronson behind Tally Brown as David Bowie looks on from left.
In the clip below, from the opening of Tally Brown, New York, the aging diva sings Bowie’s “Heroes” as the camera very, very slowly creeps up close enough to see her face. This gets pretty amazing, so stay with it. Are these not the very best Bowie covers you have ever heard???
Sad to hear that Taylor Mead, underground movie star, Lower East Side fixture, bon vivant, Warhol Superstar, poet, feeder of stray cats, teller of funny stories and sweet and charming old guy died yesterday in Colorado at the ripe old age of 88.
A gay icon who was never in the closet, Mead was the subject of a documentary Excavating Taylor Mead, which debuted at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2005. Mead had been in the news recently over his travails with his landlord.
Above, Marcel Duchamp, Ultra Violet and Taylor Mead, 1967
Below, Taylor Mead, Craig Vandenberg and Candy Darling in Anton Perich’s short film Candy and Daddy:
J. G. Ballard once said, if by some terrible calamity all art from the 20th century was destroyed except for the work of one artist, then it would be possible to recreate all of the century’s greatest artistic developments if that artist was Eduardo Paolozzi.
Deliberate hyperbole, but there is an essence of truth here, as Paolozzi produced such an incredible range and diversity of art that it has been difficult for critics and art historians to classify him. He began as a Surrealist, before becoming the first Pop Artist—a decade before Warhol put paint on canvas. He then moved on to print-making, design, sculpture and public art to international success.
Born in Edinburgh, to an Italian family in 1924, Paolozzi spent much of his childhood at his parent’s ice cream parlor, where he was surrounded by the packaging, wrapping and cigarette cards that later inspired his Pop Art. This early idyll of childhood was abruptly ended when Italy declared war on Britain in 1940. Paolozzi awoke one morning to find himself, along with his father and uncles, incarcerated, in the city’s Saughton Prison, as undesirables, or enemies of the state. Paolozzi was held for 3 months, but his father and uncles were deported to Canada on the ship HMS Arandora Star, which was torpedoed by a U-boat off the north-west coast of Ireland. The vessel sank with the loss of 630 lives.
Considered psychologically unsuitable for the army, the teenage Paolozzi studied at the Edinburgh School of Art, in 1943, before finishing at the Slade School in London, which he found disappointingly conservative in its approach to art.
After the war, Paolozzi moved briefly to Paris where he visited some of the century’s greatest artists, then resident in the city—Giacometti, Braque, Arp, Brâncuşi, and Léger. In his youthful boldness, Eduardo had telephoned each of these artists after discovering their numbers in the telephone directory. He was greeted as an equal, he later claimed, most probably because the war had just ended. The experience taught Paolozzi much, and emboldened his ideas. On his return to London, Paolozzi presented a slide show of adverts and packaging, which was the very first Pop Art.
Paolozzi developed his distinctive collages and multiple images of Marilyn Monroe long before Warhol and even Richard Hamilton, the artist with whom he showed at the now legendary This Is Tomorrow exhibition, at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956.
Paolozzi eventually tired of his association with Pop Art, as it limited his incredibly diverse artistic vision. The same year as This Is Tomorrow, he played a deaf mute, with fellow artist Michael Andrews, in the first major Free Cinema movie Together by Lorenza Mazzetti.
By the late 1950s, he had moved on to industrial print-making, before producing an incredibly awe-inspiring range of designs for buildings, sculptures and public art—from his mosaic for Tottenham Court Road tube station to the cover of Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway, through to such epic sculptures Newton, outside of the British Library, Vulcan, Edinburgh, and Head of Invention, Design Museum, London.
In 1984, Paolozzi conceived and produced a brief strange and surreal animation 1984: Music for Modern Americans, which was animated and directed by Emma Calder, Susan Young and Isabelle Perrichon, and based photocopies of Paolozzi’s original drawings.
Andy Warhol’s Index, the Pope of Pop’s mass-produced 1967 pop-up book has been described as a “children’s book for hipsters.” It’s an item seldom encountered these days outside of auction houses, or high end book dealers, but on occasion the item does, er, pop-up on eBay for a decent price. You can usually find several expensive copies on ABEbooks.com.
The prices can vary quite a bit: there’s a hardback version with a plastic lenticular cover vs a foil-printed paperback, and copies signed by Warhol, obviously, have quite a premium on them. The other factor in how dealers price the book, however, tends to be about how complete it is. Random House probably didn’t published too many of these to begin with, and obviously they were hand-made to a certain extent. Many of the goodies that were originally part of the package tend to have gotten lost over the decades, so a complete edition is difficult to come by and often very expensive (I’ve owned two copies of this myself, an incomplete hardback copy that I lost in a girlfriend “divorce” and the pristine, complete paperback I found for a shockingly low price at The Strand’s rare book room about fifteen years ago that’s sitting on a shelf behind me as I type this).
Whenever someone over to the house expresses an interest in my book collection, Andy Warhol’s Index is one of the first things I pull out. As you can see from this video below, it’s a pretty impressive item, with pop-up planes, accordions, Campbell’s soup cans, Edie, Lou, Nico, things you’re supposed to dunk into water, even a pop-up paper castle meant to stand-in for the infamous dwelling where visiting rock bands stayed when they were in Los Angeles in the 60s.
Contributors besides Warhol were David Paul, Stephen Shore, Billy Name, Nat Finkelstein, Paul Morissey, Ondine, Nico, Christopher Cerf, Alan Rinzler, Gerald Harrison and Akihito Shirakawa.
The flexi disc of a 1966 Factory “Conversation” (Nico, Lou, Andy, John Cale and others talking about a mock-up of the book itself) is almost never found still in the binding. Listen below:
The tear-off sheet to the right of Henry Geldzahler, the influential curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, above, was supposed to be dunked into a glass of water. Rumors were that it was blotter acid, but I think instead (I’ve never tried it) you got Warhol’s signature in invisible ink or it expanded like a sponge.
Author of the misandrist classic, SCUM Manifesto, and would-be assassin of Andy Warhol, Valerie Solanas is downright charming in his 1967 film, (presumably before she decided to shoot him).
The movie’s title is a parody of Swedish erotic film, I, A Woman, which Valerie, founder and sole member of the Society for Cutting Up Men, probably had fairly strong feelings about. From the manifesto:
Eaten up with guilt, shame, fears and insecurities and obtaining, if he’s lucky, a barely perceptible physical feeling, the male is, nonetheless, obsessed with screwing; he’ll swim a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there’ll be a friendly pussy awaiting him. He’ll screw a woman he despises, any snaggle-toothed hag, and, further, pay for the opportunity. Why? Relieving physical tension isn’t the answer, as masturbation suffices for that. It’s not ego satisfaction; that doesn’t explain screwing corpses and babies.
I wonder why the SCUM Men’s auxiliary never really took off…
Chelsea Girls was Andy Warhol’s first “commercial” success as a filmmaker. Co-directed by Warhol and Paul Morrissey, the film consists of twelve improvised vignettes (two were semi-scripted by playwright Ronald Tavel) featuring the druggy, draggy, seemingly morally-bankrupt freaks who constituted Warhol’s entourage and inner circle.
The film was shot in summer and fall of 1966 in the Hotel Chelsea, at Warhol’s “Factory” studio and in the apartment where the Velvet Underground lived on 3rd Street. Brigid Berlin (“The Duchess”), Nico, Mario Montez, Ondine (“The Pope”), Ingrid Superstar, International Velvet, Rene Richard, Eric Emerson, Gerard Malanga, filmmaker Marie Menken, Ari Boulogne (Nico’s son) a gorgeous young Mary Woronov—who danced with the Velvet Underground as part of “The Exploding Plastic Inevitable”—and others are seen in the film’s three and a quarter-hour running time (the film un-spooled on 12 separate reels). Most cast members are listed by their own names as they were essentially playing themselves.
Chelsea Girls was booked into a prestigious 600 seat uptown theater in New York and actually distributed to theaters across the country. In 1966, it’s unlikely that middle America had any idea that people like this even existed. Cinema-goers in Los Angeles, Dallas, Washington, San Diego and yes, even, Kansas City probably got their first exposure to actual drug addicts, yammering speed-freak narcissists, homosexuals, drag queens and a dominatrix when they watched Chelsea Girls. To Warhol’s delight, the film was even raided by the vice squad in Boston. The theater manager was arrested and later fined $2000 when a judge found him guilty of four charges of obscenity.
Movie critic Rex Reed said “Chelsea Girls is a three and a half hour cesspool of vulgarity and talentless confusion which is about as interesting as the inside of a toilet bowl.”
Tell us how you really feel, Rex!
The film was presented as a split screen, running simultaneously on two projectors with alternating soundtracks. It was a mixture of B&W and color footage. Edie Sedgwick’s vignette was removed from Chelsea Girls at her insistence, but was later known as “The Apartment.” A section originally screened with Chelsea Girls called “The Closet” (about two “children” who lived in one, with Nico and Randy Bourscheidt) was cut and later shown as a separate film.
For what we have here is 3 1/2 hours of split-screen improvisation poorly photographed, hardly edited at all, employing perversion and sensation like chili sauce to disguise the aroma of the meal. Warhol has nothing to say and no technique to say it with. He simply wants to make movies, and he does: hours and hours of them. If “Chelsea Girls” had been the work of Joe Schultz of Chicago, even Warhol might have found it merely pathetic.
The key to understanding “Chelsea Girls,” and so many other products of the New York underground, is to realize that it depends upon a cult for its initial acceptance, and upon a great many provincial cult-aspirers for its commercial appeal. Because Warhol has become a social lion and the darling of the fashionable magazines, there are a great many otherwise sensible people in New York who are hesitant to bring their critical taste to bear upon his work. They make allowances for Andy that they wouldn’t make for just anybody, because Andy has his own bag and they don’t understand it but they think they should
Ebert hits the nail squarely on the head. Chelsea Girls is actually a fucking terrible “movie.” If you view it as “art” or even as an important cultural artifact of the Sixties (it’s both) then you can give it a pass, and should, but if you’re expecting to be “entertained,” you need to re-calibrate your expectations. Only a few parts of the film are actually engaging (Ondine’s speed-freak monologues; Brigid Berlin poking herself with speed; the “Hanoi Hannah” section with Mary Woronov) the rest of it is… boring.
It looks good and parts of it are “interesting” because you can only hear what’s happening on one side of the split screen and so the silent side becomes somehow more intriguing, but, oh yeah, this is a boring thing to watch. It’s still cool, but yeah it’s boring, if that makes any sense.
Chelsea Girls has been next to impossible to see since its original releaseat least until it got uploaded to YouTube—usually screening just a few times a year around the globe. I caught it myself in the (appropriately) sleazy surroundings of London’s legendary Scala Cinema in 1984. There were probably six people there, including me. I admit to falling asleep for a bit of it, but I think everyone probably does.
This video comes from an Italian DVD that was given a very limited released in 2003. Probably the best way to watch this is to hook your computer to your flatscreen and do something else, sort of half paying attention, while Chelsea Girls is on in the background.
Feverishly prolific New York graf-based expressionist painter Jean-Michel Basquiat would have turned 52 today. That fact jars us because of the inevitable Peter Pan myth that accompanies the premature death of any young artist in any discipline.
Though I hate to pursue it, does it depress us to imagine a middle-aged JMB? Would he be still cocooned and slickly dressed, and now entrenched and heavily sponsored downtown, or maybe bugged-out HR-from-Bad-Brains style, redolent in gray dreads, pursued often and obtained for the occasional commission in order to keep up his paranoid existence in who-knows-where?
Of course, Basquiat’s influence dwarfs the downtown New York art scene in the way that he embodied the New York mix of hip-hop, post-punk, and fashion. But our culture also tends to rely on him in an unspoken way as a kind of purified representation of redundant cliches like doomed youth, avant-garde blackness, and the price of fame. We do best to remember each of those features as part of him—and separately, we do best to remember Basquiat as Basquiat.
Early 70s BBC clip of Andy Warhol, pioneering transsexual actress Candy Darling, Jane Fonda and several hangers-on, including Factory regular Eric Emerson, on a boat during a farewell party for Fonda.
A part of this was used in Beautiful Darling, the superb 2011 documentary about Candy Darling. We posted here at DM in advance of the film’s release, but I didn’t actually see it until last week and I really loved it. Beautiful Darling is a terrific film, extremely well-researched and co-produced by Darling’s best friend and roommate, Jeremiah Newton. Highly recommended.
Okay, so it’s “Cyber Monday” and also ‘tis the season for all the record companies to start releasing those deluxe, super deluxe, ultra deluxe, etc, box sets of classic rock albums. These can range from essential to silly, often within the same box (what was on the discs of the Pink Floyd Immersion box sets last year was truly excellent, but the stupid Pink Floyd drink coasters and Dark Side of the Moon marbles (marbles???) were, perhaps, uh, less essential). When box sets seem more like they were put together by marketeers, rather than by actual fanatical fans, it really shows.
The “Heroic Overkill in a Classic Rock Box Set” award—not that there is anything wrong with giving the folks who actually pay for their music more, rather than less—this year probably deserves to go to the 15 disc box set of the 1973 King Crimson classic Larks’ Tongues in Aspic. (Overkill it may be, though I’ve heard few King Crimson fanatics complaining about getting their money’s worth from this monster).
Another release this year that (almost) gets it perfect, is UMe’s new 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico. I can’t imagine this one not being nominated—and winning—a Grammy for best archival reissue, or box set, but it could be in a number of categories, including best design and best liner notes for VU expert Richie Unterberger’s exhaustively detailed extended essay about the recording of the album and its bad-luck plagued initial release in 1966.
I always approach these things with skepticism. Do I really need to buy an album, AGAIN, that I’ve owned on LP, CD, as part of the Peel Slowly and See box set and that I passed up when it came out again in 2002, in an edition supposedly better than the version on the box and blah, blah, blah? Is it worth the money is how I try to approach “reviewing” something like this (who gives a fuck what I or anybody else thinks about this music, it’s beyond having an opinion on). Actually, since I don’t even have to pay for music and DVDs anyway, I get review copies of pretty much everything I want, I think that makes me slightly more difficult to impress.
Additionally, I bought my first copy of The Velvet Underground & Nico—actually my grandmother bought it for me—in 1976, when I was ten. I’d read about the Velvet Underground in CREEM and I pretty much graduated from James Bond soundtracks to Ziggy, Iggy, the VU and Never Mind The Bollocks in one fell swoop. Obviously I was a child, and like most children, I didn’t have all that many records, so at the time I was initially exposed to The Velvet Underground & Nico, it was one of maybe a dozen or so records I owned. I’m not trying to convey how hip of a little kid I was, it’s just that this an album that I have listened to over and over and over again, so many damned times that I didn’t think it was something I’d ever want to listen to for pleasure again. I’ve pulled out this album very few times in the past 25 years. It’s never the one I grab when I want to listen to the Velvet Underground (that would be the VU collection, for me).
So why is this box set so great, you’re wondering? Well, for one, it’s pretty definitive. I think it can be predicted, with confidence, that this is probably the very, very last time that The Velvet Underground & Nico will ever be re-issued on a disc of any sort (maybe there will be a Blu-ray in the future, but what would be the point of that?). Truly, longtime Velvets A&R man Bill Levenson and Sterling Sounds’ Kevin Reeves have been able to tease out sonic nuances from the master tapes of both the stereo and mono releases of the album and there are slight variations and single edits and things like that, included, some more commonly heard than others. The selling points of this set have little to do with the album as we know it, however, and everything to do with it being the first official release of the now legendary Scepter Studios sessions as discovered on the “Norman Dolph acetate” found at the Sixth Ave Flea market in New York in 2002.
The acetate (a glass test record) was cut of the original five day VU recording sessions at the near derelict studios belonging to the Scepter Records label in 1966. These sessions were paid for by a Columbia Records sales executive named Norman Dolph (who I’ve met—we both collect Paul Laffoley’s art—he’s a fascinating guy) and Andy Warhol. As heard on disc four of this new box set—in the cleanest version you’ll ever hear—the Scepter Studios sessions is a true revelation—white light, white heat, even!—for any aficionado of the Velvet Underground, even the most jaded ones, like me.
It’s a show stopper. Some reviewers call the differences minor, but I don’t think so…
Truly, I’d have never thought that I could get into this album again with fresh ears, but that really has happened, via the Scepter sessions. I’ve been listening to it obsessively for about a week and just digging the fuck out of it.
Five tracks are the same, although there are different mixes, three entirely different takes and several vocal changes. Since it’s likely that when these same multi-tracked tapes were taken back into the studio at TTG in Los Angeles for finishing, the original performances were probably recorded over: Lou Reed’s falsetto backing vocals on “Femme Fatale” for instance (in the version we know he sings low and flat). “Heroin” features a far more frantic, crazed viola from Cale and even starts off with a much different opening line, giving new meaning to the lyrics (John Cale wrote of being infuriated at the change in his autobiography, now we can hear what he was so pissed off about.) “European Son” is two minutes longer and although the take is different enough from the final version known on the album, it’s pretty amazing to hear just how well-rehearsed that ear-splitting cacophony actually was! That this was “lost” for so many years, and now can be heard like this, well, it’s pretty extraordinary, it really is.
The set also included a loose 1966 rehearsal tape recorded at Warhol’s Factory on January 3, 1966 and a nicely cleaned up version of the only decently recorded performance of the band with Nico known to exist, live at the Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio on November 4, 1966. Part of this recording, the menacing, amorphous jam “Melody Laughter” was previously excerpted on the Peel Slowly and See box set. It’s much (much) better than The Quine Tapes if you are wondering.
Additionally, there is a remastered version of Nico’s Chelsea Girl album, which seems appropriate to include here. The odds of that one seeing a sonic upgrade its own were kinda slim, so I’m OK with that.
The only place where I feel the 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico falters in any way is the failure to include the FINAL piece of media that would have made it a totally perfect box set of the 66-67 Nico arc of the band’s career, and this is the sole sync-sound audio-visual document made of the Velvet Underground and Nico, the Warhol (or Paul Morrissey) shot 16mm film Symphony in Sound.
The film, made to be screened behind the band onstage during their Exploding Plastic Inevitable “happenings” is honestly pretty dull. It goes on for a LONG time with not much happening besides a drony primitive jam and a frenetic camera zooming in and out. Nico is there (with her young son Ari) but she’s not singing, just hitting a tambourine. Lou doesn’t sing either. At one point the camera droops on its tripod and no one readjusts it for quite a while. So it’s boring, most Warhol films were boring—Warhol himself always said his movies were better discussed than actually seen—but it is the freaking Velvet Underground playing live on camera for what is probably the ONLY time during their original incarnation, so it would have been worth including here for that reason alone.
You can watch Symphony in Sound below. If you can get over how dull it is, it’s actually pretty fucking cool. In the later moments, when the cops show up due to a noise complaint, Warhol has to deal with them himself.
So, what more can I say about this 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico It truly is the killer diller item that you want it to be (it also is a no-brainer Christmas gift for that middle-aged rock snob on your shopping list). Worth the cost? I admitted above that I didn’t pay for mine, but if I had, I would feel, for sure, to have gotten my money’s worth (there’s also a 2 CD merely “deluxe” edition that has the Dolph acetate and the Factory rehearsals on the second disc). I mean, this is it, this is THE final version that will probably ever be released of this album. If it’s important to you to have an item like this particular classic rock trophy on your shelf, you will most assuredly not be disappointed by the 45th Anniversary Super Deluxe Edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico.
“The Black Angel’s Death Song” live at the Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio on November 4, 1966:
Andy Warhol co-directed this seldom-seen video for The Cars’ single, “Hello Again,” with Don Munroe in 1984. It featured Manhattan “It Girl” fashion designer Dianne Brill (above), a young Gina Gershon, Benjamin Liu (as Ming Vauze), Warhol himself as the bartender and my late friend John Sex, the guy with the boa constrictor.
From an entry dated Thursday, March 29, 1984, pages 560-561 in The Andy Warhol Diaries:
It was raining and snowing out and this was the day we had to film all day doing the Cars video for their song “Hello Again” at the Be-Bop Cafe on 8th Street. Benjamin [Liu] came in drag to pick me up for shooting. He was going to be in it, too.
I had to be a bartender and wear a tux. The crowd of extras looked like the old Factory days—Benjamin in drag, and a bald-headed mine in a Pierrot outfit, and John Sex with this snake. And then there was Dianne Brill with her big tits and hourglass figure. The Cars were cute.
They finally got to my part at 8:00 and I had to sing a song but I couldn’t remember the words. And I had to mix a drink while I was doing it, and with my contacts on I couldn’t see the Coke button on the soda dispenser.
And that meant being face to face with the Cars for a while, and it was hard to talk to them. I didn’t know what to say. I finished at 9:15. One of the kids gave me a ride home.
Merv Griffin was always known for having slightly more outre guests than most of the other daytime talkshows of his era, but this October 6, 1965 interview with a nearly mute Andy Warhol and a much more talkative Edie Sedgwick must’ve been quite perplexing to American housewives when it originally aired.
Today is Andy Warhol’s birthday and here’s a little something I think Andy would have appreciated - a video game in which the player takes on the role of Valerie Solanas.
“I Shot Andy Warhol” (a mod of Nintendo’s “Hogan’s Alley” made by Cory Arcangel) is a perfect example of a Warholian appropriation of pop culture. But instead of just watching, we get to participate in the process of the modern world eating itself. We have the choice of missing our target and keeping Warhol alive for eternity in our gaming consoles.
Dangerous Minds is a compendium of oddities, pop culture treasures, high weirdness, punk rock and politics drawn from the outer reaches of pop culture. Our editorial policy, such that it is, reflects the interests, whimsies and peculiarities of the individual writers. And sometimes it doesn't. Very often the idea is just "Here's what so and so said, take a look and see what you think."
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