The Bibbe Hansen Interview
What can you tell me about Ondine?
Something about Ondine. OK. You could never leave anything at the Factory. He would take it, and with scissors and a needle and thread and staples and tape and Lord knows what not... and he would take it and make it into some article of clothing for himself.
So somebody was always furious ..... I would just think... like they were silly. Why would you leave a cashmere sweater lying around. here....you know that Ondine is going to make it into a turban. Or a draper, you know. I don’t know. I guess he would speed madly all night and that was one of his arts. One of his ways of expressing himself was making these wonderful outfits. But, I remember one time apparently no one had left anything that he could work with, and we came in and he was wearing an outfit made entirely out of green/grey trash bags which completely predicts the whole punk fashion; trash bag...punk fashion craze by many, many years. So that’s a favorite story... a favorite memory of Ondine.
Ondine...getting ready to "fly"!
Do you remember a lot of drugs at the Factory?
You know, the drugs at the factory were free...what I remember.. speed and pot, and they were both my drugs...and the drugs of my mother, the drugs of my group... so I was very comfortable with them. That was not anything unusual for me.
Can you tell me your recollections about Edie?
About Eddie, gorgeous, like my mother. Recognition...older sister.
Eddie was sensational. She was absolutely gorgeous. There is something in her that really reminds me of my mother. Both in the resemblance of their drug dependency and even their fashion sense and their style. Who they were as young women. I felt a very strong connection to Eddie, which is not to say that she felt anything at all similar to me. I felt very strong recognition with her. She felt very much like the older sister I didn’t have... on some cosmic plane.
Edie in "Prison".
About Eddie...self absorbed.....but kind.....Makeup went on and on, loved to watch her do it. Style
Not that she really took time out of her day to look after me or be interested. She was pretty self absorbed. But she was kind. She could be kind. She would spend hours and hours and hours putting on makeup. This could be... and actually was... quite a pain in the ass. People waiting to go...and we had reservations to eat. Places to be, and it just went on and on. But when she was done, she looked fabulous. I used to just love watch her do it. I actually learned quite a lot about makeup and style from her. She had a fabulous style. And she did it all herself. She was astonishing.
I remember her fantastic earrings which are now very popular. They called them chandelier earings, but nobody had ever seen anything like them. I just adored them. I thought they were fantastic. All the girls wanted to have earrings like Eddie’s. I think I swiped mine from a little shop down on 8th Street, St. Mark’s Place. But no one looked as good in them as Eddie did with that wonderful neck and short hair. Fantastic. Eddie actually got chosen, was actually the 2nd choice to star in “Prison” with me. The first choice had been Jane Holzer. But there was some talk about the fact that she was a bit concerned about offending her family. Because she had made the gossip columns or something. On a couple of Andy scandals or in a scandalous movie, and it had gotten mentioned. It had gotten back to her family. So she was being very, very cautious about not wanting to have anything to do with any kind of raunchy or possibly raunchy or scandalous movie.
Ondine and Allan in "Prison".
More about “Prison”?
And of course there was a secret plan to make the movie salacious. So, Jane was out . The girl who was playing with me would be a society girl who had just done some crank and shows up in a “youth hall” over night, with me the old timer. At some point I would come on to her very heavily, sort of a dyke-like confrontation or something. Jane was out for that. And they would call this REAL REEL; (spells).... some spontaneous reaction from them. Chuck said, “Eddie would be great for that! Let’s get Eddie to do it.” So that’s how Eddie came to do it.
What did you do when you first went to the Factory?
That first week, I went to see a film and I think it was her and Gerard. I saw two films. “Final” and “Kitchen”. They were the first Warhol films that I had seen.
Did you sense that Edie was unhappy after awhile?
Always a party going on....
No, but I wouldn’t have related on that. I was like, hey, got any pills? Got a joint? I just wanted to get high. Anybody got anything to smoke? I’m not thinking about if anyone is unhappy or exploited or whatever. Sometimes I think back and I was pretty subtle.
How long did you stay there?
Well, from that spring... about March through June... I believe. I have actually had set-tos with Kelly and Joe who insist that my years are completely wrong. I would definitely take her information way over mine. Because I am not really in any shape to recall.
But my sense of it is that I was there from March of that year through June, and the two versions of “Prison”. I was in. I believe that I did “Restaurant”as one of the background extras, and then I did one screen test. I went away for the summer. I went up to Provincetown for a couple of weeks and then I was contracted to do summer stock. I was a street kid/ Spanish/ actress...it was actually at that time about my second or third season . So, I was effectively working as a professional child actor in and out of those years, and they kept me off the streets. They packed me off on a bus to up-state New York and kept me out of trouble for a couple of months.
Me with Daddy dearest!
So, I did that, and when I came back in September I started hanging out again. Then I had dark hair because I had done “Diary of Ann Frank”and I had done “South Pacific”. Both required that I had dark brown hair. I came back to the city and Sasoon was all the rage. I wanted a sasoon haircut, but couldn’t afford a fancy hairdresser. So my father said ,”I’m an artist. I can do this. I paint. I sculpt. I draw. I’ve done collages as a performer. I can do your hair.” So, he set about doing this sasoon cut . They had the points like this, and it started out being a long one, but somehow or another the points just kept getting shorter and shorter. So, I had a pixy cut instead. That’s when I made my second screen-test... with dark hair for Andy. I was there during the whole fall for the Velvet Underground performance at the Cinemateque. The whip dance. And I remember the go-go dancers on either side of the stage.
My dad and Andy were friends....Al Hansen in his studio.
How did you meet Andy and wind up being part of the Factory?
I was on the streets and not living at home. Not being anywhere. I wanted to fight all kinds of authorities for many reasons, basically being that it was a much more bourgoise time even though it was the sixties. And we had just come out of the fifties.
Young kids were not supposed to be running around the streets and not being at home, not going to school or things like that. And then, going to dinner with Andy and Gerard and the rest. We went to a tiny little restaurant on Astor Place, and Andy delighted us all by showing a sex change operation. He drew it all out on napkins for us. How it worked. How the operation worked, and how you take the penis and make it into a vagina. That was fascinating.
Gerard and Andy found me a place to stay...
He and Gerard actually got a place for me to stay. I really was not in great shape. Gerard set me up with a woman who was named Suzanne and she was very, very special. I think she was peripheral to the Factory people. One thing led to another, and I wound up by that January or Febuary going back to being a permanent guest of the city, not only the city, but of the state for a couple of years. So, I was kind of like out of circulation for a while. I would see Andy. I would come home every couple of week-ends every other month or something and I would see Andy at Max’s. I went to the opening of the Jewish museum and I saw Eddie there.
How did you meet Edie?
Family court was on 23rd street. That’s right where the Chelsea Hotel is. There was a lot of cross-over there. I had to see my probation officer, go to court for something, and hang out. One time my Dad and I were with Yanick Kremer, this great character from the sixties who wrote a book , called “I, Yan Cremer” who was from Poland, from the Netherlands. I ran into Edie there at the coffee shop and she was not doing very great I think. She wasn’t doing very well. But I think she wound up going off with Yan Kremer if I remember correctly. She was quite a hotty!
Memories of Edie?
There are just like little bits and pieces that come in, like my Dad coming to visit me at school. I know he came a few times, but once he came to this place that I was in West Chester County and said that Edie had burned down her apartment. Candles... like she left candles all over everywhere....but apparently on the mantle piece and they burned down her place. That made me troubled. I remember being concerned about that.
How did the Factory days end for you?
I guess it was ‘68 when Andy got shot. That was quite a shock to me, and it was a terrrible, terrible year. Bobby Kennnedy, Martin Luther King, Andy, and then in August, my mother died. So, shortly after that.. I left the school. I did not get really actually released. I went absent without leave. I took my own papers and left. I went down to the Carribbean until I turned 18. Then when I turned 18 I came back to New York for a few weeks and then went out to Los Angeles.
That was pretty much the end of the Factory?
Things change. My Dad was there the day that Andy got shot. He wrote quite a beautiful piece about it. Later performed it. There is a performance piece of it. I think it is on video and there is definitely a sound take of it, of him doing the reading, very acted out.
The Cinematheque or the Dome? How did you feel about that?
The Cinemateque was dark. Gerard was very prominent. Handsome, smart, funny.
I remember the music, liking the music. Andy wanted me to start a band! Robert, Bob, and Bobbie. 64 record.Demo deal, an answer to the Beatles.
No, this was the Cinemateque. I don’t even remember being able to see much of the band. They were way back at the end of the stage, and the movie was in front and it was very dark. They were completely in the dark and a movie was being shown on them. Gerard I remember very prominently, just doing sexy seductive moves with dancers... Everyone was in love with Gerard. So wonderfully handsome, smart, fun.
I remember the music. I remember liking the music ....that was a one time thing ... like, say we’re going to go up to the cinemateque ... this band is going to play and we are going to play music. As a matter of fact at one point Andy wanted me to start a band..; which is crazy. But Chuck said wants you to have a band; we’re going to have a band. So, I got these guys I knew who were all named Robert. Robert..Bob.. and Bobbie.
I made a record back in 1964 I guess with Jack Kerouac’s daughter, Jana Kerouac and another girlfriend of mine Charlotte. We made a record. We had gotton a demo deal with Don Ruben. The guys who wrote our record were the guys who did the mix. Divine and Duba, and they write a song for us which was an answer to the Beatles’ “I want to hold your hand”called, “ I want to talk with you”. The flip side was written by Jean Murry, that’s her pen name.
She actually wrote Splish/Splash for Bobby Darin. She was a great character. Unfortunately she ( something about the rights ) of Splish/Splash. She wrote “Let’s go, go, go” for Ringo. It charted in Canada or something. We were called the Wippets.
So having had this in my background this led to that I should have a band. It could have been Chuck’s idea more than anyone else’s but I do remember getting very, very high and going up to his room and trying to memorize an old R&B tune that he insisted that I had to do. It was difficult to learn especially if you were very, very high. It was called, “A love like yours can’t come a knock knock knocking everyday”.
When I came back in the fall..it’ seems as though Chuck wasn’t there anymore. Some point in that fall or that winter Chuck wasn’t around a lot.....I just remember that at some point Chuck and Edie weren’t there...and it was like that era was over. Just coincidentally this coincided with the idea that I wouldn’t be there anymore so....that was my time there.
What about Billy Name?
Billy was always taking pictures. He was always there. He was always around. I think I was pretty boy crazy so I was always looking for that. I think I was much more fascinated by Gerard. I had forgotten Larry Letray, he was there with Andy too. He made the movie “Horse”. I knew him from downtown and he and I went out for a few months. He was a very handsome man. And Patti was up there.... but kind of after me. She and I went to school together. We were Village kids together. We’d go down to the park and school... and around that time we used to go to nightclubs together. She used to stay over at my house. She had a family on the corner of Bleeker and McDougal street above Café Borgia; She used to come over and stay at my loft . We couldn’t stay out all night, because that wouldn’t fly; people get so irate about 13 and 14 year olds going out all night. But what we would do, we would go over to my house and go to bed early... around ten... and wake up at two.... and sneak out. At two o’clock... one thirty or two o’clock New York is still wild. I mean, it’s happening...we’d go to the after hour clubs and the breakfast joints, so we had adventures that way. But I didn’t really know her from Andy’s. I actually wound up bringing some girlfriends up from the same school that Patti and I went to to be in the second version of “Prison” with me. I think that I was looking for girls who had been in Youth Houses to give the film more authenticity
The first film with Eddie and I alone, it was kind of spare, but it was an early beautiful Godard. Black and white, as opposed to colour blow-up. The other might have been more dynamic, but the first one probably was a better piece. It was like a typical classic Factory thing. The picture of one or the sound from the other didn’t come out so they put the two, they made another one, but they didn’t like it so well, so they put the two together and made one. I know they screened it a couple of times.
So it disappeared?
Callie and Joel are still trying to sort it out. She’s done such a fantastic job with the archives, but that one might be hopeless, because it’s two seperate films shown together and I think maybe only Chuck knows how they did it.
How do you explain the 60’s?
Well, there were a profound series of things, elements that went into place in order for the sixties to happen. But, there have been wonderful periods of renaissance, really active arts and literature. The fun times. We had just come through the abstract impressionists. The very serious sort of new 50’s thing and then came Pop. All of a sudden it was just fun. Art was fun. The post world war two baby boom, of which I am a member, gave us profound numbers of young people. It was Our music...that all those grown ups were listening to. It was Our movies and Our clothes that they were wearing. Our makeup. We owned that. They were emulating us. I felt absolutely at home. It was my scene, from my generation.
But as far as the actual pieces in place... no, They will never happen again. The 60’s, precisely the 60’s will never happen again. And yet there will be periods of flowering and of great productivity....and wonderful coming together of different kinds of people to do great work and have fun. I think it is part of the Human Experience, whether you are talking about Paris in the 10’s or the 20’s or the village in the 40’s or the 50’s, or back in the 20’s... or the 60’s. Judson Church. and all the incredible, just this fantastic community of exciting and productive and fun art and social and theater and film just everything being made. I think that just happens you know.
Where did the word Factory come from?
Well, you know, at the time I didn’t even consider it. We all lived in loft buidings.
They were all old factories. My Dad lived in lofts. And that’s where he made art. Growing up in the art world, to a certain extent art isn’t anything special. It’s what you do everyday. It’s what you do all the time. It’s just how you live and there is this crossover of art and life. That era of art really created in terms of happenings movement and performance art and event art and the ideas of Fluxus.
The ideas of inter-media and even Pop taken from products and advertising and celebrating great American products as art. That’s pretty special. I’m laughing, because one time ...the crossover art life... art life ... One time I was in my father’s loft and starving to death. Because you know food was sometimes a little thin on the ground and I don’t know where my Pop was, I don’t know where Al was, and I didn’t have any money.I was really hungry and I went down and found some soup, a couple of a cans of soup, and I said this works. We had a hot plate and I opened the cans of soup, emptied the cans, ate them. Felt much better. Just really delicious... hit the spot. Al came home a little while later and asked me if I was hungry. I said, “No, I just had some soup.” He said,
“ What soup?” I said, “The soup.. the tomato soup in the kitchen.” He fished the cans out of the garbage and said, “Do you know what this is?” I said, “Yeah, Cambell’s tomato soup. It was great.” He said, “No! That was an Andy Warhol signature. You just ate two cans of soup signed by Andy Warhol.”
It tasted great! So, they say when you are really, really hungry food tastes great.
Let me tell you it tastes even better when you are really, really hungry and it’s art!