The Nat Finkelstein Interview
All photographs copyright Nat Finkelstein
Frank and to the point...Nat Finkelstein
"My name is Nat Finkelstein, I am a photographer, and during the period of 1964 to the end of 1966 while I was documenting the very social changes which were going on in America, I spent some time at the Silver Factory documenting Andy Warhol and his piece of the New York underground.
Can you tell me about the social changes that you were documenting?
At the time I was working with SNIC, I was down, I was down in Mississippi and Arkansas working with civil rights, I was working with the Andy Warhol people, my politics ranged all the way left, extreme left. I carry this tattoo on me which is an indication that I was an organizer for the violent Maoist party and ah, that’s what I did!
Pensive Andy in the Silver Factory
How did you hook up with the Silver Factory?
How I got to Warhol, it’s a kind of funny story. My agent Blackstar, Howard Chapnick, asked me to cover a launch with Tom Wolf, so I did the Huntington Hartford Museum and sat there being bored while, people just drinking and eating cheese, and a young lady who was looking at me kind of smiled and I walked over to her, and I said, well what are you thinking about, and she said SEX . And I said, well, where? And she said, “Well my husband is babysitting right now, but why don’t we go to Andy Warhol’s party?” So she took me up to the Factory and being a horny couple of people, we did it on the couch, and at the conclusion, when she started to pull herself together, she realized that someone had stolen her purse, and I said to myself, my god, people here are kind of crazy, the music is great, the art is simply fantastic, this is really the rotten underbelly of the American bourgeuiose, I think I’d like to come back!
And I came back about three or four days later.
The Velvet Underground with Andy, Gerard, and Paul Morrissey in the Silver Factory
How did Andy hire you to shoot in the Factory?
Andy was very smart in that Andy would look at the picture stories, look at magazines, look at photographer’s credits. The major photography magazine at that time, the magazine that you were really allowed to work on was “Pageant Magazine”, and during a two year period, I had essays in Pageant so Andy saw that and of course I had stuff that was in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Parade Magazine, so I was an established photojournalist.
Andy needed an established photojournalist, because that group that were surrounding him, people were gay, people were queer, people were not going to get into a major magazine, and I had that entrée, and ah, I wanted to do an essay on Andy and these people. Andy wanted, he wanted to break out of the New York culture womb, and go nationwide, so it was kind of like a marriage of convenience.
Can you tell me about that first party?
…and there’s this space, it’s kinda like silver, and there was the cow wallpaper up on the wall, and I think it was the hundred famous people party, one hundred beautiful people party, something like that. I was more interested in getting laid, than I was in the ah, I just hit your mike…
My god by the time I went to Warhol, I had already shot two popes and a couple of presidents, so I was not awed by these people.
What made you personally realize that it was important to photograph Andy and the Silver Factory?
Well just the general, it’s got “action”!
Can you explain that?
How can you explain that? There’s no way to explain, you just come into something and you say, “this is happening”! This is what is “going on”! And there it was, besides, I liked the girl. After a while it was a pleasure, I was the only heterosexual guy with a bunch of beautiful women, and you could see the social changes which were going on in America especially when I went on the road with them, and this is what I was interested in. I was devoting my time in covering the anti-war demonstrations in Washington. I was having a 38 stuck under my chin in Arkansas, I was documenting American society. It looked to me that this was going to be a major part of American cultural society.
Don’t you think it’s interesting that what was going on at the Factory had very little to do with what was going on in American cultural society?
Oh I’ll give you a beautiful little anecdote about that. August 8, 1965. Dou you know the input for that date? It was the first of the big demonstrations against the Viet Nam War. That was when Martin Luther King’s people were forced to ally with us left wing people. I had come back from a problem, Life magazine claimed they lost the negatives and that type of thing, and then one day I am in my home and I get a call from Andy, and Andy says “I want you to come. You have to meet me at the Café Society downtown, its really important, something very important is going to happen.” Actually that night I was kinda stoned on acid, it was a Saturday night and I pulled myself together, and I made it down to the West Village and as I was going to the Café Society. I ran into Milt Macklin, an editor of mine, and Milt said hey Nat that’s really a great spread that you have in the New York Times Magazine, congratulations, I hadn’t heard about it so I stopped at the newsstand and picked up the Sunday Times Magazine and threw the rest of it away. I opened it up and sure enough there were like six pages showing the first really violent demonstration in DC. So I run into the Café Society, and there was Andy sitting with his coterie, and a couple of black people which was very rare for Andy. So I run over to Andy and open up the Times and say to Andy “look at this Andy, isn’t this great?”, and Andy looked up and said “Nat, I want you to meet the Chambers Brothers”.
So this, these places where you would go and meet Andy that were outside of the Factory, tell me about some of these places.
This was the only time at the Café Society downtown, but there was Steve Paul’s place, The Scene, that was basically the hangout and then there was, again, I’m hetero, and so certain things were kept away from me, certain things I didn’t want to bother because I don’t believe that someone’s sex life is really my business, but I did go out cruising with him a couple of times. There was this place on 2ed avenue in the 30’s which had telephone booths so that you could call people at the other tables and pick them up, and there was an ice cream parlor further uptown that had the French moviolas, and uh those were basically the places that we hung out in when we did hang out. There was LaLuna, of course down in little Italy, where you went like at three o’clock in the morning to get a decent Italian meal, uh…I didn’t really socialize with Andy that much, socialization was different. We ran across each other, meaning the crowd ran across each other from time to time because we frequented some of the same places in the West Village, and OF COURSE, the Kettle of Fish was where you would find people. Kettle of Fish was right above the Gaslight, and right next to the Café Caricature so there was a co-mingling there of the Dylan crowd and the Warhol crowd, and then of course after that it was Max’s Kansas City.
Tell me about this place Kettle of Fish, what was that like?
It was an open bar, it was owned by the Mafia, and thriving during that period when Carmine DiSapio and that old guard still ruled Greenwich Village before NYU took it over and kind of like demoralized the area, and uh, old school, old country Italians which meant that they were very liberal, socially very liberal people, so therefore Allen Ginsberg, could come there and all sorts of people could come and mingle there. It also was adjunct to the Gaslight, and the Gaslight was where the Beat Poets got their start. And the Gaslight of course was owned by a person named John Mitchell who opened these venues to the beats, to Gregory Corso, and Allen and that group. Bleeker and McDougal was the center of West Village society.
Do you think that Andy had any real identification with that whole Beat Generation thing…before he got rolling on his thing?
No not at all. He was an interior decorator, store windows, he was a commercial artist, he was the original yuppie.
Did he in your opinion have a kind of “wanna-be” attitude to be very cool, thinking about those beat generation guys and how he could be more like that?
No, I think Andy was quite focused and quite determined from the minute he got to New York to the minute that they pulled his kidney out I guess it was. He knew where he was going. These were associations of convenience.
So he was really focused on his business and all of these people around him were just…?
It was a façade. The people around him were a façade. I suggested and wrote the outline for the Andy Warhol index, where he, and I spoke privately about it, came to a handshake agreement, about a 50-50 split. Uh, I did the proposals, Blackstar my agent put him under contract, I sold the book to Chris Cerf up at Random House, the time came and all of a sudden Andy appears with Litrinoff and a whole bunch of high-powered lawyers, who were behind Andy and who were supporting Andy. So as far as the “free living, we were hippies blah blah blah, that was crap man, and that was Andy manipulating an aura for himself.
Scene maker, Salvador Dali at a Silver Factory Party
So basically the whole scene, the whole sense of the thing, the whole Silver Factory what it was about it was about promotion?
It was about promotion and Andy would sell himself to just about anything, and Andy sold himself to Dannon’s yoghurt. In return for a years supply of yoghurt Andy drove around in this truck. On the side of it was “Dannon Yoghurt”.
So part of this mentality that he had about his art, about his cinema about everything was this sort of “need” that he had to commercialize it and make it make money for him?
He would complain…Andy really never made a lot of money for himself until the 70’s. Andy was broke until the 70’s. Uh I wasn’t around then but this was the story that was given to me by people who were intimate with him. Fred Hughes. When Fred Hughes came in, Fred commercialized it, and Fred gave him a direction where he could be financially enabled.
But as far as the 60’s were concerned Andy was at this time was just sort of evolving this…?
There were three different corporations formed under his name, at least three that I know of, so he wasn’t evolving. He was THERE! He made tons of money dressing windows, he was the highest paid commercial artist in New York, and then in one period in time he decided he wanted to be a fine artist as well. So he had a conversation with this gallery owner and said,
“I want to be a fine artist.”, I wanna be recognized as an artist but I don’t have any ideas. Andy was not an idea man, not a conceptualist, not an idea man. This woman who needed to pay rent on her studio, or her gallery said to Andy, “Supposing I give you some ideas will you pay me $200 so I can pay my rent?”, and Andy said sure, and she said, “Andy what is it that you like most in the world?” ,and Andy said Money…and so she said, “Why don’t you make a painting with dollar bills?” And that’s how it went on.
God, I’m blown away, that’s really blowing me away here. Let me ask you some questions about some of the more interesting situations that you found yourself in when you were shooting. I know the one that really intrigues me more than any other is the time that you were there for the Dylan screen test. Can you tell me about it?
Andy and Bob with "Double Elvis"
Let me tell you about it how? First he wanted to get all of the wierdos out. People like Billy Name and Ondine. Those people, they were not invited that day. Because Dylan was coming. As I said in my book, there was this dichotomy that was going on in underground art society, uh…the way I saw it, it was sorta like a meeting the gelfs and the gibelines, each one of them was looking for pretty camp followers, each one of them had their own image. Dylan’s image was hairy, masculine, super super macho. Andys image was exactly in the other direction, how they came together, God only knows, but it was Barbara Rubin who brought them together, Barbara was the catalyst for those things. Barbara had this kinda like elitist idea that if you bring geniuses together the world will suddenly become a better place. And so she made this arrangement. On Warhol’s side this was a legitimization for him, on Dylan’s side they were doing a follow up to the “Don’t Look Back” movie.
Bob Dylan's "Screen Test" at the Silver Factory
So each one wanted to use the other one but when they finally did get together, they didn’t like each other at all. And I kind of found myself torn in the middle because I was sort of connected with both crowds of people and a choice had to be made. At least Dylan’s crowd felt that some sort of a choice had to be made. It was ridiculous, he would send “raiders”. That’s how he got his hands on Edie Sedgwick at Pana Grady’s place after the shooting of Wood Velez, and Bobbie Newirth comes walking in and says something to Edie in front of me, she was with me, so I saw this, was an actual witness to this and said, “He would like to see you and listen here I brought this for you…these two sugar cubes of acid LSD.”, and he fed her a little bit of acid and uh and at that point I walked away, I wasn’t going to score with her that night anyhow (laughs). And I wasn’t going to be competing with Dylan. To this day he refused to say he had anything to do with her and he’s full of shit.
Edie with Gerard and the Velvets
What was the thing…So Bobby Newirth was basically her pimp, Dylan’s pimp?
Let’s not say pimp because of a legal problem…let’s say his cat’s paw. Now Rodert Heide, the guy who produced “The Bed”, tells the story of how he and Edie and Allen Ginsberg were sitting in the Kettle of Fish and uh Dylan came running into the Kettle of Fish, grabbed a hold of Edie by the hand and said let’s go to your hotel, and ran out with her. On her way out she turned to Heide and said, “I’m his love slave”.
That very much must have pissed Andy off I think?
You see this picture up there? (points to photograph in gallery) That’s the end of the story right there in that picture.
Tell me about the end of the story?
Well the end of the story is supposedly Dylan was making her a star, writing songs for her, and why wasn’t she getting paid? The manipulation worked like that: “Why weren’t you getting paid? Look at all this money Andy is making on these films!”. Andy wasn’t making any money on these films by that point, but it was still planted in her head that Andy was making so much money she could be a great star. And of course in the end she wound up dying with David Weisman.
There was this thing that obviously the two of them had, but tell me any recollection that you might have of Andy’s relationship with Edie.??
Andy used…Andy was a user. Andy was a homosexual, he was not a “woman lover”. He was a woman befriender and a woman manipulator , but as far as being a woman lover is concerned the aspect of being a woman? No that wasn’t Andy. Andy had a mother fixation. Andy had a Madonna fixation. But Andy didn’t love women.
So basically Andy’s idea about women was “How can I make them work for me?”
Andy working away...as always
He pursued them like everything else. Great manipulator, incredible manipulator and everybody loved him! Except those people who hated him. People like Danny Williams who was supposedly his lover. I had pictures of them holding hands behind screen and uh…who got bumped because Andy thought it was more valuable to work with Paul Morrissey, and Paul wanted to cut Danny’s throat, and Paul cut Danny’s throat and Danny committed suicide.
Tell me about Danny Williams, I don’t remember that?
Danny was the person who set up the light shows who did the strobe lighting . Basically Danny was the person who invented the modern rave. But once Morrissey and that group learned how to do it, he knew he was expendable, and so this poor guy who came into the Factory wearing horn rimmed glasses, think he came down from Harvard, wound up leaving the Factory with dust in his hair and uh masking tape holding his glasses together. They were vicious people, there was no “peace and love” there. They were just an extraordinarily bright vicious grouping of people.
Was Danny a lover of Andy?
I believe so. His niece believed so. And basically what happened was that Morrissey came in and Morrissey wanted to take control of everything. Which is what he did, yeah. In my opinion the way I could describe Morrissey is as the great Nay at the mouth of the Ganges.
And isn’t it funny from everything that I know , it’s almost as if it was a blessing in disguise for Morrissey that Valerie Solanis shot Andy , because it was after that that Andy completely changed ?
Well, you know how Valerie Solanis got there right?
How did Valerie Solanis get there?
This ex girlfriend of mine named Ellen Marcus was in the looney bin with Ritchie Berlin and Valerie. Ellen calls me up one day and says, “Listen, my friend Valerie Solanis, she’s a very close friend of Ritchie Berlin, and she has a script, and she was wondering if you would direct a movie for her.” At the time I was kind of into underground film. I said OK I’ll take a look at the script and Valerie called me up and I said “What is this all about?” And she said, “This is all, this is called SCUM, it’s the Society to Cut Up Men, this is the way we are going to destroy all of the men in the world, and everybody’s going to be either a homosexual or a woman.”, and I said “Oh, get the fuck out of here!” I said, “Why don’t you try Andy….and she said “I don’t know how to get there because I call up the Factory and people laugh at me. I said, here’s his private…we had just finished having it out…here’s his private number, and I will call Andy and tell Andy that you have an interesting script for him. Which is what I did and that’s how Valerie got there.
Now if you want to know why I was that pissed with Andy, as I was recounting about the Andy Warhol Index, So, we go from Ellen Marcus, who was an ex girlfriend, ex wife of mine whatever you want to call it, calls me up one day and says her friend Ritchie Berlin, who she was in the looney bin with, and the reason why Ritchie was in the looney bin was because she was using false credit cards at Bloomingdales so these people are absolutely from an alien planet right, but Ritchie had this friend Valerie Solanis , and Valerie was a brilliant writer and would I introduce, would I direct a movie for Valerie, Valerie had written a movie. Valerie called me up and you could hear the duck quack kind of tone you know…this is a far out schitzophrenic, this is someone who…., but I was finished at the Factory at this time, and I wanted like to really “sting” it to Andy, because as I was mentioning about the Andy Warhol index, all of a sudden I turn around and there my agent Howard Chapnik from Blackstar and I come up there, and all of a sudden we are besieged with people like Litvinoff, etc. who are saying “Well listen we have decided that we want these percentages changed and that if you really want to do this book then its going to have to be 70-30. Actually they wanted to leave me less than that, we finally settled on a 70-30 split with Andy getting the 70. Then I was supposed to get equal credit with Andy on the book. Then when the book came out my name was a big as Andy’s, but this was crossed out several….this was where Billy Name and Morrissey were to swing whatever. By that point I was gone, I was up in SF, I was down in Mexico, I was doing political work. I …my whole thing with the Factory was that I was a working photo journalist, I was there to do a job. My job was finished, I was out, and then like the backstabbing started. I said well fuck this, if these people wanna be like that kind of looney, let me bring this lunatic up and let them have fun with her! And I brought Valerie up there and the rest is history.
Did you have any idea what kind of a time bomb you were dropping on him?
No, I thought she’d be a first class pain in the ass. I had no idea that she was going to be that looney and that she was gonna pull out a gun, and go and you know…..
Nico relaxes in the Silver Factory
Nico was your friend? And you were there when Andy shot the screentest with Nico, tell me about that.
Basically, Nico and I had a rapport, and I became her friend. Funny thing is she would call me up at two in the morning and say “oh please please I need you. You must come, you must come. So I would jump out of bed and say “tonight’s the night”, grab some hash go down to Jane street, she was staying at Tim Hardin’s apartment. Climb the stairs, say hello. We would get high, we would talk and she would look at me and say to me, “I like the way women smell better than men.” And then tell me that she had a crush on Peter Fonda!
Not such a really interesting ending to that night…That’s for darn sure. Lets see, were gonna shift over to some of the other characters that were part of the original Silver Factory , as you remember them, and I gonna just start with a theory. The theory is that Andy had this ability to manipulate these small triangles of people . I’m not into geometry I m just into the idea of how he triangulated things. There were really three people that he first started to manipulate when this thing got going: one was Gerard, one was Billy and one was Ondine, can you talk to me about those three?
“I don’t know what to say. Billy was a homeless guy who needed a place to stay, Andy said “You can stay here.” He set up his thing in the toilet, apparently he had this really great idea of how to decorate the place, he put all of the silver up, and uh, and I don’t wish to speak badly about people. Ondine was a great guy! He was a great character. He was really funny he had a brain, he had a good brain, uh, I was there working (laughs). You’re asking me as far as Gerard is concerned. I have my own thing with Gerard, Gerard was a thief. Gerard stole from me. I say this knowing that there are laws about libel, laws about slander, so I say it publicly, Gerard stold negatives from me. Gerard was working as the intermediary between Andy, myself and Blackstar, I entrusted him with some negatives to bring back to Blackstar some rolls of film to bring back to Blackstar. They never appeared, they disappeared, but they re-appeared a number of years later, photographs of the Velvet Underground at the castle, uh in LA. As far as Billy Name is concerned, he can talk, I can talk all day long, he can talk all he wants about “he was the official photographer”, I don’t care. I was a Blackstar photographer, but you ask Billy Name what photographs do you have of the meeting with Duschamps, what photographs do you have of the meeting with Dylan, what photographs do you have of the scene on the coast, what photographs do you have of ANY of these major occurances and he has none. Because he really wasn’t that important.”
No, I understand that and I see it totally from you point of view being a professional, being engaged as a professional, you were on a completely different level that a lot of these, lets call them factory people, who were for one reason or another were attracted to Andy and Andy was attracted to them, and he found ways to manipulate them. It seems to me that in a way YOU were also manipulated by Andy. Can you tell me about that?
“Me? No. Manipulated in a sense that OK you can always manipulate somebody by going back on a deal by lying. But that really isn’t manipulation. In my head that’s not manipulation. Manipulation may be outsmarting someone, but shaking hands on a deal and turning your back on it is something else.
Gerard performs on stage with Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground
As far as Gerard is concerned all I have to say about Gerard is uh, He was the Factory.
Billy Name was not the Factory, Ondine was not the Factory, and Morrissey was certainly not the Factory. Gerard was the person who gave the Factory its impetus. Gerard was the person the pretty guy who went out, by the way, he was never gay. He was FAKE gay. You want to be pseudo gay, you can be pseudo gay, but Gerard was never never gay. But Gerard was the person who went out to the girl’s finishing schools, the Madison Avenue, and brought the girls up. Gerard was the person who went out, up to Cornel, and uh, and brought Mary Woronov. To a certain extent Gerard was the person who was the intermediary between Andy’s group of people and the Beat Poets.”
Gerard cleans a silk screen in the Silver Factory
So Gerard was kind of important there in the early days….?
“He was VERY important. He got a royal screwing and in some sort of ways I can understand why he stold, because he was stolen from, uh but he shouldn’t have done it to me because I was his friend.”
I think that Gerard has a lot of issues, and they will go on undiscussed; at the same time any negatives about Gerard will not go in the film. But I think the key point here and bringing it in a very nice way is to say that Andy, Andy, Andy had this idea, he created this place to work, he knew that by creating it as a social environment it could do more for him it, could be better promotion for him, and in doing that he used a lot of people. He manipulated, he uh, incited a lot of people to work with him to get excited about working with him, and um “do their thing”, be part of it. How did he…?
“You gotta remember…This probably was the first generation of latch key children. These were the ones from post world war II wealth, into Viet Nam with lots of money, the mothers were career women, the fathers were higher up in entertainment or in industry they were the ones who would come home and there would be a fifty dollar bill or a hundred dollar bill pinned to the fridge, and they were on their own. Andy became this great, I wouldn’t say father image but kindergarden. There he is, there you could do what you wanted to do and everybody had a great time, and if Andy wanted to get rid of you all he and to do was like make a gesture to, and that very, very bright bitch pack, actually would be sicked on someone and rip them to pieces. Couldn’t do it with me, I’m too strong.”
So this “bitch pack” was this group around Andy that would kind of control, they were like the gatekeepers. Who were the real main gatekeepers?
“You mean who brought them in?”
Who would kick them out?
“Oh that was group. That was a group effort. That was just the main thing. They were so much…They didn’t have anything besides Andy, did they. They had Andy, they had speed. And he was this permissive father image, again kindergarden image leader who gave them a place to play. And who gave them substance. And think about Andrea. These people were really very, very bright, and they could really inflict hurt. And they inflicted hurt to the extent that Danny Williams committed suicide. But Andrea committed suicide, how many, then Edie wound up a dead pathetic junkie.”
So they hurt a lot of people?
Did they help anybody?
“Because they weren’t there to help. Help or utilize? Andy utilized them, but I wouldn’t say…who, who would you think they would help? On a personal level. Who walked away from that scene better off than when they entered? People like Paul Morissey, maybe Danny Fields.”
They were used, and then when they were used up, they were gone?
“They were gone. There’s and old, you know I come from a street society, a kind of a criminal society. When it came to describe me Alaronda just said “outlaw”. OK maybe I’m an outlaw, but we have this thing, “you use your friends but you don’t abuse them.” They abused.”
To me, the whole idea of the Silver Factory was a dream that a lot of people, a lot of us had in the sixties as a way of life that was something that was very cool very exciting and it seems like it all kind of came to an end with the sixties coming to an end, with the fact that Valerie shot Andy, with the fact that Paul came in, kind of took over, turned it into more of a business. Why would you say in your opinion that the idea of the Silver Factory is, it can never be done again?
It’s about the times?
“Yeah sure time. Whether there will be some sort of anti governmental or uh, a social revolution in America whether its gonna come again. Some of the prereqisites are there now. But the government has become so much smarter and so much powerful that uhhh it could be very hard.”
We’d have to find another kind of Andy Warhol?
“Woah woah, another kind of Andy Warhol? When you look at it, society in general the overall, the overall aspect of society, the Marxian concept of structure and superstructure.
What affect did Andy have aside from being just a large rock which is thrown into a pool and made a lot of ripples. The structure remains intact.”
The pool is the same size?
When I read your book you had a lot of funny things to say. Well first, what about Jackie Curtis?
“These transsexual people in general they were usually pretty sweet, pretty fucked up. They were cast in the wrong bodies. Basically. They had a certain form of bravery in that they were, they allowed themselves to step out . They did have an on-going affect on society because, you wouldn’t see Ru Paul today if it wasn’t for Jackie Curtis, nor would you have seen Michael Albeek and the Club Kids if it wasn’t for Jackie Curtiss. I mean my next project or actually its my next book is a culmination of a history of club kids, and when I came back to America and I met Michael Aleek, and these people impressed upon me, these are people who are satisfied to be within their own skins, and they can be that way only because of forerunners they had people like Jackie Curtiss.”
Tell me about filming the party, “the 50 most beautiful people in the world”?
“I looked at it as a journalist. “Is this a story?” Yes this is a story. Do I do anything right now? No it might be intrusive. It’s better off if I come back with my credentials. Let me look, let me see what’s going on, get a feel for it. As it happened I came back about two or three days later. Andy knew who I was. Knew from the name. I said, to Andy “Do you mind if I take a few shots here. And he said OK what do you want? I said will you pull the ladder over here set the ladder up in front of the cow wall paper. Told Andy climb the ladder please and sit with your profile like this and nobody around there had the guts to give Andy orders like that, and Andy followed and did what I told him to do, and I came back several days after that and I showed Andy the pictures and he said that’s marvelous, will you take some more? And I said sure Andy that would be fine. And then coincidentally, the call came in from the Guardian that they were going to do a major article on Andy Warhol and did Blackstar have any photographers who were around there, or have anyone there, and I was the person that was there, so we did the article for the Guardian and from there on in. And it was at that point where Billy and the regulars felt slighted and tried to make a mini rebellion, and it was at that point that Andy tossed them all out, and now they’re trying to re write history. Billy even has the nerve to say “Oh I was the continum until 1970. Just take a look at the “Up Tight” book photographs of him walking out in 1966. Again I say, where are the pictures of Dylan, where are the pictures of Duchamp….he was lying.”
Andy and Velvets
LA the scene with the Velvets?
They had achieved a certain level of notoriety at that point uh, They were at a point where its Hollywood. You know how Hollywood eats things. And they were there to be eaten. These were the New York people who were coming there and were something new and something exploitable. This was LA. When they got up the SF everybody hated them.”
“I knew her past then. She visited me in Amsterdam. She was still pretty badly strung out. So we had the discussion about if I were to rent the larger place in Amsterdam that she could come and stay with me and um I would help her. I never was a junkie, I never wasn’t into heroin, psychadelics, … This is way after ….Ibiza story. “She was self sufficient, she was her own person, she knew what she wanted, she knew the extent of her talent, she knew her limitations of her talent. And she wasn’t going to be swayed by those people.”
“As far as Brigid was concerned, it was this fat girl who was sticking needles in her arms. They were children of the rich. Basically that’s who they were. The whole grouping, that’s all they were. Pampered, spoiled, children of the rich. They contributed nothing to society. The only thing they did, was they took. Now as far as Brigid is concerned. Pug stuff.”
Who stood out for you the most?
“Well, important…Frankly I would say Gerard. But then again of course the music scene was another scene also, I mean there was Lou and there was John Cale and there were those people who were like pretending to be junkies or maybe they were junkies but not the 2% heroin that you get in NY in those days.
The Velvet Underground?
Typical rock and roll stars. Professional musicians, professional entertainers playing a role. They played it quite well. I will not make any judgement as far as their music is concerned. They did have anteceedants. There were people like Sam Debol, who was making the same sort of music who they borrowed, they borrow off. They were great musicians they made some grand and horrible people.
You didn’t get along with them?
“At the time I got along with them better than I get along with them now. But they’re rock and roll stars. You know, in their heads is that you are feeding off them they forget like uh how it was when. I’m sure if they could get their hands, they would love to destroy every single negative that I have.
End of 67, Viva?
“Mary was a good friend of mine. Mary comes from an upper middle class family from Westchester NY. My wife, the lady whom I married named Jill Diamond , we were having our wedding reception at the Sherry Netherlands…she knew Jill. Bull shit. “I give you a song from Bertold Bre..a quote from the Three Penny Opera, “great while it lasted but now it’s all over!” You know what I thnk, I think they were all bull shit. Dream world, rich kids having fun playing with drugs playing with kids who didn’t have any money who were involved in art, and it was all basically like fluff and in terms of what was really going on in America, they were kind of like in a bubble.
“Yaeh, they were basically salesmen of toy sand titillation. They were a safety valve for the society.”
Never remember reading anything about Andy waving the flag, etc.Why are we in VietNam, why are we doing this? He was never involved politically.
“Well think about all the photographs you’ve seen taken around the factory, and think about how many peple of color you saw before 1969, 1970. None.”
They’re weren’t any black fags around.
“Uh there were.But they didn’t get admission into the Factory. (laughs) I think there was only one water fountain.”