On Fleeting Evidence of Andy Warhol in the Ruins of Modern Civilization

05Mar08

In which The Gay Recluse thinks about shit on the daily commute.

As we walk through midtown each morning and each afternoon, we often pause to observe a fading silhouette on a wall; while somewhat decrepit, it provides comforting evidence — of a sort we are always on the lookout for — that Andy Warhol did in fact live in New York City. We like to imagine him at this time, some two hundred years ago, when he hovered benevolently (or not) over a most incredible cast of characters. We rummage through a mental list of superstars; we think of Candy Darling, who always beckons to us across the decades like a siren on the shore; we think of Nico, but she’s hardly worth mentioning, enshrined as she is in the history of the Velvet Underground. Nor are we immune to Edie Sedgwick, whose manic and delusional self-destruction is in certain ways unparalleled in the Warhol mythology, given her stark but fragile beauty and the aristocratic heights from which she descended, flitting about Manhattan like a demented pixie. Have you not also read Ciao Manhattan fifty thousand times before growing only slightly fatigued by the descriptions of her incredible vanity, her relentless search for drugs, her childish apathy for money and manners, her love affair — there can be no other word — with Andy, who catered to her every indulgence until she wore him out? Whenever we watch the four Edies in Outer and Inner Space, whispering and murmuring like an eternal bad influence who wished to drive the audience to ever greater extremes, we regret not having ever witnessed even one of her infamous and insouciant entrances into ______ with Warhol and his entourage, where she was said to have ordered one of everything on the menu but left all of it untouched.

But even more than Nico and Edie, or even Jackie Curtis or Holly Woodlawn or Andrea Feldman — all of whom we’ve watched in rapture while considering the immortal decadence in which Warhol preserved them — we remain most infatuated with Candy Darling. Over and over we watch her scene in Flesh, where in a display of politesse, she — accompanied by a sadly beatific Jackie Curtis — peruses an old movie magazine, revealing a true passion for her art that transcends the most base but compelling urge to observe a blow-job being delivered to Joe Dallesandro by the topless and deliciously vacant Geri Miller, less than three feet away. Nobody’s obsession and adulation for the past could ever surpass Candy Darling’s; as much as anyone before or since, Candy Darling managed to magically disavow all of her animal instincts, even, or especially, the one for life. We recall the photograph of her in the hospital, taken only weeks before her death, when she was more beautiful than ever, the sickly pallor of her skin somehow luminescent against the cruel and sterile white of the sheets and drooping roses surrounding her. We remember the hours we spent considering her gaze along with the words she wrote at the time: “Even with all my friends and my career on the upswing I feel too empty to go on in this unreal existence. I am just so bored by everything.” Initially we could not have imagined something more tragic and callow, the words of an insolent teenager, until we remember seeing Marlene Dietrich in Dishonored — when distant and defiant, she lifts her veil just prior to execution — and it occurred to us that this was the role Candy Darling adopted for her life, that her eyes were haunted by the same cerebral and pessimistic desire to inhabit another time better than the one in which she was so sadly imprisoned. That Dietrich herself died a recluse — like Garbo, the two women who had clearly most influenced Candy Darling — could hardly be a coincidence. Is there anyone worth knowing who does not understand the desire to escape humanity? We feel we have lived enough, and now have no choice but to resign ourselves to the past.

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6 Responses to “On Fleeting Evidence of Andy Warhol in the Ruins of Modern Civilization”

  1. 1 james

    brilliant.
    but i want to know more about Geri Miller

  2. Incredible interview with Geri Miller can be found at:

    http://www.warholstars.org/warhol/warhol1/warhol1c/warhol1cl/gerimiller.html

    I’ve heard you refer to yourself as a Super Groupie. What does that mean?

    It’s a girl who only goes out with the Super groups… like the Beatles are a super group and I went out with one of them.

    Which one?

    Ringo.

    How did you like him?

    He was dumb. You see I’m stupid in the same way he was stupid and I like someone who’s really intellectual.

    Was Ringo a nice guy?

    Well, sugar, everybody’s nice when they want something from you.

    Who were the best lays?

    Sexually, the guitar player in Rare Earth. Mentally, James Brown and dancewise too. Lou Reed is wonderful but I’ve done nothing with him. Physically, Jagger gets four stars but personality-wise he’s the worst. He wasn’t so fabulous to me. He was just average.

  3. 3 james

    nahhhh i know.
    but is she dead? alive?
    though candy is superb that amazing scene in “flesh”, i think geri steals it. and she was from clifton, nj too which makes her even more incredible.

  4. Good point and good questions! If you find out, keep me posted…maybe Holly Woodlawn would know?

  5. 5 MEL

    Apparently she is alive and well and providing barbecues for such good friends as Lee Childers, check out his profile on myspace.

  6. Thanks, MEL! Good to hear…


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