Think of my elation when on my new Grindhouse Channel I discovered a second Andy Warhol movie to view – and for free. The first was of course the deliciously politically incorrect Andy Warhol’s Bad his last film made in 1977. Warhol was famous for working on a wide range of media including painting, drawing and sculpture also designing album covers for The Rolling Stones, John Cale and Aretha Franklin; he was an influence on David Bowie and also adopted The Velvet Underground. But my main interest is obviously his movie’s of which not all could be described as ‘feature films’. Some of his more way out productions include Sleep (1963) which monitors a man asleep for six hours, a forerunner of TV’s Big Brother? The 35 minute film Blow Job (1964) a continuous shot of the face of DeVeren Bookwalter allegedly receiving oral sex from the filmmaker Willard Maas, Empire (1964) which shows eight hours of footage of the Empire State Building and not forgetting the 45 minute epic of a man eating a mushroom in Eat (1964) or Batman Dracula (1964) considered to be the first appearance of a blatantly campy Batman.
So back to his more mainstream movies, although many small-minded folk would disagree with that description. Women in Revolt made in 1971 is a satire on the women’s movements like the SCUM (Society for Cutting up Men) Manifesto a separatist feminist tract that advocated the elimination of men set up by Valerie Solanis the same woman that shot Warhol in his New York studio in June 1968. It’s a film where most of the men on display are naked and three beautiful trans women play the female lead roles. Candy (Candy Darling) is an aloof heiress who wants to be become a world famous star model, Jackie (Jackie Curtis) is the main protagonist in the woman’s movement P.I.G (Politically Involved Girls) she sincerely believes that women are oppressed in contempory American society and Holly (Holly Woodlawn), Holly is a raving nymphomaniac who says she loathes men despite her obvious attraction to them. Each of them hopes that by joining P.I.G they will become ‘liberated women’ but they find this to be unachievable. Jackie ends up with a male hustler, becomes pregnant and becomes an unwed mother; Candy visits a showbiz agent and allows herself to be raped on the casting couch but gets a modelling assignment with poor Holly ending up a homeless alcoholic!
To see these three wonderful Warhol Superstars going through their paces is an experience that you will not forget. On the surface the story is corny but just below the glitter and sex is a serious attempt at a political message about the way women are treated. It’s allegedly the first ‘political’ movie that director Paul Morrissey made with Warhol producing. The most iconic of the ‘actresses’ is of cause Candy Darling. Born James Slattery in 1944 she only lived until she was 29 years old but during her short life she not only became one of the most famous of Warhol’s entourage she also appeared in other independent movies including two in Vienna for the German filmmaker Werner Schroeter who Rainer Werner Fassbinder cited as a great influence on both his own work and on German Cinema in general. She could also be seen in various theatrical plays. The Velvet Underground made her the subject of the song Candy Says; she also got a mention in Lou Reeds Walk on the Wild Side from his brilliant album Transformer (1972). She can be seen on two famous album covers. Anthony and the Johnson’s on their Mercury Music prize-winning album I Am A Bird Now used the photo Candy Darling on her Deathbed by Peter Hujar, while an image from Women in Revolt was featured on the front cover of the 1987 single Sheila Take a Bow by The Smiths.
The movie is sexual exploitation at its best with such lines as “I sucked a cock, does that mean that I am not a virgin anymore” from Jackie or the marvellous impersonations from Candy of various Hollywood actresses during her couch interview and not forgetting some very enthusiastic display’s of sex from Holly, who to her great credit looks like she is really enjoying herself. Not a film for prudes but for those of us who appreciate something different this is a great movie and certainly a Factory film not to be missed.