Andy Warhol: The paying customers are the experiment
At MOMA today, there were roughly 40 people in the audience at the beginning of the matinee. Seventy-two minutes later when Andy Warhol’s Lupe flickered to black, 20 people remained. One woman clapped, although I’m not sure whether it was in appreciation of the film or in gratitude that it finally ended.
Made in 1966, Lupe stars Edie Sedgwick foremost as herself, and secondly as Lupe Velez—a Mexican film ingénue of the 40’s, who dealt with an unplanned pregnancy by overdosing on Seconal and (according to unsubstantiated lore) drowning in a toilet. Billy Name, Warhol’s sometimes boyfriend and the official Factory photographer, plays Sedgwick’s hairdresser. The plot goes something like this: Sedgwick wakes up, takes a barbiturate, gets chatty with Name as he trims her hair, puts on make-up and—from what I made of the terrible sound, which is more on Warhol than MOMA—she begs Name to come back that evening, presumably so he can find her in bed, an everlasting Sleeping Beauty. But either Billy never returns, or he returns too late. Either way Sedgwick’s plot is foiled by that infamous trip to the bathroom. A lengthy dining room scene, post-buzz, provides exposition—will our listless leading lady inadvertently drop her constant companion, Mr. Cigarette, into her roast beef, or will she maybe, possibly, potentially take a bite of her dinner?
It looks like: random zooms, quick-quick pans, reflections in mirrors, lots of red and brown, pillows and doorways, Peter-Pan perplexity, bleached- hair and alabaster skin.Or sometimes white, blue and over-exposed.
What it sounds like: snap, crackle, pop
What I overheard:
Elderly man with eastern European accent, to his wife-- “Stupidity! Why would you show this movie, unless you wanted to fall asleep?” He earnestly sought an answer, even putting the question to an usher.
And the hipster: "It was just art, I guess..."
To which his friend replies, “but I feel like there must be a lot there that I didn’t…”
What I make of it: the claustrophobia of life (or, more precisely, the famous Dakota building) in all its pointless decadence. The camera as Sedgwick’s doppelganger. Warhol being a pretentious prick and seeing how long we’ll watch—oh wait, not nothing, Sedgwick breathing, which of course, she does gorgeously—and consequently making us pretentious pricks. Which he does gorgeously.