JOHN WILCOCK: The East Village Other's Nasty Review of Andy Warhol's Chelsea Girls

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John Wilcock describes the circumstances behind his quitting The East Village Other over their review of Andy Warhol’s 1966 film Chelsea Girls.


To be honest those films are mostly unwatchable. I suspect they were made in part to fill a void in the market - in support of a burgeoning interest in avant-garde cinema and the art of film making itself, as available to the amateur. I suffered through the lot of them in a college summer film class back when they were fresh. They may be filled with beautiful creatures + glories/foibles of youth but that only goes so far. 1 star for cinematography, 3 stars for intent.


Snapping my fingers, but you can’t hear it.

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I dunno. Seems to me that the film was pretty much what the review paints it to be. He seemed to have skipped the cultural criticism and went straight for indulgence. Warhol’s pop was flat before you even opened the bottle. It wasn’t a problem with the bottle cap or even the bottle. It’s just that the bottle was filled without gas.


Never saw Chelsea Girls, but I’m dubious about it showing the “total degeneration of American society” when, by all accounts, the film is mostly populated by the outcasts of the U.S. And on a related note, referring to the performers as “neither men nor women but […] monsters” has not aged well.

Have you known many meth-heads?

Here, I’ll give the complete quote: “The ‘actors’ in Chelsea Girls are neither men nor women but amphetamine monsters who are sucking desperately at the acrid dregs of their sexuality.”

That sure seems like a disparaging reference to the non-heterosexuals and trans-women in the film to me.

Seemed to me like a disparaging remark in reference to amphetamine addicts who have lost their souls… Interesting how we can read the same words and gather different meanings.

But have you seen the ad for the Garrick? That playlist is gold.

I’ve actually seen Chelsea Girls. For those that aren’t familiar with it, it is 14 reels of film done with a stationary camera in various rooms of guess where. This, of course would have been brutal to watch, so Andy kindly specified that two reels were to be shown simultaneously, bringing the whole exercise down to a mere Titanic length of 3 and a half hours. Since there are two soundtracks, Andy decided that the projectionist could choose which for each pair. Neato! This was absolutely a headache inducing experience. On the other hand, I got to meet Pope Ondine, so there’s that.

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