Thursday, November 07, 2019

I Shot Andy Warhol by Mary Harron and Daniel Minahan

I think I came across this book at a thrift store and picked it up on a whim. Of course, Valerie Solanas is famous for shooting Andy Warhol - she was not used to guns and missed twice but got close enough on the third try to inflict a surprising amount of damage - but also for her extremist feminist manifesto SCUM - Society for Cutting Up Men. This is the screenplay to the movie of the same title, but it also includes a long forward by the authors explaining the painstaking research that went into the movie and how this humanized Solanas in their eyes. Although she seemed to be having some sort of breakdown when she committed her crime, she is described as funny, intelligent, personable but still a bit damaged.

Growing up in a broken, abusive home, Valerie eventually educated herself and left home at an early age, which meant that she had to fend for herself in NYC, and turning tricks would become a way of earning rent money. Walking on the wild side, as it were, she came across many of the members of the underground scene at the time, including Candy Darling, who introduced Valerie to Warhol. She was really interested in writing and completed a play which she titled "Up Your Ass" - this was the time when people like Jackie Curtis were producing successful yet highly provocative Off-Off-Broadway plays - which she wanted Warhol to produce. The Factory wasn't impressed by the play and lost her manuscript, which is what - among other items in her life - led to Valerie's paranoid fantasy of Andy stealing her work, which led to the shooting. (Amazingly enough, due to their interest, this manuscript was found at the bottom of a truck that was packed up when the Factory moved and probably hadn't been opened since!)

I really appreciated the extra info on Solanas here and the screenplay itself is very readable - it makes me want to see the movie again since it has been forever since I have watched it. This edition also contains Valerie's complete SCUM manifesto. Fascinating stuff!