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DECEMBER 2004 (4)

Andy Warhol
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taylor mead
Taylor Mead during the filming of
Ron Rice's The Flower Thief (1960)

Warhol star Taylor Mead will be celebrating his 80th birthday on New Years Eve (December 31, 2004) at the Bowery Poetry Club where he performs regularly on Friday nights at 6:30 pm. Taylor's birthday celebration will begin at 7:30 pm when numerous other superstars will be toasting him. This will be followed at 9:00 pm with the Bowery Poetry Club's New Years Radio Show with a John Giorno "special." Giorno was Warhol's boyfriend in the early sixties and starred in Sleep.

Details on the Bowery Poetry Club website at:

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Susan SontagSusan Sontag died Tuesday, December 28, 2004, of leukemia at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan at the age of 71. A short BBC video on her life appears at: (Click on video button on top right column of page.)

During her lifetime, Sontag wrote 17 books ranging from fictional work like In America: A Novel, which won the 2000 National Book Award, and her various collections of essays including Illness as Metaphor & Aids and Its Metaphors and Against Interpretation. Ms. Sontag's 1964 essay, Notes on "Camp", which originally appeared in the Partisan Review and was reprinted in Against Interpretation, is often cited in relation to Warhol's work and lifestyle.

Sontag was born Susan Rosenblatt on January 16, 1933 in New York City, later adopting the surname of her stepfather. She was raised in Tucson Arizona and Los Angeles by her grandparents. After a short stint at U.C. Berkeley, she transferred to the University of Chicago where she received a B.A. in philosophy in 1951. She then went on to do graduate studies in theology, literature and philosophy at Harvard University and St. Anne's College, Oxford. During her sophomore year in college, she met sociology professor, Philip Rieff, and married him ten days later. Two years later they had a son, David, who became a literary editor and journalist. Susan and Philip divorced in 1959.

Susan Sontag from Notes on "Camp":

"As a taste in persons, Camp responds particularly to the markedly attenuated and to the strongly exaggerated. The androgyne is certainly one of the great images of Camp sensibility. Examples: the swooning, slim, sinuous figures of pre-Raphelite painting and poetry; the thin, flowing sexless bodies in Art Nouveau prints and posters, presented in relief on lamps and ashtrays; the haunting androgynous vacancy behind the perfect beauty of Greta Garbo. Here, Camp taste draws on a mostly unacknowledged truth of taste: the most refined form of sexual attractiveness (as well as the most refine form of sexual pleasure) consists in going against the grain of one's sex. What is most beautiful in virile men is something feminine; what is most beautiful in feminine women is something masculine..."

Susan Sontag is survived by her son, David, and her sister, Judith Cohen. The Susan Sontag website is at

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Tom Wesselman
Left to right: Tom Wesselman, Roy Lichtenstein,
James Rosenquist, Andy Warhol and Claus Oldenburg
at a Factory party on April 21, 1964 after the opening of
Warhol's Brillo box show at the Stable Gallery.
(photo: Fred W. McDarrah)

Pop artist, Tom Wesselman, died Friday, December 17, 2004, at the New York University Medical Center. His death was caused by complications following heart surgery. He was 73 years old and lived in Manhattan. His last New York show was at the Robert Miller Gallery in 2003.

Wesselman was born in Cincinnati in 1931. After a stint in the Army, he studied at the Art Academy of Cincinnati before moving to New York in 1956 where he attended the Cooper Union School of the Arts. He supported himself by drawing cartoons for magazines. By the late fifties he was making collages from found materials and became famous for his Great American Nude series from the early sixties. In 1961 he met Henry Geldzahler at an Oldenburg "happening" and Geldzahler introduced him to the painter Alex Katz. Through Katz he was offered a show at the Tanager Gallery. Wesselman had previously shown at the Judson Gallery in 1958 with Jim Dine. His show at the Tanager was followed by three shows at the Green Gallery before he joined the Sidney Janis gallery.

Tom Wesselman:

"Some of the worst things I've read about Pop Art have come from its admirers. They begin to sound like some nostalgia cult - they really worship Marilyn Monroe or Coca Cola. The importance people attach to things the artist uses is irrelevant. My use of elements from advertising came about gradually. One day I used a tiny bottle picture on a table in one of my little nude collages. It was a logical extension of what I was doing. I use a billboard picture because it is a real, special representation of something, not because it is from a billboard. Advertising images excite me mainly because of what I can make from them. Also I use real objects because I need to use objects, not because objects need to be used. But the objects remain part of a painting because I don't make environments. My rug is not to be walked on." (ANW)

Tom Wesselman is survived by his wife, Claire, his daughters, Kate and Jenny, and his son, Lane, all of whom live in New York.

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Bibbe HansenWarhol star Bibbe Hansen will be singing Venus in Furs and Femme Fatale with WACO - the Wild Acoustic Chamber Orchestra - at Spaceland in Los Angeles on Friday, December 17, 2004. The evening is billed as a revival of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable with WACO performing the classic Velvet Underground and Nico album in its entirety.

Bibbe was one of the youngest Factory regulars during the sixties. Among the films she appeared in were Restaurant and Prison, both of which also featured Edie Sedgwick. She is the daughter of Fluxus artist Al Hansen and the mother of the recording artist, Beck.

The website for Spaceland is at:

WACO's website, where you can also access some of their music, is at:

Bibbe Hansen's website is at: Information on her site about the gig is at:

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Jackie CurtisJackie Curtis' cousin, Joe Preston, has started a new website for his film version of Glamour, Glory and Gold - a play written by Curtis shortly after graduating from high school. Preston recently directed a revival of the play at La Mama E.T.C. in New York in December of last year. Laverne Cox, who played the role of Mrs. Freedman in the revival, has been cast as the leading role of Nola Noonan in the film version. (An interview with Melba LaRose, who played Nola Noonan in the original production in 1967/68, is here.)

In Popism, Andy Warhol recalled meeting Jackie Curtis (and Candy Darling) for the first time just prior to the opening of the original production of Glamour Glory and Gold. Warhol was on his way to pick up some leather jeans he was having made at The Leather Man shop in Greenwich Village, accompanied by Fred Hughes:

Andy Warhol: "Walking just ahead of us was a boy about nineteen or twenty with wispy Beatle bangs [Jackie], and next to him was a tall, sensational blonde drag queen in very high heels and a sundress that she made sure had one strap falling onto her upper arm. The two of them were laughing, and as we turned onto Greenwich Avenue, where the hustlers leaned against the wall, we saw the blonde throw her head back and say loud, for all the cruising fags to hear, 'Oh, just look at all these Green Witches.' Then the boy happened to turn around. He recognized me and asked for my autograph on the paper bag he had from the English clothes boutique Countdown. I asked him what was in the bag. 'Satin shorts for the tap-dancing in my new play, Glamour, Glory, and Gold. It opens in September; I'll send you an invitation. My name's Jackie Curtis." (POP225)

The website for the film version of Glamour, Glory and Gold is at:

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Ultra Violet

The Gallerie Ferrero in Nice will be hosting an exhibit of Ultra Violet's art from December 15, 2004 - January 15, 2005. The show, La Lumiere Luit Dans Les Tenebres, is an installation inspired by the Nativity which includes a luminous rainbow, an olive tree, a map of Judea, scripture in five languages, two live baby doves and twelve bottles of wine labeled "The Holly Spirit."

Ultra's version of the Nativity will be shown in the window of the gallery - similar to a department store window display - and will be visible from the street. (Prior to becoming known as a Pop artist, Warhol designed window displays for department stores during his commercial illustration days.)

The gallery is located at 2 Rue de Congres, Nice, France - telephone number: 0493883444. Email: Ultra's website is at:

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