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San Diego Surf (1968)

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Directed by Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey

Joe Dallesandro/Viva/Taylor Mead/Louis Waldon
Ingrid Superstar/Eric Emerson/Tom Hompertz

Taylor Mead on You Tube

One of the stars of San Diego Surf, Taylor Mead, reads his poetry in NYC in 2010


Andy Warhol filmed San Diego Surf in May of 1968 in La Jolla, California.

From Popism:

"La Jolla was one of the most beautiful places I'd ever seen.We rented a mansion by the sea and a couple of other houses for the people who were going to be in the movie - some of them had flown out with us and the others just met us there...Everybody was so happy being in La Jolla that the New York problems we usually made our movies about went away - the edge came right off everybody... From time to time I'd try to provoke a few fights so I could film them, but everybody was too relaxed even to fight. I guess that's why the whole thing turned out to be more of a momento of a bunch of friends taking a vacation together than a movie." (POP269)

According to Warhol biographer Victor Bockris, the police were "all over" Warhol and his entourage "the minute they arrived." It seemed that every time Viva went out the door she got stopped by a cop... Eric Emerson was burned out and Andy kept saying 'Somebody get rid of Eric, he's just crashing all the time'... One one occasion Taylor Mead recalled Andy dropping a handful of pills into the dirt as a police car screamed up the hill to check out what they were doing there." (LD292-3)

While scouting for locations, the car that Warhol's entourage was in was pulled over by the police. All six passengers, including Warhol, were "spread-eagled" against the car and interrogated.

Louis Waldon:

"I felt so sorry for Andy. I thought it was very undignified to see Andy spread-eagled. I thought it was just hostile. But Andy sat back down and they interrogated each of us. They were looking for drugs and nobody had anything." (LD293)

According to Michael Boosin, who was given a small role as "The Big Kahuna" in San Diego Surf, Warhol and his entourage rented a different house in La Jolla after being stopped by the police and they "put the local police chief's daughter in the film to avoid any more police entanglements." Boosin had become involved with the film as a result of being friends with Eric Emerson. He had originally met Eric at the Ondine nightclub in New York and, during the filming of San Diego Surf, Eric stayed with Boosin in a castle in Hollywood that Boosin rented during 1967/68.

Boosin's castle was not the same "rock 'n roll" castle that Warhol and his entourage stayed at during their EPA performance at the Trip in 1966. The 1966 castle was located at 2630 Glendower Avenue. Boosin's castle was at 4857 Melrose Avenue. The realtor who rented the property to Boosin told him that the Melrose castle had originally been built by an ex-LA County Sheriff for his wife.

The castle on Melrose Avenue
(Photo is copyright protected by Michael Boosin)
(Reproduction prohibited without prior permission)

According to Boosin, it was Eric who originally suggested to Warhol that he come to California and make a movie.

Michael Boosin:

"Eric was totally overcome by me, the castle, my cars, the girlfriends and everything that went with it. Eric and I would hop in my 27 color 'candy-vette', drive up to the Sunset Strip, spend a couple of hours choosing our ladies of the night, stuff all 4 of us in the 'vette' and drive back to the castle. Things got so intense that I stopped taking the 'vette' and drove my El Camino up there - this way we could load 4 or 5 or 6 ladies in the back and take the whole gang back home. Eric called Andy, told him of this ultra-intense lifestyle and suggested that Andy come down and make a movie. One way or another it got decided that Andy would come down, use Eric and me and use that Corvette." (MI)

Boosin recalls that the opening of the film was supposed to be Louis Waldon driving Boosin's "very very psychedelic corvette." Although Boosin never saw the finished film, he was shown rushes where Ingrid Superstar was sitting on his lap with her "kinda interviewing me to see what kind of husband I'd make (I think)" and recalls that the shooting was "typical Andy - no script - strictly ad lib." Just prior to his scene, Eric and Michael had done "a fistful of tuinals, to "take the edge off the spontaneous acting."

In regard to Warhol, Boosin recalls that "I never got to know Andy in depth and perhaps no one did. He was quiet, withdrawn, studious. He spoke with a minimum of words in a quiet voice. When he had something to say on the set, he'd tell it to Paul Morrissey, very quietly."

The filming lasted almost three weeks. According to Joe Dallesandro, the cast was not really aware of what they would be shooting when they arrived in California, but one idea was that they should continue with the Romeo and Juliet theme that was originally suggested for Lonesome Cowboys - particularly because the cast was very much the same. (JOE64) In addition to Joe, other cast members who appeared in both Lonesome Cowboys and San Diego Surf were Louis Waldon, Taylor Mead, Tom Hompertz and Viva.

Viva had a particularly difficult time during the shooting of both films. She walked off the set of Lonesome Cowboys after the rape scene, screaming "Get Ultra Violet for the part. I quit!" (L&D288) During the filming of San Diego Surf, she became increasing irritated with Paul Morrissey - at one point shouting at Louis Waldon, "if you're a real man you'll beat the shit out of him [Morrissey] and save this film from his cheap commercial tricks." (LD294) Viva was further irritated when Michael Boosin convinced her that he and Eric had put mescaline in her drink. She had earlier complained that she wasn't feeling very well and while Boosin was giving her a massage in the bedroom, he told her that maybe the reason she was feeling ill was because of the mescaline he and Eric had put in the coffee/tea. Boosin let Viva "scream and carry on for about ten seconds" before telling her that they had not, in fact, spiked her drink. But according to Boosin, Viva "never got back to normal that day," adding "did I use the word normal while talking about Viva...." (MI)

Although the film has never been released publicly, author Michael Ferguson describes the plot in Little Joe, Superstar: The Films of Joe Dallesandro. The general premise of the film is that Viva and Taylor Mead are a married couple renting an extra beach house to a group of surfers sent by a Mr. Morrissey of La Jolla Realty. Ingrid Superstar plays the daughter of Taylor and Viva. Ingrid's character is pregnant and looking for a husband. Ferguson recalls that "Mead tries to pawn her off to any half-interested surfer he can find. Meanwhile, Viva wants a divorce from her boy-crazy hubby and he becomes the attention of Luana, a black woman who sings 'The Muffin Man' while Viva squeezes a cyst on on Louis Waldon's back... A mustachioed Eric Emerson shows up for a single scene" admitting that he has been married three times "only because he was trying to prove that he was a man after an entire life spent being a homosexual." (JOE66) Eric was bisexual in real life. According to Michael Boosin, he (Boosin) was "one of a very few" in the film "who wasn't bisexual" although Eric tried to talk him into it, "many times."

Joe Dallesandro, who played "Little Joe" in Lonesome Cowboys and "Joe" in San Diego Surf, also had sexual experiences with men in real life. He would later comment "I consider myself bisexual. It wasn't that I was sexually attracted to men per sé, but you know, if you do something for awhile you can acquire a taste for it." (JOE82) Dallesandro appears in four scenes in San Diego Surf. In one scene Viva accidentally drops a baby she is holding and Joe leaps forward and catches it before it hits the pavement, with Taylor Mead remarking to Viva, "You were nearly a complete failure as a mother." (JOE68)

Tom Hompertz, who was also in Lonesome Cowboys, plays a surfer in San Diego Surf, which is what he was in real life - an art student who surfed. He is described in Popism as "a nice looking blond surfer we’d [Warhol and his entourage] met the previous fall while we were making a lecture appearance in San Diego." (POP259) Lonesome Cowboys and San Diego Surf were the only Warhol films that Hompertz appeared in. According to Michael Ferguson, Taylor Mead urges Tom to urinate on him in the last reel of Surf, saying "We middle class people suffer when we watch you surf... can't you just piss on us" and the film cuts to "a close-up of Mead's grotesquely made-up face as a stream of liquid splashes onto his head and foams from his mouth while he writhes in ecstasy." Mead then comments, "I'm a real surfer now." (JOE68-69)

Gary Comenas

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