Now even his loo is famous; THE BROADER PICTURE
Sunday 13 April 1997
No one is going to forget Andy Warhol. But what of the starry cloud of spaced-out human debris that swirled around him? Some were gifted misfits, beautiful, rich. Others were street people: flamboyant, entertaining dealers and tranvestites like Candy Darling or Rotten Rita. For a brief, firecracker moment Warhol's exotic entourage were stars themselves, arbiters of the ultra-hip, fixtures at the coolest parties. Few survived. It was as though they had signed Faustian pacts in exchange for their 15 minutes of fame. Beauty disintegrated; drugs, psychosis and suicide consumed them; the commonpace reclaimed them.
Billy Name - a talented photogapher, self-styled Buddhist and magician - emerged from the Fifties New York beatnik scene to become one of Warhol's earliest cohorts. He was responsible for the memorable all-silver decor of the first Factory on East 47th Street, and, together with the poet Gerard Malanga, was paid a pitifully small wage to be Warhol's primary assistant when the artist's early work - the Brillo boxes, Campbell's soup tins and other classic silkscreens - hit the big time.
From 1963 onwards Warhol's name seemed to epitomise both the decade and the decadent, and he attracted opprobrium and adoration in equal amounts. By early 1968 the amphetamine- fuelled anarchy that was the Silver Factory had moved to Union Square. For a few months the general craziness persisted - until June of that year, when Valerie Solanas shot Warhol and changed everything forever.
It was during that period, the last of the old times in Union Square, that Name took the 60-odd photographs known as "The Bathroom Pictures", some of which are reproduced here. They represent the end of an era, this cross section of friends and strangers, hustlers, camp followers and "superstars", all snapped emerging from the Factory toilet. Here is Warhol himself, silver wig in place but looking curiously vulnerable without his trademark Ray-Bans; and Joe Dallesandro, the hunky beauty who played the rent-boy in Warhol's film Flesh. Frizzy- haired, stick-insect Viva hovers in a floral minidress. She is Warhol's current superstar, a non-stop complainer with a droll, whiny delivery. There is Paul Morissey, Warhol's film director, in his old black polo- neck, and heiress/artist Brigid Berlin (unusually chubby for a speed-freak) still holding her syringe. "Pope" Ondine, a world-class talker, displays his cynical grin after a hit of speed. Good-natured Ingrid Superstar sports an aggressively dazzling fashion ensemble. She was originally groomed as "an ugly Edie", a cruel joke on last year's girl, the divine Edie Sedgwick. There is the gorgeous, blond Jed Johnson, one of Warhol's last serious boyfriends. And there are the passers-by - little John Wilcock the Yorkshireman, who edited underground publications, including the East Village Other; sultry Vera Cruz in stripy hipster pants that could pass for fashionable today.
Even Name himself appears. And, harbinger of the future, the suave Fred Hughes, who was to whisk Warhol away from druggy bohemia into high society.
The photographer lived in the tiny Union Square darkroom for a year, increasingly spectral and reclusive. Rumours abounded - his fingernails were long claws, like those of a downtown Howard Hughes; he was crusted with purulent scabs; his eyes had turned yellow from darkroom chemicals. One day he was gone. A note tacked to his door said: "Andy - I am not here anymore but I am fine. Love Billy."
Name returned to his hometown of Poughkeepsie in upstate New York, where he still lives, keeping goats and taking photographs. He remains one of Andy Warhol's gentlest, most loyal supporters.
! 'Billy Name: Factoryfotos 1963-68': ICA, SW1 (0171 930 3647), 24 April to 15 June. 'All Tomorrow's Parties: Billy Name's Photographs of Andy Warhol's Factory' (frieze, pounds 19.95) is published on 22 April.
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