Get Your Reps: Warhol’s Chelsea Girls

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07/30/2009 3:53 PM |

One day at Max’s Kansas City, his favored watering hole, Andy Warhol grabbed a cocktail napkin, drew a line down its middle, and said that he’d like to make a movie with two images projected side by side, “black on one side, white on the other.” With the help of Paul Morrissey, he then made Chelsea Girls (1966), over three hours of Warhol superstars shooting up, nattering on and making a spectacle of themselves. It was a financial success and quickly became a kind of legend, and this status has been spurred on by its continuing unavailability: I can remember when the now-defunct Mondo Kim’s on St. Marks Place procured a copy, which I was eager to see. Kim’s had a bootleg of nearly everything, including most of Warhol’s early films, but Chelsea Girls was almost immediately confiscated by his estate. On August 1 and 2nd, Anthology Film Archives will be hosting screenings of this elusive beast; when I previewed a DVD of it, Chelsea Girls proved to be both more and less than I had hoped.