March is all about toppling the patriarchy. Death Becomes Us (our true crime festival) is happening next week. What does all that spell re: today’s Scene In NYC? VALERIE SOLANAS AS PLAYED BY LENA DUNHAM IN AHS: CULT!
As most of you (I assume) already know, Valerie Solanas did, in fact, shoot Andy Warhol in his Factory in 1968, which at that time was located at 33 Union Square West by the corner of East 16th Street. This happened a year after she self-published the SCUM Manifesto, which was a call for women to overthrow the government, eliminate the male species, etc. The text was little known until the shooting took place, and from there it (like Solanas) was either viewed as a valid body of work or cast off as being too radical.
So how in the fuck did she get tangled up with Warhol? Well, after moving to NYC in the mid-sixties, she met homeboy and asked him if he’d produce her play, Up Your Ass. Later, she accused him of either losing or stealing the script, and as compensation, Warhol paid her $25 to be in his film, I, a Man. (Apparently, Warhol had thought that the script Solanas had given him was a police trap because it was so obscene.)
Solanas became convinced that Warhol (and publisher Maurice Girodias) were out to steal her work, and so on June 3rd, 1968, after apparently having no luck finding Girodias first, she rocked up to The Factory with a gun. And she was apparently very persistent, riding up and down in the elevator until Warhol eventually arrived and let her into his sixth floor HQ. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on who you ask), Solanas had terrible aim, and she only wounded Warhol on the third shot, which punctured his lungs, spleen, stomach, liver, and esophagus. She additionally shot art critic Mario Amaya in the hip, and attempted to shoot Warhol’s manager, Fred Hughes, but the gun jammed up.
And then Hughes asked her to leave, and she did!
For an even more anticlimactic finish, she turned herself into the police, served time in jail and a psychiatric ward after having been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, and she eventually died of pneumonia in San Francisco in 1988.
Her character was resurrected in living color in American Horror Story: Cult, which saw Lena Dunham take on the role of Solanas opposite Evan Peters (Warhol), which is what brings us all here today!
Wowee, amirite?! Warhol’s Factory existed in three different locations in New York City over the course of its run, but (in my opinion) Union Square was the most exciting, even if Solanas made a poor excuse for an assassin. It’s also crazy to think that most of us who live here have breezed past this place countless times without so much as a thought about its history! So next time you’re at Whole Foods or Best Buy (or, more ideally, at Death Becomes Us), be sure to pour one out for ol’ Warhol and Solanas, yeah?