Janet Susan Mary Hoffmann met Andy Warhol in 1963 and showed up at the Factory begging for money in ’65 but didn’t strike up a friendship until two years later, when he agreed to put her in his next film, The Loves of Ondine. Warhol christened her Viva and went on to feature her in such movies as Tub Girls and Nude Restaurant.
As her fame grew, Viva appeared in other films, from Midnight Cowboy to Play It Again, Sam to Paris, Texas. In 1969, she married (but later divorced) the video artist Michel Auder and played a vital role in the founding of video as a fine-art medium. Viva published her first novel, Superstar, a semi-autobiographical account of life at the Factory, in 1970. The Baby, a “video novel” followed in 1974. Her daughter, the actress Gaby Hoffmann (yes, of Now and Then fame) was born in 1982.
Now 72, Viva lives in Palm Springs, where she continues to make art. In 2007, the former Chelsea Hotel resident weighed in on the displacement of the building’s longtime manager, Stanley Bard: “Without Stanley the Chelsea loses its soul and West 23rd street can welcome the New World Order where profit is the only virtue,” she wrote.
Ultra Violet was born Isabelle Collin Dufresne and grew up in France. Fleeing a repressive family, she arrived in New York at 16 and became Salvador Dalí’s muse. The purple-loving artist chose Ultra Violet as a stage name in 1964, after joining the Factory clique. She appeared in such Warhol productions as I, a Man and **** and continued acting through the late ’70s.
Since then, Ultra Violet published a memoir, Famous for 15 Minutes: My Years with Andy Warhol , and has only appeared in one more film — 1994’s Blackout , directed by a cousin of Edie Sedgwick. She now focuses on visual art, making “paintings, 3-D constructions, mixed-media installations, and drawings [that] reveal a visual universe filled with rainbows, angel, blue skies and white clouds, but they also contain material related to the chaos and destruction that challenges our 21st century world,” according to her website. You can check out some of her work here. For the past 20 years, the 75-year-old New Yorker has consistently exhibited her work and still maintains a busy speaking schedule. According to Wikipedia, she has been a practicing Mormon for several years — but if you don’t believe that, you can always email Ultra Violet and ask.
Warhol’s former boyfriend and the Factory’s ’60s archivist, Billy Name (né William Linich) lived at the Factory and was responsible for those famous silver walls. A lighting designer for the theater and a waiter at Serendipity 3 (imagine that), Name met Warhol at the restaurant in 1963 and took over the task of photographing Factory people, works, and happenings when the artist became too busy to do it himself. It was Name who cared for Warhol after Valerie Solanas shot him.
In 1970, still shaken by the fallout from the shooting, Name left the Factory to pursue poetry and sculpture in San Francisco. He returned to New York in the late ’70s and now lives in Poughkeepsie, where he grew up. Name has published All Tomorrow’s Parties, a book of photos from the Factory, in 1997. You can see some of his more recent photos, including several haunting 9/11 images, at his website. Unfortunately, in 2010, it came to light that Name (who, now 71, suffers from diabetes and arthritis) no longer has his negatives.
Brigid Berlin — who went by Brigid Polk back in her Warhol days due to a certain fixation with injectables — grew up in a Manhattan society family and spent her youth struggling with her weight. On the rebound from her marriage to a gay hairdresser, she met Warhol in 1964 and appeared in films including Chelsea Girls and Imitation of Christ. They became fast and close friends, constantly chatting on the phone. (Brigid was “B” in the book The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again).) She was famous for tape recording conversations and taking Polaroids, as well as her art projects — including “Tit Paintings” (coating her breasts in paint and using them to make prints) and amphetamine-inspired “Trip” books — which served as inspiration to Warhol.
Berlin and Warhol remained close friends until his death. In the ’90s, she appeared in John Waters’s Serial Mom and Pecker. For decades, Berlin has struggled with an obsessive-compulsive disorder, and in 1998 performed a stage show about her fixation on cleaning products. A documentary, Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story , came out in 2000. Sadly, after overcoming years of addiction, Berlin relapsed on alcohol in 2006 and underwent several rehab programs in the years that followed. In 2008, during an exhibition of her needlepoint, she spoke to New York Social Diary about her Republicanism. “I’m absolutely addicted to Fox News — I love it,” she said.
“Now” image via New York Social Diary.
One of the youngest of the Warhol superstars, 62-year-old Joe Dallesandro had a troubled youth in Florida and NewYork, eventually becoming a teenage hustler and nude model. Then, in 1967, Dallesandro met Warhol and was the breakout star of Flesh, Trash, Andy Warhol’s Dracula, and many, many more. As his fame grew, he modeled for famous photographers, showed up on the cover of Rolling Stone, and contributed his, er, crotch to the cover of the Rolling Stones’s Sticky Fingers.
In the mid-’70s, Dallesandro was over the Warhol milieu and spent some time acting in Europe — where, among other things, he worked with Serge Gainsbourg on the film version of his song Je t’aime moi non plus. Upon his return to the US in 1980, he continued acting, playing Lucky Luciano in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Cotton Club and acting against type as a Jesus freak in John Waters’s Cry-Baby. In 2009, Dallesandro wrote and starred in Little Joe , a documentary about his life. The same year, the Berlin International Film Festival honored the bisexual actor (who has been married three times and is a grandfather) with the Teddy Award recognizing his contributions to the queer film community.
So, what ever happened to Baby Jane? (Sorry, we couldn’t resist.) Warhol’s first actually famous superstar, Holzer was the subject of many back-handed tributes, from Tom Wolfe’s “Girl of the Year” to Roxy Music’s “Virginia Plain.” The 70-year-old society girl grew up in Florida and met Warhol in 1963, while she was modeling. Holzer starred in such Factory productions as Soap Opera, Batman Dracula, and Camp. But the practical-minded actress cut out just when the Warhol scene started heating up, with Edie Sedgwick’s arrival and the descent into druggy chaos that ensued.
Holzer did, however, remain friends with Warhol for the rest of his life; he even attended the opening of her Palm Beach ice cream shop, Sweet Baby Jane’s, 1984. For a while after leaving the Factory fold, Holzer pursued an ultimately unsuccessful acting career, appearing in Sedgwick’s swan song, Ciao! Manhattan and a few short-lived theatrical productions. The divorcée ultimately chose to devote herself to raising her son. She has produced a few films over the years, most notably 1985’s Kiss of the Spider Woman and had a role in something called Linnea Quigley’s Horror Workout in 1990.
These days, Holzer continues to live in both New York and Palm Springs, where she is an art collector and real estate developer. She made news in 2009 for a (fairly reasonable-sounding) dispute with a Manhattan tenant. In a recent interview, she reiterated her fierce loyalty to Warhol: “What people don’t understand about Andy is how grounded he was,” Holzer told The Palm Beach Pulse. “He never spent more than he had; financially, he was very conservative. He worked in soup kitchens. He established tabs at Max’s Kansas City for young artists for food, but he wouldn’t give them cash because he was afraid they’d use drugs.”
“Now” image via Artnet.
Born in 1950, Susan Bottomly met Warhol around the time that she began to make a name as a model, appearing on the cover of Mademoiselle when she was 16. He was, of course, the one who gave her the name International Velvet. She appeared in relatively few Warhol films, among them the wonderful Chelsea Girls. Throughout the late ’60s, she dated a handful of artists and had left the Factory before the ’70s began.
These days, it’s just about impossible to find any information on what Bottomly is doing. According to WarholStars, she is “alive and well and living in Hawaii” — which sounds just fine to us.
The oldest of Warhol’s superstars, Taylor Mead was born in 1924 and was involved in the ’50s Beat movement before joining the Factory group. Originally a Merrill Lynch broker, he quit at 22, moved from Detroit to New York, and was already something of an underground movie star by the time he met Warhol, in 1963, and began appearing in his films (one of which was quite accurately titled Taylor Mead’s Ass.)
Mead has appeared in tons of films over the years, including those of Robert Frank, Jim Jarmusch, and Nick Zedd. Also a writer, he continues to perform his work at venues in New York and has published several books of poetry, such as 2005’s A Simple Country Girl. The same year, he was the subject of the documentary Excavating Taylor Mead , which reveals him to be something of a hoarder. In 2006, he performed at the Whitney Biennial.
A few years ago, Mead told Interview about the time he slept with Montgomery Clift: “He was nothing to go to bed with. He had a small penis. I just met him on Central Park West. One of those sleazy meetings in the evening that were so delicious.”
“Now” image via WarholStars.
Hailing from Puerto Rico, Holly Woodlawn was born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl — and unlike most of the superstars, she chose her own stage name, inspired by Breakfast at Tiffany’s. At 16, she left her home in Miami and headed to New York, a journey chronicled in Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” She met Warhol through her lady-boy friends, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling, in 1969 and appeared in movies such as Trash and Women in Revolt.
In and out of jail throughout the ’70s, Woodlawn left New York for West Hollywood in the late ’80s. In 1991, she wrote a memoir, The Holly Woodlawn Story: A Low Life in High Heels, and soon began appearing on the drag scene and in LGBT-oriented films like Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss. In 2004, Woodlawn landed in the ICU after a fall, and she seemed a bit frail — but apparently good-humored — in a 2007 Guardian profile that coincided with an exhibition of Sadie Lee’s paintings of Woodlawn. Still, she appears in two films this year, The Lie (starring Alia Shawkat) and the short The Ghosts of Los Angeles.