"Nothing Special" or Al


It was so skinny… it looked sick…  —Helena Handbasket

It was An actor Andy Hired to be himself.  —Jackie Foster

It was beautifully adorned, an angel.  —Tussi

 

Nothing Special Film

In the summer of 1987, a cardboard box tumbled from the drop ceiling of room #217 at the Chelsea Hotel, and an enigma was born to the world: a forgotten Warhol Superstar.  Ally, Ellroy, Ellery, Allison, A1, Al … so many names but no concrete identity.  "Nothing Special" was everywhere in the box, a lost time capsule from the Factory, circa 1967—yet always slightly hidden. …

Michelle "Cube" Lyttle

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Cube hated fries. She always said she was more of a pasta person. Cooked for four minutes. Not a minute more, not a minute less. She had an explosive temper, and changed her mind every minute. There were days when she entered the Factory radiant with happiness, and days that she was sitting on the old leather couch, silent and depressed. 

Born Michelle Lyttle, of an affluent Massachusetts family, Cube drifted to Berkely, lost six years not graduating college, and made her first entrance at the Factory when she was 26. …

Brigid "Polk" Berlin

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Berlin was born into a high society family. Her father, Richard Berlin, ran the Hearst media-empire, and her mother, Muriel "Honey" Berlin, was a socialite. While her father rewarded her with food treats when she was well behaved, Honey pressured her to lose weight. The more Honey tried to get Brigid to be slim and respectable, the more Brigid ate and ran amok. Honey introduced Brigid to weight loss drugs at a young age and, as Brigid matured, she found a need for speed, which she tempered with alcohol. …

Gerald "Powder" Huber

Powder

Powder, 1965, in Annie Get Your Fix

Powder (1944-1982) was a puck-ish sprite whose gossamer complexion and girlish light blond hair caught Andy Warhol’s eye. Many at the factory had been dealt the dusty blow of Powder. He found his harmless but annoying accessory—baby powder—while working on the set of Warhol films, which occasionally employed the dust for atmosphere. 

Powder, Gerald Huber, arrived in New York City in 1964, bringing nothing from his native Pennsylvania but his vast collection of Broadway musical albums. …

Natalie "Tussi" Souza

Tussi A B

Tussi's given name was Natalie Souza, but no one from the Factory knew that. She went by the name Tussi. Tussi originally came from a small village in Brazil, where she was the prettiest girl for hundreds of miles. While living in Paris through the 1960s, she had heard about Andy Warhol's factory in New York City; and as a natural drifter, she drifted towards the Factory sans her husband. 

Tussi found her way to the Silver Factory and sat for a screen test. Warhol quickly fell in love with Tussi’s charm, striking appearance, and constant exaggeration. …

Joe Dallesandro

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Trash (1970)

A teenager pushes past crowds at the record store, screaming for a chance to get a copy of The Rolling Stone's "Sticky Fingers."  As they exit the store clutching the 10 by 12 cardboard slip, all they can do is stare at the denim crotch bulge staring back at them in black and white.  The famous Andy Warhol image: the crotch of Joe Dallesandro.  

Dallesandro’s father dragged him and his brother to New York after their mother was incarcerated in Florida when Joe was only five.  …

Nathaniel "Goldy" White

Goldy A B

Nathaniel White (1945-1974), known as Goldy, was born into a conservative family from a small town outside of Richmond, Virginia, where his father was once the mayor. Pressured to excel in sports and carry on his family’s wealth and prestige, Nathan moved to New York City. Cut off from his family money, he began a career as an escort for the closeted elite. Among his clients were political friends of his father, which was almost as satisfying for "Golddigger" as financial independence. …

Mary Woronov

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"She was so beautiful, we all loved her and wanted her to stay," said Billy Name about Mary Woronov. In 1964, having completed her formal study of art at Cornell University, Woronov was attracted to the freedom around Andy. As a Warhol Superstar, she was featured in his films, Shower (1966) and Milk (1966) among others, and posed for his photos. 

In the mid 1960s Woronov toured as a go-go dancer with Gerard Melanga for the Velvet Underground, eventually becoming an important part of Warhol's Exploding Plastic Inevitable. …

"Candy Darling"

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Peter Hujar, Candy Darling on her Deathbed, 1974, gelatin-silver print, 15 x 15 inches

Candy Darling desperately wanted to play the part of Myra Breckinridge, but as she herself stated, "they decided Raquel Welch would make a more believable transvestite."  It was true; elegant Candy was a convincing woman.  It was as one of Andy Warhol's "Superstars" that she'd found her chance. She would appear in Warhol’s films, Flesh (1968) and Women In Revolt (1971). Warhol described her brief performance in Flesh as "very ladylike."

Darling was born on November 24, 1944, as James ("Jimmy") Lawrence Slattery.  …

"Helena Handbasket"

Helena

Helena in Daddy Lubucks, 1966

Hank Holden grew up in the middle class suburban town of Hudson Ohio. His fondness for Hollywood musicals led to tap dance and voice lessons. Having very little grace and a nasal voice did not deter Hank from the drama club, and in his junior year he landed the leading role in Hudson High’s production of Annie Get Your Gun. With all the charm of truck driver, his sloppy drag had them rolling in the aisles, winning rave reviews in the local paper.

In the summer of 1964, Hank left Hudson for New York City and settled in The Village as "Helena Handbasket." …

Louisa "Jackie" Foster

Jackie A B

Louisa "Jackie" Foster arrived in New York in 1965 in hopes of becoming a model, but Jackie was 5'6 7/8th, too short.   A gifted mimic, Jackie swiftly lost her Midwestern twang, and worked her way into New York Society by assuming the identity of coffee heiress, Jacqueline Maxwell (there were already several coffee heiresses on the New York circuit).  She met Andy when she crashed Lester Persky's Factory party The Fifty Most Beautiful People.   Andy, upon meeting her, wondered if she should have been on the list.  …

Mike Dallas

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Mike Dallas came to the factory through Fundamental Silkscreen, a New Jersey silkscreen shop that Warhol worked with in the early 1960s.  Dallas went on to take his skills to Warhol's studio.  He worked at the factory from 1966 to 1970, at which time the studio production slowed.  



"International Velvet"

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International Velvet and Andy Warhol, Stephen Shore, 1965-1967

Susan Bottomly was expelled not once, but four times from her prestigious New England boarding school. At sixteen, she graced the cover of Mademoiselle.

She was introduced to Andy Warhol at a party in her native Boston. Her newfound success soon brought her to New York, and again into the presence of Warhol, who  admired her beauty. Warhol’s love for and ties to the Velvet Underground led him to naming her: "International Velvet." Her hefty allowance funded a permanent stay at the Chelsea Hotel, and she utilized her father's wealth and success to connect Warhol to potential financial backers. …

Ramona "Flower" Adler

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1965.  Madison Avenue.

Ramona Adler tossed her cigarette and scraped her four-inch heel on the curb.  She had stepped in gum again. She laughed it off, like everything else. It was her laughter that got her out of her small town routine in Arkansas and into the vibrant city of New York.  She had far too much energy to stay in middle America, so her parents gave her a flower—she'd wear one from that day on—and sent her on her way.

Ramona sighed: she had to be back at her cosmetics counter in ten minutes. …


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