SWIMMING UNDERGROUND: My Years in the Warhol Factory by Mary Woronov

SWIMMING UNDERGROUND: My Years in the Warhol Factory

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Actress Woronov (Wake for the Angels, 1994, not reviewed), best known today for her work with Paul Bartel and Roger Corman, recalls her early career as a film personality and hanger-on with Andy Warhol. Woronov grew up in a troubled family, her beautiful mother hooked on pills, her stepfather a likeable but cold doctor. As a child, she was prone to uncontrollable fits of rage and violence and apparently more than once came within an eyelash of being expelled from school. By the time she was an art major at Cornell, she was ripe for a radical change, and stumbling into the Warhol circle was at best a fortuitous accident. Once she met up with them, Woronov dropped out of college, running away to join the Warhol circus. The rest of the story is an unending parade of drugs, drugs, drugs, interlarded with tales of internecine warfare among the various groupies, wannabes, and central figures surrounding Warhol. ""Talent, of course, meant nothing to this crowd,"" she writes at one point. ""I was the only one who memorized my lines and no one even noticed."" From the frantic and tedious goings-on, it's clear how such an achievement might have gone unremarked. Readers looking for some insight into the fascination that Warhol exerted on the underground scene of the '60s will come away from this slender volume unenlightened. What they will have received instead is a sort of drug-induced dime-store surrealism, a book for people who think that rock record liner notes are the pinnacle of literary achievement. And it takes itself so damned seriously. Dull, distasteful, depressing, and without the saving graces of humor and wry self-knowledge that have made Woronov such a delightful performer for Bartel.

Pub Date: Nov. 15th, 1995
Page count: 252pp
Publisher: Journey Editions