A Review: Pt. IV, Lick Me by Cherry Vanilla

April 28, 2014

 

Great Groupies Of The Sixties Series

A Review

Part IV

Lick Me

by

Cherry Vanilla

 by

R.E. Prindle

Kathie Dorritie-Cherry Vanilla

Kathie Dorritie-Cherry Vanilla

One of the more vexing problems of biographical writing is that of Time and the River. According to Einstein Time is the Fourth Dimension and the River according to all the most august novelists is the course of one’s life. Marcel Proust managed to get both constructs into his novel In Remembrance of Time Past but I want to consider them separately here.

Not to be cantankerous but as to Einstein’s designation of Time as another dimension I cry: au contraire. Einstein was not the firstto consider the nature of Time, nor, I hope, the last. In fact not the last as here I am. I have nothing new to add for in this day and age the table is already set. Before Einstein, quite some time before, the social construct of Time had been a topic of dinner talk. There is some evidence, for instance, that Einstein was influenced by the English novelist H.G. Wells. Wells himself was just discussing a topic that had been under consideration for a decade or two.

Back before Time began when life was just a continuum punctuated by obvious things like seasons man, in his primeval primitiveness, wasn’t overly concerned with the passage of Time, probably didn’t even think about it. Certainly not as it is now understood. But needing to know such things as the timing of bird and animal migrations our ancestors looked around for a convenient starting point to calculate those appearances. It was there, as it had been before this beginning of Time.

Nothing was more obvious than that there was a tremendous war waged annually (a foreign concept at the time) between Light and Darkness. These two items may be the beginning of man’s social construct of Time. For half the period the Prince of Darkness seemed to keep driving the Prince of Light back toward extinction as the days grew shorter; then miraculously when the days were shortest, nights longest and cold increasing, the Prince of Light drove the Prince of Darkness back. The Unconquerable Sun had won another round.

In Greek mythology this battle was portrayed as Castor, the savior, shooting an arrow toward the summer solstice while his twin who is portrayed as a boxer fought a tough battle backtracking across the ring until Castor came to his rescue with his bow and arrow.

Gradually it dawned on our ancestors that this two part battle was a year, hitherto unrecognized. Time of a rough sort came into existence. Having pinpointed the shortest day in the year and after having discovered counting to a hundred or more our ancestors could count from the Sun’s victory (December 21, by our reckoning) to the returning avian migrants and other beasts to prepare themselves for some fresh food.

Our Old Ones created some marvelous prognosticators like Stonehenge further developing the concept of Time. To make things easier they made rough divisions of the day defined by the place of the Unconquerable Sun in the sky. Running through inventions like sun dials and water clocks we eventually arrived at the stop watch and marvel of marvels- the Atomic clock.

By the end of mid-nineteenth century then the burning question was how to define Time. It had become complicated apparently. Was there an objective entity that is corporeal or was Time just an intellectual construct to manage our daily and annual affairs which we had reduced to hours, minutes and seconds, today glorying in the nanosecond.

Until the birth of Jesus there was no convenient way in which to track the progression of years. Than a forward count began in the year one, which is actually tens of thousands of years after the prototype came into existence, until now we have arrived at 2014. In terms of negative numbers we can date back three or four thousand years historically and guess the rest.

That is all subjective time so the question is does objective Time, a Time that actually affects things exist? Wiser heads than Einstein’s existing before he gave his opinion answered no. Objective time did not exist. Camille Flammarion, a man as brilliant as Einstein in every way writing after 1860 demonstrated conclusively enough that Time had no objective existence.

Well, it might be said, people live for upwards of seventy years, isn’t that Time? No, that is the River. Everything has a beginning, a middle and end, a trinity. In living organisms the progression from beginning to end is the result of chemical reactions unaffected by an external agency such as Time.

Thus as with wine one has fresh new wine, mature wine at its peak and old wine going sour ending as vinegar. The difference between the first stage and the last is a series of chemical reactions. One confuses the issue when one refers to mature wine as aged- time had nothing to do with it, the method was chemical reactions occurring in sequence under conditions varying from poor to optimum.

So it is with the person. Development begins with conception comes to birth then follows a series of chemical changes and depending on chance and conditions the organism lives for perhaps a hundred year or maybe more. By years as a counting device one means revolutions of the Earth around the Sun. No Time involved. In former times years might have been expressed by the more primitive term summers. One lived seventy summers. Apparently those people had no concept of the year. Year being the more scientific embracing all the seasons rather than just summer.

Everything has a beginning, middle and end. This applies to political movements, styles and what have you. Although abstract things don’t have chemical reactions nevertheless their lifetimes follow a predictable course. If you are knowledgeable you can determine where in its life cycle a style or movement is.

I if have explained myself correctly I will now apply these concepts of Time and the River to the life of Cherry Vanilla or Kathie Dorritie as she known by her mother.

Kathie at this time is approaching the so-called age of reason, or thirty summers. She has led a wasted youth. Old acquaintances are giving up on her as her unsavory reputation precludes their associating with her. More and more she is sliding deeper into the netherworld of the lost souls of the Bohemian Village.

As ten or twelve years of younger fresher women have entered the river of life Kathie’s sexual desirability is waning. Chemical changes are altering her appearance. Never one to despair but now flailing about desperately seeking some driftwood on the river to keep her afloat she is recommended to Andy Warhol for a role in the London production of his play Pork. The play is beyond obscene, suitable for only the most degenerate while the female lead is degrading to the extreme. Who but the most desperate would have accepted it?

As this is the seventies Andy had died and been born again. Shot in 1968 by Valerie Solanas Andy had actually died on the operating table for a minute or two but was resuscitated. While famous as an artist Andy too had a terrible reputation. His atelier, the Silver Factory, his first, was shut down late in ‘67 when his lease was pulled probably because of his atrocious antics at the psychiatrists’ convention in January of ‘66.

He had just moved into the second factory when Valerie plugged him. While the Silver Factory had not been financially lucrative by 1968 Andy had been fortunate to have attracted some competent business oriented associates. Paul Morrissey had reorganized the film production to make it more commercial and profitable. Fred Hughes had set Andy on a portrait painting career that salvaged him financially.

Skillful associates such as Vincent Fremont who managed the financial end while Bob Colacello along with Hughes kept Andy on course although as flighty as ever, perhaps moreso being mentally affected by his near death experience. Andy kept an entourage of, shall we say, eccentrics while having shed the Silver Factory crew. So, in the seventies, if not actually more respectable, he was less objectionable.

Less is a relative term naturally as anyone who would produce Pork was not concerned with actual respectability. But times had changed, the River was murkier than ever. A few years earlier Andy would have been arrested for obscenity but now, in the seventies after A Clockwork Orange had been cinematized anything went. Deep Throat would be mainstream fare within a year or two.

Kathy appeared before Andy for an audition and, probably because there were no other applicants, was accepted. The play had already opened and closed far off Broadway so next stop London for its English premier.

This was a major turning point in Kathie’s life. Biologically she was transiting from youth to early middle age. The time is one of immense chemical reactions in the body as the track to death really begins. Although one might not feel it the period of growth or construction for the body has ended. Food becomes a fuel to maintain electricity rather than creating thus fewer calories are needed to sustain life. If you don’t cut back on caloric intake fat begins to accrue. You have to work harder to stay in the same place.

For the first time, at that age you can no longer pretend you are one with youth. Younger people appear different to yourself. A desperation seizes you if you haven’t begun to attain whatever success means to you. The future begins to look very bleak. Thus Andy’s offer of a nowhere role in his totally objectionable play seemed like a lifeline. However despite Andy’s wonderful reputation in Bohemia he was seen as a clown to the rest of society. Amusing but not to be taken seriously. Up to 1968 no one had profited from being associated with Andy with the possible exception of Gerard Malanga, Andy’s assistant and artistic double from the Silver Factory. Andy brutally cut Gerard loose sending him to Italy without adequate funds to get lost and abandoning him refused to send a ticket home.

As Gerard was as familiar with Andy’s methods as Andy himself he took the risk of screening a photo of Che Guevara and passing the screen off as a Warhol. It was in a way because of Gerard’s experience. At the very least it was a genuine Warhol-Gerard. Naturally no one could tell the difference. Gerard was successful in selling a few but rather than taking the money and getting the hell out he hung around long enough to be discovered. Repudiated by Andy he spent some time in an Italian jail for fraud limping back home after release.

Andy was not one for doing anything for anybody and the role of Amanda Pork was not a role to do anything positive for Kathie’s image, she now being known as Vanilla.

Just as the organism develops and declines so every cultural movement has its beginning, middle and end. As a cultural expression of the Depression and war baby generations Rock and Roll began in 1954 when Elvis began his ascent and Johnny Cash had returned from his Army tour of duty in Germany. From that beginning the records had developed and then crested sometime between 1966 and 1969.

The generation was coming of age, ready to move on to the next stage of life.

Actually the generation had reached its peak during the during the late sixties. The early baby boomers of the silver age, the seventies were entering into prominence but not with the universal acceptance of the two earlier generations. The seventies for the war babies was a period of greatest hits records, a rehash of the sixties, although a couple groups like Led Zeppelin held on but only through their 60s records as golden hits, classics, sold that well.

Fleetwood Mac who had existed in several configurations through the sixties and early seventies acquired Lindsay-Nicks as their front line and in a spectacular blaze of glory put a period to the rock and roll expression of the war baby generation. In fact the post-war world ended in 1978 when the war babies came of age.

Vanilla arrived in London just as the Punk explosion of those born in the mid to late fifties was about to disrupt the transmission belt to stardom of the war babies. The war baby crowd still ruled London and Vanilla was a war baby. Based on Warhol’s reputation that was probably bigger in London than New York the cast of Pork was the toast of London that summer. Their rehearsals over, the play, such as it was, was revealed.

Unless you were a pervert, a dedicated one, there really wasn’t anything in the play for you and little if you were. After the Warhol crowd had come and gone the audience dwindled to nothing. The actors were out of luck no longer toasts of the Hard Rock Café.

To top it off Vanilla had been as disillusioned with Warhol as Gerard Malanga had been. Having sacrificed whatever reputation she had by appearing in Andy’s abomination, at the opening night party Andy hadn’t even deigned to congratulate her, ignoring her completely, not even acknowledging her presence.

I would imagine Vanilla was completely devastated, even more than she indicates. Her big chance, her salvation was come and gone. That was it. She was now adrift in Europe with no direction home. The cast was given the option of a plane ticket to New York or the cash. With nothing to return to New York for Vanilla took the cash abandoning London for Paris until her scant funds ran out then returning to London.

But, wait a minute, all had not been lost. During her summer of glory as the toast of hip London, among others of the Rock royalty, she had met the baby boomer David Bowie and his spectacular wife, the ex-pat American, Angela. Angela had been impressed by Vanilla and Bowie always a marginal performer, was about to get as close to the center as he ever would. That would entail invading the US, New York, LA, all that glitter. Vanilla became useful because if she knew anything, she knew New York.

Thus we move along to Chapter V- Hot Times In The Old Town.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s