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Anthology Film Archives: Andy Warhol’s Harlot

By Mike Everleth ⋅ December 10, 2009

Outside corner of Anthology Film Archives

Dec. 12
9:15 p.m.
Anthology Film Archives
2nd Ave at 2nd St.

Hosted by: Anthology Film Archives

NYC’s Anthology Film Archives is holding a week-long retrospective of films by Andy Warhol spotlighting the artist’s collaborations with the playwright and screenwriter Ronald Tavel from Dec. 10-17, the full lineup of which is posted below. However, I wanted to call special attention to a film screening on Saturday, Dec. 12 at 9:15 p.m.: Harlot, which was Warhol’s first synch-sound feature-length production and his first collaboration with Tavel.

Made in 1965, Harlot runs for 67 minutes and was filmed in 16mm with an Auricon sound-on-film camera. (Previously, Warhol had shot his films using a silent Bolex camera.) Although Warhol was interested in Tavel as a writer, there was no actual screenplay written for Harlot. Instead, Tavel leads an improvised three-way conversation off-camera between himself, Billy Name and Harry Fainlight.

Mario Montez lies on a couch with a woman while Gerard Melanga and another man look on

On-screen, Harlot features Warhol’s first drag “superstar” Mario Montez, who sits on a couch eating bananas while being flocked by several Factory regulars, such as Gerard Malanga. Born Rene Rivera, Montez previously starred in two underground films by Jack Smith, the legendary Flaming Creatures and Normal Love, as well as several off-off-Broadway plays. The name “Mario Montez” is a play on the name of ’30s Z-grade movie actress Maria Montez, whom Smith was thoroughly enamored with. (However, I can’t find out if Rivera chose to call himself “Mario Montez” or if the name was selected for him by Smith.)  Both Montez and Smith also starred in Warhol’s previous film Batman Dracula (1964).

Warhol liked using Montez in his films because, as he writes in his book POPism, “Mario was one of the best natural comedians I’d ever met; he knew instinctively how to get a laugh every times.” For Harlot, Montez is dressed as another Hollywood starlet, Jean Harlow, and attempts to “get a laugh” not through speaking, but by eating bananas in sexually explicit ways.

(Much of the information for this article came from the Anthology Film Archives website, the Warhol Superstars website and the official memorial website for the late Ronald Tavel.)

So, check out Harlot on Dec. 12, 9:15 p.m. or again on Dec. 16, 7:00 p.m. And here’s the full lineup of Anthology’s Warhol retrospective:

Dec. 10

7:00 p.m.: Screen Test #1
9:00 p.m.: Screen Test #2

Dec. 11

7:00 p.m.: Hedy
9:00 p.m.: Vinyl

Dec. 12

4:00 p.m.: Kitchen
5:30 p.m.: The Life of Juanita Castro
7:00 p.m.: Horse
9:15 p.m.: Harlot

Dec. 13

4:00 p.m.: Hedy
5:30 p.m.: Screen Test #1
7:00 p.m.: Screen Test #2
8:30 p.m.: Space

Dec. 14

7:00 p.m.: Vinyl
8:45 p.m.: Kitchen

Dec. 15

7:00 p.m.: Space
8:45 p.m.: Horse

Dec. 16

7:00 p.m.: Harlot
8:45 p.m.: The Life of Juanita Castro

Dec. 17

7:00 p.m.: The Chelsea Girls