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Ananjay Singh Sardana

Tragedy Others


4.6  

Ananjay Singh Sardana

Tragedy Others


S.C.U.M

S.C.U.M

14 mins 375 14 mins 375

Valerie Jean Solanas, a radical feminist, considered a matriarchal. She was a writer, author, and one of the cruelest cult leaders in the history of America. Most known for shooting Andy Warhol and his assistant, writing the book SCUM Manifesto and the play Up Your Ass and leading the cult S.C.U.M (Society for Cutting Up Men).


EARLY LIFE

She had a turbulent childhood, born on April 9, 1936, in Ventnor City, New Jersey to Louis Solanas, a bartender and Dorothy Marie Biondo, a dental assistant. Her father was a Spain immigrant born in Montreal and her mother was Italian-American with a Sicilian descent born in Philadelphia. Valerie had a younger sister Judith Arlene Solanas-Martinez. Their parent's split-up when Solanas was four and her mother re-married shortly afterward. She disliked her step-father and so became rebellious towards Dorothy, leading her to be a truant. She used to write insults which used to turn children against each other for the cost of a dime. She once beat up a boy in high school because she claimed that he was trying to harass a girl. She also hit a nun. Her mother fed up with all this sent her to her grandparents. Where her alcoholic grandfather used to beat her up occasionally. Her father used to assault her from a very tender age. At fifteen she was left homeless when she raised her voice against the violent alcoholic. At seventeen (1953), she gave birth to her half son-brother and he named David was adopted a married sailor and was named David Blackwell.

Valerie graduate high-school, and earned a degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. At the University of Maryland, she hosted a call-in radio show where she gave advice on how to combat men. She is the conservative culture openly identified as lesbian, but due to her traumatic experiences of childhood she couldn’t engage in any kind of sexual activity and was later identified as asexual, she barring the fact, had only one romantic relationship. She relocated her studies to Berkeley, California, where she started writing the bold book she is known for, SCUM Manifesto.

THOUGHTS ON MEN

Feminism, the word simply means equal rights. But in reality the actual meaning of the word due to public relations, and what’s really true and what to be said with the right context the world has put feminism in various slots. “When a woman says feminism it is defensive and is usually considered as an excuse and sometimes it also is taken in a context which means I hate men which further equals to argumentative. When a straight man says feminism it says that end of patriarchy. When a gay man says feminism it means equality.” Let’s for once see the fact as they are, equality is just a dream and somebody can’t prove a point if they are defensive and if not equality we all settle at end of patriarchy I mean if we aren’t getting equal right you ain’t no have the power. So in a way we need a man as an alley so that the statement could matter. This thought is tender and to be honest, I myself want to change that. Valerie Jean Solanas radically believed in the thought of men being overly superior, and she just made one mistake, or to put it in a better way she did something which was a quite too overly in the face of the world a bit too bold. She wasn’t a feminist she was a matriarchic. She did believe that men and women were not equal, but she believed that women are far more superior than men ever could be. She treated men and to quote her, “Men are like scum just like the unwanted impurities on the top of an abandoned old river. They are just incomplete women with a Y-chromosome”.


THE FACTORY

In mid-’60s Solanas dropped out of her Californian psychology study program and moved to New York City. She started begging and prostitution for money which further triggered her hatred obsession over men. In 1965-66, she wrote an autobiographical short story ‘A Young Girl’s Primer on How to Attain the Leisure Class’, about a young prostitute. And at the same time wrote a play ‘Up Your Ass’ on somewhat on the same matters.

In 1967, Valerie Solanas met Andy Warhol in front of his studio, The Factory. The Factory was Andy Warhol’s studio in 1962; the original location was on the fifth floor at 231 East 47th Street in Middletown, Manhattan. In 1967 he relocated his studio to the sixth floor of Decker Building at 33 Union Square West, near the corner of the East 47th Street, where he met Valerie. Solanas met him to pitch her play ‘Up Your Ass’, for him to produce. He promised to read and said it was “well-typed”. When after a month or so she asked for his review and his answer to whether he will produce it or not, he replied that the manuscript was lost. And sadly, Solanas being short of money and typing on a typewriter that was the original and only manuscript. She raged to his office demanding the cost of her ‘lost’ manuscript and Andy gave her $25, he also offered her a small part in his movie ‘I, a Man’. She agreed and her work with him was satisfying. Furthermore, he asked her to play a silent part in his upcoming film, ‘Bike Boys’.


ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT

Andy Warhol the erotic filmmaker who was one of the first ones to differentiate between porn films and erotica. All his films having a great deal of nudity also told the darkest and the most serious stories of all time. He was in the airtight society openly a part of the LGBTTQQIAAP community. He was a very famous filmmaker and producer who were shot by Solanas.

‘I, a Man’, was released on August 24, 1967, almost a year after he lost Valerie’s manuscript and gave her money for his irresponsibly and offered her two small parts in two of his films. Once the film released and Solanas actually saw it and recognized the story of the film, she realized that the movie was perjured from her play. She demanded her stolen legacy. Solanas reported that “The structure was different and the characters were a bit different but the main story was the same”. For a long time she sat in front of his office and on asking stated that a) she was waiting for Warhol to pay her worth for her script and b) she play to be produced by him. She used to barge in his shootings and demand for her deservingness and used to make a whole scene for several days. She took her play to Margo Feiden (then Margo Eden) and threatened her to produce her play with a gun. Margo was shocked and agreed; she figured now that Solanas has got a producer she would try to kill Andy. She reported her to the police and the police reverted that they cannot arrest a person because she could possibly kill Andy Warhol.

On June 3, 1968, she entered The Factory with Warhol who complimented her on her appearance as she was uncharacteristically wearing makeup. Morrissey, who was always telling her to leave, said this day as well to leave or she will be “beaten to hell” and will be thrown out. She took out her gun and the others mocked her by saying “Listen, lady, how would you know what a real gun looks like?” She shot three times to Andy Warhol, and before the shooting, she claimed that he will produce her show and will make her famous else she will shoot him. Saying this she did shot fire, two of the shots missed Warhol but the third one went through his lungs, stomach, liver, spleen, and esophagus. She further shot his art critic Mario Amaya in the hip. She tried to shot Fred Hughes, Warhol’s manager, but the gun jammed. Warhol was rushed to the Columbus-Mother Cabrini Hospital, where underwent a successful five-hour operation.

Later that day, Valerie turned herself in and giving the reason that “he had too much control over my life”. The newspapers wrote on their front pages “actress shot Andy Warhol” and she argued that she is a writer and not an actress. Her case was taken to Manhattan Criminal Court and the motive was stated to be Warhol not producing her play, but she claimed the real motive was that legal claims on something she made. The judge gave her a chance to plead not guilty, but she adamantly stated that “I did nothing wrong and he deserved it and I did right!” For such comments and obsessive behavior, she was sentenced to Mattawan State Hospital for the Criminally Insane where she wrote her legacy SCUM Manifesto and it got published later that year. In January 1969, the hospital diagnosed her with paranoid schizophrenia. Further on she was sentenced to plead guilty to “reckless assault with intent to harm” and for three years of imprisonment, with one year of time to be served.

In 1971 she came out of jail and turned to a chronic stalker of Andy Warhol. Andy Warhol was already traumatized by the shooting and it had a great impact on his art, his collaborator close friend and boyfriend, Billy Name stated that he lived in fear for the rest of his life that Solanas will attack him again, “It was the cardboard Andy, not my Andy, not the Andy I could love or play with or create work with. He was so sensitized you couldn’t put your hand on him without him jumping. I couldn’t comfort him because it hurt to touch him”.    

 

NOTABLE WORKS


∙ Up Your xxx

The full title of the play was ‘Up Your xxx, or, From the Cradle to the Boat, or, the Big xxxx, or, Up From the Slime’. The play was written by the radical feminist in 1965 about a young prostitute, a hustler, panhandler, Bongi Perez who encounters various characters on the street as she goes by her day. The play was first performed in 2000 at George Performance Works theatre in San Francisco. The theatre was full of an all-female cast ready to perform the musical. On seeing the play James Harding wrote, “based on the plot a woman who ‘is a man-hunting hustler and panhandler’ and who… ends up killing a man”. He added furthermore, “provocation than… a work of dramatic literature, rather adolescent and contrived”.

The play was legally stolen by Andy Warhol, being the reason for his shooting.

The play as we know was lost by Warhol. But it was found in a trunk of lighting equipment in the name of Billy Name by the George Performance Works theatre in 1999 and was further produced. After the production, the play as an original manuscript is displayed at the Andy Warhol Museum. George Coates was the one to change the play to an all-female cast.


∙ How to Attain the Leisure Class

This short story of Solanas was published in Cavalier 1966. This was more of a guide book for upcoming professional sex-workers.


∙ SCUM Manifesto

The book written in 1967, argues that the world is a man’s place but a woman is there to clean up their mess. The book explained that men are mealy incomplete women, and they according to the absence of genetic components were emotionally limited and egocentric. In order to fulfill their incomplete lives men, often try to overtly complete them by making a fool of them making them far more inferior to women.

The book went on about female domination and had the following content:

- War

- Niceness, Politeness and “Dignity”

- Money, Marriage and Prostitution, Work and Prevention of an Automated Society

- Fatherhood and Mental Illness (fear, cowardice, timidity, humility, insecurity, passivity)

- Suppression of Individuality, Animalism (domesticity and motherhood) and Functionalism

- Prevention of Privacy

- Isolation, Suburbs, and Prevention of Community

- Conformity                   

- Authority and Government

- Philosophy, Religion, and Morality Based on Sex

- Prejudice (racial, ethnic, religious, etc.)

- Competition, Prestige, Status, Formal Education, Ignorance and Social and Economic Classes

- Prevention of Communication

- Prevention of Friendship and Love

- “Great Art” and “Culture”

- Sexuality

- Boredom

- Secrecy, Censorship, Suppression of Knowledge and Ideas and Exposes

- Distrust

- Ugliness

- Hate and Violence

- Disease and Death

The Manifesto ends by describing a female-dominated utopian future with, eventually, no men. And will lead to a life of no money, disease, or argument.


CULT

Valerie Solanas book SCUM Manifesto was in no time interpreted to a rule book. She used to have a private reading of the book in her apartment and it lead to an outburst of a cult. Scum which was used to describe a man was soon acronymic-ally known as S.C.U.M as in Society for Cutting Up Men. The sole purpose of the cult was to attain the end of the book, that is, a world without men. The cult started with a few people and further was a cult of forty women, these women used to wear bottle-green robes and used to isolate a man in faraway woods and used to kill him. The proper way of killing according to the cult was to make a circle around him and stab the man till blood stops gushing out.

If S.C.U.M was a country SCUM Manifesto was the constitution. You don’t ask the pope how the world is going to end, and so no one in the cult even thought of crossing Valerie. Moreover, cults are made on the bases of mind control. She had whole power on each of the 40 women.


OBSESSION AND DEATH

Valerie drew herself crazy on this obsession over male domination. She kept finding newer and newer studies stating how cruel men have been all centuries past and all every time she could think of was how to clear the world in one go. In 1977, she had an interview with Village Voice, and she stated that she will be writing her other book. In research, she drove herself to madness. Another close friend of Andy Warhol, Ultra Violet called Solanas in mid-’80s just check in on her, and when Ultra Violet told her that Andy Warhol is dead of a gall bladder thingy Valerie realized what wrong she did. She shot Andy Warhol. Her legacy was stolen away from her. Every time someone said Valerie Solanas all they could remember was that she shot Andy Warhol. She was so intimidated by the thought that she was so craving for the power of recognition because in a way she shot him because he stole her thunder and now that he is actually dead and she didn’t kill him herself her life got tattered. Valerie Jean Solanas the radical feminist who fought her entire life to justify that men shouldn’t be a part of the society was now remembered only by the name of a man. This fact ate her alive, she went nuts over this; she wanted to prove herself so bad she just forgot that she was a living entity.

 She died of pneumonia and schizophrenia, in the cold habitat of her wanting to prove a point.


LEGACY

The best artist is the one who can make you cry or cringe or make u feel uncomfortable by their piece of art. Andy Warhol was the one who redefined an area of filmmaking. He is the one who actually gave the world the difference between pornography and actual intellectual erotica, how could he just throw his whole legacy down the drain just because he was accused of theft. As I said earlier, in order to make a state more impactful u need another person’s support, the other person could be a friend, a colleague, or a better half. Luckily, Warhol had all three in one, Billy Name. Now, Billy Name when told the press about his condition, he was lying or he was telling the truth, but it sure did save Warhol’s legacy. The filmmaker was about to be known a thief and he was saved by the love of his life. If marriage at their time was legal, Andy and Billy could have even been married. And all of this happiness and forgiveness which was shown to Andy by the world just ate Solanas alive. He didn’t just steal her play and got shot, he spanned it in such a way that he didn’t just save his own legacy he even stole hers away for her. And this gave born to the most ruthless Zodiac killers of all time and a cult figure leading S.C.U.M., Valerie Jean Solanas. In the end, she did she say correctly, “He had too much control on me”.



POP CULTURE

∙ I Shot Andy Warhol

This film was released on May 1, 1996. Directed by Mary Harron. Lili Taylor played Valerie and Jared Harris played Andy 

∙American Horror Story: Cult

The anthological series Season 7 directed by the wonderful Ryan Murphy was based on cults and the episode, ‘Valerie Solanas Died for Your Sins: Scumbag’, was dedicated to her. She was played by Lena Dunham. Andy Warhol was played by Evan Peters (he was a series regular and he played this small part as well). Valerie’s story was told by her love interest Bebe Babbitt who’s younger was played by Lyla Porter-Follows and the older one (who narrated the story) was Frances Conroy. Jamie Brewer and Dot-Marie Jones also special appeared as the S.C.U.M members. 


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