Sunday, July 17, 2011

Brigid Berlin: Her Cock Book, Daily Warhol Phonecalls, and Key Lime Pie

I recently watched Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story (1999) which is a documentary about the only still sane/alive survivor of the Warhol Factory crowd back in the 1960's when pop-art ruled, amphetamines ran a rampant spree through middle-class white America, and the small tits were the epitome of beauty, and overseeing all of these culture changes was Andy Warhol, the prince of post-modernism and the prophet of commodified existence. Ok now i'm starting to sound like my thesis and i promised myself that wouldn't happen. So in laymen's terms, Brigid Berlin was the overweight plain looking incessant talker who loved to hang out around Warhol with her polaroid camera or tape recorder and no shirt on ever. 
Brigid Berlin as she looks now in her ridiculously kitschy but lovely West Village Apartment.
You expect his superstars to be tall thin, gorgeous and a bit surreal, but Brig was brash, masculine, and unapologetic for everything, including sticking a hypodermic needle filled with dexedrine through her jeans casually at a dinner party or partaking in everything from mellow dinner parties, to loud hugh end parties at the factory to a quiet look through her Cock Book completely nude (well at least from the waist up). 
Unlike the others, Brig never appeared that she had something to hide, or something to be particularly ashamed of. She was almost as much in control as andy was, objectifying the rest. She can exist, standing topless and 150 pounds overweight, defiant and bold against the silver wall of the factory, look you up and down and then make a decision regarding how you might have come off to her. Were you going to remind her too much of her judgmental and small minded mother Honey who expelled her from Upper Crust East Coast society because of her weight and give her shit for it incessantly? or were you going to bring her house warming gifts of key lime pie and needles filled with benzo's and diet pills? If you were in the latter category, consider yourself on her good side.

Considering her masculine demeanor as contrast with the other superstars who wore hideous amounts of make up and high heeled shoes, Brig started to serve as intermediary between Andy and his hangers on. Perhaps that's why she's still around, still relatively sane, and still as much a talker as she ever was on an amphetamine binge, and who wouldn't be considering she grew up in on of those tragically doomed 'Grey Garden' situation, and aside from Edie Sedgwick was also the personification of the 'Poor Little Rich Girl' But at least this girl new her limits, and her own identity. So when the newspapers, the factory boys and girls, and even her family started applying labels popular at the time to her like 'pill popper' 'lesbian slut' 'fat cunty junkie' and what not, she was able to let it roll off her back, for the most part. Particularly if it came from the violently frustrated Fatwa that had been broiling inside Honey Berlin since the early 60's. 
I guess what really comes through for me in this film, with disregard to Warhol, is just the idea that everyone in our lives deserves respect enough to understand the consequences of their actions. Brigit Berlin is a symbol of a very empowered woman not only of that generation but i think in general. Confused like the rest of us, she clung to rituals to maintain normalcy in her life, whether they be eating, recording, or taking drugs. This is how she seems to function normally in a world of complete abnormality and that is why she's still here. Measuring out celery snacks every morning and organizing her shoe closet, right after that taking her two beloved pugs for a walk and sometimes binging on that giant key lime pie that never leaves her mind, that she will hopefully split with Warhol when they have their Pie in the Sky together in heaven, Andy with his 16mm camera and Brig shirtless with comically bright pink lipstick on. And even if they sit at the same table I would imagine they are talking via phones they brought and put on the table. Just that whole image is so divine. 

Pie in the Sky: Brigid Berlin Story currently available on Netflix Instant

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