Leonard Cohen, Brigid Berlin’s Cock Book, & The Andy Warhol Scene

lc-aw

Note: Originally posted Oct 15, 2010 at 1HeckOfAGuy.com, a predecessor of Cohencentric

Brigid Berlin – Andy Warhol Superstar

In checking references for Leonard Cohen, Gerard Malanga’s Poem, And The Andy Warhol Scene, I came across the story of Brigid Berlin (aka Brigid Polk), daughter of socialite Muriel “Honey” Berlin and Richard E. Berlin, chairman of the Hearst media organization more than a half-century, who was, more pertinently, one of Andy Warhol’s superstars.1

After meeting Brigid in 1964,  Warhol soon nicknamed her “Brigid Polk” because of her predilection for giving others “pokes,” i.e., injections of Vitamin B and amphetamines.

Vincent Fremont summarized her role at the Factory:

Brigid’s life by the mid-1970s was at the front desk at the Factory. If a tank had rolled by and you’d ask her, ‘Did a tank come by?’ she’d look up completely unaware. She and Andy were like a married couple. Brigid was the one one who could fight with him that way. He would offer her a painting as a present, and she would say no, and ask for a washing machine instead. Andy and Brigid had a great relationship; they spoke on the telephone every morning. Brigid was Andy’s ‘B’ in the ‘Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again)’… In the 60s and the beginning of the 70s Brigid routinely took her clothes off at Andy’s Factory. Andy took a lot of pictures of her nude, especially polaroids.2

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  1. I find the categories of Warhol’s superstars implicitly proposed by The Petite Sophist unusually perspicacious and useful:

    • [Male] Female impersonators (Holly, Jackie, Candy)
    • Female female impersonators (Viva, Ultra Violet, International Velvet, Ingrid Superstar)
    • Pretty boys (Little Joe, Gerard Malanga, Ondine)
    • Crazies (Andrea Feldman, Geri Miller, Valerie Solanas)
    • Slumming socialites (Baby Jane Holzer, Edie Sedgwick)

    Brigid Berlin falls into the Slumming socialites. []

  2. Brigid Berlin by Gary Comenas []

Leonard Cohen, Gerard Malanga’s Poem, And The Andy Warhol Scene – Part 2

bony

Note: See Part 1 of this post at the link.

Leonard Cohen Is One Of The Boys (Of New York)

Do you think you have seen all the films in which Leonard Cohen played a role?

Try this one. In 1967 Cohen appeared in a virtually unknown experimental movie called B.O.N.Y. (Boys Of New York) by Gregg Barrios.

Even the extraordinarily thorough UK-based website http://www.diamondsinthemine.co.uk/ did not list this film until alerted to its presence as a result of research for this post.

The flick also features … Gerard Malanga.

B.V. Olguín in ‘San Antonio Current’ (10/8/2008) concisely provides the facts relevant to the film, Warhol, Malanga, and Leonard Cohen:

Like most film buffs of the era, Barrios eventually made a pilgrimage to Andy Warhol’s notorious Manhattan Factory. Under Warhol’s tutelage, in 1967 Barrios made his own experimental film, titled BONY (Boys of New York). Shot in both black-and-white and color with a 16-millimeter Roloflex Camera, Barrios’s film captures a day in the life of the Warhol “superstars” — the poet Gerard Malanga and Rene Ricard (the poet and art critic who “discovered” Jean Michel Basquiat) — during which they meet Leonard Cohen and Vogue model Ivy Nicholson. BONY is archived at UCLA and is included on Chon Noriega’s list of 100 Best Chicano Films.

Update June 10, 2014: I received an email from Gregg Barrios, who had come across the mention of his film in the 2010 post. It turns out that BONY (Boys of New York) has been remastered and will soon be available for purchase. Gregg was good enough to include the poster shown above promoting his film which includes Leonard Cohen in the cast.

Leonard Cohen And The Andy Warhol Factory Folks

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Leonard Cohen, Gerard Malanga’s Poem, And The Andy Warhol Scene – Part 1

10 Poems For 10 Poets

10 Poems For 10 Poets by Gerard Malanga

From 10 Poems For 10 Poets. Photo by

Guy Minnebach On Gerard Malanga’s Poem To Leonard Cohen

Guy Minnebach

I recently received an intriguing email from Guy Minnebach, an Antwerp newspaper editor currently on sabbatical who has followed  Leonard Cohen’s career since the mid-1970s and who retains a vivid memory of  Cohen crooning “Iodine” in a 1979 concert.

In his email, Guy wrote

In an old magazine I recently found this poem by Gerard Malanga addressed to & about Leonard Cohen. The magazine is an underground magazine called ‘New York Scenes’, issue from September 1969.

As you probably know, Malanga was one of the most important figures in Andy Warhol’s Factory scene. It is also known that Cohen while in New York in the 60s frequented the café /concert hall Max’s Kansas City, where  the Warhol crowd also hung out…

It’s a long poem and rather funny, in which Malanga contemplates his poetic writing skills and love life, and wonders (or doubts) if Leonard’s way of doing things is the right one…

Guy went on to ask if I might be interested in the poem.

As it turns out, I’m very interested.

Leonard Cohen’s Oft Mentioned, Rarely Explained Association with Andy Warhol et al

lc-awYou see, I repeatedly come across references to Leonard Cohen’s connections with Andy Warhol and Warhol’s crowd.   The problem is that these references are typically anecdotes or fragments of anecdotes that exist in isolation and are presented as little more than asides. Consequently, characterizing Leonard Cohen’s interactions with the Andy Warhol gang is difficult.

Most references, like these examples, serve primarily as filler for biographical summaries and simply allude to an ambiguous association:

In the mid 1960’s he [Leonard Cohen] left for New York and met the renowned artist Andy Warhol.1

Cohen became a cult figure during the 1960s, and was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol’s “Factory” crowd.2

Others imply a more significant connection:

Drawling crooner Leonard Cohen is a renaissance man in every sense. Ladies’ man, poet, monk, bankrupt, bohemian consort to Andy Warhol and drunken troubadour to a generation of angst-ridden teenagers, … .3

After falling in with Andy Warhol and the “Factory” crowd, Cohen’s debut album, Songs of Leonard Cohen, failed to make a huge impact.4

So, according to these accounts, Andy and Leonard only met or Leonard Cohen was a fringe figure in Andy Warhol’s “Factory” crowd or Cohen was a bohemian consort (whatever that is) to Warhol or Leonard Cohen not only fell in with Andy Warhol and the “Factory” but said falling in apparently had something to do with the the Songs Of Leonard Cohen album failing to make an impact.

Got that?

Jimmy_Carter_with_Andy_Warhol_during_a_reception_for_inaugural_portfolio_artists.,_06-14-1977_-_NARA_-_175147_(cropped)

Andy Warhol

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  1. Leonard Cohen in Belgrade by N. Dzodan. Blic Online, 5/5/2009. []
  2. Leonard Cohen Portland Tickets []
  3. Profile: Leonard Cohen, The Scotsman, 21 December 2008 []
  4. Happy birthday, Leonard Cohen by Christopher Glotfelty, Eat Drink Sleep Music, 09/21/2009 []