Overlooked No More: Valerie Solanas, Radical Feminist Who Shot Andy Warhol

Overlooked No More: Valerie Solanas, Radical Feminist Who Shot Andy Warhol


Overlooked is a collection of obituaries about outstanding men and women whose deaths, starting in 1851, went unreported in The Periods. This month we’re adding the stories of significant L.G.B.T.Q. figures.

On June 3, 1968, Valerie Solanas walked into Andy Warhol’s studio, the Manufacturing unit, with a gun and a prepare to enact vengeance. What happened following arrived to determine her lifetime and legacy: She fired at Warhol, just about killing him. But the incident, which diminished her to a tabloid headline, was hardly her most significant second in background.

Solanas was a radical feminist (although she would say she loathed most feminists), a revolutionary queer theorist and the writer of “SCUM Manifesto,” in which she argued for the wholesale extermination of gentlemen.

The manifesto, self-released in 1967, reads as satire, nevertheless Solanas defended it as serious. Its opening line is at as soon as absurd and a simply call to arms for the coalition she was forming, the Modern society for Cutting Up Men:

Lifestyle in this modern society becoming, at very best, an utter bore and no element of modern society remaining at all relevant to gals, there stays to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking women only to overthrow the government, eradicate the cash program, institute full automation and ruin the male sex.

On the matter of replica, she wrote: “We need to deliver only full, complete beings, not actual physical flaws or deficiencies, including psychological deficiencies, these as maleness.”

She marketed copies in leftist bookstores and on the streets of Greenwich Village for $1 ($2 if the customer was a person).

The textual content distilled the anger and craving that Solanas experienced exhibited all over her lifestyle. In college or university, as a just lately-out lesbian, she rallied against the plan that educated women of all ages really should be outlined as wives and moms, even as she acknowledged that, in a modern society ruled by guys, this kind of fates had been in all probability unavoidable. Her concepts about gender and electric power calcified in the early 1960s, when she hitchhiked across the nation and back once more. She arrived in New York Metropolis in 1962 with the start of a play she was composing and many versions of “SCUM Manifesto.”

Then, as now, Warhol was just one of the most famous artists in The usa, and Solanas identified her way onto the fringes of his social circle. She shared with him a copy of her participate in, “Up Your Ass” (1965), with the hope that he would make it. Its central character is Bongi Perez, a bantering, panhandling prostitute who is commonly homeless — considerably like Solanas was herself. Auditions and rehearsals took position in the basement of the Chelsea Lodge, the bohemian enclave from which Solanas was evicted on several occasions. Warhol uncovered the manuscript objectionable and ultimately misplaced it, but he did cast her in his erotic film “I, a Man” (1967). (“Up Your Ass” wouldn’t be staged right until extended following her demise, in 2000 in San Francisco.)

More than time, Solanas grew to become confident that Warhol and Girodias ended up conspiring to suppress, censor or steal her voice.

On that day in June, when she walked into Warhol’s studio, recently located at 33 Union Sq. West, Warhol wasn’t there. Solanas left and returned many instances, until eventually she spotted him on the sidewalk. Alongside one another they rode the building’s elevator up to the sixth ground.

Soon, there ended up gunshots. Warhol was taken to Columbus Clinic. Solanas’s bullets experienced punctured his tummy, liver, spleen, esophagus and lungs. At a person issue, the medical doctors pronounced him useless. (He would stay for 19 additional a long time, putting on a surgical corset to assist his stomach.)

That evening, Solanas turned herself in to an officer in Occasions Square. “He had much too a lot manage over my existence,” she explained to the officer, referring to Warhol.

Valerie Jean Solanas was born on April 9, 1936, in Ventnor City, N.J., just off the Atlantic City boardwalk, a single of two women to Louis Solanas, a bartender, and Dorothy Biondo, a dental assistant. Her parents separated when Valerie was 4 and divorced in 1947 the two remarried. Her father, she would later say, experienced sexually abused her from a young age. Nevertheless, she retained a correspondence with him for most of her existence.

Valerie was by some accounts a precocious little one, but in middle college she commenced to show indicators of disobedience, skipping course and even assaulting a teacher. By 15 she had supplied beginning to two kids: Linda, who was raised as her sister, and David, whom she placed for adoption. At the time, it was not strange for pregnancies to be concealed by these usually means.

Through her arraignment, Solanas was charged with tried murder, assault and possession of a hazardous weapon.

She was considered unable to stand demo and was sent for a psychiatric evaluation at Elmhurst Clinic in Queens, the place she been given a analysis of paranoid schizophrenia. The evaluators also famous her intelligence-exam scores, which placed her in the 98th percentile.

On June 13, Solanas was ruled insane by the Supreme Court docket of the State of New York and used months in psychiatric hospitals. When she was introduced in December, she started calling Warhol, Girodias and other individuals in a team that she referred to as “the mob” with threatening messages. They led to her arrest in January 1969.

Solanas was held at the Women’s Home of Detention in Manhattan, then at Bellevue Hospital, right before getting sentenced to 3 a long time in prison in June.

Right after her release, she worked for a 12 months and a half as an editor for The greater part Report: The Women’s Liberation Newsletter, a biweekly feminist publication, and started crafting a ebook, her identify as the title. She used her closing decades destitute in Phoenix and dwelling in welfare hotels in San Francisco.



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Posted by Krin Rodriquez

Passionate for technology and social media, ex Silicon Valley insider.