Old Hollywood
Cinema
1900-1979

Nostalgia is a seductive liar - George Wildman Ball

The Velvet Underground & Nico - Femme Fatale

"Andy [Warhol] said I should write a song about Edie Sedgwick. I said ‘Like what?’ and he said ‘Oh, don’t you think she’s a femme fatale, Lou?’ So I wrote Femme Fatale and we gave it to Nico.”

-Lou Reed

Nico in Andy Warhol’s Screen Test series (1966) (excerpt can be seen online here)
"She was wonderful. She was the first girl who told me, ‘You know, there’s something very nice you can do for me.’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah. What’s that?’ ‘Oh, let me show you.’ (Indicates pushing imaginary head down towards crotch) I thought this was pretty funny, pretty hilarious. Hanging out with her was like fucking your older brother. She was about 10 years older than me; she was 31 & I was 21. It was like somebody older and a lot hipper and very strong in her opinions and also incredibly fucking talented. The album she had just made at the time (The Marble Index) was just a phenomenal piece of work.
So she had that, and then she was highly eccentric and also dangerous, and at the same time, where the danger came in too, was that she was very  vulnerable. She was wild, she was a boheme. She was serious about her art, and I just welcomed the chance. I hung out with her day and night for about a month, a couple of weeks here and a couple weeks there. And then, inevitably, the strain. There’s a certain strain when you’re trying to create with your mind, especially when you’re very young, it comes with a lot of serendipity. It’s difficult to have someone around, and so there was turbulence there. The band of course really wanted her out, they were jealous, and they would walk around the house imitating her accent and stuff.
She taught me how to drink. She was like, ‘Don’t drink that Ripple!’ I mean, I thought Ripple was like a good wine, you know? I got, like, ‘Beaujolais! This is great!’
She cut someone with a broken glass about that time. Someone who she thought provoked her, someone very socially correct. She gave him a little slice. It was not as litigious a country at that time, so I don’t know, maybe there wasn’t serious scarring, but there was this other side of her, you know, a ‘you-better-not-fuck-with-me’ although I never…I mean, she was bigger than me.
She didn’t do any drugs then. Neither of us did. I would smoke my grass, she would drink her wine. That’s probably why she was with me, because I didn’t do that stuff, and I didn’t realize it. She was probably running away from something. That’s pretty possible. But she knew how to dress, and she was one cool chick. After I came back to New York to do some gigs…I came to stay at the Chelsea. She was staying there, and she always had a cute man around - she had some new man, a French guy, and I was kind of like, ‘Who is French guy, anyway? Let’s have a look at him,’ and I went to visit her in her room.
I was really excited to see her, and she was sitting there, she had a harmonium…and she was playing on it, and she played this song ‘Janitor of Lunacy’, which is on one of her records, and she sang the words, ‘Janitor of Lunacy, paralyze my infancy.’ Just like, you know, very good poetry, just kind of like hearing her doing that right there, complete, in the Chelsea, and that was the way it was gonna go on the record. I was very impressed with that…I saw her later and we had our differences, I got stoned with her many years later on some heroin and it was not pleasant, she did not look well, and I did not react well. I wasn’t much of a gent about that and so there’s some regrets there.”
-Iggy Pop, excerpted from 1995 Bust magazine interview, reprinted in Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop

Nico in Andy Warhol’s Screen Test series (1966) (excerpt can be seen online here)

"She was wonderful. She was the first girl who told me, ‘You know, there’s something very nice you can do for me.’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah. What’s that?’ ‘Oh, let me show you.’ (Indicates pushing imaginary head down towards crotch) I thought this was pretty funny, pretty hilarious. Hanging out with her was like fucking your older brother. She was about 10 years older than me; she was 31 & I was 21. It was like somebody older and a lot hipper and very strong in her opinions and also incredibly fucking talented. The album she had just made at the time (The Marble Index) was just a phenomenal piece of work.

So she had that, and then she was highly eccentric and also dangerous, and at the same time, where the danger came in too, was that she was very  vulnerable. She was wild, she was a boheme. She was serious about her art, and I just welcomed the chance. I hung out with her day and night for about a month, a couple of weeks here and a couple weeks there. And then, inevitably, the strain. There’s a certain strain when you’re trying to create with your mind, especially when you’re very young, it comes with a lot of serendipity. It’s difficult to have someone around, and so there was turbulence there. The band of course really wanted her out, they were jealous, and they would walk around the house imitating her accent and stuff.

She taught me how to drink. She was like, ‘Don’t drink that Ripple!’ I mean, I thought Ripple was like a good wine, you know? I got, like, ‘Beaujolais! This is great!’

She cut someone with a broken glass about that time. Someone who she thought provoked her, someone very socially correct. She gave him a little slice. It was not as litigious a country at that time, so I don’t know, maybe there wasn’t serious scarring, but there was this other side of her, you know, a ‘you-better-not-fuck-with-me’ although I never…I mean, she was bigger than me.

She didn’t do any drugs then. Neither of us did. I would smoke my grass, she would drink her wine. That’s probably why she was with me, because I didn’t do that stuff, and I didn’t realize it. She was probably running away from something. That’s pretty possible. But she knew how to dress, and she was one cool chick. After I came back to New York to do some gigs…I came to stay at the Chelsea. She was staying there, and she always had a cute man around - she had some new man, a French guy, and I was kind of like, ‘Who is French guy, anyway? Let’s have a look at him,’ and I went to visit her in her room.

I was really excited to see her, and she was sitting there, she had a harmonium…and she was playing on it, and she played this song ‘Janitor of Lunacy’, which is on one of her records, and she sang the words, ‘Janitor of Lunacy, paralyze my infancy.’ Just like, you know, very good poetry, just kind of like hearing her doing that right there, complete, in the Chelsea, and that was the way it was gonna go on the record. I was very impressed with that…I saw her later and we had our differences, I got stoned with her many years later on some heroin and it was not pleasant, she did not look well, and I did not react well. I wasn’t much of a gent about that and so there’s some regrets there.”

-Iggy Pop, excerpted from 1995 Bust magazine interview, reprinted in Gimme Danger: The Story of Iggy Pop

Nico - Strip-Tease (written by Serge Gainsbourg, via Le Cinéma de Serge Gainsbourg: Musiques de Films 1959-1990) Fellow French language illiterates can find an English translation here.

Strip-Tease is the first song Nico ever recorded. It was written by Gainsbourg for Jacques Poitrenaud’s 1963 film Strip-Tease, in which Nico starred.

Lou Reed & Nico in Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests (1966)

Lou Reed & Nico in Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests (1966)

The Velvet Underground & Nico - Sunday Morning

Lou Reed, Nico, Bob Dylan, and Edie Sedgwick in Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests (1966), which were originally conceived as “living portraits” (i.e. portraits done on film rather than on canvas) and featured silent, unbroken 3-4 minute shots of both famous & anonymous visitors to Warhol’s studio sitting in front of the camera.

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Screen test excerpts: Reed / Nico / Dylan / Sedgwick