This Andy Warhol presentation has all the earmarks of his early, underground films, but in this instance, writer-director Paul Morrissey puts a newfound emphasis on characterization and the semblance of a story line. The result is a voyeuristic look at the often-comic existence of a pair
of NYC Lower East Siders--a junkie and a transvestite--starring two of Warhol's more recognizable "superstars," Joe Dallesandro and female impersonator Holly Woodlawn.
Joe (Joe Dallesandro) is a long-haired stud who's so strung out on heroin that he can't get aroused. Of course, he's also so high that he doesn't really care, even when a young woman (Geri Miller) strips and go-go dances for him. Back home, Joe and his garbage-picking roommate, Holly (Holly
Woodlawn), talk at length, while Joe tends to nod off in the middle of the conversation. They then have a string of bizarre episodes. While roaming the Village, Joe meets a wealthy acid-head (Andrea Feldman) in search of LSD, goes back to her place, shoots up, but is unable to rape her. Holly then
invites a high school stoner (Johnny Putnam) over to her place, only to stick a needle full of heroin into his rear end, against his wishes. In a lengthy sequence, Joe breaks into the apartment of a rich couple (Jane Forth and Bruce Pecheur) and turns the trendy wife on, and she lets him take a
bath and clean up. But after Joe shoots up and passes out, they simply toss him, naked, into the hallway.
Returning home, Holly decides to go on welfare and then masturbates with a beer bottle. Later, Holly's very pregnant sister (Diane Podel) pays a visit and convinces Joe to have sex with her, only to be interrupted by the outraged Holly. And finally, a snitty welfare investigator (Michael Sklar)
shows up for an appointment, while Holly pretends to be pregnant. When he takes a liking to Holly's silver pumps, she refuses to sell them to him, and in turn, he rejects their application. Joe roughs him up, and he storms out, and the pair continue with their unorthodox relationship.
Shot with an almost documentary veneer, this film unflinchingly wallows in the junkie lifestyle, but also features many genuinely humorous moments--such as the welfare investigator, who's justifiably afraid to touch anything in their apartment without wiping it down first. Most important, the film
take the time to establish full-bodied characters, even as it gives its audience a taste of their gutter-level lives. And while the close-ups of Dallesandro shooting up don't glamorize their existence, unlike most Hollywood fare, the filmmakers never resort to simplistic, anti-drug proselytizing.
In fact, the straight characters are also the most annoying, so it's up to the viewer to determine where their sympathies lie. Joe might not be someone you'd like to meet in person, but Dallesandro perfectly captures his disaffected air, while spending much of the movie in the buff. And even if
Woodlawn would be hard-pressed to convince anyone he's truly a woman, he's appropriately misguided and strident in the role. Meshing Warhol's improvisational style with Morrissey's ability to distill it into an accessible dramatic framework, this bona fide slice of (low)life is one of their best
collaborations. (Extensive nudity, sexual situations, substance abuse, extreme profanity.)
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- Review: This Andy Warhol presentation has all the earmarks of his early, underground films, but in this instance, writer-director Paul Morrissey puts a newfound emphasis on characterization and the semblance of a story line. The result is a voyeuristic look at the… (more)