Mary Woronov is perhaps best known for her time with Andy Warhol and The Factory, she was at the epicenter of that whole scene with Lou Reed, Nico and Exploding Plastic Inevitable. She starred in Warhol’s Screen Tests and Chelsea Girls and went on to make movies with legendary director Roger Corman as well as many mainstream and art films earning her the title of “Cult Queen.” Mary’s been successful on television and stage, has published several books and her life and career have been the subject of various documentaries. While she continues to act, I believe it’s as a painter where she’s most at home. Mary’s paintings have a wonderfully visceral and organic bite to them.
When Timothy introduced me to Mary she invited me over to her studio to view her paintings. I had never met anyone like her before, she was very much a bohemian, very talented, comfortable in her skin, smart and freely spoke her mind. After she showed me a series of half-finished paintings she was frantically producing for an exhibit in New York she was kind enough to sit for some photos. When we were done she made a huge salad and was kind enough to let me quiz her about her days at The Factory while we ate.
My most vivid memories from the day were of the art and artifacts that she had collected. Tacked to a wall in an alcove adjacent to her kitchen was a collection of photos of her and Hervé Villechaize. The images were beautifully photographed and totally non-sexual, but as I recall she was nude and he was fully clothed sitting on her lap as she leaned back on an old stool in what I recall was a barn or garage. That image has stuck with me all these years because I have always been intrigued by photos that ask more questions than they answer. The scene felt like a lot had happened to ultimately arrange these people into this awkward position but there was no clue as to what those events might have been. The images were odd and beautiful with her long nude frame supporting him in almost a childlike pose wearing a suit complete with vest. I think that the reason those photos stick with me to this day is that her paintings share much of that same air of mystery.