Andy Warhol’s typically tawdry tale of a married couple that takes up with some hot young surfers started off as a lark, even by the Blond One’s whateversville standards. Per Factory regular Viva’s recollection in Interview magazine, the artist met some of the University of San Diego’s local moondoggies on a college lecture tour and bam! An opus was born—or rather, stillborn. After cinematic collaborator Paul Morrissey and several of Warhol’s repertory company—Taylor Mead, Ingrid Superstar, Joe Dallesandro, Tom Hompertz—settled into a La Jolla house in May ’68, they filmed a number of scenes of aimless vamping and ogling of tan, muscular male flesh. The next month, Warhol was shot by Valerie Solanas; the footage was left half-edited and mostly forgotten until Morrissey was commissioned in 1995 to finish the project.
The result is less an ode to late-’60s California dreamin’ than an NYC-hip riff on SoCal somnambulism, one that occasionally Pops with Warhol’s mondo minimalism yet never snaps nor crackles. Lonesome Cowboys this is not, despite the fact that Surf uses virtually the same cast; whereas the former’s po-faced flirtations with gay porn and deadpan-on-arrival humor make for a cracked horse opera, this plotless assemblage of sandy-crotch improvisations simply feels cracked. Still, completists will swoon, as will Mead’s fans once they see the Marty Feldman of lower Manhattan aggressively convince a stud to show him why surfers are called golden boys. Spoiler alert: The answer doesn’t involve sun-bronzed skin.
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