VALERIE SOLANAS Biography - Crimes, Laws and people


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Name: Valerie Solanas                                                               
Born: 9 April 1936                                                                   
Died: 26 April 1988                                                                 
Valerie Jean Solanas (April 9, 1936 - April 26, 1988) was an American radical       
feminist writer best known for shooting the artist Andy Warhol in 1968. She         
wrote the SCUM Manifesto, an essay on patriarchal culture advocating the             
creation of an all-female society.                                                   
Born in Ventnor City, New Jersey to Louis Solanas and Dorothy Bondo, Solanas was     
regularly sexually abused by her father. Her parents divorced during the 1940s,     
and by the age of 15 she was homeless. In spite of this, she completed high         
school and earned a degree in psychology from the University of Maryland. She       
did nearly a year of graduate work in psychology at University of Minnesota. In     
1953, her son David was born. Other details of her life until 1966 are unclear,     
but it is believed she traveled the country as an itinerant, supporting herself     
by begging and prostitution.                                                         
Solanas arrived in Greenwich Village in 1966, where she wrote a play titled Up       
Your Ass about a man-hating prostitute and a panhandler. In 1967, she               
encountered Andy Warhol outside his studio, The Factory, and asked him to           
produce her play. Intrigued by the title, he accepted the script for review.         
According to Factory lore, Warhol, whose films were often shut down by the           
police for obscenity, thought the script was so pornographic that it must be a       
police trap. He never returned it to Solanas.                                       
Warhol did give Solanas a role in a scene in his film I, A Man (1968-1969). In       
that film, she and the film's title character (played by Tom Baker) haggle in an     
apartment building hallway over whether they should go into her apartment.           
Solanas dominates the improvised conversation, leading the bewildered actor         
through a dialogue about everything from "squishy asses," "men's tits," and         
lesbian "instinct." Ultimately, she leaves him to fend for himself, explaining "I   
gotta go beat my meat" as she exits the scene.                                       
During this period (the late 1960s), Solanas wrote and self-published the work       
for which she is best known a call for destruction of men and men-loving women,     
as well as the liberation of women, called the SCUM Manifesto. SCUM is generally     
held to be an acronym of "Society for Cutting Up Men," although this acronym         
does not appear in the manifesto itself. SCUM gained Solanas a following among       
some feminists.                                                                     
Later in 1967, Solanas began to telephone Warhol, demanding he return the script     
of Up Your Ass. When Warhol admitted he had lost it, she began demanding money       
as payment. Warhol ignored these demands but offered her a role in I, A Man         
perhaps as compensation. In his book Popism: The Warhol Sixties, Warhol would       
write that before she shot him, he thought Solanas was an interesting and funny     
person. However, her constant hassling (bordering on stalking) made her             
difficult to deal with and ultimately drove him away.                               
On June 3, 1968, she arrived at The Factory and waited for Warhol in the lobby       
area. When he arrived with a couple of friends, she fired three shots from a         
handgun at Warhol. She then shot art critic Mario Amaya and also tried to shoot     
Warhol's manager, Fred Hughes, but her gun jammed. Just then, the elevator           
arrived. Hughes suggested she take it, and she did, leaving the Factory. Warhol     
barely survived. He never fully recovered and for the rest of his life had to       
wear a corset to prevent his injuries from worsening. Years later, his wounds       
would still occasionally bleed after he overexerted himself.                         
That evening, Solanas turned herself in to the police and was charged with           
attempted murder and other offenses. Solanas made statements to the arresting       
officer and at the arraignment hearing that Warhol had "too much control" over       
her and that Warhol was planning to steal her work. Pleading guilty, she             
received a three-year sentence. Warhol refused to testify against her. The           
attack had a profound impact on Warhol and his art, and The Factory scene became     
much more tightly controlled afterwards. For the rest of his life, Warhol lived     
in fear that Solanas would attack him again. "It was the Cardboard Andy, not the     
Andy I could love and play with," said close friend and collaborator Billy Name.     
"He was so sensitized you couldn't put your hand on him without him jumping. I       
couldn't even love him anymore, because it hurt him to touch him." While his         
friends were actively hostile towards Solanas, Warhol himself preferred not to       
discuss her.                                                                         
One of the few public pronouncements in her favor was distributed by Ben Morea,     
of Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers / Black Mask fame. It was later re-printed     
as an appendix in the Olympia Press edition of her manifesto.                       
It is widely believed that Solanas suffered from paranoid schizophrenia at the       
time of the shooting. A psychiatrist who evaluated her shortly thereafter           
concluded that she was "a Schizophrenic Reaction, paranoid type with marked         
depression and potential for acting out." As a result, the marginalization of       
Solanas as a "crazed lesbian" by her detractors was fairly easy.                     
Feminist Robin Morgan (later editor of Ms. magazine) demonstrated for Solanas'       
release from prison. Ti-Grace Atkinson, the New York chapter president of the       
National Organization for Women (NOW), described Solanas as "the first               
outstanding champion of women's rights." Another member, Florynce Kennedy,           
represented Solanas at her trial, calling her "one of the most important             
spokeswomen of the feminist movement."                                               
After her release from prison in 1971, she was regarded by some as a martyr.         
When she persisted in stalking Warhol and others over the telephone, however,       
she was arrested again. An interview with her was published in the Village Voice     
in 1977. She denied that the SCUM Manifesto was ever meant to be taken seriously.   
Solanas drifted into obscurity and was in and out of mental hospitals.               
In 1988, at the age of 52, Valerie Solanas died of emphysema and pneumonia in       
the Bristol Hotel San Francisco.