There is a new book out on Andy Warhol that I am all excited about. I just got it in the mail and will read it soon. I hope to encounter something a little like this:
Sanders, Ed (ed.). Poems for Marilyn. New York: Sept. 1962). A collection of poeRs dedicated
to Marilyn Monroe. By poets Joel Oppenheimer, John Keys, Taylor Mead, Al Fowler, Ed
Sanders and John Harriman. 4to. 20 leaves; 29 cm. Stapled wrappers; salmon colored sheets.
Published in September 1962, Poems for Marilyn is one of the earliest publications from the Fuck You Press. The collection was written on the occasion of Monroe’s death on August 5, `962 of a barbituate overdose. The poems were written, gathered, and published in around a month. The rapid turnaround highlights the immediacy of mimeo which was one of its chief benefits. Mimeo is uniquely suited for occasional printing, i.e. a printing in direct response to a current event. Poems for Marilyn, like the Ed Sanders Newsletter, falls into this category.
Taylor Mead provided one of the poems in the collection and his presence allows an interesting connection to Andy Warhol to be made. Mead, an icon of underground cinema, appeared in numerous Warhol films beginning in 1963. Mead travelled cross country in October 1963 with Warhol on a trip to attend a solo exhibition of Warhol’s work at the Ferus Gallery. During that trip Warhol and Mead parodied Hollywood by making Tarzan and Jane Regained…Sort of.
Warhol’s fascination with Hollywood is well documented as his interest in death and disaster. Monroe allowed Warhol to combine these obsessions into one image. What is most interesting in terms of Fuck You Press and Poems for Marilyn is how Warhol chose to memorialize Monroe. The tributes to Marilyn by Warhol and Sanders are contemporaneous. In August 1962, the month of Monroe’s death, Warhol began experimenting with the silkscreen process. One the first images Warhol created via silkscreen was the face of Monroe. Gold Marilyn (1962) dates from this period. The rapid commerical nature of silkscreening fit in perfectly with Warhol’s assembly line aesthetic and drew attention to distinctions of high and low art. The subtle differences created image to image calls into question the ability to generate identical, perfect copies even through mechanical reproduction.
The poor inking and inevitable fading after repeated pressings suggests ideas of impermance, mortality and transience making the silkscreened Marilyns a powerful commentary on the untimely death of Monroe and an ironic comment on her immortality in the popular imagination. Photo-stenciling is used in the silkscreening process and thus the process is closely related to mimeograph and has the same technical limitations (or benefits as the case may be).
The mimeograph nature of Fuck You’s Poems for Marilyn draws on the same associations suggested by Warhol’s use of silkscreen in the Marilyns. Thus Poems for Marilyn is a great example of the merging of format and content by Sanders. In addition, Monroe’s origins in men’s magazines (she was the first centerfold in Playboy’s first issue) and rumors of appearances in skin flicks make her the perfect subject for a tribute by Fuck You Press given the Press’s interest in the pornographic and in exposing the shadowy past of established icons, see Auden’s The Platonic Blow.