How the other half lives…
Montauk Life recalls the 1972 emergence of America’s best-known artist on the then-quiet Long Island scene…
As his career progressed, the shy, retiring Andy forged an identity that would reshape the way America looked at artists. In a time when revolutionary changes tore down the walls between art, fashion and every day life, Andy held the first sledge hammer. He bought a large loft on West 47th Street and opened the Factory, an industrial approach to art. Not content to re-shape the face of modern art, he took on film, music, writing and journalism. Surrounded by an entourage of up and coming hipsters, drag queens, budding journalists, aspiring actors, drug addicts, and society cast-offs, Andy became king of New York’s avant garde scene…
He wanted… to be famous, to rub shoulders with the brightest and best. To do that he engineered an image, as bizarre and unusual as any. Pasty faced Andy, with his white fright wig, haunted expression and monosyllabic style became as well known as any Hollywood star or Washington politician. By skillfully manipulating the publicity game, this painfully shy artist made himself into a glittering star of the social night, seen everywhere from art openings to the nightly melodrama of Studio 54…
[But] if there was one thing Andy loved more than fame, it was money. That’s what first brought the intensely urban Warhol to wide open Montauk. A long time visitor to the Hamptons proper, he and Paul Morrissey, director of many of Andy’s early avant garde films, decided a home here would be a great investment…
They settled on the Church estate, a collection of 5 classic, clapboard houses built in the 1920’s. Set on 20 acres high above the Atlantic, the buildings had been designed by noted architect Stanford White. The main house, with 7 bedrooms, 5 baths, 4 stone fireplaces and large living areas would be perfect for entertaining. The 4 smaller cottages would be guest accommodations. Andy and Paul split the $225,000 cost– as it turned out, the best buy of Andy’s life. Currently on the market for a cool $50,000,000, it’s the most expensive home for sale on the East End, and one of the most expensive in all of America.
Andy and Paul were pleased at the prospect of occasional entertaining, but needed to make the property pay; Lee Radziwill led the parade of celebrity tenants (bringing with her– literally, in their visits– the cachet of the Kennedys). But the renters who re-framed the reputation of the Hamptons were The Rolling Stones.
Warhol’s next door neighbor in Montauk, photographer, writer, painter, playboy, you-name-it-he-was-it Peter Beard had befriended Mick Jagger while serving as the photographer companion to Truman Capote (as reporter for Rolling Stone) on the Stone’s infamous Exile on Main Street Tour in 1972– at the completion of which Mick visited Beard on the Island.
In planning the preparatory rehearsals for their 1975 tour, Jagger decided that Long Island would be a perfect spot– and rented Warhol’s estate.
One of the indelible remains of the Stones stay in Montauk, is the song “The Memory Motel”. Named for the [nearby] bar and motel of same name, this lament for a lost girl has become one of the Stones signature tunes.
Hannah honey was a peachy kind of girl
Her eyes were hazel
And her nose were slightly curved
We spent a lonely night at the Memory Motel
It’s on the ocean, I guess you know it well
It took a starry to steal my breath away
Down on the water front
Her hair all drenched in spray
(Jagger/Richards – C- Rolling Stones/Virgin Records 1975 )
The other legacy of the Stone’s stay? As Warhol recalls in his Diary, “Mick Jagger really put Montauk on the map.”
[TotH to The Selvedge Yard, from whence the photos above– by Ken Regan, except as otherwise noted]
As we remind ourselves that It’s Only Rock and Roll, we might recall that it was on this date that same fateful year, 1975, that “Tania”– Patty Hearst– was captured in San Francisco and arrested for armed robbery. Ms. Hearst had been kidnapped in February, 1974 by a group known as the Symbionese Liberation Army and held as a “prisoner of war.” The SLA demanded that her father, publisher Randolph Hearst, pay millions of dollars in food relief to secure her release. Hearst made the donations; the SLA raised its demands. But in April, 1974, the situation changed: Ms. Hearst declared, in a tape sent to the authorities, that she was joining the SLA of her own free will, and would thenceforth be known as “Tania.” Later that month, a surveillance camera took a photo of her participating in an armed robbery of a San Francisco bank, and she was subsequently spotted during the robbery of a Los Angeles store.
In May, 1974, the FBI raided the SLA’s Los Angeles headquarters, and killed the group’s leader (Donald DeFreeze, aka General Field Marshal Cinque), but most of the group was absent. A cross-country manhunt ensued, and for more than a year Ms. Hearst and her conspirators-or-captors eluded the Feds.
Ms. Heart’s defense was that she had been brainwashed by her captors; but her argument wasn’t convincing to a jury. She was convicted in 1976 and sentenced to seven years in prison. (She never did that time: President Carter commuted that sentence; President Clinton later conferred a full pardon.)