Warhol’s Chelsea Girls: “Busted In Boston” & “Censored In Cannes”

Our movie themed rooms at Arthouse Hotel have been designed to remember the iconic superstars of a film generation. From our musicals floor which celebrates wonderful whimsical movies filled with song and dance to our Hitchcock floor decorated and themed around the best thrillers from the legendary director.

Another movie themed floor in Arthouse Hotel pays homage to the artistic iconography of Andy Warhol and one room, in particular, has been themed with one of Warhol’s most celebrated cinematic creations in mind, and perhaps his most scandalous too.

Warhol’s movie, Chelsea Girls, was banned from being screened at the 20th Annual Cannes Film Festival in 1967. As this year’s event gets underway we look at why Warhol’s work didn’t appear as scheduled in the 1967 programme.

Who Was Andy Warhol?

Andy Warhol

For those of you who are unsure who or what Andy Warhol was, listen up.

Warhol first appeared on the scene in 1949 when he moved to New York and worked as a window dresser, an illustrator and began designing commercial artwork for top-selling fashion magazines Vogue and Glamour.

He continued to work in the fashion press industry using groundbreaking techniques which became well known in the business.

By 1960 Warhol grew dissatisfied with commercial work and began manipulating photo imagery and comic book strips which made his career blossom and established him as a pop art artist. He created his famous Campbell’s Soup Cans in 1961 and went on to create the Marilyn Portrait in 1962.

Andy’s interest in filmmaking didn’t start until 1963 when he purchased his very first camera and began experimenting with artistic short films that were inspired by real life and which shocked and amazed his audiences.

Why Warhol Started Filming

Andy Warhol and Pele

Between that first moment of picking up a camera to the moment he made his last motion picture, Warhol wanted to make moving art in his films.

By portraying real-life experiences in great detail and often adding shock value to them Warhol’s movies made a splash on the underground cinema. In 1965 Warhol officially put down his paintbrush and became a filmmaker instead.

With an entourage of wealthy socialites at his beck and call the Warhol Superstars made up the cast of his earliest movies. Warhol continued to make movies that the trendy public wanted to see and/or star in and by 1966 he had created Chelsea Girls which gained widespread recognition among the most fashionable circles.

The movie was filmed in various locations around New York city but was set and filmed inside the prominent Hotel Chelsea in New York.

Chelsea Girls banned at Cannes Film Festival

The first film of its kind, Chelsea Girls followed the lives of those who lived in the Hotel Chelsea, from models and artists to wealthy socialites and aristocrats. The movie portrayed the carefree, artistic and bohemian lifestyle that was popular at the time among artists, musicians, celebrities and the well to do.

Chelsea Girls: Banned By Cannes

Warhol and his superstars at Cannes Film Festival

Warhol and his superstars made their way to the 20th Annual Cannes Film Festival in 1967 to watch Chelsea Girls screened in public for the very first time. They had the movie reels stored in their personal luggage because shipping costs at the time were very high at the time and this saved them money.

The way Warhol had shot the movie meant that it needed to be displayed on two screens at once using two different projectors, making it stand apart from other work of the age.

Cannes Film Festival had officially invited the film to be screened and Warhol’s work in the film industry had begun to garner a great deal of attention due to its unique subject matter and his famously artistic flare.

There was a lot of confusion about how to screen Chelsea Girls by Cannes Film Festival organisers, despite being given implicit instructions from the Warhol camp. This, as well as some concerns about the scandal that would follow full frontal male nudity, rumoured to be in the movie and Cannes Film Festival decided to pull the plug.

Despite being part of the official programme, Warhol’s Chelsea Girls became the first ever invited film not to be screened at the 20th Annual Cannes Film Festival 1967.

So Where Was the 1st Official Public Screening of Chelsea Girls?

Chelsea Girls banned at Cannes Film Festival

After taking his unshown work away from the film festival, Warhol and his entourage are rumoured to have arranged the first public screening in a Paris based movie theatre; Cinematheque.

Other accounts state that the movie went straight from Cannes Film Festival to London. Here a gang of 50 people, made up of Warhol Superstars and other notable artists and socialites had gathered to watch Chelsea Girls in a flat on Mount Street belonging to Robert Fraser.

Stash De Rolla, an aristocrat and friend of the Rolling Stones, The Beatles and some of Warhol’s Superstar’s recalls;

“Robert [Fraser] called and asked me to bring Paul’s [McCartney] 16mm sound projector because Chelsea Girls needed two projectors used simultaneously.

So I took it over, arrived at 23 Mount Street and found about fifty or more people crammed in, lying all over the floor, all the Warhol entourage.

We showed the movie and someone complained about the noise and the police came.”

Following this screening interest in Chelsea Girls spread all over the underground cinema world and more and more above ground movie lovers wanted to see the mysterious and artistic production.

There’s No Such Thing As Bad Press

Warhol's Chelsea Girls press

Despite the growing interest, Chelsea Girls was banned in Boston after being shown in May 1967 a police raid resulted in the manager of the Boston Cinema getting a $500 fine and receiving four charges of obscenity.

Warhol loved the attention and relished using the line “banned in Boston” to advertise his masterpiece from then on.

The movie then toured Chicago and Berlin before making it back to New York cinema screens in July 1967. The ad read

“busted in Boston” and “censored in Cannes”

and Chelsea Girls continued to attract large audiences of “normal society”, not the usual cult underground cinema lovers that had previously followed Warhol’s work.

The stars of Chelsea Girls included daughters of wealthy socialites and aristocrats like Brigid Berlin and Mary Wornov. Brigid’s mother was said to be disgusted by her daughter’s appearance in the film and Mary’s mother sued Warhol for allowing her daughter to be filmed without a signed release.

Over time Chelsea Girls became accepted for its cultural statement rather than its value as an actual movie. Those who appeared in the movie were either real-life inhabitants of the Hotel Chelsea or people who had fallen into Warhol’s orbit essentially Chelsea Girls depicted the world in which Warhol lived. Surrounded by admirers and those whom he used as muses fro his work.

The Chelsea Girls Room

Chelsea Girls Room - movie banned at Cannes Film Festival

Book your stay in the Chelsea Girls room at Arthouse Hotel and enjoy a night of luxury in our movie inspired group accommodation.

The amazing artwork from the movie’s advertising is displayed across the ceiling and the rest of the room oozes the type of glamour and splendour associated with the Hotel Chelsea in New York.

Sleeping up to six guests in comfortable double and single beds and located at the heart of Liverpool’s popular nightlife district, the Chelsea Girls room is perfect for a group of guests looking to enjoy a taste of the chic and cosmopolitan lifestyle.

Check out our superb accommodation offers at Arthouse Hotel for girls gathering or lads nights in Liverpool or call 0151 601 8801 to book your stay.

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