Well, East Coast Guys Are Hip…*

Paul Morrissey, Eothen, Montauk, 12/3/95

Paul Morrissey, Eothen, Montauk, 12/3/95

In 1972, Andy Warhol and Paul Morrissey bought the Church estate in Montauk and named it Eothen–“at first light” in Greek.

Their realtor and friend, a former art director at Vogue, Tina Fredricks (who was the co-listing broker when we sold our small, non-beachfront house on five East Hampton acres, which we had bought from the estate of the art critic Harold Rosenberg in 1991), brought the partners to the property, 2o acres of dunes overlooking the Atlantic, and a sprawling group of five mostly small (by current East End standards) white clapboard houses.

Warhol, disinterested in the extreme beauty of the rough surf and the Montauk moorlands which drew his famous Eothen houseguests and tenants–who did interest him (Mick Jack, Lee Radziwill, Jackie Onassis, Halston), rarely visited.

After Warhol’s death in 1987, Morrissey cleverly donated 15 dramatic–and unless you were welcome at Eothen, dramatically inaccessible–acres to a conservancy.  He sold the estate in 2007.

I photographed Paul Morrissey (who unlike Warhol, understood the appeal of Montauk) in December 1995, in advance of a series of his films at Film Forum.  I chose to shoot on Eothen’s beach, a healthy walk from an East Coast surfing mecca (which has since become a bit too trendy), Ditch Plains.

Morrissey was friendly and willing to sit on the rock as long as I needed although it was startlingly cold and windy (and please forgive the strained segue), unlike in May 1968 when he and Warhol shot “San Diego Surf” in California.

The film, which follows Warhol superstars Taylor Mead and Viva, playing husband and wife, and some surfers, existed as mostly unedited footage until 1995 when the Warhol Foundati0n commissioned Morrissey to make a final cut but remained publicly unseen until a screening at Art Basel Miami Beach in 2011.

“San Diego Surf,” its authorship wholly attributed to Warhol (and with no argument from Morrissey), will be shown at MoMA from January 23-28.

Paul Morrissey will introduce the 5:30 pm screening of his film, “Trash,” on Saturday, January 26 at Film Forum, with a Q&A to follow.

* thanks, Beach Boys, for the headline inspiration


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