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When Andy Warhol Screen-Tested Mama Cass

Andy is standing in a far corner, examining reels of film. His assistants begin arranging floodlights, setting up the movie camera, waving light meters around. A chair is set down in front of the movie screen.

Stephen Shore brings the word to Cass. “Pardon me, Cass. Andy would like you to sit in that chair.” “Sure,” she says. She walks to the chair, sits down, sits up, crosses her legs, uncrosses them, watches the preparations with curiosity and patience.

Everything is ready, and there is really nothing to be done except to start the film rolling. Warhol, who has not yet exchanged a word with Cass, emerges from the darkness to perform the ceremony. Standing behind the camera, he looks at Cass for a moment.

“Just look at the camera,” Andy tells Cass. He looks through the viewfinder and turns the switch. Three minutes later, it is done.

“Let’s do another one. The same,” he announces. Cass remains seated, Andy walks away, and the camera is reloaded and reset. Andy returns and shoots another three-minute test.

“That’s it,” Andy says, and walks away again. Cass follows him with her eyes, then approaches him.

“How was it?” she asks.

“Oh, fantastic,” Andy answers.

“By the way,” Stephen volunteers, “Cass, this is Andy. Andy this is Cass.”

Danny Fields, writing about introducing Mama Cass to Andy Warhol in the May 1967 issue of Hullabaloo. Fields’ piece was later reprinted by The Guardian.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons