Valerie Jean Solanas
1936 - 1988

An insanely brilliant (or brilliantly insane) woman. She is probably best known for shooting pop-artist Andy Warhol in 1968 and for authoring the SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto.

When her moral standards were challenged with a quip about her shooting Andy Warhol:
"I consider that a moral act. And I consider it immoral that I missed. I should have done target practice."

Lesser known works include a play entitled Up Your Ass and her memoir: A Young Girl's Primer. She also wrote various articles for magazines/newsletters here and there, many of which were rejected by publishers. She appears in two films by Andy Warhol's studio The Factory called I, A Man and Bikeboy. I think both films were directed by Paul Morrissey. Her parts were pretty small in each of them.

A film was made about her in 1997 called I Shot Andy Warhol. It was directed by Mary Harron(director of American Psycho). The cast includes Martha Plimpton, Stephen Dorff, Jared Harris and Lili Taylor as Valerie.

Satisfactorily informative and accurate biographical information on Valerie (aside from the stuff regarding the time when she blew a hole in Andy) is scarce, but I've done some digging and here's what I found (I think it's mostly true):

Born in Ventor, New Jersey on April 9th, 1936.
Parents: Louis and Dorothy Bondo Solanas
Has at least one sister, named Judith.

Her dad sexually abused her when she was a little girl. At fifteen she gave birth to a son. The father was a married man and possibly a sailor. The baby was "taken away" and Valerie never saw it again.
She went to Catholic School for a while but at some point apparently couldn't take it anymore and decided to go against her parents wishes and dropped out in favor of regular High School. She attended college at the University of Maryland at College Park where she was a "good student". While she was there she worked in the Psychology department's animal laboratory. I'd be interested to know what kind of stuff she did in there... Hmm...

After college she did a lot of travelling around America. In order to make money she panhandled, worked as a prostitute and charged males money for the privilege of engaging in interesting conversation with her. It was during this time (around 1965) that she wrote her play, Up Your Ass in either New York, or Berkeley, or both.
By 1966 she had more or less settled in Manhattan, in the Village. She slept on rooftops and when she could afford the rooms, in cheap hotels. One day, a friend of hers brought her along with him to The Factory and she managed to meet Andy Warhol. She hung about on the fringes of Warhol's crowd for a while. Valerie was still turning tricks, and panhandling and such, but she also began making a little cash by selling her written work (read: propaganda)on the street. She made mimeographed copies of her SCUM Manifesto and sold them for a quarter each to males, females got discounts. Later, the Manifesto was published by Maurice Girodias, who is also known for publishing books such as Lolita, The Story of O and Tropic of Cancer.

At some point in 1967 she gave Andy Warhol her only copy of Up Your Ass because she wanted him to produce it for her. In fact, she insisted that he produce it. Andy wouldn't do it though. He was a little paranoid, and later claimed that the play "was so dirty" that he'd thought that she must have been an undercover cop trying to entrap him and bring obscenity charges against him. Valerie continuously pestered Warhol about putting on her play for about a year, I think. When it dawned on her that he really wasn't going to produce it, she told him to give it back to her. That's when he admitted that the script had been lost. As it had been her only copy of the play, Valerie was pretty pissed off.

But she still continued to hang around The Factory, mostly talking to Andy about SCUM and feminism and whatnot. She often demanded that he give her money. He put her in a couple of movies and paid her 25 bucks for her part in I, A Man. Over time, Valerie became increasingly paranoid that Andy was using her. She thought he was involved in a plot with her publisher to steal the rights to her work and take all her money. When she went on the Alan Burke show (presumably to talk about SCUM or somesuch) she was forcibly removed from the set after refusing to censor herself and throwing a chair at the host when he began asking her manipulative and biased and basically pig-headed questions. This incident added to her paranoia. She thought she had been purposely set up by people close to her(Andy? Girodias?) to be humiliated on television. She couldn't trust many people. They were all out to ruin her.

In June of 1968, Valerie went looking for her publisher armed with a .32 medium-caliber pistol in a brown paper bag. She was informed that Girodias had gone out of town for the weekend and so she changed her plans and headed over to The Factory. Andy Warhol wasn't around when she got there but she waited patiently for him for a few hours, riding up and down the elevator numerous times. When Andy finally arrived, she followed him into the upstairs office. As he stood talking on the phone, Valerie pulled out her gun and shot at Andy Warhol three times, hitting him once. She then shot a man named Mario Amaya, who was nearby waiting to talk with Andy. She attempted to shoot Fred Hughes, Andy's manager, who was also in the room, but the gun jammed so she took the elevator back downstairs instead.

nobody died.

Actually, that's not completely true. Andy Warhol was declared clinically dead but was resuscitated in the hospital. His insides were pretty royally fucked up by the bullet.

Later that day, Valerie turned herself in to a traffic cop in Times Square. "The police are looking for me and want me," she said. "I shot Andy Warhol. He had too much control of my life."

She plead guilty to attempted murder, assault and illegal possession of a firearm and was sentenced to three years in New York State Prison for Women. She only had to serve two years though, because she'd spent a year in Ward Island Hospital's psychiatric ward awaiting trial and her time there counted as time served.

After her release from prison in 1971, she was in and out of mental institutions including the infamous Bellevue. In New York she loitered around St. Mark's Place and Tompkins Square Park looking "dazed". During this time she reportedly was living with a man on 3rd street and had a good relationship with him until she stopped taking her prescribed lithium. She eventually moved to San Francisco where she supported herself by, you guessed it, panhandling and prostitution.

She died of pneumonia in April of 1988 in the Hotel Bristol, a welfare hotel on Mason Street in the Tenderloin District of San Francisco.

This is a pitiful attempt at a bio, by the way. If you really want to get an idea of what this woman was, then read her manifesto. & bring your sense of humor along. I highly recommend watching I Shot Andy Warhol as well, even though it's somewhat fictionalized.

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