Soren Agenoux

Soren Agenoux

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When he was part of the Warhol crowd, Soren Agenoux wrote a twisted version of A Christmas Carol that debuted at Caffe Cino in 1966 and later could be seen in the reality television series An American Family as Lance Loud’s roommate in the Chelsea Hotel.

 

A Grim Christmas Carol

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Soren Agenoux’s adaptation of A Christmas Carol took the audience deep into the soul of Ebenezer Scrooge, with absolutely no sentimentality. Michael Smith, who directed it, recalled that it was based more on the Scrooge McDuck comic than the Charles Dickens story. “There was also kind of an anti-Vietnam streak to it,” Smith said. “It was very obscure, because it was written in this kind of raving amphetamine haze that Soren Agenoux did so well.” Actress Jacque Lynn Colton, who played the Ghost of Christmas Past, recalled the show’s wild run. “I was kind of on the fringes of it all,” she said, “because I was not a gay boy, and I wasn’t into drugs or anything.” In one of her scenes, Colton was given a prop birthday cake with candles to wear on her head while she recited a two-page monologue, which was mostly poetic gibberish. Cino lighting genius Johnny Dodd slowly dimmed the lights so that when Ondine blew out the candles at the end of Colton’s long speech, the Cino went pitch black. This sort of technique is common today, but it was shockingly new at the time. The play was packed with allusions to pop culture and Factory scene inside jokes, with Ondine’s character spouting free-associating lines such as, “I help support certain establishments, certain recognized charities—the Girls of Chelsea Amphetamindell—THE VELVET UNDERGRINDLE.” Andy Warhol saw A Christmas Carol several times and sent his lieutenant Paul Morrissey to film it for the compilation film Four Stars.

From Chapter 12 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


Filming Begins for An American Family

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When An American Family went into production, Lance Loud and Kristian Hoffman didn’t think twice about having cameras record every moment of their lives, for it was all part of their master plan. “We were in a self-deluded dream that we were going to somehow become big rock stars or big artists like Andy Warhol, or some crazy thing,” Hoffman said. “So when this opportunity came to us with An American Family, it didn’t seem unnatural at all. It just seemed like, ‘Well, life is progressing like we expected. Someone is paying attention,’ so we’re going to move forward and do something crazy. Also, we were young and thought we were the most fascinating people in the world. It didn’t really occur to us that we might not be that interesting.” When filming started, Lance was living at the Chelsea Hotel with roommate Soren Agenoux (who had written the twisted version of A Christmas Carol that debuted at Caffe Cino in 1966). “My first clash came immediately,” wrote Pat Loud in her 1974 memoir A Woman’s Story. “I flew to New York to spend a few days with Lance, who, as the world now knows, was staying at the Chelsea Hotel, a place I’d pictured as a nice, quaint, middle-class hostelry where a white-haired grandma type with a big bunch of keys at her waist clucked over boys far from home and brought them hot toddies and did their laundry.” She soon discovered otherwise. “Lance had endeared himself to Soren Agenoux, who was a kind of creepy guy,” Hoffman recalled, “but he had an apartment in the Chelsea Hotel. So that’s who Lance was living with when Pat first visited Lance in New York.”

From Chapter 23 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore