By 1965, Edie Sedgwick had become the Factory’s newest superstar, though she soon began clashing with Ronald Tavel. Her first two nonspeaking roles were in Horse and Vinyl, followed by Poor Little Rich Girl, Kitchen, and several others. After she refused to play a role in what she called “Tavel’s perversities,” Andy turned to Robert Heide and asked, “Would you like to be the Factory playwright to replace Ronnie?” Sure, why not? he thought, since he was already hanging around the scene. During his brief stint as a Factory playwright, Heide wrote The Death of Lupe Vélez. The film’s title was shortened to Lupe, and it starred Sedgwick as Mexican actress Lupe Vélez, who commits suicide and comes back from the dead. “This was the last film that Edie made with Andy, because she couldn’t memorize lines,” Heide recalled, “so it was basically an improvisational Andy Warhol take on the script. And after that, Andy just wanted everybody to talk in front of the camera with no script.” Heide was likely hired because Warhol had seen The Bed at Caffe Cino several times, and he created a film version of the play. (When the playwright approached Warhol to give a blurb for its Cino run, he said, “Well, just say whatever you want, that’ll be fine.”) That footage of The Bed was incorporated into his multiscreen film The Chelsea Girls, an underground hit in 1966 that featured a new addition to the Factory’s stable of superstars: Nico, who joined the Velvet Underground the same year.
From Chapter 10 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore