Before becoming a Factory regular, Taylor Mead was already a star of underground film after his appearance in The Flower Thief, a 1960 film by Ron Rice. The actor, activist, and scenester Jim Fouratt fondly remembered Mead as an early performance artist whose head-scratching routines could be seen in a variety of downtown venues. During one show, he sat on a swing while wearing red long johns attached to several Campbell’s soup cans. “He was doing this sort of burlesque,” Fouratt said, “throwing the cans to the ground, while swinging.” Taylor also read poems at the San Remo with lines like, “There’s a lesbian in the harbor that has been carrying a torch for someone for a hundred years” and “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses. And let me blow them.” Mead was typical of the people who surrounded Warhol, because he was given an inheritance to keep him away from his hometown. The money gave Taylor the kind of privilege that Edie Sedgwick also enjoyed—that is, as Fouratt noted, “until Edie ran out of money, because Andy always made her pick up the check. And she always graciously picked up the check.” Money was a constant source of tension at the Factory, causing Mead and many others to eventually fall out with Warhol.
From Chapter 3 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore