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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

The fastidious Rene Ricard’s reckless past *

* (restored)

 

“I pledge allegiance to the living, and I will defend

art from history. I will rescue art from the future,

from its attrition into taste, and from the speculative

notion that it will become more valuable with time.”

– Rene Ricard

 

___
Life

Rene Ricard was born in 1946 and grew up in Acushnet, Massachusetts. As a young teenager he ran away to Boston and assimilated into the literary scene of the city; by age eighteen he’d moved to New York City and where he was accepted as a protege by Andy Warhol. He appeared in the classic Warhol films Kitchen (1965), Chelsea Girls (1966), and ****  (1967), as well as in a number of other noted underground films, including Warren Sonbert’s Hall of Mirrors (1966), among others. He was one of the founders of and original performers in Charles Ludlam’s Theater of the Ridiculous.  Having achieved stature in the art world by successfully launching the career of painter Julian Schnabel, Ricard helped bring the artists Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat to fame. Ricard was played by Michael Wincott in Julian Schnabel’s biopic, Basquiat (1996) In December of 1981 he published the first major article on the artists. The piece appeared in Artforum magazine and was called “The Radiant Child.”

In 1979 the DIA Foundation published Ricard’s first book of poems, a self-titled volume styled on the Tiffany Christmas catalogue. His second book of poetry, God With Revolver (Hanuman Books) was published ten years later. Along with a handfull of one of a kind zines, Ricard has released two other volumes of poetry since then: Trusty Sarcophagus Co. (Inanout Books, 1990) and Love Poems (C U Z Editions, 1999). In 2004, Rene did the album cover for Shadows Collide With People by John Frusciante The majority of Ricard’s poems are now achieved in the form of paintings. He is represented in New York City by the Cheim and Reed Gallery on West 25th Street. Ricard is reclusive and famously mercurial. He lives and works at the Hotel Chelsea in New York City.

 

____
Looks

Rene Ricard at sixteen, 1963

 

Rene Ricard and Nico, early ’60s; photo by Stephen Shore

 

Rene Ricard, Susan Bottomly, Eric Emerson, Mary Woronov, Andy Warhol, 
Ronnie Cutrone, Paul Morrissey, Edie Sedgwick, 1965; photo by Stephen Shore

 

Rene Ricard in the early 70s; photo by Peter Hujar

 

Rene Ricard w/ poets Anne Waldman and Stephen Hall, 1976; photo by Gordon Ball

 

Rene Ricard in the mid-1990s, photo by Allen Ginsberg

 

Rene Ricard and Anita Sarko, 2007

 

____
Words

The Radiant Child (1981)
Rene Ricard

I remember the first Tags (where is Taki?), Breaking (where you spin on your head), Rapping (where I first heard it). I know the names, but are the names important? Where is Taki? Perhaps because I have seen graffiti, then seen something else, thrown myself on the dance floor, then gone on to dance another way, I say that the reason for abandoning so much during the ’70s was that each fad became an institution. What we can finally see from the ’70s buried among the revivals and now surfacing (Tagging, Breaking, Rapping) was at least one academy without program. Distinct to the ’70s, graffiti, in particular, was the institutionalization of the idiosyncratic that has led to the need for individuation within this anonymous vernacular. This is why the individuals (Crazy Legs) must distinguish themselves.

Artists have a responsibility to their work to raise it above the vernacular. Perhaps it is the critic’s job to sort out from the melee of popular style the individuals who define the style, who perhaps inaugurated it (where is Taki) and to bring them to public attention. The communal exhibitions of the last year and a half or so, from the Times Square Show, the Mudd Club shows, the Monumental Show, to the New York/New Wave Show at P.S. 1, have made us accustomed to looking at art in a group, so much so that an exhibit of an individual’s work seems almost antisocial. Colab, Fashion Moda, etc., have created a definite populist ambience, and like all such organizations, from the dawn of modern, have dug a base to launch new work. These are vast communal enterprises as amazing that they got off the ground as the space shuttle and even more, fly-by-night, that they landed on solid ground. (continued)

Bruce Hainley on ‘The Radiant Child’ (2001): Rene Ricard’s prose coordinates itself by digression, but I won’t digress: What’s at stake for anyone interested in thought’s embodiment is ecriture. Ricard writes, and–neither simply art history nor art criticism–his writing wrongs. Ostensibly, “The Radiant Child” is what some might consider an overly personal twirl by the Factory star (Kitchen; Chelsea Girls), poet (1979-1980; God with Revolver), and downtown eminence through the scenes (“communal exhibitions”; Mudd Club), modes (graffiti/tagging), and references (Warhol, Twombly) that would mark many of the soon-to-be art stars of the ’80s. But even more than being about Jean-Michel Basquiat (Ricard was the first to think about what and how his work might mean) or Keith Haring; or about graffiti and its “dyslexic development in that the second generation is capitalizing on territory pioneered by its lost innovators”; or about the slightly sickening fact that the “crass fast-turnover speculators’ market can have a deleterious effect on an artist’s future career” since “we are no longer collecting art we are buying individuals”; the essay is an attempt to theorize, via Haring’s Radiant Child, which manages to be both a tag with the “same effect as advertising” and “something so good it seems as if it’s always been there, like a proverb,” how “we are that little baby, the radiant child, and our name, what we are to become, is outside us and we must become ‘Judy Rifka’ or ‘Jean-Michel’ the way I became ‘Rene Ricard.”‘ (read the entirety)

 

________
Six poems & a reading
Rene Ricard

 

He’s no good
but we don’t love them
because they’re good
do we.
So why do we love them?
Because they’re beautiful?
Because they’re stupid.
What’s stupid about being
beautiful?
Beauty has brains of its own.
Let’s face it
to be beautiful and loved
is about the smartest thing
you can be.
I support the striking coal miners
But will the striking coal miners
support me?

 

 

AND SO IS MY HEART A CRASH PAD
for Hank
And so is my heart a crash pad
A transient hotel or a men’s shelter
There when convenient, a form of welfare
Better than the street in winter for
A hot bath, no fleas, a slow
Blow-job with appropriate drugs
“I love you” the token charge?
My husband panhandles
I’m 40 he’s just turned 27
Quiet, soft spoken, unanimously
considered elegant, superstitious,
Gentle, affectionate, caressing.
His cock is enormous, uncut, and
Spectacularly formed. Such weight, it still
Curves upward when erect. After IV years
He blows me now–deeply and sensitive to the feeling
I don’t believe him when he says I’m the
Only one he sucks off. It’s too easy
To make money. Hard to believe
Someone can tell you they love you
w/ conviction, make love undreamed of… and
Then steal, by now 5 typewriters and
Countless watches, when my money runs out
For even an hour. He’s so strung out
He can panhandle $10 in an hour–
His approach must be so attractive. And
Convincing. What does he tell them?
“I love you” when he panhandles in my bed.

 

 

Every minute
Somewhere
In the world
Parents are
Finding their
Children in drag

 

 

RENE RICARD, FAMOUS AT 20 (1979)

… and I still expect to be deferred to
To get in free with a crowd
So I don’t go to places where I have to pay
Sure I miss out on a lot but there was a time
When every doorman in town knew me as an ornament
Wherever I stood
Even though I’m not on the A list anymore
And don’t even get invited to the B parties
I’m still treated well where being
A former underground movie star
Still carries a little weight
I can still turn on the charm
And find a small but enthusiastic audience
Where the star of a more elegant time
Is still appreciated once in a while
By the fossil hunters
I am no longer sought after by the great hostesses
The truth is I don’t care anymore
I’ve seen them come and go
The addresses change but the guest list
Remains the same
The rich are the worst
And the very rich the very worst
They only want the Nobel Prize winners
The Academy Award winners
They are like little kids when they meet someone famous
Or someone even more rich then them
Because the dreams of the poor are only exaggerated
into the grotesque by the rich
Yes those great hostesses who purport to be lion tamers
End up being nothing but head hunters
Laughed at behind their backs
But who wouldn’t
Yeah, it’s a vulgar sprint for the famous
And the nouveau cute who feed to them
All those pretty young kids thrown to the vampires
Some vanish and the lucky ones
Become vampires themselves
I didn’t – that’s all
It’s all right to joke about it
But my stomach turns when I have to wait
In line outside some posh nightspot
And watch my poor friends led like tugboats
While one of those drunken fiends
Prods them into a limousine
What will it get them?
A few grants for a pathetic art project?
This year’s pet? Society’s darling?
You think they’d say “Hi” to try to get me in
But it Le Monde, dearie
You know who you are
All you sycophants and grant hustlers
I will never apply for a grant
Let me starve!
I must look out for my biography
I may be a pariah but I am still
And always will be a living legend
I’d rather starve

 


Rene Ricard reads (2010)

 

__________
Performances

Rene Ricard’s film debut in Warhol’s Kitchen (seen standing 
in the background, standing far right, and leaning over the sink)


Warhol’s ‘Chelsea Girls’ feat. Rene Ricard


Michael Wincott as Rene Ricard in Schnabel’s ‘Basquiat’


Rene Ricard in Michele Civetta’s ‘After the Fall’


Book launch: ‘Rene Ricard 1979-1980’ in Paris on May 4, 2018

 

 

Rene Ricard speaks about the lost Warhol film The Andy Warhol Story (1966):

I made a film with Edie about nine months after she left the Factory. Andy suggested, ‘Let’s do a movie with you as me in it. The Andy Warhol Story. I really hated Andy by then. I realized his was a passive exploitation – that it could be humiliating and horrible. He had been asking me to do this for a long time and I had refused. But one night I took an Obetrol – a very powerful twenty five milligram amphetamine pill, the best. They were very hard to get, rare and very good. It’s a good high, very gay, very lovely speed. That night we were making this Tiger Morse movie, part of a twenty-four hour four-star movie in which I was supposed to be an extra. ‘Don’t do too much talking’, I was told. Well, the pill got me hysterical and I was amazingly good at it. Andy fell in love with me for it. Once again he said, ‘Oh, you’re so good tonight; let’s do that movie I’ve wanted you to do.’ So I finally said okay. The only reason I agreed to do his film was to get even with him. I said, ‘Okay, let’s go to my place and do it.’ I was living in a very beautiful apartment on Fifth Avenue with Avery Dunphy, who was being kept in this luxurious place by a doctor who was mad for prissy Wasps. Mirrored coffee tables, a huge white silk-satin couch.Beautiful, right? What Avery wanted to be was chic -which was all anybody wanted at that time. Having Andy Warhol make a movie in that apartment, even though it wasn’t his, was very chic. I called Avery and told him what was happening – that we were on the the way. I told him, ‘I want orchids. I want the place filled with orchids.’ He asked, ‘Well, where am I going to get orchids at this time of night?’ I told him about a place in the East Sixties that’s open until mid-night. I figured I’d do it right. Right? I didn’t have any money, but at least I could have orchids. Besides, I was trying to get even with Andy. So Avery went out and bought the most exquisiteorchids you’ve ever seen. He bought orchids to die over. I know the difference between good orchids and vulgar ones, and these were expensive and good – from Hawaii or Vietnam, which is where Paris gets its orchids. When we all got to the apartment, Andy asked, ‘Who do you want in the film with you?’ I said ‘I only want Edie Sedgwick. Who else is there in your life but Edie Sedgwick?’ Andy said, ‘I don’t know if we can get her.’ I said, ‘I won’t do it without her.’ I took another pill and I got wired. Wired! There’s a point when you take speed when you talk a lot, and yet there’s also a point where you take too much and you don’t talk. That’s the point that second pill got me to. So Andy got Edie on the telephone and offered to pay for her taxi, and about three hours later Edie turned up. I didn’t want to make the movie when I saw her. She was wearing a dirty blond fall. She looked like the cheapest piece of filth. Here was my Edie, my Edie, and I was making a movie with her – co-stars! No longer was I an extra, and she looked like hell! She was wearing a kind of Marimekko type dress, and mean! She, too, hated Andy at that point: she had been eighty-sixed. When she was with the fairies, she was on speed and she was Edie, she was ‘on’. When she was with Bobby Neuwirth, who was a hetero, she was on downs, and Edie on downs was not pretty. Well, when she arrived at the apartment, the cameras started rolling. I had my own personal vendetta against against Warhol, and so did she. And I was playing Warhol. So I played him the way he behaved to the people under him. She played herself according to how she felt about him then. The things she said to me were horrible. I don’t remember them. I don’t even remember what I said. I was awful. I have nightmares about what I did in that movie… saying things about Andy that were true, how he disposed of people. Paul Morrissey, who was behind the camera, was white with rage. I went through the paintings… how Andy doesn’t actually do the paintings himself. Stupid things like: “Gerard get me an egg. Do you want to know howI paint my pictures, you people out there?’ I’d crack the egg in a glass and then I’d say to Gerard: ‘Cook it!’ That’s how I paint my pictures.’ We did one reel and stopped. Then Andy in his sick, masochistic, dreadful way – after all, here were these two people on camera saying the most ghastly things about him – said ‘Let’s do another reel.’ He had been standing holding his fingers in his mouth, which he does when he’s anxious, and he was loving it… getting the truth. So we did another reel, and in this one it got violent. Edie started it. At some point I gave her some orchids. I said, ‘You’re not dressed up enough for this movie. So do something. Take these flowers.’ She took them and crushed them. I got very upset. And I – me, Rene Ricard, not the Andy Warhol me – was just made demented by that. I love orchids. It was a personal thing from me to her. I said, ‘You really need to fix yourself up, my dear. Put them on you somewhere.’ She cried out, ‘I hate them! I don’t want to be beautiful!’She wrecked the flowers. Edie was hating me. We were both hating each other because of the roles we were playing… I loved Edie, but I couldn’t stand being in a movie with her the way she looked. She was horrible in the movie, and mean. The things I was saying were so horrible. Paul Morrissey suddenly reached out from behind the camera and ripped my clothes off me – a new white silk shirt and new pair of white linen pants. He ripped them. The camera was turning. Paul was out of the frame. I guess he was livid because of the things I was saying about Andy. So we finished the film – two reels. Edie rushed home. I didn’t care about her at that point. My clothes were a ruin. I was a mess. I was wiped out by the pills. Dazed. You’ll never guess what happened then. Andy Warhol at that point was close to a guy called Rod La Rod. He was handling the sound on this film. They asked me to see the rushes in the Factory. I sat there watching it – Paul, Andy, Rod and a few of the other serfs were there -and I saw what they had done to it. Edie’s voice is there, but when I speak, you can’t hear it. They were in glee.

 

______
Visuals

‘Please hold me the forgotten way’, undated

‘Blow Jobs’, 2011

RR’s cover for the John Frusciante album

 

Untitled: “What I Really Think”, 2011

untitled, 2003

 

‘So, who left who?’, undated

 

Untitled, 2003

 

Roberta Smith, New York Times: ‘Rene Ricard illustrates his own work, usually with a distinctive, if Twomblyesque scrawl, graffiti-type doodles and seductive rainbow colors. So doing, he joins a tradition that includes William Blake, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Henry Miller. The look here is stylish, indulgent and haphazard; the narrative forms range from extended poems to short epigrams like ” ‘I love you.’ The modern way to say goodbye.” ‘What carries the day is, as usual, Mr. Ricard’s seething verbal finesse, which wends its way through a number of largely autobiographical scenes involving sex, art, money and religion. Mr. Ricard writes about anything and on any available surface. ”Starry Night” simply says: ”Jasper Johns. Over 34,000,000 sold.” The poet’s emphemeral work, like his rambling installation, evokes a funkier, less monied and more outrageous period in the New York art world.’

 

____
Last

 

Rene Ricard @ Wikipedia
RENE RICARD – OBITUARY
The Rene Ricard Story Goes Dark
Rene Ricard (Memorial Site)
Rene Ricard @ Cheim Read Gallery
Book: ‘God With Revolver’
Book: ‘Rene Ricard 1979-1980’
IN MEMORIAM Rene Ricard (1946 – 2014)
Un genre de beauté qui dérange, Rene Ricard, dernier des poètes beat
A Weird Encounter With Rene Ricard

—-

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Thanks for the wonderful backgrounding. I’m super hate/love with Las Vegas. I think I mostly just love the facades. And their scale. Mostly their scale maybe. The Vegas shows I remember seeing as a kid: Phyllis Diller, Bob Newhart, Robert Goulet. ** Damien Ark, Hey, Damien, thanks, man. You got a Switch? Oooh. I’m doing all right. Things are pretty good, as far as I can tell. Cool and Islamophobic are too difficult for me to reconcile. Good luck. ** Sypha, Yeah, the moon one is really the one, no? ** Tosh Berman, I love driving or walking down the Strip and looking at the facades. The insides are almost always disappointing to me. I think it’s because the exteriors promise a kind of amusement park level of delights, and then all you get is switchable casinos and malls. Well, except for Circus Circus which has an actual amusement park inside. One of them, I forget which, has a James Turrell thingy. Anyway, yeah, on balance Vegas is pretty great. I used to love the horrible all you-could-eat buffets. Understood about your personal lockdown, and it’s sensible. Everyone here wears masks everywhere. I don’t even remember ever seeing anyone not wearing one. ** Nick Toti, Hey, Nick, good to see you! I have not seen that Herzog short or even knew of its existence, how … strange. Hopefully. I’ll go watch it. Thanks for that, man. You doing good? You getting things done that you want to get done? Everyone, Nick Toti hooks us up with a … I’ll let him tell you … with a ‘bizarre Vegas-set Herzog short about the band The Killers? It’s definitely one of the strangest entries in Herzog’s filmography, with the band treating it like a PR fluff piece and Herzog treating it like an ethnographic study or something. The post reminded me of it, so I’ll share it.’ Here. ** MSC, Hi, MSC, welcome to here, and thank you for entering. Weird, I’ll google that Brooklyn brownstone. Thanks! How are you? What’s going on? ** Misanthrope, I think a couple of those could have been hits. The Moon, maybe the Titanic although I feel it’s impossible not to look at those renderings and think how lame it is that the ship isn’t upended, broken in half, and beset with special effects to make it look like it’s sinking. You know who … oh, the unspeakable one. Probably best that your mom doesn’t read my books, no? She’d probably put parental controls on your computer if she knew you read such trash. I’m pretty sure the Amazon ban of Derek’s book is an algorhythm thing re: the word “faggot” but I doubt it’ll get restored even so. ** _Black_Acrylic, Now that’s a great idea! A Vegas themed hotel. Wtf would they make it look like, I wonder? Loving the theme of your story, and the title. You’re good with titles, man, if I haven’t already ventured that opinion. ** Steve Erickson, Well, yeah. Even though it sure seems like the vast majority of Vegas goers are in their 70s and 80s, at least when I’ve been there. But not for long, I guess. ** Bill, It’s true that you don’t seem like you would be a Vegas fan now that you mention it. Whereas with me people assume I’m a bigger fan of the place than I actually am. Exactly, like I said to Misanthrope, that Titanic one had great potential conceptually but the proposal was a wuss out. I wonder if that Hole in the Head Film Festival is viewable over here? I’ll find out. Yum for you in any case. I’m just finishing my 2020 favorites post to be launched a week from today. Not a bad year, except for movies and art a bit for the obvious reason. ** Okay. I’ve restored an old post about the legendary poet, performer, artist, and evil person Rene Ricard. I think he was even still alive when I originally made it. Enjoy being with his inimitable personhood and things, if you so choose. See you tomorrow.


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12 Comments

  1. I saw Rene Ricard give a lecture at the art school in Chicago back in the day, and it was easily the best thing ever. Witty, erudite, bitchy and he sang Nelly – Hot in Herre too if I recall correctly. I can believe all that about him being evil but still, what a guy.

    The new episode of Play Therapy is online here via Tak Tent Radio! Ben ‘Jack Your Body’ Robinson brings you Italo, Electro, Jamaican Dancehall and all kinds of other stuff in between.

  2. Rene Ricard sounds like a gem. I love that very first quote you’ve used in the beginning of the post. May I ask where it’s been taken from? I like the other poems you’ve shared by him, too, especially this bit: ‘I support the striking coal miners/
    But will the striking coal miners/ support me?’ His black & white photos from early 60s are stunning. His performance in the video of Oil Kills is delightfully camp, mad, and playful. I love that he introduces himself as ‘an alcoholic’. Do you have a favourite book by him that you recommend? Although unfortunately it seems like most of his books are out of print. Why do you say he was an ‘evil person’? He sounds fabulous.

  3. Dennis, Hahahah, that Titanic, right? Imagine booking a room in your version. Eek!

    Yeah, I checked last night and it looks like Derek’s book is back up at Amazon. If it’s an algorithm, I hope it kicked in because so many people were buying it. Read a great review of it yesterday on the dripdropdripdropdripdrop blog on blogspot.

    What’s also interesting is that, if it was because of that word in the title, then it makes absolutely no sense because you can buy all types of items on Amazon with that word on it, T-shirts, etc.

    Amazon is just fucking weird, imo.

    Hahaha, yeah, I think my mom would like God Jr. 😀 Maybe the others if I explained them to her. Otherwise, yeah, I’d be locked out of the house if she started reading your stuff. 😉

  4. David Ehrenstein

    December 4, 2020 at 2:55 pm

    I knew Rene as an acolyte of Warren Sonbert. He was featured in Warren’s “Hall of Mirrors” and appears with his fag-hag-du jour Patsy Lamers n Warren’s “The Bad and the Beautiful.” This was just Rene glommed onto Andy. As you can see from teh photos here he was a great prop — standing next to Nico, Susan Bottomly, et.al. I saw “The Andy Warhol Story” as it was part of ****(Four Stars) Andy’s 25 hour long super epic shown once and one only in 1967. Rene was prettty funny apeing Andy. That he should evolve into a mover and shaker in the Art World is astonishing as he never appeared to me to have anything beween his ears but sawdust. I love how Andy describes him in the Diaries: “Ran into Rene Ricard, the George Sanders of the loer wast side. He was with a boy who had a name like a cigarette.”

  5. I really like Rene Ricard’s paintings and poetry. Is there a new book being put out by him? A new collection of some sort?

  6. Hi Dennis,

    Yup, I’m getting things done. Lots of things in fact. It’s been an incredibly busy couple of months. I’m just now putting the finishing touches on a new movie based on a forthcoming book by David Shields. I’m hoping to release it before Christmas (it’s thematically relevant to both Xmas and COVID), but we need to make sure his publisher doesn’t mind. It’s a bit complicated because I signed on to adapt it before he had a publisher, and the last thing I want to do is complicate the publication. Hopefully that all works out.

    The other big update is that I just moved from Los Angeles to a fairly small town in Missouri. My wife and I both work remotely so we decided to relocate somewhere where we could pay half as much for a lot more space. The other goal is to make bigger movies for less money than it would cost living in a city like Los Angeles. Big cities have serious advantages, but there are also a lot of roadblocks (mostly financial and/or bureaucratic) for the type of DIY stuff I do. I’m planning a horror feature for after the pandemic gets under control and might also do another collaboration with David Shields. Also finishing up a documentary I’ve been working on for three years. Lots happening!

    Take care and talk more soon!

  7. Evil or not, Ricard was pretty dishy back in the day. That Michael Spies article at Vocativ.com was just hilarious.

    I don’t know if you’ll be able to get to Another Hole’s offerings, Dennis. But I’ll try to post regular updates.

    I better start organizing my year-end lists, yow.

    Bill

  8. If I posted a photo of the cover of Derek’s book on FB, would I get a temporary ban from some algorithm?

    Here’s my review of Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH: https://www.gaycitynews.com/surprisingly-little-mystery-about-uzbekistan/

    That Vocativ story about Ricard reads even better in conjunction with their other stories listed on the side.

  9. Shit, I had such a crush on Rene when I was in high school, in the 70’s, I don’t remember how or why. I didn’t know him and I lived in a small town in Michigan where all my news came through New York fanzines like Trouser Press, oh and Interview magazine, maybe that was it.

  10. Man this rules. I was unfamiliar besides The Radiant Child. Really wonderful stuff. Thanks Dennis!

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