When Andy Warhol Screen-Tested Mama Cass

Longreads

Andy is standing in a far corner, examining reels of film. His assistants begin arranging floodlights, setting up the movie camera, waving light meters around. A chair is set down in front of the movie screen.

Stephen Shore brings the word to Cass. “Pardon me, Cass. Andy would like you to sit in that chair.” “Sure,” she says. She walks to the chair, sits down, sits up, crosses her legs, uncrosses them, watches the preparations with curiosity and patience.

Everything is ready, and there is really nothing to be done except to start the film rolling. Warhol, who has not yet exchanged a word with Cass, emerges from the darkness to perform the ceremony. Standing behind the camera, he looks at Cass for a moment.

“Just look at the camera,” Andy tells Cass. He looks through the viewfinder and turns the switch. Three minutes later, it is done.

“Let’s do…

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