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[End Page 652]
Andy Warhol’s 1965 film Afternoon begins as many Warhol films made during that year began—with an offscreen voice reciting the title and naming the stars: “with Edie Sedgwick, Bob Olivo, Dorothy Dean, Arthur Loeb, Donald Lyons.” We see the cast members huddled in Sedgwick’s living room, lounging during what looks like a warm day in New York City (figure 1). The group seems languid during most of the first reel of this three-reel, 100-minute film.1 They pour drinks from a large bottle of vodka into glasses, and Ondine retrieves a pepper shaker from the kitchen and suggests that everybody try some cracked pepper in their vodka. They declare that they are bored. Loeb makes a lame attempt to engage in stagy dialogue with Sedgwick: “Isn’t it wonderful that we can be just friends?” he asks. They begin an exchange that fails to develop into banter. Somebody turns on the television and flips through some channels, pausing to watch a baseball game and then an opera performance. They chat about movies; Ondine wants to know if anybody has seen Red Desert. The US release of the Antonioni film was on 8 February 1965, so judging by this and that the players are all dressed in light clothing, Afternoon was most likely shot in spring or perhaps even summer of that year. Sedgwick recounts a trip to a “dyke bar” in Bridgehampton with Chuck (Wein) and Drella (Warhol), after which, wearing black fur and carrying umbrellas, they walked the beach. Later she mentions swimming in the ocean, and Ondine asks a person off camera, “Which beach, Chuck?” A voice, presumably that of Chuck Wein, answers, “The Hamptons.”2
There is no plan here. The camera waits for something to happen, and for a long while it seems that nothing will. Eventually, though, Ondine and Sedgwick take the reins and the tenor of the group shifts. Ondine says to nobody in particular, “All of my drugs are locked up in the car. I wish I had them here.” Sedgwick mentions finding the keys, but Ondine already has them. An off-camera voice implores Sedgwick to explain her [End Page 653] “space thing,” which is probably an attempt to get her to engage in a long monologue that would transform the film into another Sedgwick vehicle along the lines of Beauty No. 2 or Poor Little Rich Girl (both 1965). At first Sedgwick is reticent: “Nobody wants to hear my space thing, it’s just me explaining why I am … it would take four hours and nobody wants to hear … no it’s true I usually impose it on people at the right time [laughs] but I’m sure it’s a great drag.” Ondine says he would love to hear about it. Sedgwick begins to explain that it’s about where human beings are going in the next 50,000 years. According to her, people are going to be out in space, literally, and this is going to require an entirely new way of thinking. Before she gets going on this subject, though, she asks Ondine about the drugs—”Oh Ondine are you going to get them?”—and the reel washes out into white leader.
By the time the second reel begins recording, the conversation has shifted to a discussion of Eddie Fisher and Elizabeth Taylor. The camera closes in on Ondine, who must have gone out to the car, because he is holding a small vial of white powder. For the next few minutes, as the conversations continue, the camera vigilantly observes Ondine as he dispenses the drugs into everybody’s drinks, first using the end of a spoon, then the temple of a pair of eyeglasses, and then a small slip of paper. After dosing all the drinks, he then...