Refugees of Warhol’s Factory Take the Hamptons

Two security guards flanked the doorway of Eric Firestone’s newly opened gallery on East Hampton’s chic retail row Newtown Lane. Inside, at the opening of “Warhol: From Dylan to Duchamp,” black-and-white photographs of Andy Warhol and his many muses lined the walls from floor to ceiling. Young male waiters squiring silver trays of Champagne flutes were styled to make for a Lonesome Cowboy tableau vivant.

Taylor Mead-the 86-year-old poet, Lower Manhattan arts icon and star of the Warhol films Tarzan and Jane Regained … Sort of and Taylor Mead’s Ass-slouched in a wooden rocking chair facing the entryway, a blue New York Giants knit cap perched on his head. Across from him on the wall was a stark, close-up portrait of himself 40 years ago. The poet, who also appeared in Jim Jarmusch’s 2003 film Coffee and Cigarettes, fiddled with an orange prescription bottle before slipping two white pills into his mouth and washing them down with a gulp of tequila from an old silver flask.

“Mr. Mead, how are you?” asked the Transom.

“I’m swallowing my pills,” said Mr. Mead.

“What kind of tequila are you drinking?”

“Very smooth.”

Of his Hamptons habits, Mr. Mead told the Transom, “I’ve been coming here since 1960. My great friend Jerome Hill had a house in Bridgehampton. Now I just come out sometimes; I had a poetry reading down on Main Street just three or four months ago.”

As a Jack Russell terrier strayed from his owner, a gallery guest, to sniff the leg of Mr. Mead’s chair, Mr. Mead continued, “Courtesy of the Warhol Foundation, I have a poetry session every Monday at the Bowery Poetry Club for four years now. I live on the Lower East Side. I call it Loho.”

“One of my favorite moments in my life today,” photographer and exhibit co-curator Eric Kroll recalled of Mr. Mead, “was walking with him in full winter garmentry on the beach in East Hampton. You know he did Tarzan and Jane, and you know who was the stand-in in that film? Dennis Hopper!”

Asked about the veracity of a rumor that Lou Reed was expected to show up, Mr. Kroll replied, “That just sounds like bullshit to me. You know, he came to my studio one time, and he said not a word the whole time, and I found that kind of interesting. He came with Penn Jillette, you know, that kind of famous magician in Las Vegas or whatever. And he said to me, ‘What’s the most outrageous photograph you have,’ and I told him, ‘I have one called “My Wife Thinks I’m a Pornographer,”‘ and he bought it, so there you go.”

In the back of the gallery, philanthropist Beth Rudin DeWoody held court near a wall of photographs. Next to the bathroom, a photograph of a James Dean-styled Johnny Depp stared out at a cluster of ladies waiting for the rest room.

Seated nearby, Danish artist Hanne Lauridsen eagerly told the Transom  about her work: “I do installations and dee-gee-tull photography.” Her auburn-haired Yorky panted patiently on her lap. “Her name?” Ms. Lauridsen petted the top of her dog’s head. “Gigi,” she said proudly, then, leaning in as if to whisper, added, “You know, because I so love Leslie Caron.”

Above one doorway read a Warhol quote in glossy black text, “I have Social Disease. I have to go out every night.”

Soon guests began filing out of the gallery. The Beatles’ “Norwegian Wood” wafted after them onto the sidewalk.

cmalle@observer.com

Refugees of Warhol’s Factory Take the Hamptons