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Alice Cooper finds forgotten multi-million dollar Andy Warhol print in storage

the rocker forgot he owned the classic art piece

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Rocker Alice Cooper is the owner of a multi-million dollar Andy Warhol classic and didn’t know it.

According to The Guardian, Cooper had kept the silkscreen print for 40 years “rolled up in a tube” in a storage locker.

The print is dated to be either 1964 or 1965 and based on a 1953 press photo of Sing Sing prison’s death chamber where Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed for sharing atomic secrets with the Soviet Union. “Little Electric Chair” was part of Warhol’s Death and Disaster series.

Cooper’s longtime manager Shep Gordon says Cooper and Warhol became friends in New York City.

“It was back in ’72 and Alice had moved to New York with his girlfriend Cindy Lang,” Gordon told The Guardian. “Andy was kind of a groupie, and so was Alice. They loved famous people. So they started a relationship, and they loved to hang out.”

At the time, Cooper would fake electrocution in an electric chair during his concerts. Lang, who died in January at the age of 67, purchased the print for $2,500.

Gordon says when Lang purchased the print Cooper was busy making albums, touring and drinking heavily. Shortly after the purchase, he was admitted into an insane asylum for drinking and after his release moved to L.A.

“Alice says he remembers having a conversation with Warhol about the picture. He thinks the conversation was real, but he couldn’t put his hand on a Bible and say that it was,” Gordon says.

The print was forgotten until Gordon was reminded of the artwork while meeting with art dealer Ruth Bloom in Los Angeles four years ago. Cooper’s mother then found the print rolled up in a tube in storage.

A green version of “Little Electric Chair” sold at auction for $11.6 million. Cooper’s red version is unsigned. It cannot be authenticated by the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts because the foundation stopped authenticating work in 2011 but Richard Polsky, a Warhol art expert, says the piece is legitimate.

“At the time no one thought it had any real value,” Gordon continued. “Andy Warhol was not ‘Andy Warhol’ back then. And it was all a swirl of drugs and drinking. But you should have seen Alice’s face when Richard Polsky’s estimate came in. His jaw dropped and he looked at me. ‘Are you serious? I own that.'”

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National Museum of the American Indian celebrates Pride

Panelists include Indigenous youth working in education, health, cultural heritage, and the arts

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The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will celebrate Pride month with an online panel featuring Indigenous youth on Thursday, June 17 at 4 p.m. Panelists will include Indigenous youth working in education, health, cultural heritage, and the arts.

The topic of discussion will focus on how identity influences activism and panelists will participate in amplifying Two Spirit (people who identify as possessing both male and female spirits) and Native LGBTQ+ voices and issues.

Closed captioning for this program will be available in both English and Spanish, and registration is available online at the Smithsonian’s website.

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Photos

Photos: D.C. celebrates Pride

Marchers chant, ‘We’re here, We’re queer, get used to it!’

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Hundreds of participants gather in Freedom Plaza following the Pride Walk. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The Capital Pride Alliance and other community organizations came together for a Pride Walk from Dupont Circle to Freedom Plaza on Saturday. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser spoke at the rally following the march. 

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Books

Two new books celebrate Old Hollywood glory

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Liz Taylor and Montgomery Clift, who was gay, had a long, close friendship. (Photo courtesy Kensington)
‘Elizabeth and Monty: The Untold Story of Their Intimate Friendship’
By Charles Casillo
c.2021, Kensington
$27.00/389 pages

‘The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock’
By Edward White
c.2021, W. W. Norton & Company
$28.95/379 pages

If you’re queer, especially if you’re of a certain age, old Hollywood is embedded in your DNA.

For those of us besotted by classic movies — there can never be too many books about Tinseltown.

Two new books — “Elizabeth and Monty” by Charles Casillo and “The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock” by Edward White — will satisfy your old Hollywood jones.

“Elizabeth and Monty” is the riveting story of the intimate friendship of Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift.

Few people are loved more by the LGBTQ community than Elizabeth Taylor. Who will ever forget Taylor as Martha in “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” or as Maggie in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof?”

Taylor raised millions for AIDS research long before any celeb or politico even said the word “AIDS.” People with AIDS weren’t objects of charity to Taylor. She had many queer friends and hung out at gay bars.

Montgomery Clift, who lived from 1920 to 1966, was a talented actor. Because of the time in which he lived, he had to be closeted about his sexuality. Because of the homophobia in the society and Hollywood then, the support of friends was crucial to Clift and other LGBTQ people of that era.

For much of his life, Clift had health problems that caused him pain. Partly as a result of pain, he had issues with drinking and drug addiction. His behavior could be erratic and uncouth.  (He had a penchant for eating food off of other people’s plates.)

Despite Clift’s troubles, you become transfixed by his brooding intensity – whether you’re watching him in “The Heiress,” “From Here to Eternity” or “Red River.”  

If you have a heartbeat, you’ll feel the chemistry between Clift and Taylor when they’re on screen together in “A Place in the Sun.”

Though Clift was queer and Taylor was hetero, they were the closest of friends.

From the prologue onward, Casillo draws you into their friendship. The book opens on the evening when Clift, driving home from a party, was in a terrible car accident. He’d crashed into a telephone pole. 

Taylor went to Clift who was lying bleeding on the road. “Realizing he was choking on his teeth,” Casillo adds, “she instinctively stuck her fingers down his throat and pulled out two broken teeth, clearing the passageway.”

Taylor stuck by Clift when many of his friends distanced themselves from him.  

Taylor insisted that Clift be cast in “Reflections in a Golden Eye.” She put up her own salary as insurance for Clift when no one would insure him (because of his health and substance abuse issues).

It’s clear from “Elizabeth and Monty” that Clift was as important to Taylor as she was to him. Their relationship wasn’t sexual, writes Casillo, author of “Marilyn Monroe: The Private Life of a Public Icon” and “Outlaw The Lives and Careers of John Rechy.” Yet, there was an emotional intensity – a romantic quality – in their friendship.

Clift nurtured Taylor. He coached Taylor, who he called Bessie Mae, on her acting. He thought Taylor was beautiful, yet understood what it was like for Taylor when people only saw her for her beauty.

“Monty, Elizabeth likes me, but she loves you,” Richard Burton is reported to have said to Clift.

There are good biographies of Taylor – such as William Mann’s “How To Be A Movie Star: Elizabeth Taylor in Hollywood” and of Clift – most notably Patricia Bosworth’s “Montgomery Clift: A Biography.”

Even so, “Elizabeth and Monty” sheds new light on the intense friendship of two queer icons. Check it out. It will imbue you with renewed love and respect not only for Taylor and Clift but for your own friends.

Without Alfred Hitchcock, I’d never make it through the pandemic.

The COVID vaccines are wonderful! But, I’d never get out of my sweatpants without the suspense and glam of Hitchcock’s movies.

Nothing is more comforting than watching serial killer Uncle Charlie in “Shadow of a Doubt” or, with Grace Kelly, James Stewart and Thelma Ritter, observing the murderer in “Rear Window.”

What is more pleasurable than ogling the gorgeous mid-century apartment where a murder has been committed in “Rope?”

Of course, I’m far from alone in loving Hitchcock. Hetero and queer viewers are Hitchcock fans.

Everyone from your straight, straitlaced granny to your bar-hopping queer grandson has had nightmares about the shower scene in “Psycho.” Or had a crush on Cary Grant or Eva Marie Saint in “North by Northwest.”

From the glam in “Rear Window” to Bruno and Guy in “Strangers on a Train,” it’s clear that Hitchcock’s movies have a queer quotient and a special appeal to LGBTQ viewers.

There are more biographies and studies of Hitchcock’s life and work than you could count. Or would want to read.

Yet, “The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock” by Edward White is a good read.

In elegant, precise writing, White illuminates Hitchcock’s life and work by examining 12 aspects of his complex personality. As with all of us, the whole of Hitchcock’s self was more than the components of his personality. Any life, despite the most assiduous biographer’s investigations, remains somewhat of a mystery.

White explores how “Hitchcock” the phenomenon was invented as well as what made Hitchcock the person tick. He carries out this exploration by writing about Hitchcock as everything from “The Fat Man” to “The Murderer” to “The Dandy” to “The Voyeur” to “The Londoner” to “The Family Man” to “The Man of God.”

Hitchcock was a family man who loved his wife, yet, at times, gazed in, to put it mildly an unsavory manner, at some of the actresses such as Tippi Hedren, in his films.  

Impeccably dressed in a Victorian-era suite, he plotted films about murder and rape with his wife (and frequent uncredited collaborator) Alma at his side.

For a half century, “Hitchcock’s persona was the active ingredient in the most celebrated of his 53 films,” White writes, “the way Oscar Wilde’s was in his plays, and Andy Warhol’s was in his art.”

Hitchcock stands alone in the Hollywood canon, White writes, “a director whose mythology eclipses the brilliance of his myriad classic movies.”

The span of Hitchcock’s career was immense — from the time of silent films to the 3-D era. His work, White, a “Paris Review” contributor, writes, runs the gamut from thrillers to screwball comedy to horror to film noir to social realism.

Read “The Twelve Lives of Alfred Hitchcock.”  It’ll take you inside the mosaic of the fab filmmaker’s life and work. Then, break out the popcorn and “Dial M for Murder.”  

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