I Love Tay­lor Mead and Gay Power: Tay­lor Mead Col­umns 1969–1970

BOTH EDITED AND PUB­LISHED BY JOHN ED­WARD HEYS

BOMB Magazine - - CONTENTS - by Bob Hol­man

Avail­able on- de­mand, johned­ward­heys.net It’s been two years since Tay­lor Mead left us to take his role as the Jester Fool Poet of the Great Bo­hemia in the Sky, but he is still a very liv­ing pres­ence on the Lower East Side. He’s es­pe­cially missed at the Bow­ery Po­etry Club, where “The Tay­lor Mead Show,” his weekly solo show with ran­dom cas­sette or­ches­tra, set the stan­dard for avant- garde per­for­mance dur­ing its nine-year run. It would be great if Tay­lor’s 600-page au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, Son of Andy Warhol, were to ever see the light of print, but these two slen­der, slap­dash vol­umes will do to re­mind us of Tay­lor’s un­stop­pable verve and ge­nius.

The Col­umns book, culled from Gay Power, the un­der­ground news­pa­per that Heys edited for fif­teen is­sues, is sim­ply re­pro­duced pages of newsprint—both photos and text. As Tay­lor writes in a piece called “Mae East”: “While bending over the kitchen ta­ble, do­ing some dishes, a thought came to me—why not do a great big col­umn? Cae­sar did a col­umn, Tiberius did a col­umn, Wal­ter Winchell did a col­umn, Rock Hud­son did a col­umn, Tab Hunter had a col­umn—why shouldn’t the Wicked Witch of the East have a col­umn? Enough with Ja­panese dil­dos! I said. I want a col­umn!” The es­say closes with lines that would be­come a sig­na­ture Tay­lor Mead poem: “If this is the dawn of civ­i­liza­tion / then why didn’t some­body set the alarm?” The pieces in the over­sized, slim vol­ume were writ­ten around the time of Tay­lor’s big book, Tay­lor Mead, on Am­phet­a­mine and in Europe, dur­ing the hey­day of Max’s Kansas City, where he was a reg­u­lar, and they are a per­fect time capsule of the wild energy of those days. What’s clear is that Tay­lor was so out that ac­tivism isn’t even part of the story—he was gay sans apol­ogy, just as ab­nor­mal as ev­ery­body else.

The sec­ond book, I Love Tay­lor Mead, has color snap­shots and verso text that Heys jot­ted down from phone calls with Mead over a twelve-year pe­riod, seem­ingly unedited. Gems (“My motto: Be un­pre­pared”) are side by side with news, gos­sip, and, oc­ca­sion­ally, Heys’s own com­men­tary: “I had a stroke. / I fell on the street in front of Cipri­ani’s 4 Star Res­tau­rant / $30,000.00 I owe them… over 10 years a quar­ter of a mil­lion / Tay­lor men­tions Harry’s Bar, The orig­i­nal in Venice. Cipri­ani.” There are also four marvelous black- and-white stills of Tay­lor the ac­tor—he was The First Un­der­ground Movie Star as well as the Poet Lau­re­ate of Warhol’s Fac­tory—from Gary Gold­berg films, each with Bill Rice, the fa­bled ac­tor/pain­ter/char­ac­ter who also ap­pears with Tay­lor in the last episode of Jim Jar­musch’s Cof­fee and Cig­a­rettes.

If you al­ready have On Am­phet­a­mine and in Europe, Son of Andy Warhol in the mini-ver­sion from Hanu­man Books, and I’m Just A Sim­ple Coun­try Girl from Bow­ery Books, you’ll want to add these two to your col­lec­tion. Oth­er­wise wait for the full au­to­bi­og­ra­phy. And mean­while wait for another episode of “The Tay­lor Mead Show,” in which the star plays him­self in a Spon­ta­neous Eter­nity. —Bob Hol­man is a poet, founder of the Bow­ery Po­etry Club, and host of the PBS doc­u­men­tary on en­dan­gered lan­guages, Lan­guage Mat­ters, by David Gru­bin.

Cover of GAY POWER, TAY­LOR MEAD COL­UMNS 1969–1970. Photo cour­tesy of John Ed­ward Heys.

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