Blow Job (film)

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Blow Job
Blow-job-andy-warhol.jpg
Directed by Andy Warhol
Produced by Andy Warhol
Starring DeVeren Bookwalter
Release date(s) 1964
Running time 35 minutes
Country United States
Language Silent

Blow Job is a silent film, directed by Andy Warhol, that was filmed in January 1964. It depicts the face of an uncredited DeVeren Bookwalter as he apparently receives fellatio from an unseen partner. While shot at 24 frame/s, Warhol specified that it should be projected at 16 frame/s,[1] slowing it down by a third.

Despite the salacious title, the film shows only the expression on the young man's face; the implied sexual act itself is not seen. It is not stated whether it is a male or a female performing the act, and the viewer must assume that fellatio is occurring. It has also been speculated that the salaciousness is entirely in the title, and that no fellatio was actually being performed.

Making[edit]

The identity of the person performing the act is disputed, though it is widely reported, by actor Gerard Malanga and others, to be avant-garde filmmaker Willard Maas. Warhol states in his book Popism: The Warhol Sixties (1980) that five different boys performed the fellatio. In this book, Warhol writes that he originally asked Charles Rydell, the boyfriend of filmmaker Jerome Hill, to star in the film, promising that there would be "five beautiful boys" to perform the act.[2]

However, when Warhol set up the film shoot at The Factory on a Sunday, Rydell failed to show up. Warhol phoned Rydell at Hill's suite at the Algonquin Hotel and asked where Rydell was. Rydell replied that he thought Warhol was kidding, and had no intention of appearing in such a film. When he declined Andy used "a good looking kid that happened to be hanging around the Factory that day", who was later identified as Bookwalter. By that time, the five boys had departed, and Maas was pressed into service (Warhol's notoriously poor memory kept the five boys in place for the version given in the much later book POPism).

In 1966, Warhol filmed a sequel, Eating Too Fast (originally titled Blow Job #2) which runs 67 minutes with sound. It features art critic and writer Gregory Battcock as the recipient.

Commentary[edit]

According to Peter Gidal the film distances the viewer from the experience it purportedly depicts, "Sometimes the young actor looks bored, sometimes as if he is thinking, sometimes as if he is aware of the camera, sometimes as if he is not."[3] Douglas Crimp states that after a few minutes "it becomes clear that we will see nothing more than the repetition, with slight variations, of what we've already seen". This frees the mind to look in a different way. Likewise the sexual act has the effect of distracting the actor from the presence of the camera, creating a unique kind of unself-consciousness. The film becomes "a lesson in how to produce a really beautiful portrait without saying 'cheese'!"[4]

Critic Roy Grundmann argues that "Blow Job‘s self reflexive devices create a new kind of spectatorial address that dislodges audiences from their contemplative positions in a number of ways. Blow Job‘s reflexivity makes spectators intensely aware that seeing a film makes projecting onto and investing into an image a part of oneself which is also a socialized acculturated act". Grundmann further claims that "viewers oscillate between an awareness of their contingency on larger scheme and the promise of ocularcentric mastery of the image".[5]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Blow Job
  2. ^ Andy Warhol, POPism, (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1980) pp 64, 65
  3. ^ Peter Gidal, Andy Warhol - Blow Job, Afterall Books, 2008, blurb.
  4. ^ Douglas Crimp, Our Kind of Movie: The Films of Andy Warhol, MIT Press, 2012, p.4
  5. ^ Roy Grundmann, Andy Warhol's Blow Job, Temple University Press, 2003, p.19

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Gidal, Peter. Andy Warhol's Blow Job. London: Afterall Books, 2008.