The Factory

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The Decker Building, the second location of the Factory
Warhol superstar Mary Woronov
Warhol superstar Ultra Violet

The Factory was Andy Warhol's studio in New York City, which had four locations between 1963 and 1987. The Factory became famed for its parties in the 1960s. It was the hip hangout spot for artists, musicians, celebrities and Warhol's superstars. The original Factory was often referred to as the Silver Factory.[1] In the studio, Warhol's workers would make silkscreens and lithographs under his direction.


Speaking in 2002, musician John Cale said, "It wasn't called the Factory for nothing. It was where the assembly line for the silkscreens happened. While one person was making a silkscreen, somebody else would be filming a screen test. Every day something new."[2]

Due to the mess his work was causing at home, Warhol wanted to find a studio where he could paint.[3] A friend of his found an old unoccupied firehouse on 159 East 87th Street where Warhol began working in January 1963.[4] No one was eager to go there, so the rent was $150 a month.[4]

1963–67: 231 East 47th Street[edit]

A few months later, Warhol was informed that the building would have to be vacated soon, and in November he found another loft on the fifth floor at 231 East 47th Street in Midtown Manhattan, which would become the first Factory.[3]

In 1963, artist Ray Johnson took Warhol to a "haircutting party" at Billy Name's apartment, decorated with tin foil and silver paint, and Warhol asked him to do the same scheme for his recently leased loft. Name covered the whole factory in silver, even the elevator. Warhol's years at the Factory were known as the Silver Era. Aside from the prints and paintings, Warhol produced shoes, films, sculptures and commissioned work in various genres to brand and sell items with his name. His first commissions consisted of a single silkscreen portrait for $25,000, with additional canvases in other colors for $5,000 each. He later increased the price of alternative colors to $20,000 each. Warhol used a large portion of his income to finance the Factory.[1]

Billy Name brought in the red couch which became a prominent furnishing at the Factory, finding it on the sidewalk of 47th street during one of his "midnight outings." The sofa quickly became a favorite place for Factory guests to crash overnight, usually after coming down from speed. It was featured in many photographs and films from the Silver era, including Blow Job (1963) and Couch (1964). During the move in 1968, the couch was stolen while left unattended on the sidewalk for a short time.[5]

Many Warhol films, including those made at the Factory, were first (or later) shown at the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre or 55th Street Playhouse.[6][7][8][9]

By the time Warhol had achieved a reputation, he was working day and night on his paintings. Warhol used silkscreens so that he could mass-produce images the way corporations mass-produced consumer goods. To increase production, he attracted a ménage of adult film performers, drag queens, socialites, drug addicts, musicians, and free-thinkers who became known as the Warhol Superstars, to help him. These "art-workers" helped him create his paintings, starred in his films, and created the atmosphere for which the Factory became legendary.

Warhol left in 1967 when the building was scheduled to be torn down. The location is now the entrance to the parking garage of One Dag.[10]

1967–73: 33 Union Square West[edit]

He then relocated his studio to the sixth floor of the Decker Building at 33 Union Square West near the corner of East 16th Street, near Max's Kansas City, a club which Warhol and his entourage frequently visited.[11] The same year Warhol created the business Factory Additions to handle the business of publishing and printmaking.[12]

In June 1968, Warhol was shot by feminist Valerie Solanas at the Factory.[13] The Factory had an open door policy where anyone could enter, but after the shooting, Warhol's longtime partner Jed Johnson built a wall around the elevator and put in a Dutch door so that visitors would have be buzzed in.[14]

In 1969, Warhol co-founded Interview magazine and the Factory transformed "from an all-night party to an all-day office, from hell-on-earth to down-to-earth."[15]

1973–84: 860 Broadway[edit]

In 1973, Warhol moved the Factory to 860 Broadway at the north end of Union Square. He filmed his television series Andy Warhol's TV at the Factory from 1980 to 1983.[16]

The nightclub Underground operated at 860 Broadway from 1980 to 1989.[17][18] It was owned by Maurice Brahms,[19][20][21] a former partner of Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager, the original owners of Studio 54, and Jay Levy after Club 54 closed, due to jailing of Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.[22][23][24] The club opened on February 28, 1980.[25] John Blair got his start there.[26] Baird Jones promoted Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night parties from 1983 to 1986.[27][28][29][30] Music videos for "I Want To Know What Love Is" by Foreigner and "Word Up!" by Cameo were filmed at the club.[31][32] After about a decade, the club was reimagined by BlackBook Magazine columnist Steve Lewis & Co. as Le Palace de Beauté, where RuPaul often performed. After the Underground closed, Petco opened, moving in 2022, to 44 Union Square, the former Tammany Hall.[33][34]

1984–87: 158 Madison Ave (22 East 33rd Street)[edit]

In 1984, Warhol moved his art studio to 22 East 33rd Street, a conventional office building.[35] His television studio had an entrance at 158 Madison Avenue and the Interview magazine office had an entrance at 19 East 32nd Street.[36] Warhol filmed his MTV talk show Andy Warhol's Fifteen Minutes at the Factory from 1985 until he died in 1987.[37]


Friends of Warhol and "superstars" associated with the Factory included:


silver painted trunk within a Plexiglas vitrine
This trunk was used in Warhol's Silver Factory as a storage unit and film prop. Edie Sedgwick sits on this trunk in Vinyl.[citation needed] After Warhol's death in 1987, inside the trunk were found photographs, and photographic negatives by Billy Name, as well at the script of Up Your Ass by Valerie Solanas, which Warhol repeatedly told Solanas he had lost. This was one of the compounding reasons Solanas shot Warhol in 1968.[citation needed]


The Factory became a meeting place of artists and musicians such as Lou Reed,[38] Bob Dylan, and Mick Jagger, as well as writer Truman Capote. Less frequent visitors included Salvador Dalí and Allen Ginsberg.[38] Warhol collaborated with Reed's influential New York rock band the Velvet Underground in 1965, and designed the noted cover for The Velvet Underground & Nico, the band's debut album. It featured a plastic image of a yellow banana, which users could peel off to reveal a flesh-hued version of the banana.[39] Warhol also designed the album cover for the Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers.[40]

Warhol included the Velvet Underground in the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, a spectacle that combined art, rock, Warhol films and dancers of all kinds, as well as live S&M enactments and imagery. The Velvet Underground and EPI used the Factory as a place to rehearse and hang out.[1]: 253–254 

"Walk on the Wild Side", Lou Reed's best-known song from his solo career, was released on his second, and first commercially successful, solo album, Transformer (1972). The song relates to the superstars and life of the Factory. He mentions Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis and Joe Campbell (referred to in the song by his Factory nickname Sugar Plum Fairy).[41]

Sexual radicals[edit]

Andy Warhol commented on mainstream America through his art while disregarding its conservative social views. Almost all his work filmed at the Factory featured nudity, graphic sexuality, drug use, same-sex relations and transgender characters in much greater proportion to what was being shown in mainstream cinema. By making the films, Warhol created a sexually lenient environment at the Factory for the "happenings" staged there, which included fake weddings between drag queens, porn film rentals, and vulgar plays. What was called free love took place in the studio, as sexuality in the 1960s was becoming more open and embraced as a high ideal. Warhol used footage of sexual acts between his friends in his work, such as in Blue Movie, a 1969 film directed, produced, written and cinematographed by Warhol. The film, starring Viva and Louis Waldon, was the first adult erotic film depicting explicit sex to receive wide theatrical release in the United States.[42][43][44]

Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis were noted drag queens who were part of the Factory group, as was transgender woman Candy Darling. Andy Warhol frequently used these women and other sexual non-conformists in his films, plays, and events. Because of the constant drug use and the presence of sexually liberal artists and radicals, drugged orgies were a frequent happening at the Factory. Warhol met Ondine at an orgy in 1962:

I was at an orgy, and [Warhol] was, ah, this great presence in the back of the room. And this orgy was run by a friend of mine, and, so, I said to this person, "Would you please mind throwing that thing [Warhol] out of here?" And that thing was thrown out of there, and when he came up to me the next time, he said to me, "Nobody has ever thrown me out of a party." He said, "You know? Don't you know who I am?" And I said, "Well, I don't give a good flying fuck who you are. You just weren't there. You weren't involved..."[45]

— Ondine


Warhol started shooting movies in the Factory around 1963, when he began work on Kiss. He screened his films at the Factory for his friends before they were released for public audiences. When traditional theaters refused to screen his more provocative films, Warhol sometimes turned to night-clubs or porn theaters, including the New Andy Warhol Garrick Theatre and the 55th Street Playhouse,[6][7][8][9] for their distribution.

The following list includes all movies filmed entirely or partly at the Factory.[46][47]


  • Kiss
  • Rollerskate
  • Haircut no. 1
  • Haircut no. 2
  • Haircut no. 3








  • Studio: 159 East 87th Street
  • Factory: 231 East 47th Street, 1963–67 (the building no longer exists)
  • Factory: 33 Union Square, 1967–73 (Decker Building)
  • Factory: 860 Broadway, 1973–84 (the building has now been completely remodeled)
  • Factory: 158 Madison Ave (22 East 33rd Street), 1984–87.[48] This building extended 27 feet along Madison Ave, 96 feet along 33rd St. AKA 22nd 33rd St. (the building no longer exists)
  • Home: 1342 Lexington Avenue
  • Home: 57 East 66th Street (Warhol's last home)


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