Viva (actress)

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Born Janet Susan Mary Hoffmann
August 23, 1938
Syracuse, New York

Viva (born August 23, 1938) is an American actress, writer and a former Warhol superstar.

Life and career[edit]

She was born Janet Susan Mary Hoffmann in Syracuse, New York, the daughter of Mary Alice (née McNicholas) and Wilfred Ernest Hoffmann.[1] Hoffmann was the eldest of nine children born into a family of strict Roman Catholics. Her father was a prosperous attorney, and her parents were fervent supporters of the Army–McCarthy hearings held to expose Communist government infiltration. The Hoffmann children were required to watch the televised proceedings.[2] Raised in devout Catholicism, she considered becoming a nun.[3]

Viva began her career in entertainment as a model and painter. She retired from both professions however, claiming that she believed painting to be a dead medium, and describing her time as a model as, "...a period of my life I would rather forget."[4] She was given the name Viva by Andy Warhol before the release of her first film but later used her married last name (Auder). She appeared in several of Warhol's films and was a frequent guest at The Factory.

Viva's film career began in 1967, when she began filming "Ciao! Manhattan", which was not completed until 1972.[5] Viva approached Andy Warhol about being in one of his films, on the suggestion of her friend, Abigail. Warhol agreed, but only on the condition that Viva take off her blouse for the role. Viva responded by adhering bandaids to her breasts and visiting Andy at The Factory.[6]

Viva appeared in many of Warhol's films. The first, Tub Girls consists of Viva lying in a bathtub with various people of both sexes, including Brigid Berlin.[7] She also appeared in Bike Boy, a film centered around a motorcyclist trying to find himself;[8] and The Nude Restaurant, in which she played a waitress, opposite Taylor Mead.[9]

By far, Viva's most controversial role was in Blue Movie, in which she played opposite Louis Waldon. The film consists of improvised dialogue between Viva and Waldon about a multitude of topics, including The Vietnam War, President Nixon, and termites. These conversations are interrupted by the main event of the film, in which Viva and Waldon actually perform sexual acts in front of the camera. The film was seized by New York City Police for obscenity, and the theater manager, projectionist, and ticket-seller at the Warhol Garrick Theater arrested for possession of obscene materials.[10]

Viva was on the phone with Andy Warhol when he was shot by Valerie Solanas in 1968.[11] Following Solanas' attempt on Warhol's life, Viva developed a close, personal friendship with Warhol's mother, Julia Warhola. Returning from the hospital, however, Andy accused Viva of utilizing his absence to spy on his work and his mother, creating a rift in a relationship that was never repaired. Viva never saw Mrs. Warhola again after that.[9]

Viva's first starring role in a non-Warhol film was in Agnes Varda's Lions Love. The film features Viva in a ménage à trois with Gerome Ragni and James Rado.[12]

After she began making films for other directors she also began writing. Her first book, Superstar, was an insider's look at the Factory scene, a partly fictional autobiographical account of her time there. It was distinguished from other "tell-all" memoirs by virtue of her writing, which incorporated various stylistic effects, including the use of taped conversations, arguably one of the first times such a technique had been used in a novel. She also wrote for various publications, including The Village Voice and New York Woman.

Viva incorporated the use of video tapes into her second book The Baby. These tapes were later released by her former husband, video artist Michel Auder, as Chronicles: Family Diary in three parts.

She was the narrator for Carla Bley's 1971 experimental jazz composition Escalator over the Hill. Viva was one of the early pioneers in Video art. During the 1970s Viva was a guest participant in Shirley Clarke's Teepee Video Space Troupe, which she formed in the early 1970s.

Personal life[edit]

With former husband Michel Auder, Viva made and kept film diaries which included the birth of her first daughter, Alexandra (Alex) Auder. She was briefly engaged to the actor Anthony Herrera.[13][14] They had one child together, the actress Gaby Hoffmann.[15][16]

Though artistically successful, Viva was never very successful financially.[6] In 1993, she was taken to housing court by the Chelsea Hotel, where she lived with her two daughters, for not paying her $920 a month rent for two years.[17] Her daughter, Gabby, reflects, “We lived in a classless society. We’d spend a summer at Gore Vidal’s house in Italy, but we were on and off welfare.”[18]

Viva wrote a book about Gabby called "Gabby at the Chelsea", a riff on "Eloise at the Plaza", as yet unpublished.[18]

Viva currently lives in Palm Springs, California, where she paints landscapes.[19]



  • Superstar (1970)
  • The Baby (1974)


  1. ^
  2. ^, retrieved June 15, 2014
  3. ^ Flatley, Guy (November 9, 1969). "How to Be Very Viva - A Bedroom Farce - Article -". Retrieved 2012-08-23. 
  4. ^ "Viva Viva Viva." Women's Wear Daily [New York] 29 Feb. 1968: 10. Print.
  5. ^ "Ciao Manhattan." IMDb., n.d. Web. Aug. 2015.
  6. ^ a b Flatley, Guy. "How to Be Very Viva--A Bedroom Farce." The New York Times 9 Nov. 1969: D17. Print.
  7. ^ "Tub Girls." IMDb., n.d. Web. Aug. 2015.
  8. ^ "'Bike Boy' Opens at the Hudson Theater." The New York Times 06 Oct. 1967: 31. Print.
  9. ^ a b Viva Hoffman. "Warhol Superstar Viva Remembers Andy, His Mother & The Artist's Early Brush With Death." A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 11 Aug. 2015.
  10. ^ Canby, Vincent. "Warhol's Red Hot and 'Blue' Movie." The New York Times 10 Aug. 1969: D1. Print.
  11. ^ The Shot That Shattered The Velvet Underground Village Voice June 3, 1968
  12. ^ Armes, Roy. "Three Women Directors." London Magazine 1 Feb. 1970: 104-08. Print.
  13. ^ "Obituary". San Antonio Express-News. July 3, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  14. ^ Kennedy, Dana (March 25, 1994). "30 Minutes of Fame". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  15. ^ "Anthony Herrera Obituary". San Antonio Express-News. July 3, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  16. ^ "Anthony Herrera Obituary". Stone County Enterprise. July 28, 2011. Retrieved August 4, 2012. 
  17. ^ Speers, W. "Basinger Told to Pay $8.9 Million for Quitting Film." Philadelphia Inquirer 25 Mar. 1993: n. pag. Print.
  18. ^ a b Brodesser-Akner, Taffy. "The Chelsea Hotel Had Its Own Eloise." The New York Times 08 July 2013: n. pag. Print.
  19. ^

External links[edit]