by Valerie Solanas
by Cynthia Rodriguez
Greeting Lesbiatopians. I know I have been on hiatus from here for quite some time. Probably the longest yet. For those of you still around, hello there. I'll try not to stay away so long next time. Okay, moving right along...
Ladies, and...ladies, I believe I have found my literary soulmate. I have never felt closer to a writer's rantings as I do with this one. Although I do feel torn in a way because she DID attempt to murder one of my favorite artists of all time, eh, I still like her. I can't deny it. Of course I am talking about the infamous Valerie Solanas. I first watched "I SHOT ANDY WARHOL", I believe just one time in the theatre in the mid 90's with an artist friend of mine when it first came out, and it left quite an impression. I didn't know at the time what to do with it. I knew I wanted to read her book at some point. I wanted to learn more about her. Over 10 years later, I finally did. It was perfect timing. Everything happens for a reason, and I know I wasn't supposed to read her manifesto until now.
At first glance, it would be easy to dismiss the "SCUM MANIFESTO" as simply the ramblings of a street lunatic. Especially when you read it, you can tell, this was not a stupid person. She was quite intelligent. Actually, very educated. As a matter of fact, she majored in psychology. How does someone like that end up becoming some destitute, prostituting, conversation selling, pan-handler? What exactly happened to her between college and when she ended up in the street is for the most part unknown. She wasn't really known as a drug-addict, but it's obvious from reading it that she had some mental issues. Definitely abuses issues with men. That's pretty much a "DUH". Reading through some of it I thought to myself. "Oh my God, this bitch was fucking crazy." However, with some other parts I found myself in full agreement with her. Does that make ME crazy? Maybe just a little. I always believed that a little crazy goes with being brilliant, and in my opinion, she was. I noticed certain parallels in our way of thinking. She was definitely way ahead of her time.
It was written over 40 years ago, and she had already predicted things like ATM's and other automated systems, artificial insemination, and a feminist uprising against under-representation in the arts. She IS the original "GUERILLA GIRL", and "LESBIAN AVENGER". Before both those organizations and "QUEER NATION" ever even existed, she was doing it all on her own. She was out there all by herself in a then world of underground glitz, and glam that just saw her as this crazed, man-hating, tom-boy. She was in her own group which had a membership of one: S.C.U.M, the society for cutting up men. Although she admitted that was added after the fact it was written. The point is that at that time Valerie did not have many advantages as we have today such as the several sisterhoods that exist in these groups, and organizations, plus other things like the internet, which has become the biggest social networking tool. All she had was herself, and her old (now antique) Remington typewriter, same brand as the rifle, and she certainly used it as such. Imagine what she would have accomplished having those types of tools in her arsenal.
She basically gives her opinions, and states her beliefs and stance on numerous issues, including the usual sex, politics, and religion. All the hot topics, and her ideas on how to resolve many of society's problems, or what she sees as society's problems. Mainly all centered around MEN. Men being the main culprit, the villain, the evil. I can't say I don't necessarily DISagree with her but that's not the point. For me, it's not whether it's right or wrong what she says. There is a lot of good stuff in there. It's easy to get sucked in the vortex that is Solanas.
She also wrote a now classic play for which was the main reason Warhol was attacked, claiming he had lost it, and had failed to produce it for Valerie. It was found, about 30 years later, and to my knowledge it has only been produced once, in San Francisco. Actually the city where she ultimately met her demise. One of my other goals is when I FINALLY get my hands on the script for "UP YOUR ASS", I will be doing a production of it in MY town.
In fact, she has totally inspired me to write my own manifesto which I believe is surely overdue anyway. I have been forever trying to decide what kind of book to write first, and she has helped me with that. It will be the NEW "Scum Manifesto". A more SANE version. Of course it will not be a classic like Valerie's, but I'll do my best. And I will tear into EVERYTHING. I will rip it all apart into little pieces like a T-Rex. My words will be like razor blades. The pages will be bleeding by the time I'm done. And I'll do her proud. Although I've been approached by several publishers about writing a book, I think I may go the way of self-publishing, to have complete control in every way over the final product. I'll write about both projects here when I am done with them.
I think that Valerie and I could have been BFF's back in the day. That would have been a dangerous, dynamic duo. I would have just had to watch myself. As long as I didn't become an accomplice to any major crimes, it'd be alright. The bottom line is that when it comes to this book, I GET it, and I get HER. It's okay Valerie, I understand where you were coming from, and I'm passing it on.