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Susan Bottomly, Andy Warhol's 'International Velvet,' Then And Now

Entertainment | December 16, 2019

Model Susan Bottomly, from Wellesley, Massachusetts, models The London Look with makeup by Yardley; and wears a halo of coq feathers on a white satin cap, by Madcaps; behind her is a bundle of pink balloons. (Photo by David McCabe/Conde Nast via Getty Ima

Among Andy Warhol's muses, the model and actress Susan Bottomly, whom Warhol dubbed International Velvet, stood out for her natural beauty. She was one of the Superstars, as Warhol called them, who appeared in the experimental films Warhol made.

Susan Bottomly Was A Teenaged Model

Source: (entertainmentcentralpittsburgh.com)

Unless you are familiar with Andy Warhol’s work with cinema in the 1960s, you are probably not familiar with Susan Bottomly, aka International Velvet. Bottomly was born in 1950, the daughter of the Boston district attorney who prosecuted the Boston Strangler. After being thrown out of her boarding school four times, she began modeling. In 1966, at the age of 16, her career took off with a cover on Mademoiselle. Rene Ricard introduced her to Gerard Malanga, a poet and regular at The Factory. Malanga introduced her to Andy Warhol. Warhol was drawn to her beauty and fascinated by the way that she put on makeup, saying that “watching someone like Susan Bottomly, who had such perfect, full, fine features, doing all this on her face was like watching a beautiful statue painting itself."

Bottomly's New Identity

The Velvet Underground, the group that inspired International Velvet's name. Source: (medium).

Renamed International Velvet by Warhol, who was taken with The Velvet Underground, Bottomly began to appear in Warhol’s films with roles in Since, Superboy, Chelsea Girls, and (The 24 Hour Movie). Chelsea Girls was the film that had the greatest commercial success of his films made before he was shot in 1968. It lacked a cohesive narrative and was a split-screen movie about the lives of the people who lived in the Chelsea Hotel during the time period.

Andy Warhol In Manhattan

The Factory. Source: (artsy.net)

The Factory was Warhol’s Manhattan studio during the 60’s, the space where his work, including silk screens and films were created. It was also a hangout for a sundry group of musicians, actors, drug addicts and other free thinkers who became known as the Warhol Superstars, who seemed to make Warhol’s statement, “in the future, everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes,” a reality. Some of the people who frequented The Factory were indeed famous. Edie Sedgwick and Lou Reed of The Velvet Underground were part of the crowd who spent time there. And some, like Susan Bottomly, were unknown at that point.

Her Life As Part Of The Factory

With Rene Ricard in Chelsea Girls. Source: (IMDB)

Bottomly became a sort of “queen” of The Factory and briefly lived with Malanga who, according to Warhol, wrote poems about her. Meanwhile, her father was paying for her to stay at the Chelsea Hotel. When she and Warhol went out, her father’s money often paid the tabs and her father also had connections to wealthy benefactors for Warhol. When she and Malanga broke up, she began seeing David Croland. That relationship was also short-lived and she started seeing Christian Marquand, who cast her in a small role in the film version of Terry Southern’s Candy. When this didn’t lead her film career to take off, she moved to Italy and acted with Julian Beck’s Living Theater.

She Leaves The Public Eye

Bottomly, during her 15 minutes of fame. Source: (messynessychic.com)

Bottomly returned to the States in 1968, the day before Warhol was shot. While Warhol was in the hospital, the party scene in Midnight Cowboy was filmed, featuring Bottomly and other Factory regulars. Bottomly explained, “I wanted as much attention as I could possibly get... But I had no idea how to handle the attention. I was very clumsy. I would drink too much, often. I had no idea what I was doing... I remember having a few twangs about the fact that Viva was becoming more important than I was. On the other hand I knew it was time for me to move on." After Midnight Cowboy, she dropped her pseudonym and became Susan Bottomly once again. She is said to be alive and well, living in Hawaii.

Tags: Andy Warhol | Ladies | Susan Bottomly | Then And Now | What Did She Do?...

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Cyn Felthousen-Post

Writer

Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!