Star Fuckers – Andy Warhol, Mick Jagger, James Pate, Nick Demske and Old Dirty Bastard

by on Nov.30, 2011

[Warning: I don’t know much about the Rolling Stones so if somebody wants to clue me into any background errors etc, please feel free.]

The other day Joyelle and I were in Pittsburgh talking about the necropastoral at a conference called ASAP. Joyelle went to a panel that talked about how “Star Star” by the Rolling Stones was actually addressed to Candy Darling and evidence of Mick Jagger having been drawn into “Andy Warhol’s orbit.” Apparently, upon entering into this “orbit,” Jagger began to model his look and appearance on Andy’s transvestite “superhuman crew” (Bob Dylan had been pulled into the Warhol orbit some five-ten years earlier). In other words, he was a superstar who became a “superstar.”

I think “orbit” and especially Raggedy Andy’s “orbit” of super saturating art/life is an interesting way of thinking about an alternative to influence/lineage and all that: “a zone where interesting things happen.” A necropastoral “strange meeting.”

First, here’s the song and the lyrics:

“Star Star”
Songwriters: Keith Richards;Mick Jagger

Baby, baby, I’ve been so sad since you’ve been gone
Way back to New York City
Where you do belong
Honey, I missed your two tongue kisses
Legs wrapped around me tight
If I ever get back to Fun City, girl
I’m gonna make you scream all night

Honey, honey, call me on the telephone
I know you’re movin’ out to Hollywood
With your can of tasty foam
All those beat up friends of mine
Got to get you in their books
And lead guitars and movie stars
Get their toes beneath your hook

Yeah, you’re a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
Yeah, a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
Star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star

Yeah, I heard about you Polaroid’s
Now that’s what I call obscene
Your tricks with fruit was kind a cute
I bet you keep your pussy clean
Honey, I miss your two tone kisses
Legs wrapped around me tight
If I ever get back to New York, girl
Gonna make you scream all night

Yeah, you’re a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
Yeah, a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
Star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker star
Yes you are, yes you are, yes you are

Yeah, Ali McGraw got mad with you
For givin’ head to Steve McQueen
Yeah, you and me we made a pretty pair
Fallin’ through the silver screen
Honey, I’m open to anythin’
I don’t know where to draw the line
Yeah, I’m makin’ bets that you gonna get
John Wayne before he dies

Yeah, you’re a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
Yeah, a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
A star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star

Yeah you are, a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
A star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
A star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star

Yeah, a star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star
Star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star fucker
Star fucker, star fucker, star fucker, star, yes you are, yes you are

*
The name of the album the song is from is “Goat’s Head Soup,” a phrase that is invoked by the image on the cover. Here Jagger’s head is equal to the “goat head”, and it’s in a soupy photograph, draped/stranged by what looks like a pantyhose. We’re back to the obscenity of photography, back to the violence of photography, back to the (Campbell’s) “soup” of mediumicity, back to celebrity as an image, as an iconicity being moved by media, by Fame. We’re back to the transvesticism of Art.

*
All that repetition of “star fucker”; it seems to enact a kind of influence theory. You fuck the star and you become a star. But what is the fucking? There seems to be no actual fucking in the song, just the continual putting off of fucking, which is replaced by the narcissistic, auto-erotic fucking of Art. The speaker misses the addressee, wishes he could fuck her/him, but the continual changing of location seems to make that impossible.

*
It’s an interesting song if read through an “Andy Warhol Orbit.” The thing that connects it to Warhol is of course the “polaroids” (exhibited currently at Our Lady’s University):

On one hand it seems addressed to Candy Darling, who keeps her pussy clean by being with the ultimate “fruit”, ie Andy Warhold. But since it’s Andy’s “Polaroids” then the song turns Andy into the woman being addressed. Warhol’s polaroids are not sexual, but in the song they are. Cleanliness becomes obscene in its artifice. And autoerotic. The “fucking” seems involved in masturbation more than sex with others.

(People are always complaining that poetry is “masturbatory” or narcissistic. That’s correct. It’s part of its Power.)

The presence of C/Andy becomes even more pronounced in the next stanza when the celebrity names “Steve McQueen” “Ali McGraw” and “John Wayne” are introduced. Afterall, Warhol collected polaroids of celebrities. The proper names seems important: the proper name breaks the autonomy of the piece: it’s “about actual people,” some may say (and according to Wikipedia, the use of Wayne’s name caused some controversy since he was in fact dying, he was being fucked big time). But the thing about celebrities is of course that their names are often fake (John Wayne’s is at least): symbols set in motion by the “soup” of media. (Warhol of course being a “fake” immigrant name that was americanized, made perfect for celebrityhood. (The immigrant is kitsch.))

(Kim Kardashian is criticized for being fakely married after she’s done everything in front of the screen for years. But the marriage, the sexual union must be true. The rest can be fake. But the marriage must be true.)

*
The key here is that as in the previous stanza, collecting polaroids is equated with or replacing fucking. Taking photographs is equal to fucking, to cheating, and, in the case of John Wayne, death. There is something obscenely violent, shattering about art itself.

But while in the other stanzas the addressee/C/andy is “fucked” by the speaker, in this one, she seems to do the fucking; s/he seems the predatory figure. And in this stanza the speaker himself becomes “open to anything.” That is to say, the Mick Jagger figure becomes no longer the fucker but the fuckee: He’s “open” to being penetrated by the woman/C/Andy/Art.

*
In the chorus, the addressee is a “star fucker”: that is to say s/he is fucking the singer/Jagger (and the other celebrities): S/he’s the fucker.

The result of the star fucker’s fucking is of course not that s/he’s a star fucker but that s/he’s a “star star” – ie fucking has transformed him/her into a star – astronomical, inhuman, galactic, Art – times two. Ie a counterfeit star. An excessive star. A star and a copy of a star at the same time. Two copies. Art.

*
C/Andy fucked Jagger by turning him into a transvestite, counterfeiting a star into another kind of (Candy Darling) superstar. Or: C/Andy Warhol fucks Jagger by not letting Jagger fuck him/her, by instead of giving the relationship the finality, completion of sexual intercourse, turning it into an “orbit” around the “star” where the Jagger/speaker is constantly imagining sexual acts, but cannot “consumate” the sex acts. Instead he’s left with an obscene cleanliness and artifice and a collapsed “goatshead soup” America.

This mediumicity of the song I think can also be sensed in strange mangling of space/geography: the addressee does and does not live in New York City, which is and isn’t “Fun City”, and s/he is and is not moving to Hollywood. Again we have the strange Fame-media equivalences of proper names that overruns America with Goat/Campbell “soup”.

*
Andy always claimed he didn’t like to have sex; that looking at others had replaced genital sex. Art had replaced sex. Or Art was sex.

*
I can’t help but invoke Leo Bersani in this discussion. In “The Culture of Redemption,” Bersani associates art with narcissism and early auto-erotic/masochistic sexual urges, urges for a “shattering” of the ego, undoing our stable sense of identities.

*
In James Pate’s poems about Mick Jagger, the superstar is finally allowed to have sex. But it’s the absurd and impossible sexual union of Jagger and his counterfeit double, the impossible, narcissistic sex of “Star Star” (it’s in the doubling of that word) through perhaps the sexually ambiguous character Jagger “performs” in the movie “Performance”:

II.
In the hotel room the female Jagger will dress the male Jagger in whore clothes, call him whore names. The male Jagger will think during such episodes of how the meat inside of him could build a massive cathedral should it ever be extracted from his body. That is, if you took the meat and pounded it flat. And used quite a bit of metal wiring. His eyes could be in the center of the cathedral either in the floor and looking up or in the ceiling and staring down. Either way they would never blink. And his teeth. What could they do with his teeth.

III.
You fuck, the female Jagger will say, like a whore. You fuck, the male Jagger will say, like a porn film with the furniture scratched out.

IV.
Yet even though they fuck and take showers together and watch occasional films together they do not know they are part of the same person. They do not realize their separate essences will only be reunited upon death.

V.
I was rereading Helter Skelter around this time. I was listening to some of the songs from the Manson family around this time, pretty songs sung by young women with childlike and fairylike voices. The two Mick Jaggers would be killed by a hitchhiking serial killer, a thug with a red mohawk. They would die on a bright June morning, in the silence of an Iowa cornfield. Did I hate them, the two Jaggers? I did not hate them. But I liked to think that in some way they hated each other.

VI.
The crows would eat the hearts of the Mick Jaggers.

Not only are the Jaggers doubles (star-star-s so to speak) but they also fuck “like whores.” The whore suggests a counterfeit figure (a fake lover so to speak), which is doubled by the “like” of the simile. He is counterfeitly fake! But it’s an imperfect copy: the furniture has been scratched out. This process is not without violence. Art shatters us like sex like film that is scratched out, like crows eat our hearts out.

*
I actually started thinking about “Warhol’s Orbit” again while on a mini tour through the midwest with Nick Demske. In Iowa City, Nick read the following awesome poem, which takes him into Old Dirty Bastard’s name-rich orbit:

N***a Please
“#1, I live in my momma’s house.”

You big baby. You big baby, Jesus. Changing your own diapers. Taking yourself on fishing trips and learning how to fight. I ain’t no nigga. I had seen and felt things impossible to experience any place else on earth. I’m the cunt-breath asshole eater—expat hazmat, errata pinata. This is not something new that’s going to come out of nowhere. No. This is something old. And dirty. This is about names. How they tell you more than intended. Not housebroken, but home. Not emperor, but author. The name Israel, for instance, means “wrestles with the Lord.” Conversely, my name, Nicholas, means “victory of the people.” Both are names for boys—or men—and both, too, echo violence. Victory suggesting someone then has been defeated the same way wrestling suggests two muscular men fucking. Your name is Toby. Your name is Osiris and, O, sire us you will. Thy will be done. Thy executor’s cup overfloweth farewell, wellfare. The chalky outline on the sidewalk is a father figure. Don’t ever look at my name as bad. Jesus comes from the word for “to help,” but Jesus’ stardom imploded in the firmament. Toby or not Toby, that is the Bastard, the patronymic child of God living in his mom’s house. I ain’t no nigga. Just a courteous kaiser throne to the leonine with no skills for the taming. Introducing—yo, fuck that nigga’s naming. The Morning Star is flaming. The Patron Saints exclaiming. The baby has been shaken. Father, why have you forsaken Nigga Please You could never fuck with the dog a Nigga Please nigga I will bury your bone a Nigga Please I’m the one who burned your home. Watch your shit fall like Rome.

26 comments for this entry:
  1. Johannes

    It seems like you’re working on it. Keep the glitter flowing.

  2. Joyelle McSweeney

    There’s also something about obscenity and obscurity at work in that panty-hose veil Lady Jagger is wearing– sort of the way ‘Star Star’ and ‘N*gg*’ and Warhol’s movie ‘****’ also seem to explicitly signal explicitness as well as obscuring it at the same time– to me this has astronomical resonances– like the co-terminality of dark matter and light matter, or the doubleness of the radio star, or the bing bang’s negativity and vomiting forward of the positive as force– a kind ofcentrifugal/centrifocal double motion, very occult location! These are my gods!

  3. Joyelle McSweeney

    Obscuring explicitness behind star/****/asterisks of course! Thinking about it again, those obscuring stars (****) are also like Bataille’s headless allegory, or theory of rotation, where the key term in a system can also be switched out for something else, resulting in a system which is always in syncope, a falling star or a swinging head a la Jagger’s here.

    !!

  4. Johannes Göransson

    Yes, the song seems obscene – it is about fucking afterall. But then there are all these sublimations, these contortions, these spasms that seem to generate obscurity and dark matter and noise. As Bersani argues, sublimation is a kind of freeing of sexual energy from genital sex into a general, mobile energy, a way of escaping repression, of allowing sexuality to leak wastefully./Johannes

  5. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    On a more serious note… (Actually, maybe that’s wrong… I was being dead serious in my first comment)… this post is great and was especially helpful for me in thinking through why it keeps feeling “wrong” to have the TJY persona express desire for other bodies in the texts I’ve been writing… this was not necessarily my intention, since unruly desire is one of the things that interests me most, but I keep assigning it to other “characters.” I think the vanity I have been interested in exploring is maybe very much related to this autoeroticism and narcissism you’re describing. I mean, I’ve been working on an album of pop songs, and the only love song is literally a love song to my own reflection.

    I am interested also in whether Andy’s orbit is a queer orbit, and whether getting absorbed into it ‘queers’ Mick, and to what extent, and with what implications, etc… Can Andy’s crew be said to cannibalize Mick, in Lucas’s formation? You know, I have this great ambivalence regarding that entire era of rockstar, and I get compared to them constantly — Bowie especially, and for some reason this never sits well with me, and Bowie in general, I always feel like I am supposed to adore him but I can never get 100% on the Bowie train. And I think part of it is this discomfort with how it seems like an artist like Bowie was able to wear this copied copied gender deviance and queerness for a time without significant risk or threat, and to get great mileage out of it, while his more “genuinely” queer friends or acquaintances or collaborators like Klaus Nomi or Joey Arias remain marginal cult figures. But I am not sure how to raise this issue without sounding like an essentialist dickwad or like I am arguing for a queer “authenticity” that I don’t really believe in?

    And then, you know, elsewhere in Mick’s career, outside of this orbit, it is not true that there is no literal fucking, there is a great deal of literal fucking, it seems to be a big part of his celebrity and mythology, he and Keith fucked Marianne Faithfull and left her wrapped in a rug when the cops came, and it took her years to get unfucked and collect the credit she deserved for SISTER MORPHINE. But that all happened before this Andy era, so is maybe neither here nor there, in terms of this conversation. It’s just that I am incapable of thinking about Mick Jagger without thinking about Marianne, since she is one of my all-time favorites, and I could give two shits about the Stones.

    But this raises something else that doesn’t entirely sit well with me, which is queer gender transgressive artists materializing as primarily or only auto-erotic. The part of me that is still aligned to some degree with queer identity politics (which like a lot of queer activists, I think still exists albeit in a sort of bracketed or contingent or tenuous relationship with my rejection of traditional conceptions of identity) feels like maybe this autoeroticism or relative sexlessness vis-a-vis other bodies makes queer art more palatable for folks, you know, I would also like to see a queer performer with a dick up his ass, in a very public way.

  6. Johannes

    Tim,
    Great comments. I don’t actually like the Rolling Stones (except “Dead Flowers”) either. I’m in this case primarily interested in the song and how it supposedly documents Jagger’s going transvestite-y (Joyelle picked up a lot of good materials, such as posts where Jagger is listed as one of the transvestites etc). Jagger was an icon of very normative/macho male sexuality but when he enters Andy’s orbit (when he gets fucked by Andy, because Andy fucks him with Art), as I see it in this song, this normative hetero macho man gets all disoriented – it’s as if he tries to find a way to fuck C/Andy by turning them into the traditional female addressee but he’s in the soupy orbit and can thus never quite fuck her/him, cna’t figure out who he’s singing to. Instead he gets fucked by Andy’s Art. But Andy’s fucking of Jagger in this song is not “gay” per se; it’s rather Art fucks Jagger. It doesn’t cannibalize him but transvestiticizes him.

    Oh and yes Marianne Faithful is/was pretty awesome.

    Johannes

  7. James Pate

    Interesting comments about Bowie, Tim. I love Hunky Dory and Ziggy Stardust but to me Dylan’s persona-changing has always seemed more startling. Maybe because with Dylan there really is a sense of “I’m not there,” that whoever he happens to turn into already feels like a ghost, and as Griel Marcus has pointed out many of Dylan’s songs seem to be sung by someone who is already dead, whereas with Bowie I always feel like the terrain has been mapped out in advance, at least to a certain extent. There’s nothing haunted about Bowie, at least to me. Bowie is always Bowie whereas Dylan is never Dylan. Which isn’t to say he hasn’t written some really great songs over the years…

  8. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    Yes, yes, I like this. And this — “when he gets fucked by Andy, because Andy fucks him with Art” — I think, allays my concern about an autoerotic or “sexless” queer figure being too palatable. Although I would want to find a way to also switch up the language so it’s got less of it’s own macho thrust and a lil more aggressive passivity/receptive stance/abject status/shameful/filthy/fallen/penetrated, etc. I imagine Lucas’s awesome power bottom posts would be helpful for that.

  9. Johannes

    Yes agreed tim. Thats why i like the orbit. One doesnt get fucked in a penetrated way but put in orbit. Johannes

  10. James Pate

    Warhol had this same quality too: both Dylan and Warhol are/were not really people, but walking talking haunted houses. Maybe the more a person becomes Art the closer they come to being nothing but haunted space…

  11. James Pate

    One last comment…

    In Angela Bowie’s wonderfully snide book about the 70s rock scene, she claims to have walked in on Jagger and Bowie fucking each other…

    Later, she almost fucked Jagger too, but then changed her mind, finding him, up-close, to be too goatlike. The song “Angie” is said to be about her.

  12. t.w.

    ‘Angie’ was written by Keith – the original lyric being ‘Anita, I need ya’ – for Anita Pallenberg. But then they changed it to ‘Angie’, after Angela Bowie – if I recall – to be snide.

  13. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    I also like that orbit is recursive, like an animated GIF, so it disrupts linearity. More repetition and copies of copies.

  14. Devin King

    Another thing to note re: influence might be the song’s Chuck Berry ripoff.

    Hunky Dory, of course, has songs about both Andy Warhol and Bob Dylan. A note to your idea about the normal queerness of Bowie, Tim, is that the Warhol song begins with Bowie correcting the song’s producer or engineer of the pronunciation of “Warhol.” This might tie into Johannes’ understanding of taste at work in poetic landscapes–Bowie (and to a certain extent, Dylan and Jagger) seems to me to always be someone with corrective good taste rather than someone, like Nomi, who has hugely horrible taste in the face of larger forces (dude likes opera) and is maybe more “purely” “innovative.”

    Warhol, of course, has the best taste and is able to show Bowie, Dylan, and Jagger what’s up, which I think maybe says something more substantive about Warhol’s place in all of this but I can’t put my finger on it.

    Another interesting place to go with this idea might be to think about Brian Jones’ flirtations with foreign instruments and culture, as well as his eventual overdose. He seems to function in the band as a type of gurlesque persona (or whatever a good shorthand would be)–he’s always enjoying being literally swallowed up by his fans in post-show riots and overdoing it on the drugs–both were reasons he was asked to leave the band.

    Finally, I think Pussy Galore’s remake of Exile on Mainstreet might be something else to look at. More interesting, to me, than the Liz Phair reaction, as it explicitly photocopies and distorts the original rather than remaking it anew but with more fake color.

    You guys are all awesome!

  15. Johannes

    Great points Devin. They became “classic rock” – a genre that I always find offputting because it is all about Taste, Major Pop Music. Just like in Literature and Poetry.

    When I read your comment I also started to think about how these figures – Dylan, Jagger – have a kind of antagonistic relationship, or troubled relationship to being brought into the Warhol orbit. But you look at Basquiat and Keith Harring: They were so thrilled to be brought into Warhol’s orbit. There are always these photos of Warhol with younger artists in the 80s and they’re always so touching because the young artists are psyched to be photoed with Warhol. It’s possible that his “orbit” gave them a model of artistic exuberance that didn’t have the militancy of the avant-garde (of penetrative art history one might say).

  16. Johannes

    And of course I was thinking about Basquiat’s collaborations with Warhol which are really interesting. Though not the usual hippie notions of collaboration since they involved a lot of crossing out and erasing.

  17. Nick Demske

    i don’t own a computer anymore and the thing i’m finding i miss probably most is montevidayo. so that’s kind of great. i haven’t read this yet, have to leave right now, but wanted to say i really look forward to checking it out and will try to weigh in if i get time online soon. also, i got to read seth’s post a while ago, thought the conversation it ignited was pretty interesting. maybe i’ll add more about that too. maybe i will live a grand life.

  18. Nick Demske

    Got to read through this. The whole manuscript I’m writing in which that Old Dirty Bastard poem appears is called “Starfucker,” and I think some of the notes you made here are really going to mold how I think about that project from now until I finish it. Pretty cool stuff, especially Joyelle’s comments and your comment that followed it. To be continued.

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  20. adam strauss

    I Like: “I would also like to see a queer performer with a dick up his ass, in a very public way.” Now I think I’ll substitute butch lesbian and replace the cock with whatever else might be around. I’m guessing one might even have to be strayt before that’d fly; counterfeit queer seems potentially more palatable/marketable than gaygay or lesbolesbo which, of course, is merely dumb. Plain Jane homospheres I think might be way tooooooooo threatening; I wonder if Lady G is, in part, sucessful for just this reason: to link queerness to theatrics in essense sanitizes: queerness becomes costume, becomes discardable and noncentral, not something to maximally contend with, not of the biological body; and why this doesn’t work against heteroville I get because herteroville is the powerplug, but it’s still a wee trick weird. Queer as basic, as un-marked, as baseline natural: ahhhhhhhhhh holy fuck what wld happen to advertizing!!!!!!!!!!/media! Is it just me or wld marketing/advertizing (which usually is seen as f’ng women but I wonder ’bout that: the legibility provided, even if incorrect, still massively enfranchises) be really screwed sans heterosexual hegemony? Or is it smarter to wonder whether sans advertizing/media heterosexual heghemony wld be up up’s creek.

    Related, sorta, note: anyone hereabouts have thoughts on the high-fashion transgendred model (don’t know name or nationality alas) of the moment and I’m guessuing the only one of her kind in, at-least, ages.

    For Xmas I want gobs of media doin’ heterosexploitation; the world, quasi lol, needs more Tone-Loc/Wild Thang!

  21. Johannes

    Adam,
    I think you’re pursuing a somewhat different argument than I am here. In general I think you tend to believe more in an identity politics type of thing than I am interested in. And I’m also not really thinking about what would be the least or most marketable as a sign of being more or less interesting. I’m mostly thinking about Warhol and the idea of an orbit of art (as opposed to lineage for example, or traditional forms, “good art”, balanced accounts). Obviously Warhol was incredibly gay (Jasper Johns supposedly said he didn’t want to be seen with Warhol because Warhol was “too swish” – funny coming from another gay artist) and incredibly marketable (he was on Love Boat!), but what I’m more interested in is how art functions in his orbit, and how this in turn is involved in a kind of non-consumated sexuality, and how this might be an alternative model for thinking about things like influence. /Johannes

  22. adam strauss

    oh i was totally responding to a commentbox post: i have a confusing habit of doing that.

    as for identity politics art: my interest is very wavery–i’ve yet to become a lovesaturate regarding “work” i don’t first admire for its style; but yesyes if there’s exciting identity content then whoooooohoooooo.

    actually if i’m to be honest i’m not sure i understand the term identity–well yah i do but only as a i guess one could say discursive function word rather than a concept which makes adequate sense because identity seems to actually mean identify with, similar to the way influence–if it’s the maker speaking–seems to mean here’s who i want to frame my practice.

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