The key to understanding the power of Warhol’s downtown brand is this entourage of people feeding off his aura and in turn imbuing his public persona with their spark. Attentive to the heavenly stars’ impact on us, ex-club kid Sophia Lamar observed, “[Warhol] was Leo. Sometimes in Leo with that personality [they] create that kingdom where they are king because outside that kingdom they are nobody. So he was a very talented and creative artist. And he created that kingdom, that small kingdom, where he manipulated people and played with them.”

Today there’s sometimes debate as to who really qualifies as a Warhol Superstar, a term whose origin Steven Watson locates around 1965, mainly in the Cinemaroc work of filmmaker Jack Smith, from whom Warhol also “borrowed” a great deal. In Edie: American Girl, René Ricard claimed that the term was invented by Factory figure Chuck Wein and noted that he had only come upon the term once before in a 1930s fan magazine. However the moniker emerged, it reflected the crew’s clear emulation of Hollywood stars like Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, Lana Turner, Kim Novak, Hedy Lamarr, and others. It was both a reperformance of these American icons and a staging of what they wished to be: to break out of downtown and become true household names living luxe lives.

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