Nov 12, 2012

The Nude Restaurant

You would think Castro did the castrations” or so says the would-be-witty but nonetheless amusing Taylor Mead (Tarzan and Jane Regained...Sort Of, Coffee and Cigarettes) – a Warhol Factory superstar who has the misfortune of looking like a middle-aged fetus – in the oftentimes spastic and surfeiting yet sometimes startlingly stimulating color feature-length film The Nude Restaurant (1967) directed by Andy Warhol (Vinyl, Poor Little Rich Girl) and apparently in part ghost-directed by Paul Morrissey (Blood for Dracula, Madame Wang’s). Originally directing two different films at once – one featuring an all-male cast, which was inevitably trashed and a second featuring infamous fag hag Superstar Viva in the starring role aside Taylor Mead, which is the campy culinary cinematic work that exists today – The Nude Restaurant is a side-freakish flick featuring an all-partially-nude cast that merely babbles about everything ranging from “European Freudian bullshit” to the rampant heterosexuality of the mick Catholic clergy. Like Grey Gardens (1975) directed by Brothers Maysles – a delightful, if disturbing, documentary about Jackie O’s reclusive socialite aunt and first cousin – The Nude Restaurant is a work about that is, in part, about the rather repugnant side-effects of growing relatively ritzy and the completely and utterly ineffectual thoughts and cheap trash talk that such privy privileges of a posh upbringing bestows. As she explains in the film, Viva (born Janet Susan Mary Hoffmann) is the reluctant daughter of a wealthy lawyer (who was a loyal follower of senator Joe McCarthy) and once considered being a nun, but ended up posing needlessly nude for the films of an acutely autistic pop-artist instead. During The Nude Restaurant, Taylor Mead also confesses that he was born a member of the comfortable class, but the only thing he has to show for it is being a 40-year-old “virgin with possibilities” (both male and female) and being arrested nine times and showing his glaringly grotesque gluteus maximus off for 70-minutes in Warhol’s innately infantile flick Taylor Mead's Ass (1965). In The Nude Restaurant, both Viva and Mead give it there all by bombarding the viewer with their particularly puerile and unpleasantly perverse psychobabble in a ferociously fruitless flick that tests the patience of even the most trash-treading (and treasuring) of cinephiles. 

 Although Viva was never the most studious of Catholic schoolgirls growing, she did develop a particularly close and personal relationship with her priest, who confided in the dirtball diva about “oral intercourse” and even dabbled with her derriere and stuck his whole holy tongue down her teenage throat as she explains in great and glorifying detail in The Nude Restaurant. Contrary to contemporary consensus where anytime someone hears the word "pope" or "priest" they think of a puny and peculiar old man in a preposterous dress with a particular predisposition towards altar-boys, Viva claims that her Catholic church was full of rampantly heterosexual priests with a paralyzing predilection for pubescent pussies, so much so that many of these perverted padres were exiled to cold areas so as to chill their little bishops in turtlenecks. In The Nude Restaurant, Viva describes her childhood experiences with Catholicism as “My Memoirs of the Catholic Girlhood,” which she proclaims is superior to Irish-Jewish-American author/political activist Mary Therese McCarthy's book of a similarly titled name. A hypnotic hypocrite with an idiosyncratic lure, Viva says she'd rather be a lesbo than a hetero – which she associates with sadomasochism – despite stating to her swarthy man-friend Mr. Mead only a couple minutes later, “That’s the trouble with being around homosexuals; you always feel like covering up because you know you aren’t appreciated.” In no way phased regarding her embarrassingly pronounced narcissism, Viva vies for attention against the handful of people in The Nude Restaurant, despite the fact that, as a waitress aka softcore slut, hence the comedic “genius” of the film where a poor little rich girl attempts performing the most subservient occupation in the world as a topless server and failing miserably in the process; offering neither sensuality nor service in the process. Of course, Taylor Mead is an even more intrinsically incompetent, inept, wimpy, whiny, and utterly worthless waiter, as no degree of charm could hide the fact that he looks like a proto-AIDS victim and that guy g-string certainly does not do him him any favors. Suffice to say, The Nude Restaurant does offer a campy carnal feast as advertised in the title, albeit of the Warholian abberosexual proto-hipsters-from-hell sort. 

Like in Paul Morrissey’s trilogy and his later works, The Nude Restaurant does spoof the innate impotence, irrationalism, indecency, and overall idiocy of the so-called sexual revolution, as well as other counter-movement trends. One of the fellows that is a patron of The Nude Restaurant is an absurdly asinine and delusional anti-war activist who makes drug-addled dimwit Taylor Mead seem like an astute professor of philosophy by comparison. At one point in their inane conversation with one another, the slave-morality moralist activist states the following hippie truism, “anyone who doesn’t like war must be beautiful,” to which Mr. Mead replies, “not necessarily,” thereupon bursting the self-satisfied anti-war enthusiast’s bloated and bombastic bubble of pacifistic neo-bolshevik baloney. Viva also makes these fellows seem like yellow-bellied yokels, proclaiming to a white hippie bastard that claims he is related to some prominent Injun chief that, “that’s what they all say,”; “they” meaning all ethno-masochistic counter-culture, hippie, and post-hippie whites who will attempt to ‘uncover’ any nonwhite ancestry they can unearth from their family tree, even if it is total phony puffery of the most paltry and pathetic sort. Of course, the film certainly has something distinctly ‘Warholian’ about it because as a camera whore who would pull out dildos and nude mags while members of the press would photograph him, the basic and seemingly superficial premise of The Nude Restaurant – a cinematic work featuring an all-nude diner with penis designs on the menus – is indubitably of the autistic pop-artist’s particular persuasion.  Although quite tame by today's standards, the film caused a bit of controversy after its initial premiere at the Hudson Theatre on 44th Street in New York. Nowadays, the only thing 'subversive' and 'taboo' about The Nude Restaurant is its portrayal of peace activists as pompous, drug-riddled, bourgeois-born retards whose idea of 'political action' is occupying a piece of public pavement, being arrested and subsequently playing the scripted part of a martyr, hence its somewhat lasting value as a film today.

-Ty E

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