Sex, Drugs and Art | The Sanctuary of The Silver Factory
The Silver Factory has solidified its place as an iconic landmark in American pop-culture history. It was a breathing, living hub that fostered Andy Warhol’s art and was a meeting ground for New York outcasts, socialites, musicians, muses and artists of all types — seeking to pursue and live life on their own terms free from the confines of day-to-day human existence. The silver plastered walls of the factory became a destination that fostered and nurtured artists, producing some of the greatest pop art in modern American history, but it also served as the breeding ground for drugs, sex and all around hedonism.
Amidst Warhol’s magical Xanadu, drugs lurked in every crevice and for many, the drug of interest was methamphetamine. During the ’60s, meth was not a widespread institution as it is today. Not every town in Middle America had a meth dealer in every neighborhood, and the drug was less used by the lower class, but rather the elite who sought the unmistakable rush, energy and pure euphoria that meth and only meth can provide.
There is no debate over the influence Warhol has had on American culture and art, but his glistening silver palace may have served a more nefarious cause. It was a place where, yes art could be forged, but also a place where drug seekers could be onlookers into a wild world of mayhem. For a meth user, the Factory was the perfect haven to isolate senses and explore the deepest depths of the rush of what drugs can provide the body.
There are plenty of notable faces that wandered in and out of The Factory’s walls — Edie Sedgwick, Gerard Melanga, Susan ‘International Velvet’, Lou Reed and Nico among many more. But the metallic retreat’s significance was the acceptance of the alternative lifestyle that Warhol provided. If you were famous, elite, an artist or otherwise, everyone was a freak, exploring what it meant to be an individual, to freely express oneself.
Unfortunately, many believed that in order to assert their own individuality it required the exploration of newfound drugs and bizarre sexual experiences. Fast-forward to today, and the same concept of individuality isn’t too far off from the ’60s mindset, but Warhol’s Factory members didn’t grasp the severity of a drug like methamphetamine.
The psychological repercussions of meth use alone can cause a shock to the system, leaving users with anxiety, depression, amphetamine psychosis, suicide and violent behaviors. In the wake of the ’60s surge of methamphetamine the Warhol Factory members were left with the startling realization and pain of addiction, leaving a less than flattering portrayal of what really went on behind the scenes, all for the sake of expression and the creation of art.
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