Phaidon has collected oral histories and Shore’s rarely seen photographs in Factory: Andy Warhol, a new monograph exposing the legendary studio. Amid all the drugs and rock n roll, Maureen “Moe” Tucker would commute in from Levittown to play drums as the shyest member of the Velvets and hound Warhol for gas money. Here, she recounts her memories of joining the band and Warhol’s crew as a suburban tomboy who never quite fit in.
All photographs below by Stephen Shore
Here I was, this Levittown goofball, walking into the Factory with Andy Warhol and all his cohorts. I knew who Andy was and could have been made to feel very out of place, which I was. In a way I was out of place, not really as I got more comfortable, but it was pretty wacky at the Factory in those days. Not totally nuts, but a hell of a lot more nuts than anything I was used to. I didn’t take drugs or have any interest in taking drugs, and I was not at all interested in obscenity or vulgarity. When I think about it, it’s funny that I didn’t run out screaming. But I liked all those people so much, and no one was ever trying to make me take anything, so there was no pressure. No one was making me feel like a schmuck because I didn’t take drugs. And yes, there were a lot of drugs around. But also a lot of really interesting, funny people. And I always felt completely at home.
Andy and I had a very special friendship. Not a close personal friendship where we told secrets or anything like that, but I think a mutual respect, maybe, and not quite admiration—well, admiration, but I don’t mean it like it sounds. Andy’s whole persona was particularly poignant. Just his manner. Just getting more famous by the minute and having all these great ideas and all these interesting people around. He never became an asshole.
I remember playing at the Café Bizarre when he first came to see us. I remember that night. It was exciting. Of course, we all knew who he was. And wow, you know, my first celebrity. I really doubt very much if he had to think about it at all, because we were just what he was looking for.
The next thing you know, Andy comes over and sits on the desk and says, “Oh, Moe, you’re not typing the curse words.” I said, “I don’t want to do that. If you don’t want me to continue, that’s fine.” “Oh, no, that’s fine. Could you just put the first letter in?” I said, “No, no, cause that would be helping you.” And he said, “Oh, okay,” and walked away. That was the end of that. But they filled them in; I didn’t fill them in. I guess I probably knew Andy was Catholic. But I wouldn’t even swear I did know that. Later I found out that he went to church all the time, worked in soup kitchens. I don’t know. Maybe he just understood my feelings because we were both Catholic.