In late January of this year, Taylor Mead stood at the podium of MoMA's film auditorium, introducing the unseen Andy Warhol film, San Diego Surf, to a crowd of fans and friends. Even at 88-years-old, he was unashamed of his controversial role as a main character in the film—a man in an unhappy marriage to a woman he houses surfers with. Both he and his wife in San Diego Surf (played by Viva) shamelessly flirted and hooked up with the surfers without actively trying to fix their relationship. The crowd at MoMA loved it.
Last night, Taylor Mead died of a stroke in Denver. He had moved there after being kicked out of his Ludlow Street, Lower East Side NYC apartment by his landlord (supposedly the future home of a downtown SoHo House), but he had promised to return. The Village Voice called him “the first underground movie star" for his appearances in over 100 films during the '60s and '70s (including Warhol's Tarzan and Jane Regained... Sort of and Taylor Mead's Ass).
There is no doubt that Mead will be remembered as a key figure in the pop art movement, and not simply for his association with Warhol. Rest in peace.