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Susan Bottomly, International Velvet

Miss Susan Bottomly, otherwise known as “International Velvet”, was a teenage “Warhol Superstar”. The Warhol Superstars were a clique of New York personalities which associated with Andy Warhol and starred in his avant-garde films in the 1960s.

Born in 1950 into a respectable New England Family, she attended an upper-class boarding school, from which she was expelled four times. In 1966 she began modelling with the Ford agency, and at the mere age of sixteen appeared on the cover of "Mademoiselle" magazine.

She met Warhol at a party and he was hooked. He needed to fill the void left by Edie Sedgwick, one of  his first superstars, who by ‘66 was a raving and paranoid speed addict. Susan began attending events and parties with him just as Edie had done. He was entranced by Susan’s beauty and her heavy use of makeup. Her good upbringing and manners also fascinated him due to his love of “poor little rich girls”. She became a regular at The Factory  (the building where Warhol and his entourage would create art and films), and moved into the Chelsea Hotel.

After appearing in a screen test Warhol renamed her International Velvet. She went on to appear in Superboy*** ( the 24 hour movie) and most famously in The Chelsea Girls. In The Chelsea Girls she is doe eyed, soft spoken and a strange calm among violent drug addicts in the film. In the scene “Coloured Lights on Cast” she is an angelic vision, with flowers in her thick, black hair and colours flitting across her porcelain skin.

After getting shot by Valerie Solaris in ‘68, Warhol became less accessible to the public. The dynamic of The Factory had changed and Warhol switched his attentions to a new actress on the scene, a girl called Viva. Knowing her time was up, International Velvet left The Factory life in ‘69 and returned to being Susan Bottomly.

Little is known of her life after the 60s but she is one of the few living superstars and is currently resides in Hawaii.

Warhol said of her in his book POPism “Watching someone like Susan Bottomly, who had such perfect, full, fine features, doing all this on her face was like watching a beautiful statue painting itself.”

Sean Ceroni

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