Sunday, 27 January 2013

Me Encanta! Pre-Warhol Nico in 1960s Spanish TV Commercials

The entry from Andy Warhol’s Diary from Monday 6 October 1980 (page 332):

“Went to C.Z. Guest’s for drinks. A guy there told me, “We have someone in common.” He said that his family owned all the brandy and sherry in Spain and that in the sixties Nico was the girl in all their advertisements in all the posters and subways and magazines, that she was famous all over Spain. He wanted to know where this beautiful girl was now and I said that it was a whole other person, that he’d never believe it, that she was fat and a heroin addict. He wanted to see her and I said that if she was still playing at the Squat Theatre we could go see her.”

Warhol was breathtakingly unsentimental and blithely unconcerned about his former 1960s Superstars and their hardships by the 1980s.  In the sixties, when she had been a sensational blonde beauty, German fashion model turned singer and actress Nico had unforgettably fronted The Velvet Underground (the proto-punk band Warhol managed) as husky-voiced chanteuse, and starred in several of his underground art movies (most famously, 1966's Chelsea Girls). Consider his account of encountering a down-on-her-luck, heroin-addicted Nico at an opening party in Paris (where she was then based) on Friday 27 May 1977 (page 46 of Andy Warhol's Diary): 

“Nico was there with a young kid with a big bulge in his pants, she asked Bob to photograph him. Bob already had. Nico looked older and fatter and sadder. She was crying, she said, because of the beauty of the show. I wanted to give her some money but not directly so I signed a 500-franc note ($100) and handed it to her, and she got even more sentimental and said, “I must frame this, can you give me another one, unsigned, to spend?”"

/ Below: Nico as she would have looked in the late 1970s - early 1980s /

/ Above: Portrait of Nico on the cover of her Drama of Exile album (1981) / 

Kudos to the consistently excellent Dangerous Minds blog for reminding me about the wonderfully kitsch Spanish TV ads the gorgeous young Nico made for Centenario Terry cognac in the early 1960s in her pre-Warhol fashion model days. (You see some brief glimpses of them, too, in Susanne Ofteringer's excellent 1995 documentary Nico Icon). I especially love the one where Nico purrs “Me encanta!”, her instantly recognisable German-accented voice obviously dubbed by a Spanish actress. 

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