I met Margouleff just after I got out of the hospital where I was seriously ill with hepatitis and told every day that I wasn’t going to make it, and was all prepared to die. I came out all traumatized. Very strange. Margouleff came along. I was so weak already from exhaustion I was ready to fall down in the street. I had lost my apartment and everything in it. He walked up to me and he said, “Hello, you big tomato.” I said, “Get the hell out of here. Leave me alone, you creep.”
He could see that I was not feeling well and he took me home to his apartment. I never left. I stayed there for three and a half years. When I met Margouieff he was importing Hercules movies and dubbing them in English at ABC city. When he said that he was going to make an above-ground underground film, we all made a lot of faces and everything. He said someone called Edie Sedgwick was going to star in it. I’d never heard of her. I envisioned this blonde, pig-tailed, freckle-faced, homely, wire-rim glasses type from the name: Edie Sedgwick. It didn’t sound very glamorous or pretty.
You should have heard the way Margouleff carried on about her! He hated Edie. He couldn’t compete with her. She was so erratic, at least as far as he was concerned. He couldn’t understand that anyone could get that high on drugs. All he did was smoke a little pot every once in a while; he never had even a drink. And here were all these people around him with needles in their asses and everything, shooting amphetamine. I don’t think he understood all that vibrancy, all that stimulation that the drugs get going in them.
That was how I got involved. Apparently Edie wasn’t showing up; they couldn’t get her to learn lines, or do this, or that. She had been burned in the Chelsea fire, but no one wanted to take care of her. Everyone had refused. So Margouleff asked me if I wanted a job that paid twenty-five dollars a day to make sure that she got up in the morning, had her face washed and turned up at the studio in proper attire and behaved herself.
I said, Sure! I figured I’d be a real male nurse and real nasty.
Margouleff’s was a very strange apartment. He owned it and paid the rent. After that, it was my apartment. Every room was different: a psychedelic room, a Victorian room, a Georgian room. The kitchen was the best. It was painted as an American flag. I spent a month’s work on the refrigerator to make it look like a Coke vending machine.
Margouleff used to tell everybody that I was his houseboy, which I thought was very insulting. I fixed the apartment up; I decorated it; I ran it. It was in the East Village, a fabulous ramshackle six-room railroad flat, and one day I walked in and looked down to the end where sitting at the harpsichord was this breathtaking blonde that I could see from six rooms away. . .frosted blonde. I walked over. She stood and asked, “Who are you?” I said, “I’m Bobby. I live here. Who are you?” She said, “I’m Edie Sedgwick. Are you my nurse?”
She had these two people with her, one a boy named Anthony Ampule and a friend of his named Donald, who was a professor. On the harpsichord they had this big pile of methedrine, which they were scooping up and mixing into water. Anthony Ampule was called that because he was able to get vials of liquid amphetamine from his doctor. I don’t know what his real name is; even today he’s called Anthony Ampule. They were standing there at the harpsichord measuring out their methedrine. I looked at Edie and I said to myself, “Well how fabulous! This fabulous creature!” She was so electric.. .just wonderful! I decided about four minutes after I knew her that she was not an Edie, she was an Edith.
She didn’t go out that night. She hadn’t brought much of anything with her. She had these great big baseball mitts for hands because of the Chelsea fire, all covered with gauze and bandages. I went out to Max’s Kansas City and brought back some food for her. Double shrimp cocktail. A chocolate malted, which they made only for her there. Mickey Ruskin, the owner, would go in the back and melt the ice cream and beat it and make her a chocolate milk shake.
That was how I met her. I was so pleased. I just thought she was wondrous instantly. So I wasn’t a hideous male nurse at all. We caught on like wildfire and we got along so well it was wonderful. At Max’s they used to call me “Edie’s nurse,” but I didn’t mind. We’d have drinks there and put it on Margouleff’s account! Terrible! Those were the days of signing for everything on anybody’s name. Everybody was very rude about it.
I used to have the greatest fun out of making Edith get all dressed up. At Max’s it was as if Queen Elizabeth had arrived. Edith had the most wondrous wardrobe, even after the Chelsea fire. What she lost in the fire, I think were furs and jewelry. She kept telling me that her hands were hideously burned, that she expected, when the mitts came off, that she would have grotesque, deformed, webbed hands. When Dr. Roberts finally took the mitts off she was excited and very surprised. Her hands were in perfect shape.
She looked fabulous in everything! I remember going out with her in the afternoon when she had on what she called her “mini” evening gown. She’d seen a full-length velvet gown in the window at Bergdorf’s trimmed in egret feathers. She went in and bought it and because the mini skirt was in such vogue then she had the evening dress cut to mini size and had the feathers put back on. That was her “mini” evening gown. Over that she wore a black ostrich-plume coat, peacock feather earrings, and black satin gloves up to here with ostrich plume bows on the top, in broad daylight in the East Village. She was incredible! With a huge black straw hat over it.
We went to Coney Island like that. She took her first and only subway ride in New York. The people on the train just loved her. She never sat down the whole way out; the train was so crowded we stood all the way from the East Village to Coney Island. She was in all that mad regalia with a bathing suit underneath so we could go swimming. The people loved her. She was talking to everyone and getting along. We rode in the first car so she could look out of the window in the front. She was fascinated by the tunnels and the weaving of the train and the clacking. Just fabulous. She’d never experienced anything like it.