On Our Shelves Now
If you're picking this up because it's called UP YOUR ASS, you just need to read it. It's exactly what you think it is, and you'll also never guess what the experience of reading this play that revolves around a queer, anarchist sex worker is actually like. Valerie Solanas famously tried to murder Andy Warhol after he failed to produce this play (she was then diagnosed with schizophrenia), and that historical tidbit might be why some choose to read this work. But you should really read it because it's a vulgar, hilarious, absurd and astute take-down of misogyny and hetero-patriarchy from a radical feminist icon intent on destroying men.
Valerie Solanas’s legendary play explodes social and sexual mores and the hypocritical, patriarchal culture that produces.
Valerie Solanas’s legendary play, Up Your Ass—never published during her lifetime but full of her signature irreverence and wit, incisiveness, and camp—explodes social and sexual mores and the hypocritical, patriarchal culture that produces them. The play, the full title of which is Up Your Ass Or From the Cradle to the Boat Or The Big Suck Or Up from the Slime, marches out a cast of screwy stereotypes: the unknowing john, the frothy career girl, the boring male narcissist, two catty drag queens, the sex-depraved housewife, and a pair of racialized pickup artists, among others. At the center is protagonist Bongi Perez—a thinly veiled Solanas—a sardonic, gender-bending hustler who escorts us through the back alleys of her street life. The fictionalized predecessor to SCUM Manifesto, the play shares the same grand, subversive, implicative language, equally spitting and winking, embracing the margins, the scum, and selling a trick along the way.
About the Author
Valerie Solanas (1936–1988) was a writer and artist. She completed SCUM Manifesto in 1967 and her play Up Your Ass in 1965; the latter was never published in her lifetime. As a result of her attempt to assassinate Andy Warhol in 1968, Solanas was involuntarily committed to psychiatric hospitalization. She was institutionalized a number of times in the years that followed, always living radically on the fringes of society.
"The manuscript’s épater la bourgeoisie sensibility, shot through with clichés about race and sexuality, places it squarely in the twentieth century. But the text also outlines a space of genderqueer possibility that wouldn’t be theorized for years, advocates for sex workers’ rights, and sketches the dark future of reproductive technology through allusions to biological determinism."
—Wendy Vogel, Artforum