Andy Warhol’s Kiss is probably the artist’s earliest film work that was screened in public. Harkening back to the time when Hayes Office censors would not allow lips to touch and linger for more than three seconds in Hollywood films, with Kiss, Warhol decided to shoot male/female, female/female and male/male snogs that went on for three minutes. The concept was likely also influenced by a 1929 Greta Garbo film called The Kiss which apparently was screened at Amos Vogel’s influential Cinema 16 experimental film society right around the time that Warhol bought his first Bolex film camera.
The Kiss films were started in 1963 and shown in installments during weekly underground film screenings organized by Jonas Mekas. Eventually a 55-minute long version of Kiss was assembled. Among the participants were Ed Sanders of The Fugs, actor Rufus Collins from the Living Theatre, sculptor Marisol, artist Robert Indiana, as well as several of the outcasts and doomed beauties who would come to comprise the Factory’s “superstars.” The woman who you see kissing several guys, is Naomi Levine, who probably also came up with the concept (many of the kisses were also shot in her apartment). Andy Warhol referred to Levine as “my first female superstar.”