The next time you're at Max Fish at three in the morning, take a good look at the old man in the knit cap and aviator glasses at the end of the bar. He might be Taylor Mead-poet, painter, Warhol superstar. The star of Ron Rice's 1959 beatnik classic The Flower Thief and, with Julian Beck, Judith Malina and Jack Smith, The Queen of Sheba Meets the Atom Man, as well as 10 movies with Andy Warhol, Mead, a once affluent child of Grosse Pointe, now lives, as he says, at "the opposite end of the Robert Evans spectrum," in a cockroach-and-clutter-infested 26' x 10' apartment on Ludlow Street. William Kirkley's Excavating Taylor Mead follows the legendary downtown barfly as he cleans the apartment he has lived in for 23 years-or rather, watches a couple of young women in dust masks do it for him-feeds stray cats, and faces eviction from his gentrified block. Excavating Taylor Mead celebrates the kind of New Yorker-and the kind of New York-that is rapidly vanishing, as Manhattan's last bohemia cedes its turf to French bistros and million-dollar condos. Narrated by Steve Buscemi, with commentary from performance artist Penny Arcade, poet Gerard Malanga, Paper magazine senior editor Carlo McCormick, and filmmakers Jonas Mekas, Paul Morrissey, and Jim Jarmusch, who put Mead in his film Coffee and Cigarettes, and appearances by art dealer Mary Boone, society photographer Patrick McMullen, Wu Tang Clan's Rza, and The White Stripes.
William A. Kirkley was born in California in 1979. After studying photography at the Art Center of Pasadena while in high school, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a working education in film. He quickly landed work in film production on music videos and commercials and within a year worked his way up to an assistant director position. By the age of 19, Kirkley produced and directed two music videos; one for the band The Fly's, whose song "Got You (Where I Want You)" made it onto the Billboard top ten. His working relationship with The Fly's extended to filming a documentary of their West Coast tour. After moving to New York in 1999 Kirkley met and befriended the subject of his first feature length film, Excavating Taylor Mead in the summer of 2000.