Queer Places:
Harvard University (Ivy League), 2 Kirkland St, Cambridge, MA 02138

Dorothy Dean (December 22, 1932 – February 13, 1987) was an African-American socialite, connected to Andy Warhol's The Factory—for which she appeared in the films Batman Dracula (1964), Space (1965), My Hustler (1965), Afternoon (1965), and Chelsea Girls (1966)—and Max's Kansas City, where she worked as door person. She also appeared in the documentary film Superartist (1967) about Warhol and his films.

Dean was born in White Plains, New York, on December 22, 1932. She attended for her undergraduate degree (in philosophy) first Radcliffe and then Harvard, as one of the first significant generation of women graduate students working toward her graduate degree (in fine arts). While living in Cambridge, Massachusetts, she began associating almost entirely with gay white men, presumably in an effort to distance herself from the politics surrounding being both black and female in the 1950s and '60s, politics with which she did not identify.[1]

Dean typified what might be called the Casablanca gay style in her capacity as virtually being the den mother in the mid- and late 1950s of perhaps gay Harvard’s most conspicuous circle. That she was black in the first place, critic John Simon once said, would have probably seemed an “astonishing revelation” to Dean, who once described herself as “a white faggot trapped in a black woman’s body”—which is surely transfiguring if not quite transgendered. She called blacks “niggers” (and rhythm and blues “screaming nigger fuck music”) and was vicious in ridiculing progressives: Bob Dylan was “Fifi Zimmerman,” James Baldwin “Martin Luther Queen,” and so on. The picture does darken, especially after 1965, the year Dean performed in Andy Warhol’s film classic My Hustler.

Dorothy Dean Edition: 1/10 Inscription: Recto, sheet: lower left below image, inscribed by Mapplethorpe in pencil, "1/10" Verso, mount: lower left, in black ballpoint ink, "#13"; lower left, in pencil, "Dorthy [sic] Dean '1978"; lower left, in black ballpoint ink, "1/10"; lower right, in pen Robert Mapplethorpe (United States, 1946-1989) United States, New York, New York, 1978 Photographs Gelatin silver print Image: 13 7/8 x 14 in. (35.2 x 35.5 cm) Sheet: 19 7/8 x 15 13/16 in. (50.5 x 40.2 cm) Mount: 19 7/8 x 15 13/16 in. (50.5 x 40.2 cm) Framed: 25 1/4 x 24 1/4 in. (64.1 x 61.6 cm) Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and to The J. Paul Getty Trust (M.2016.152.10) Photography

She rarely worked; she held brief editorial and proofreading positions at publications such as The New Yorker and Vogue magazines. Transferring her activities to Manhattan, she became the first woman fact-checker at The New Yorker, where for another decade or so she cultivated a similar gay circle in Manhattan. But the low camp of her wit fueled by too many martinis grew tired. There were, she reported, fewer and fewer calls to her “Central Swishboard.” Her circle dissolved.

She died of cancer in Boulder, Colorado, on February 13, 1987.[2] Dean is one of the subjects of Hilton Als' 1996 book The Women.[3][4] [5]

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