On the evening of October 8, 1965, a mob scene erupted at the first Andy Warhol retrospective, held at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. Nearly all twenty-seven works to be exhibited had to be removed to protect them. The grand opening of Warhol’s most successful show to date was, in fact, primarily just people; estimates of attendance ranged from 2000 to 4000, many of whom were students. In the words of Sam Green, director of the Institute, in the absence of works of art, “Andy was mobbed and Edie become the exhibition.”
In search of a safe haven from a crowd chanting, “We want Andy and Edie,” and reportedly out for blood, Green maneuvered the couple up an old iron staircase, which had been sealed off at the ceiling where there had formerly been an exit. Policeman guarded the bottom of the stairs, while the royal pair of Pop ascended. At the top of the stairs, Edie presided as master of ceremonies, vamping spontaneously into a microphone and unrolling the outlandishly long sleeves of her Rudi Gernreich floor-length T-shirt and dangling them teasingly into the crowds gathering below.
Meanwhile an architecture graduate student was able to break through the fake ceiling with a crowbar, allowing the two to escape through the restored exit, make their way over the Institute’s roof, and climb down the fire escape to join the police who were waiting outside to usher them to safety.