Andy Milligan was born in St. Paul, Minnesota on February 12, 1929. He was a self-taught film maker, playwright, script writer and costume designer. He grew up mostly in Minnesota, but he and his family moved around the country a lot. His father, Andrew Milligan Sr. (1895-1985) was a captain in the U.S. Army who served in the military for over 50 years (retiring in the mid 1960s holding the rank of colonel). His mother, Marie Gladys Hull (1903-1953), was an overweight, neurotic-bipolar alcoholic who physically and verbally abused her husband and children. She served as the basis for scores of her son's characters when he began making films. Milligan had an older half-brother named Harley Hull and a younger sister named Louise Milligan Howe. After finishing grade school, Milligan joined the U.S. Navy where he served four years. After his honorable discharge, he settled in New York City in 1951 where he dabbled in acting on stage and opened a dress shop. During the 1950s Milligan became involved in the nascent off-off-Broadway theater movement where he mounted productions of plays by Lord Dunsany and Jean Genet at the Caffe Cino, a small Greenwich Village coffeehouse that served as a hothouse for rising theater talent like Lanford Wilson, Tom Eyen and John Guare. Milligan also became involved with directing low-key theater productions at Cafe La Ma Ma Experimental Theater Club. During this period he operated and designed for a clothing boutique named Ad Lib and used his crude dressmaking skills to costume many theatrical productions. In the early 1960s Milligan turned to film making. He met some of the actors for his early films at Caffe Cino. His first released film was a 30-minute black-and-white 16 mm short drama entitled Vapors (1965). Set in the notorious gay bathhouse St. Mark's Baths, it was written by Hope Stansbury, the raven-haired beauty who would star in a few of his later films. The film, set on one Friday evening in the St. Mark's Baths, portrays an emotionally awkward and unconsummated meeting between two strangers. Milligan was later employed by producers of exploitation films, particularly William Mishkin, to direct softcore sexploitation and horror features, many featuring actors known from the off-off Broadway theater community. Milligan then hooked up with famed sexploitation producer William Mishkin and made 11 features, all shot with a single hand-held 16mm Auricon camera on short ends (snippets of film left over from other productions). Some of those include Depraved! (1967), Seeds (1968) ("Sown in Incest! Harvested in Hate!") and Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1972). Many of these early works play like bizarre morality tales where sleazy characters get violently paid back for their excesses. In 1966, Milligan set up shop in a Victorian mansion located on northern Staten Island, within walking distance of the ferry and his own house. The house soon became "Hollywood central," where he filmed most of his movies on budgets ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Milligan was a one-man army--he wrote, directed, built sets and sewed costumes for his splatter epics like The Ghastly Ones (1968). His usual "stock company" (Stansbury, Neil Flanagan, Hal Borske) was often supplemented by Staten Island locals who were dragged into performing. Milligan even married one of his actresses, Candy Hammond, who starred in a number of his films, most notably as Pussy Johnson in Gutter Trash (1969). No one took the wedding seriously, because Milligan was unabashedly homosexual and an avowed misogynist. The service took place at the Staten Island house, which was still decorated for the movie shoot Seeds. That night, Milligan cruised gay bars to celebrate. In 1968, Milligan began to make horror movies featuring gore effects with The Ghastly Ones (1968), a 19th century period piece and his first color film which was produced by JER and titled by Sam Sherman. In 1969, he made his next horror movie, Torture Dungeon (1970), a medieval period piece after which he moved to London, England to make movies there after having made a deal with producer Leslie Elliot. After directing Nightbirds (1970) in London, his partnership with Elliot collapsed as he was working on The Body Beneath (1970). Milligan then teamed up again with William Mishkin again where Mishkin produced and Milligan directed three more period piece British horror films which were Bloodthirsty Butchers (1970), The Man with Two Heads (1972), and The Rats Are Coming! The Werewolves Are Here! (1972) (all shot in 1969) before Milligan's return to Staten Island in 1970. On his return to New York, Milligan wrote and directed another medieval period piece titled Guru, the Mad Monk (1970), which was shot for the first time with a 35mm Arriflex camera and filmed entirely inside a Chelsea, Manhattan church. This movie was released on a double feature with The Body Beneath. Through the next years, Mishkin released Milligan's British-made pictures, some with additional scenes shot in New York. The Rats are Coming! The Werewolves are Here! was one of Mishkin's films in which he had Milligan insert new killer rat scenes shot in New York, mostly at his new Staten Island house on Corson Street where Milligan lived during that time and filmed another horror period piece there in 1973 which was titled Blood (1973). After directing the 1972 sexploitation drama Fleshpot on 42nd Street (1972), Milligan's output was restricted mostly to gory horror movies as he moved to the southern tip of Staten Island in the Tottenville neighborhood where he lived in and owned and operated a dilapidated hotel located at the end of Main Street right next to the southern end of Staten Island Railway. In October 1977, Milligan moved into 335 West 39th Street in Manhattan (a four-story building purchased for $50,000 by Milligan and stockholders), where he founded and ran the Troupe Theater, a seedy but fun off-off Broadway venue above which he lived in a third-floor loft until he left New York City for good in March 1985. He moved to Los Angeles, California, where he shot three more contemporary horror movies between 1987 and 1988 as well as operated another theater company, called the Troupe West, which ran until 1990. Andy Milligan was heavily into S&M and had very few serious relationships (all with men). The few friends he did have were just as emotionally troubled and dangerously disturbed as he was. A Vietnam veteran and ex-convict named Dennis Malvasi, who once drifted into and worked at Andy's Troupe Theater in the late 1970s and early 1980s, later made news headlines in March 2001 when he and his wife were arrested for aiding the flight of fugitive James Kopp, the suspected murderer of a New York abortion doctor. One boyfriend, "human toothpick" B. Wayne Keeton (so-named for his gaunt physical build), was a good natured Louisiana hustler who appeared in a small role in Monstrosity (1987), one of Milligan's last films. Keeton's death from AIDS in June 1989 hit Milligan hard, and he soon began having his own health problems. He learned shortly afterwards that he, too, had contracted AIDS, apparently from Keeton. With no insurance, little money, and the era of exploitation films over, Andy Milligan went into a reclusive decline until his death on June 3, 1991 at age 62.
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