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Piero Heliczer (1937-1993) was born in Rome and became active in New York City's underground film scene in the late 1960s. After the young Heliczer played bit parts in a few commercial Italian films, his mother, a widow, moved the family to the United States in the late 1940s. Heliczer entered Harvard University in 1955 but moved two years later to Paris, where he established his imprint dead language press, publishing his own poetry and later, work by authors Anselm Hollo, Gregory Corso, Jack Smith, and others.
In the 1960s, Heliczer moved from Paris to London to New York, where he descended upon Andy Warhol's Factory, appearing in several Warhol films. Heliczer obtained his own camera by 1964 and began making experimental and sometimes controversial films. He shot silent footage and added sound by tape later, occasionally collaborating with live musicians on projects like The Launching of the Dream Weapon (1965) with the performers who later became The Velvet Underground. After several more active decades in the international underground filmmaking community, Heliczer settled in Normandy to run a small bookshop.
Eight years after his death, longtime friends and collaborators Gerard Malanga and Anselm Hollo co-edited Heliczer's lifetime poetic output as A Purchase in the White Botanica.