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Now, from a writer who knew the world


of Andv Warhol inside and out, comes the
first complete life of the most
influential,

enigmatic artist of our time, based on scores


of frank inten.iews with those who
knev.

him best.
7I%^aB3BM

He was the Prince of Pop, the pixielike


painter, filmmaker, publisher, and part>goer '

..\

extraordinaire who was rarely out of the


headlines from the time he shocked the art
world with his Campbells soup cans in the
1960s until his premature death in 198~. But
till now there has never been a full, in-depth
portrait of ^OC^rhol as he really was.

Who was this man, born Andrew Warhola


in 1928, who made his way through
a sternly

religious Depression childhood in a


Pittsburgh immigrants" ghetto to become
artist? v;hat
the first international celebrity

was he like in art school at Carnegie Tech and


as a voung illustrator who caused a
stir in

advertising circles with drawings that


grew
out of his foot fetish?
against
In New York he led the revolution
of
Abstract Expressionism with his paintings
soup cans, dollar bills, Coca-Cola bottles, old
movie stills, and other artifacts of American
consumer culture formerly considered too
"lowly" for serious artists.

Constantly reinventing himself, shrewdly


manipulating people along the way, he
became the Pied Piper of New York's
underground. But how did he create the vast
empire, including the Factory, that brought it

alltogether— sex, art, drugs, money fashion,


celebrit\', death —and his extraordinary
collection of art and antiques, worth $25
million at his death? How did he really
live?

Cotamvfd on back flap)


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THE LIFE AND DEATH OF

ANDY WARHOL
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF
ANDY WARHOL
by

VICTOR BOCKRIS

%
Bantam Books

New York Toronto London Sydney Auckland


THE LIFE AND DEATH OF AND Y WARHOL
A Bantam Book/October 1989
Lyrics from "Heroin" by Lou Reed printed wiih
permission, copyright igi 1967
Oakfield Avenue Music Ltd.

Photo Research: Gerard Malanga

No pari of this book may be reproduced or transmitted


in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical.
including photocopying, recording, or by any information
storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing fro
the publisher.
For information address: Bantam Books.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


Bockris. Victor. 1949-
The life and death of Andy WarhoUby Victor Bockris.
p. cm.
Bibliography : p.
Includes index.
ISBN 0-553-OS708-I $19.95 ($24.95 Can.}
I. Warhol. Andy. 1928-1987. 2. Artists— United States— Biography
/. Title.
N6537.W28B63 1989
700'.92—dc20
(Bl 89-685

Bantam Books are published by Bantam Books, a division of Bantam


Doubleday Del! Publishing Group. Inc. Its trademark, consisting of the
words "Bantam Books" and the portrayal of a rooster, is Registered in
U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and in other countries. Marca
Registrada. Bantam Books. 666 Fifth Avenue. New York. New York 10103

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA


This book is dedicated to
Andrew Wylie and Bobbie Bristol
Acknowledgments

For inspiration, support, ideas, and belief in this book, I want to thank,
above all, Andrew Wylie, Jeff Goldberg, Bobbie Bristol, Miles, Gerard
Malanga, Stellan Holm, Steve Mass, John Lindsay, Ingrid von Essen, and
Elvira Peake.

For sharing their experiences with me, I want to thank all the people
interviewed in the book who gave so generously of their time, particularly
Paul Warhola, George Warhola, James Warhola, Ann Warhola, John
Warhola, Margaret Warhola, Billy Linich, Ondine, John Giorno, Nathan
Gluck, and Ronald Tavel.

For emotional support, lodging, and aid through the nearly six years it
took to complete the book, I want to thank Price Abbott, Susan Aaron,
Terry Binns, Legs McNeil, Rick Blume, Jeffrey Vogel, Otis Brown, Joe
Fiedler, Kym Garfunkel, Gisela Freisinger, Debbie Harry, Chris Stein,
Duncan Hannah, Beauregard Houston-Montgomery, Karen Mandel-
baum, Rosemary Bailey, Laura Cavestani, Stewart Meyer, Christopher
Whent, Claude Pelieu, Mary Beach, David Rattray, David Rosenbaum,
Terry Sellers, Terry Spero, Miriam Udovitch, Maryann Erdos, Suzanne
Cooper, Liddy Lindsay, Liza Stelle, Helen Mitsios, and Lisa Rosset.

For advice, wish to thank William Burroughs, Dr. James Fingerhut, Vin-
I

cent Fremont, Allen Ginsberg, Lou Reed, Raymond Foye, Albert Gold-
man, and Paul Sidey.

Jeff Goldberg played a major role in organizing and editing the manuscript
during its fourth year. My brilliant editor at Bantam Books, Charles
Michener, was vital in bringing the book to its final shape. Heartfelt thanks
toboth of them.
Prologue

FIRST THING the appraisers saw when they opened the


THE
doors of Andy Warhol's New York townhouse 57 at East Sixty-
sixth Street was a larger-than-life bust of Napoleon, staring at
them from an antique table in the center of the soaring entrance
hall. Looking to their left, they paused to take in superb busts of the
Marquis de Lafayette and Benjamin Franklin, standing amidst
bronze statues of horses, hounds, boxers, and dancers. Beyond
them was a fine Chippendale sofa, and opposite that a George I
wing armchair. On the cream and gold walls, above boxes of tulips,
hung an impressive assortment of American ancestral portraits. A
life-size oil of a male nude, signed "George Bellows, 1906," leaned
Moving across the dark, polished floorboards,
against the far wall.
they passed a small elevator and came to a set of doors. Opening

them, they stopped dumbfounded.
There, in the spacious dining room, was a handsome Federal
dining table, surrounded by a dozen Art Deco chairs. Underneath
lay a luxurious carpet — obviously an Aubusson. The paintings,
hanging or leaning against the walls, most of them American primi-
tives, and a small woodcut by the Norwegian master Edvard Munch,
were all of the first order. But their entrance to the room was

VICTOR BOCKRIS

blocked. Occupying every inch of floor, table, and sideboard space


were so many boxes, shopping bags, and wrapped packages so —
much sheer stuff — that they could not penetrate farther. This was
not a room where anyone had dined, at least not in years. It wasn't
even the room of a collector who liked to gaze on his treasures with
the eye of a connoisseur. It was, instead, the room of a shopper,
an accumulator, a pack rat with all the money in the world. "I
was flabbergasted," recalled Barbara Deisroth, Sotheby's curator for
Art Deco. "Most of what Andy Warhol bought never saw the light
of day."
Their wonder deepened as they proceeded upstairs. On the sec-
ond floor, they entered a sitting room of almost severe formality.
Here, the furniture was largely French Art Nouveau and Art Deco
of the very highest quality —
pieces, Deisroth estimated, that might
fetch as much as sixty thousand dollars. The art on the walls was a
jarring flash-forward: major works by such Warhol contemporaries
as Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosen-
quist, and Cy Twombly, many in the bright, bold hues of pop art.
They would be worth, Sotheby's curator of contemporary art noted
at a glance, several million dollars.
Beyond double doors, they found themselves in the back parlor
and another century. Here, the look was neoclassical and neo-
Egyptian, the Empire-style taste of a nineteenth-century robber
baron: elaborately carved and gilded mahogany furniture and mas-
sive marble-topped sideboards; bronzes of mythological creatures;
florid urns and candelabras; gold-framed nineteenth-century
American and French academic paintings; another bust of
Napoleon.
Opulent as these rooms were, they seemed dead: They had the air
of a never-visited but exceedingly well kept provincial museum.
Deisroth thought: "There was no life, no laughter."
Upstairs in the elegant sleeping quarters, the appraisers found
objects that did seem to reveal something more personal about the
man who had lived there: the green boxes of wigs stacked next to
the television set; an antique crucifix on a side table next to the
Federal four-poster bed; an American primitive painting of two
little girls in red dresses and white pantaloons that clearly occupied

pride of place over a mantelpiece, directly facing the bed; and in the
sparkling white bathroom, a cabinet overflowing with skin creams,
makeup tubes and jars, bottles of perfume.
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

What they soon reaH/.ed was that they were seeing only the tip of
an astonishing iceberg. In the folds of the four-poster's canopy they
found women's jewels squirreled away. In every closet and cup-
board, in the guest bedrooms on the third and fourth floors, in the
basement kitchen, they found more of what they had seen in the
dining room — unopened shopping bags and boxes, crates and pack-
ages, stuff and more stuff. Every drawer was crammed with jewels,
watches, cigarette cases, gadgets, gewgaws, and bric-a-brac. Master-
pieces rubbed shoulders with junk. What remained wrapped often
had as much value as what had been unwrapped.
Two months later, when the appraisers finished their inventory
of this Xanadu, they had catalogued on computers more than
ten thousand items to be put on the auction block, ranging from
Picassos to Bakelite bracelets, rare silver tea services to Fiestaware,
museum-quality American Indian art to cigar-store Indians, Aus-
trian Secessionist furniture to vending machines, rare books to
cookie jars— forty-seven lots of them. Conspicuously absent, apart
from one small painting of Chairman Mao in a guest bedroom, was
anything by the owner himself, the man who may have been the
most prolific American artist of the twentieth century.
It should have surprised nobody. Had there ever been a more
"public" artist than Andy Warhol? Had there ever been an artist
more eager to send his art out, to cover the globe with it, to make it
as recognizable as one of his favorite images, a Coca-Cola bottle?
Andy Warhol had not made art in a studio; he had turned it out
with assembly-line regularity in a populous workshop he called the
Factory. And he had been, without question, the most publicized
artist of his time, a social butterfly who had once cracked that he
would even attend the "opening of a toilet seat," an artist whose
most famous work of art was himself.
At the same time he had been, as his strange hoard suggested, the
most "unwrapped" of public figures, as elusive as he was ubiquitous,
a man of whom it could be said that he used the limelight in order to
hide in it. From the early sixdes, when he seemed to turn "high art"
on its head with his paintings of subjects as lowly as Campbells soup
cans, the debate over whether he was "important" or "worthless"
had never ceased to rage.
Who was Andv Warhol? Was he, as Time magazine had persisted
in vilifving him, the supreme "huckster of hype"? Or was he, as his
legions of collectors and followers insisted, a seer whose vision cap-
VICTOR BOCKRIS

tured the true, ephemeral fragmentation of our time? And the man:
Was he, as many claimed, a modern Mephistopheles, coldly indif-
ferent to the self-destructiveness that overtook so many who had
pledged allegiance to him, including one deranged groupie who
had tried to assassinate him? Or was he, as others said, something
of a "saint"?
On April Fools' Day 1987, a little more than two months after
Andy Warhol's death, the critic John Richardson came down on the
latter side in his eulogy of the artist at a memorial service before two
thousand mourners in Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York. Citing
the deceased's little-known practice of going to Catholic mass "more
often than is obligatory," Richardson went on to say: "Never take
Andy at face value. The callous observer was in fact a recording
angel. And Andy's detachment — the distance he established be-

tween the world and himself was above all a matter of innocence
and of art. Isn't an artist usually obliged to step back from things? In
his impregnable innocence and humility Andy always struck me as a
yurodstvo — one of those saintly simpletons who haunt Russian fiction
and Slavic villages."

So, perhaps, had he struck the six thousand people who turned up
at Sotheby's auction house in New York on Saturday, April 23, more
than a year later, hoping to buy one of the yurodstvo's relics. More
than five thousand of them were turned away: The bidding room
could hold only a thousand, all of whom had to produce evidence of
their seriousness as buyers.
The outcome far exceeded anyone's imagination. In the course of
ten days of bidding for a piece of Andy, nearly every item went for
many times the price that had been hoped for: Andy's Rolls-Royce,
estimated at $15,000, went for $77,000; a ring, estimated at $2,000,
fetched $28,000; a Cy Twombly painting racked up a record price
for the artist of $990,000. And the cookie jars? During his lifetime
they had cost Warhol perhaps as much as $2,000. When the gavel
came down on the last one, the total for the batch had reached
$247,830. Sotheby's appraisers had anticipated that the Warhol col-
lection would bring in as much as $15 million. What it yielded was
$25.3 million.
To be sure, there must have been not a few who, upon returning
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

to the cold light of day, felt disillusioned by their purchases, even


swindled: When and done, even an Andy Warhol cookie jar
all is said
is still only a cookie jar. Such feelings had always accompanied the

adulation of Andy. Indeed, it was one of his most remarkable qual-


ities that he had never done anything to di.scourage them. And this,

of course, had only added to his great, confounding mystery.


In the deluge of comment that descended on Sotheby's disposi-
tion of Andy Warhol's earthly possessions, perhaps the only unargu-
able point was made by Fran Lebowitz, the humorist, who had
written a column for the artist's Inteiuiew magazine. Asked how he
might be feeling about the event, she said: "Andy must be so furious
that he is dead."

MOTHER WAS the great nonstop He


talker in his
HISwould first

always be mesmerized by such women. Gathering her


life.

three sons around the kitchen table in their dark, dank apart-
ment what her youngest son, Andy, would later describe as "the
in
I have ever been in my life," Julia Warhola would weave
worst place
and reweave the story of her coming to America, to the city of
Pittsburgh.
Her legend began in the last century, in Mikova, a medievally
snug Carpathian Mountains in what is today the north-
village in the
eastern corner of Czechoslovakia. Back then it was a volatile border
outpost of the Austro-Hungarian empire: To the east, less than an
hour's walk, was Russia; to the north, a bit farther away, was Poland.
The people of Mikova were principally Ruthenians or Rusyans
"little Russians" —
whose only larger identity lay in their allegiance as
Byzantine Catholics to the Russian Orthodox church in Kiev, across
the border in the Ukraine. In Dracula, it is the Ruthenians who are
identified as the Count's God-fearing, God-loving peasants. And
indeed, the world conjured up by Julia Warhola, in her wire-
rimmed glasses and long peasant dress, scarcely differed from that
of Bram Stoker's novel: pretty women with fine skin and high cheek-
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

bones, wearing vibiaiu l)abushl<.as; handsome men with Mowing


mustaches, their baggy while trousers tucked into high boots.
One of the handsomest, as she would tell it, was their father,
Andrei Warhola, now the bald, burly man with the bulging belly and
massive upper arms, pudgy nose, and bristling sideburns, taciturn as
always behind an American newspaper. Andrei and Julia had been
the typical village lad and lass. He, born in 1889, was three years
older than she and from a very different family: pious, nose-to-the-
grindstone, and decidedly stingy, in contrast to her own, the laugh-
ing, music-loving, and marginally better off Zavackys. Not that
anyone in Mikova in those days was free from torturous struggles.
(Like all life's tragedies, elevating her
the Zavackys, Julia cherished
own Andrei had grown up working the
to biblical proportions.)
fields with the diminishing hope that he could sustain much of a
livelihood. At seventeen, he had joined the wave of eastern Euro-
peans seeking a future in the industrial heart of America the —
promised land of Pittsburgh. There he had worked for two years in
the coal mines before returning to Mikova to, as Julia put it, "recruit
a bride."
Julia always claimed that her mother, Josephine Zavacky, had had
must have died in early childhood, for by
fifteen children. If so, six
the time Julia was of "recruiting" age, there were only nine. Two of
her brothers, John and Andrew, had already emigrated to Lyndora,
Pennsylvania. Two others, Steve and Yurko, as well as her sisters,
Mary, Anna, Ella, and Eva, remained with her in Mikova. Theirs,
she would say, getting a dreamy look in her eyes and a faraway tone
in her voice, was an idyllic existence. Nothing, certainly, was "so
good" in America as the Mikovan water, the Mikovan soil, the Miko-
van potatoes; no feeling so free as that of herding the goats or
walking barefoot in the snow. There was always singing, laughing,
talking. She and Mary had wanted to be famous singers and, for a
season, had toured around Mikova, performing in a caravan of
gypsies, with one of whose men —
she slyly implied —
she had had a
romance. But then, she would point out, chuckling, "My body like a
magnet. Only attract good men." Indeed, she had grown into not
only the most beautiful and exuberant of the Zavacky daughters but
the artistic one as well. Their house was decorated with her small
sculptures; their simplest utensils were embellished with her painted
designs.
VICTOR BOCKRIS

In 1909, when she was sixteen, her father could not support her
any longer: It was time to get married. Andrei Warhola had been
her brother John's best man at his wedding that year in Lyndora,

and after his return to the village Andrei clean-shaven, with a
head of curly blond hair, and with a reputation for being hard-

working, devout, and kind was the talk of Mikova. "Every girl
want him," Julia would say. "Fathers would offer him lots of money,
lots of land to marry daughter. He no want. He want me. I knew
nothing. He wants me, but I no want him. I no think of no man. My
mother and father say, 'Like him, like him.' I scared." When she
refused to marry Andrei, her father beat her. When she still re-
fused, he called on the village priest. "The priest —oh, a nice
priest —
come. 'This Andy,' he says, 'a very nice boy. Marry him.' I
cry. I no know. Andy visits again. He brings candy, wonderful
candy. And for this candy, I marry him."
They spent the next three years in Mikova, living with his family
and working in the fields. To avoid conscription in Emperor Francis

Joseph's army which would have obliged him to fight in the Bal-
kan conflict against his own people on the Russian side of the bor-

der Andrei decided to return to Pittsburgh. Julia, who was
pregnant, stayed behind. Of her immediate family, only her mother
and two younger sisters remained in Mikova; her father had died,
her beloved brother Yurko had been drafted; her other siblings had
gone to America. Andrei promised to send for her as soon as he had
saved enough to make it possible. Their separation would last nine
years.
Life with the Warholas had never been easy for Julia. Now, with
Andrei gone, "everything bad." The Warholas resented having to
support Julia; to pay for her upkeep she was obliged to work twelve
hours a day. In the winter of 1914 she gave birth to a daughter,
Justina. It was bitter cold, and the baby contracted influenza. There
was no doctor in the area. The Warholas insisted that Julia leave the
sick child during the day and work in the fields. One day she re-
turned to the house to find the six-week-old baby dead. In a fit of
weeping she would reenact many times later, she flung open the
window and screamed into the night: "My baby dies! My little girl!"
Soon after, Julia went to the authorities to find out where Yurko
was stationed; she was told that he had been killed. The news broke
the spirit of her mother, who died a month later, leaving Julia re-
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

sponsible for her sisters F.lla and Kva, then six and nine. Hie tale
darkened further: That spring, the harvest failed and the people of
Mikova faced starvation. Julia. Ella, and Eva subsisted on potatoes
and bread for months, i'hen, in the fall, the clouds parted: A letter
arrived from Yurko. His death had been reported because he had
switched uniforms with a dead soldier, leaving his identification pa-
pers in the pocket of the discarded clothes. On the heels of that news
came the First World War. Hostilities were especially fierce in the
Carpathians. Longstanding class and religious hatreds erupted vio-
lently, and the area around Mikova was devastated. Julia's house was

burned down and she lost all her possessions most grievously her
wedding album. In a neighboring village the men of thirty-six
families were rounded up and shot. As far as Julia was concerned,

everyone was the enemy the Russians, the Germans, the Poles.
That she and her sisters survived the war was due to her knowl-
edge of the countryside. From 1914 to the cessation of fighting in
1918, she and her sisters would pile into a horse-drawn cart at the
first warning of approaching soldiers and hide in the forests for days

at a time. Andrei and America now seemed an impossibly distant


dream. He would later insist that five times he had sent her money
for the journey, but no money or letter ever reached her.
The war was followed by the worst flu epidemic Europe had ever
seen. It took an especially heavy toll in the Carpathians. Shortly

before the United States imposed an embargo on immigration from


eastern Europe, Julia Warhola borrowed $160 from a village priest
and made her way by horse cart, train, and ship to find her husband
in America. It was 1921.

Throughout his adult life Andy Warhol shrouded his childhood in


exaggerations, half-truths, and outright lies. Reared on his mother's
constant feeding of her own histoiical legend — equal parts horror

and nostalgia he early on set about creating his own, and with the
same punch line: He had survived the most appalling odds. It was a
picture painted in heavy chiaroscuro: rock-bottom poverty; a coal-
miner father who was never home and who died when he was
young; bullying brothers; a mother who was always sick; a life of
social ostracism, no fun, no friends. Not to mention the humiliation
of his albino-Hke pigmentation. He was blithely contradictory about
VICTOR BOCKRIS

some reason he would often say


the place and year of his birth. For
that he came from McKeesport, community of immigrant workers
a
south of Pittsburgh. At other times he would say Philadelphia, and
once in a while Hawaii. Sometimes he made himself out to be three
years older than he actually was, saying that he had been born in
1925; sometimes the year was 1931. Most telling, perhaps, was the
staging of his birth in David Bailey's 1971 film portrait Andy Warhol,
in which Andy had the actress playing his mother claim to have
given birth to him alone at midnight in the midst of a fire. The
actress was made to recall his very first words as: "Look at the sun-
light!"
If true, it was a most unusual day, for as the steel and coal capital
of America, Pittsburgh seemed hell-bent on keeping out as much
sunlight as possible. During its boom years in the 1920s, the sprawl-
ing city at the confluence of three rivers was ringed by fire twenty-
four hours a day. Huge balls of flame shot out of the maws of the
steel mills, turning the night sky bizarre shades of fuchsia and char-
treuse and occasionally sparking conflagrations in the poorer neigh-
borhoods that gave Andy a fear of fire he never lost. In the hills
flanking the rivers, coke fires glowed like red animal eyes, and by
day pollution hung everywhere in an inky pall. (Pittsburgh, indeed,
was where the word smog was coined.) Cars kept their headlights on
during the day; street lamps would stay lit from morning to night.
Society ladies sometimes wore gas masks to go shopping downtown.
A disproportionate number of America's superrich — with names
such as Carnegie, Frick, Mellon, and Westinghouse had made huge—
fortunes out of this industrial frenzy and built mansions in the
Shadyside section of town to match and outmatch one another.
But the neighborhoods of the vast immigrant work force the —

Warholas' neighborhood were something else. "Here," wrote
H. L. Mencken, in one of his most savage condemnations of an
American place, "was wealth beyond computation, almost beyond
imagination —
and here were human habitations so abominable that
they would have disgraced a race of alley cats. I am not speaking of
mere filth. One expects steel towns to be dirty. What I allude to is the
unbroken and agonizing ugliness, the sheer revolting monstrous-
ness, of every home in sight."
"This is hell if there is a hell anywhere," one Pittsburgh miner was

10

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

quoted as saying. "No work,


starving, afraid of being shot, it is a
shame for a man tosuth had truth." During Prohibition the
tell

poHce turned a blind eye to liquor barons who rode ni Hashy cars up
and down Sixth Street, otherwise known as "The (ireat Wet Way,"
where cabarets like the White C^at, the Devil's Cave, and Little Har-
lem played to full houses. Nor did the police bother to patrol the
slums of the Hill district, where roving gangs of juveniles terrorized
the tenants. For many of the immigrant workers, the only escape
was playing the numbers racket, frequenting prostitutes, or taking
to the bottle.
Few of the rickety wooden houses in the Hill had proper sewage
systems; most of them depended on outside toilets without drain-
age. Whenit rained, the excrement ran down the hills to join the

pilesof irregularly collected rubbish on which spindly, pale children


played. In the Pittsburgh of the 1930s, the sociologist Philip Klein
wrote in A Social Study of Pittsburgh, published toward the end of the
decade, "the traditional optimism of the American people yielded to
dismal pessimism." For some it gave grounds for questioning the
basis of American capitalism. When the Populist presidential candi-
date Father Cox marched his exhausted jobless army of fifteen
thousand men back to Pittsburgh from their futile protest march on
Washington, D.C., for immediate relief, his warning that "some-
thing must be done to avert violence" was taken seriously enough
for the private police force of Pittsburgh's leading citizen, Andrew
Mellon, to be issued with machine guns.
Here, for a sensitive, highly intelligent child like Andy Warhol,
was a cartoon of all the dark forces of twentieth-century America
writ large: driving confidence and ambition, greed and power, cor-
ruption and violence, entropy, chaos, madness, and death all the—
themes that would later inform his work.
His view was from the bottom up, for as immigrants from eastern
Europe with a funny-sounding name, the Warholas were "Hun-
kies" —
people stereotyped as brutish, untrustworthy, and fit only for
low pay and hard labor. As Ruthenians, dispossessed people without
any claim to a country of their own, they were at the bottom of the
Hunkie heap. Looked down upon by their old and present neigh-
bors, the Ukrainians, Hungarians, Rumanians, Moldavians, and
Slovaks, they kept to their own kind and language po nasemu
VICTOR BOCKRIS

(which translates as "in our own manner") —


the mongrelization of
Hungarian and Ukrainian that Julia, Andrei, and their boys spoke
at home.
Baby Andy was born on August 6, 1928, in his parents' bedroom
at 73 Orr Street in the immigrant ghetto of Soho. It was a year
before the stock market crash, and nowhere did the depression hit
harder than in Pittsburgh. His father (called "Nonya" by his three
sons) had a good steady job with the Eichleay Corporation, laying
roads and moving houses from place to place, a common practice
during Pittsburgh's construction boom. A hard worker who, unlike
many fellow Rtuhenians, neither gambled nor drank, he managed
to put away several thousand dollars in postal savings bonds and
move his family to a larger house on Beelan Street in 1930. But a
year later he lost his job, and the Warholas were forced to move to a
tiny two-room apartment on Moultrie Street that rented for six dol-
lars a week. Andrei was reduced to taking odd jobs. Julia helped out
by doing part-time housecleaning for two dollars a day and making
flowers planted in tin cans, which she would sell door-to-door for
twenty-five to fifty cents. (Andy recalled her "flower sculptures" fifty
years later: "The tin flowers she made out of those fruit tins, that's
the reason why I did my first tin-can paintings. . . . My mother
always had lots of cans around, including the soup cans. She was . . .

a real good and correct artist, like the primitives.")


The Warholas' new home was minimal. "The building had two
Andy's brother John. "We lived on the first floor in two
stories," said
rooms, a kitchen, and a bathroom. The bathtub was just a steel tub,
and we heated the water on the stove. The three of us kids slept in
one bed."
Family tensions ran high in those conditions. Order was kept only
because of the three boys' fear of their father. "Sometimes he'd yell
at us if we were slapping at one another at the table or fighting in
bed," remembered Andy's oldest brother, Paul. "Dad didn't like us
starting a commotion because he was so exhausted and he would get
emotionally upset. Usually all he had to do was look at you. That was
enough."
"He'd warn us once," recalled John Warhola, "and then if we did
it again he would pull off his belt, but we ran and hid under the bed.

He never hit us but the threat was the same. Dad was so strict that
when you were a kid you'd think he was a mean father, starting from,

12
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

like, we didn't have no dessert. Like if 1 asked for take he would get
angry: 'If you're still hungry,' he'd say, 'rye bread with butter is
better for you.' We never had any pop. I drank just water and
coffee. But he made sure we had enough to eat and that it was good.
It wasn't junk food."
Throughout his life, Andy's closeness to his warm-hearted, gar-
rulous, wise mother was well-known. But the controlling, patriarchal
distance —
as well as his appetite for relentless work that he would —
later exhibit toward his assistants came, undoubtedly, from his
father.
Andrei Warhola was particularly strict in matters of religion. Pitts-
burgh in the early 1930s was the scene of the country's most violent
workers' demonstrations for jobs and food, protests brutally put
down by the Mellons' private police force, but Andrei turned his
back on political action. His expressions of hope for better times
were rooted in the ancient place, the ancient way: prayers before
every meal and devotions on Sunday in the somber, majestic Byzan-
tine Catholic service of his childhood, transplanted to the tiny
wooden church of St. John Chrysostom on Saline Street, a six-mile
walk away. Every Sunday he would march his family to mass, which
lasted an hour and a half. Afterward, he insisted that Sunday be
absolutely a day of rest.
"You weren't even allowed to pick up on Sun-
a pair of scissors
day," said Paul Warhola. "It was going to church and then taking off
your church clothes and then no playing around or nothing. My dad
was very strict on that."
John recalled it differently: "It was a joyous occasion people —
really visited with each other. My mother taught vou she liked going
to church better than material things. She never believed in being

wealthy she believed just being a real good person made you
happy. W^e were brought up never to hurt anybody, to believe you're
just here for a short time and you're going to leave the material
things behind."
In the absence of a radio, the chief diversion on those long shut-in
days was listening to Julia Warhola tell the old stories in po nasemu.
For although her husband could speak English passably and even
read the American newspapers, Julia stubbornly resisted mastering
the strange language. And her inability to converse with anyone but
her own kind made her that much more voluble at home. Closest to

13
VICTOR BOCKRIS

her when she told those stories about the war, the old church in
Mikova, the ghost of their sister Justina, was the baby of the family,
httle "Andek," as she called him. He was a pale, chubby boy, and
precocious from the start ("aggressive" and "pushy" was how Andy
remembered himself). "You could see he was picking up things
much better than we had," said Paul. "But he was really mischieful
between three and six. Andy picked up some bad language when he
was about three. He'd heard some kids swear. Swearing wasn't al-

lowed in our house you couldn't even say 'hell!' We'd go to a
relative's place and Andy'd say some of these things and it wasn't
nice. I'd sometimes smack him in the face. And the more you

smacked him, the more he said it the worse he got. He was real
bad: Just because we didn't want him to say it, he said it." "Being
born," Andy later wrote, "is like being kidnapped. And then sold
into slavery."

When Andy was four, his father got his old job back at the Eichleay
Corporation, which frequently took him away from his home for
weeks at a time. With "Nonya gon na contry," Paul, now ten, became
the man of the household. Already contributing to the family till by
selling newspapers on trolley cars and hawking peanuts at the
baseball park, Paul was having problems at school. He had never
overcome his embarrassment at not being able to speak English
when he entered first grade, and having to speak up in class still
terrified him. He began cutting school, and he developed a speech
impediment. He was too frightened to tell his father about his prob-
lems, and his mother would not have understood. Perhaps to vent
his frustration, he became an archdisciplinarian of wayward Andy.
Although the normal age for entering first grade was six, Paul took
it upon himself to force Andy into school at four. Remembering his
own difficulties in his first years at Soho Elementary, he was con-
vinced that Andy would be effectively tamed. "At first he didn't
want to go, but forced him," Paul recalled. "They didn't ask for no
I

records. The guy in the principal's office just took him right by the
"
hand and 1 says, 'He's starting.'
When Paul came to collect Andy at the end of the day, he found
him in tears. Andy continued to cry all the way home, where he
announced he was not going back. As Paul described the scene:

14
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

"Some little black girl had slapped him, so my mother said, 'Well,
you stay home then." " Paul protested, but Andy clung to his
mother's skirts, begging her to keep him at home. "So Mother says,
"
'Don't push him, he's just too young yet.'
For the next two years, Andy spent most of his time at home with
his mother. Julia was a wonderful companion ("She could really
make you laugh," recalled John), and she liked to draw. "I drew
pictures, so Andy made pictures when he was a little boy," she would
recall. "He liked to do that, sure, he made very nice pictures. We
made pictures together. I like to draw cats. I'm really a cat woman."
Visitors to the Warhola home always found Andek glued to his
mother's side. He kept his head down, and when he did look up it
was furtively, as if he were afraid of being hit. If Julia could not see
him when she came into the room she would always ask, "Drya
Andek?" "Where is Andek?"
In early 1934 the Warholas moved from Moultrie Street to 3252
Dawson Street in the better working-class neighborhood of Oak-
land. The schools —
Holmes Elementary and Schenley High were —
safer, and the house was a vast improvement over anything the
Warholas had lived in before. A semidetached two-story brick affair,
it had a front porch, a real living room with a fireplace, a small

dining room and kitchen, and, on the second floor, two bedrooms,
one for John and Andy in the back, one for their parents in the
front. Paul converted the attic into a third bedroom. Best of all was
the coal-burning furnace in the basement. "It was," said John, "just
like going into a different world." Nonya immediately began trying
to improve the house by digging out the cellar in the evening after
work. Julia started a vegetable garden in the back, which Andy
helped her turn over.
Oakland was a large neighborhood divided into two sections by
the city's major artery. Fifth Avenue. To its north were the massive
institutional buildings erected as symbols of their empire by the
Pittsburgh millionaires: the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall, the
Syrian Temple, and the forty-two-story Cathedral of Learning at
the University of Pittsburgh. On a rising slope to its south stretched
row upon row of tightly packed workers' houses, culminating at the
top of the rise in Dawson Street, which ran parallel to Fifth. Beyond
Dawson the ground fell away into the beautiful green bowl of Schen-
ley Park and Panther Hollow. Julia Warhola soon became something

15
VICTOR BOCKRIS

of a legend for her hospitality. Friends and relatives were always


greeted with a hug and a bowl of chicken soup. Her quirky humor,
love of conversation, and constant dispensing of advice made her a
neighborhood focal point. An Italian neighbor painted a vivid pic-
ture of the community during Andy's childhood: "It was fairly safe
in those days. The children played together and they more or less
brought the parents together. There were maybe about forty, fifty
young guys down there. We were tight. Maybe 7:30, 8:00 in the
morning pitchin" horseshoes. Then when enough guys came, we'd
start playing softball or baseball. Around 12:30, 1:00, we'd go out
swimming in Schenley Park. And then we'd plav craps behind the
Board of Education. But Andy was so intelligent, he was more or
less in a world all his own. He kept to himself like a loner."
From an early age Andy chose girls for his friends. His best friend
at Holmes was a little Ukrainian girl, a Byzantine Catholic like him,
named Margie Girman. Margie was a year younger, but they were
almost the same size and build. When Andy wasn't at home he could
usually be found playing in the street with Margie or sitting with her
on her stoop. Margie's best friend, Mina Serbin, who also attended
Holmes, recalled that "Margie was very bright and she never
stopped talking, and she stimulated Andy to do well in school. She
always talked about how hard she was going to study for a test. Andy
liked that, and he did everything she did." The extent to which
Andy modeled himself after Margie is evident in a photograph of
them together when they were seven: His expression and stance are
identical to hers, suggesting that their personalities have almost
merged. Andy's adoration of Margie Girman set up a pattern for his
later relationships with women: Part of him wanted to be her.
Andy and Margie began going to the movies together on Saturday
mornings. For eleven cents each child had an ice cream bar, saw a
double feature, and on the way out got an eight-by-ten-inch glossy
signed by the star. Andy soon had a boxful of publicity stills, the
beginning of his collector's mania. They were the same sort of
photos he would use twenty years later in his silk-screen portraits
of movie stars. His favorite film, he always said, was Alice in Won-
derland.
With other boys, Andy was more elusive. "We'd play softball,"
remembered John Warhola, "and when Andy was out in the field,
by the time you hit the ball he wasn't there. So when I came home he

16
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

was there drawing on the porch. He did that a lot as a kid. The kids
would say, 'Now, don't run home, Andy!' He just loved to diaw with
crayons."
Two of Julia's brothers and one of her sistets had settled with
their families in the farming community of Lyndora, and every
month or so she and her three sons would make the fifty-five-mile
train trip to visit the boisterous Zavacky clan. In Lyndora, Andy had
another best friend in his cousin Lillian ("Kiki") Lanchester, a
prankish, musical little girl with whom he would immediately run to
the corner candy store, then disappear into the countryside to talk
and giggle for hours. She recalled: "He was particularly neat and
very clean, all the time. With me he talked a lot, but he was very shy
with other people. When a picture was taken of him he would have
his head down and he would look up at you as though he was afraid
he didn't trust you."
Every other Sunday, Julia and the boys would visit her sister Mary
Preksta on Pittsburgh's Northside. At Aunt Mary's, Andy's friend
was his cousin Justina. "Tinka," four years older than he, remem-
bered these visits as intensely sentimental ones for her mother and
Aunt Julia. "While we played outside, they would read their letters
from Europe. It was always so sad, because they didn't have the
money to send to their sisters Ella and Eva, who were still in Mikova.
They would talk about Europe and cry." Julia sometimes came down
with migraine, and Mary would put her to bed, heat some salt in a
bag, and put it on her head. At other times the sisters would sing the
old songs, harmonizing beautifully as they had in Mikova.
It was during a visit to Aunt Mary's that Andy had what he later

described as his introduction to sex: "The first time I ever knew


about sex was in Northside, under the stairs, and they made this
funny kid suck this boy off. I never understood what it meant. I was
just sitting there watching." (A friend in the art world would de-
scribe him with ingenuousness: "Andy was the greatest voyeur I
less
ever met. He was who did what to whom.")
really interested in
Andy, remembered Margie, Kiki, and Tinka, was a wonderful
playmate, charming, sweet, and kind. As for his evincing any partic-
ular artistic interests, Tinka recalled: "Well, he used to go to town
with his mother and help pick her hats out. I remember her buying
a black felt hat that he painted gold around the edges. He was very
young when he did that. Even then, he was sort of an artist, I guess.

17
VICTOR BOCKRIS

He also liked to pick out his mother's clothes. He was a mother's


boy."
His new school, Holmes, was a success. Because his singleday at
Soho Elementary had been recorded as a full year, he went straight
into the second grade at age six. "He was very quiet, not at all
outgoing, and he was real good in drawing," his teacher, Catherine
Metz, recalled fifty years later. With his vacant stare he seemed to —
want through the halls as though he were invisible and his
to pass —
Botticelli choir boy appearance, he was an obvious target for the
gangs of boys who loafed on the corner outside the candy store
opposite the school. But, according to John Warhola, "He was
happy-go-lucky and well-liked, and I never saw him get angry." In
any case, he always came straight home after school, and was dili-
gent about his homework, after which he would draw pictures. (The
only "entertainment" in the house, said Paul, "was drawing pic-
tures.") He seemed to have passed through his rebellious phase.
Now, according to John, "he was so religious I thought he would
become a priest." Still, he often asked his mother for things the
family could scarcely afford. When he was seven, he wanted a car-
toon projector. It seemed the most outlandish idea anyone had ever
heard of, but Julia took a job doing housework for a dollar a day
until she had earned the twenty dollars to buy one. "We didn't have

money to buy a screen he'd show the pictures on the wall," said
John. "Andy would watch Mickey Mouse or Little Orphan Annie
and get ideas for his drawings."

"I had three nervous breakdowns when I was a child," Andy wrote
in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (from A to B and Back Again). This
was probably another exaggeration. Whatever "breakdowns" he had
were certainly not perceived as such. But his was, in any event, a
childhood scarred by illness. When he was two, his eyes had swollen
up so badly that his mother had to apply boric acid daily. At four he
had fallen on streetcar tracks and broken his right arm. Despite his
complaints of pain, nothing was done until several months later,
when a neighbor noticed an odd bend to the arm which then had —
to be rebroken and set. At six he had come down with scarlet fever.
And in the autumn of 1936, when he was eight, he contracted an
illness that had a major effect on his development. Before the dis-

18
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

covery of penicillin, rheumatic fever was common among children


who lived in unsanitary proximity in poor neighborhoods. A small
percentage of the victims died. About ten percent of the cases devel-
oped into chorea, popularly called St. Vitus' dance (after a third-
century Christian child martyr), which is a disorder of the central
nervous system. In the worst cases the victim loses coordination of
the limbs and has a series of what appear to be spastic seizures.
By the time Andy got sick he had become the perennial teacher's
pet at Holmes; but now when he tried to write or draw on the
blackboard his hand would shake, and the other boys laughed at
him. Sensing his fear, they started pushing him around and punch-
ing him. Andy had no idea what was happening to him, and he
became, once again, terrified of going to school. He grew increas-
ingly disoriented, was easily provoked to tears, and found the sim-
plest tasks, like tying his shoes or writing his name, difficult to
coordinate.
At first nobody at home took any notice of these symptoms, per-
haps because Andy had a reputation as a crybaby. But the symptoms
worsened. He started slurring his speech, touching things nervously
with shaking hands, fumbling, and finding it hard to sit still. A
physician. Dr. Zeedick, was called. He diagnosed a mild case of St.
Vitus' dance and ordered Andy to stay in bed for a month. Julia
moved him into the dimly lit dining room next to the kitchen and
devoted herself to nursing him back to health. Her greatest concern
was that he would go into convulsions and die, as had her baby
daughter, Justina, because she had been unable to move her bowels.
In times of sickness, Julia always believed in giving her boys enemas,
and Andy was no exception. (At the height of his career as a
filmmaker, Andy insisted on shooting a number of his performers
being given enemas. The footage was never used in a movie.)
This was a golden time in Andy's childhood. For a month he was
able to detach himself from the world. Julia made sure that he was
constantly entertained with a stream of movie magazines, comic
books, cut-out paper dolls, and coloring books. "1 buy him comic
books," Julia later recalled. "Cut, cut, cut nice. Cut out pictures. Oh,
he liked pictures from comic books." She also moved the family
radio, which Andrei had recently bought in a rare moment of in-
dulgence, from the living room to the dining room. As soon as
Andy's hands stopped shaking, he colored book after book, cut up

19
VICTOR BOCKRIS

and pasted magazine illustrations to make collages, and played with


his paper dolls. He got Paul to send away for movie stills of the stars
he was daydreaming about, and it was Paul who gave him his first
lesson in a process that would become crucial to his mature art —
the
transfer of an image from one sheet of paper to another. "I showed
him how to put wax on the surface of a comic strip, turn it over on
white paper, take a spoon and rub it in, and trace it right on." As
further incentive, Andy later wrote in his Philosophy, Julia would
"give me a Hershey bar every time I finished a page in my coloring
book."
In the movie magazines Andy discovered the world of celebrity
and glamour, his dream cities of Hollywood and New York. Julia
was his studio assistant, patron, and audience of one. She marveled
at his drawings and collages, laughed along at the radio shows. She
made sure he was comfortable night and day, sleeping in the same
bed, sometimes sitting up all night to watch him sleep.
According to his brothers, Andy greatly exaggerated his bouts of
St. Vitus' dance: He came down with it seriously only once, and was
really too young to have been worried about it. According to John,
"It was like having chicken pox or a sore throat." Yet the emphasis
Andy gave his illness in later life indicates how important the experi-
ence was to him.
After he had been in bed for a month, the Warholas decided it
was time for Andy to go back to school. On the appointed morning
he balked. Standing on the front porch with Julia, he held onto her
skirts and started crying. Andrei was away, and Julia was uncertain
what to do. Paul came out on the porch and found Andy throwing a
tantrum, just as he had after the incident at Soho Elementary four
years earlier. "He's gotta go back to school, Paul declared. He as-
"

sumed that Andy was afraid of being beaten up by the kids who had
laughed at him for being a mama's boy, but he did not consider that
a good enough reason for him to stay home.
Andy started screaming. Hearing the commotion, the next-door
neighbor, Pete Elachko, an undertaker's apprentice, came out on
the porch. He was used to playing surrogate father to the Warhola
boys when Andrei was away. He immediately assessed the situation;
Andy was just a crybaby who was afraid of everything and didn't
want to go to school. Stepping over the wall that divided the front
porches, he grabbed Andy by the shoulder and shouted, "You're
going to school!"

20
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Andy's knees buckled, as often happens with chorea victims, and


he fell down and refused to move, (iiabbing the terrified child by
the shoulders, Elachko dragged him down the front steps.
As Paul recalled: "Andy and then the neighbor
tried to kick him,
grabbed him. He just held his arms and legs and forced him to
school. Now that was the worst thing to do. After that Andy devel-
oped a nervous twitch."
"We didn't know he wasn't completely cured," said John. "Pete
thought he was doing us a favor when he carried him there.
Andy immediately had a relapse and had to be returned to bed
for four more weeks. But the incident bred in him a lifelong abhor-
rence of violence and a strong desire to detach himself from any
kind of force. One way to unleash his rage in later life would be to
try physically to make him do something.
Andy's second period in bed was much like his first. Once again
he was allowed to spend long, uninterrupted hours dreaming about
being a movie star in Hollywood. But this time, when he emerged
from his sickroom, his position in the family had changed. Julia had
been warned by Dr. Zeedick that a relapse was likely. The illness had
also left Andy with a skin condition that would plague him for the
rest of his life. He had suddenly developed large reddish-brown
blotches on his face, back, chest, arms, and hands. He appeared
more and became like a clinging vine, rarely leaving Julia's side.
frail
She, for her part, became more protective of him than ever and was
determined that nobody would lay a hand on him again. Andy was
now accorded the position of an eccentric invalid who must be
treated with special care and understanding, and his brothers began
to watch out for him at school. "What I didn't understand," said
John Warhola, "was when he went back to school after a couple of
months, even though he had lost so much time, they put him
ahead."
In perhaps the most revealing comment he ever made about his
childhood, Andy wrote in POPism: The Warhol '60s. "I learned when
I was little that whenever I got aggressive and tried to tell someone


what to do, nothing happened I just couldn't carry it off. I learned
that you actually have more power when vou shut up, because at
least some people will start to maybe doubt themselves. Now, the
"

fantasy life he was developing at age eight seemed to give him an


inner focus. His two-sided character began to emerge. While con-
tinuing to be as sweet and humble as ever with his girlfriends, he

21
VICTOR BOCKRIS

started to act the arrogant little prince at home. If Freud is right in


saying that subconsciously we remain the same age throughout our
then Andy would always remain the two-sided
life, eight-year-old
who emerged from the cocoon of his illness.
This was a new, eager, impatient, and sometimes aggressive
Andy, who would constantly challenge Paul, saying, "Well, whaddya
do now?" and who would run off to the movie house every Saturday
morning. The movies became his passion, a necessity, an escape. It
was not always easy to get the eleven-cent entrance fee, but Andy
pursued it with great determination. Often he would help Paul or
John sell peanuts at ballgames, earning a penny a bag. And it was at
this time that he began his lifelong practice of writing to movie stars,
asking for their pictures and autographs. Just as he identified with
girls rather than boys in his friendships, he chose a female rather
than a male star to idolize. In 1936, the year of Poor Little Rich Girl,
Shirley Temple became Andy's idol. In the film, eight-year-old Shir-
ley escapes by chance from the shelter of her father's wealth and
ends up working with a vaudeville team. Her attitude toward life is
that it's a game. Here was the philosophy that would guide Andy:
work all the time, but make it into a game.
Andy mailed off a dime to her fan club and received a photo-
graph with "To Andy Warhola from Shirley Temple" written on it.
It became his most cherished possession and the centerpiece of his

collection. He also sent away a cereal-box top and got a blue glass
with his idol's face imprinted on it. Just as he had imitated Margie
Girman so assiduously, he now tried to emulate Shirley Temple. For
the rest of his life he would imitate her stock gestures, folding his
hands as if in prayer and placing them next to his cheek, or twisting
them together and holding them out to the right just below his waist.
He dreamed about learning to tap-dance. The only thing he didn't
likeabout Shirley Temple films, he told a friend, was the inevitable
appearance of her father to take her home at the end. "It ruined
everything," he said. "She had been having such a good time, tap-
dancing with the local Kiwanis Club or the newspapermen in the city
room. I don't want to know who the father is."

By the end of the 1930s the balance of power in the Warhola house-
hold had shifted. For some time now Andrei's health had been
slowly failing. Always the disciplinarian, he could still freeze his sons

22
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

with a glance and the threat of his hand moving But Paul,
to his belt.
who was now seventeen and working was reasonably
in a steel mill,
independent, and Andrei was usually so tired when he came home
from work that it was all he could do to stand in the backyard, silenUy
hosing the tiny garden.
Julia begged Andrei to slow down. He had accumulated nearly
fifteen thousand dollars in postal bonds and a savings account, a
fortune for a man of his background. Paul was bringing a salary into
the house, enough to buy his mother dining-room furniture and a
refrigerator. It was no longer necessary for Andrei to take every job
he was offered, to keep up the backbreaking pace of twelve hours a
day, six days a week; but he was a workaholic, and Julia's pleas fell
on deaf ears. Paul remembered the time Andrei left the house on
what would turn out to be his last job, in Wheeling, West Virginia:
"He had been sick with yellow jaundice for a couple of years earlier
on, after he was operated on to have his gallbladder removed, and
then for so many years it was okay. And then all at once he was
getting yellow. Apparently his liver was failing him. Mother says,
'Don't go on a trip, you don't have to go away.' She'd say, 'Andrei,
you have money, why go? Please don't go!' But my dad, he wanted to
push himself."
At the Wheeling job site a number of the men, including Andrei,
had drunk some contaminated water, and when he returned to
Dawson Street, he came down with hepatitis and was confined to
bed. The effect on the close-knit family was severe.
In order to make up for the lost income the Warholas took in
boarders, but this only aggravated the situation. Paul and John
started spending more and more time away from home. For Julia,
these years were especially hard. America's entry into the Second
World War after the attack on Pearl Harbor revived terrifying
memories for her. Many boys in the neighborhood were going off to
war. Paul's turn would come soon.
As the family bonds unraveled, old dissensions between the
brothers hardened. The combination of Andrei's distant severity
and Julia's embracing softness had pitched them into fierce, unspo-
ken conflict with one another for their parents' attention. Cleaving
to his mother and detaching himself from his father, Andy was less
affected than John and Paul, who now found themselves in the
terrifying position of receiving the final judgment of their dying
patriarch.

23
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Andrei's greatest concern was over what would happen to his


hard-won savings after he died. He knew that Julia had no head for
figures and that anything could happen if she were left in control.
He was tormented by visions of the precious college fund he had
been putting aside for Andy being dispersed among the hungry
Zavackys in Lyndora or floating off to Mikova. He was equally un-
certain of Paul's ability to manage money. No sooner did Paul make
a buck than he spent it, and he had already developed a habit that

Andrei abhorred gambling. Paul, his eldest and heir, had further
disappointed Andrei by dropping out of high school without con-
sulting him. Andrei's silent displeasure rested heavily on his son,
who, for all his brusque hustle and energy, took after his mother
and was a soft, warm soul inside.
That left John to take responsibility for the Warhola household.
Sixteen in 1942 and taking courses at Conlee Trade School, Johnny
had pleased his father with his diligence and steadiness. In his last
months at Dawson Street Andrei began telling the relatives who

mattered his brother Joseph, Julia's sister Mary, and of course
Julia herself — to listen to John when it came to matters of finance.
The choice to promote John over Paul as head of the family created
a rift between the brothers that never healed, setting them in inter-
minable competition with each other for their mother's affection.
"
"Mother always tried to say, 'AH my sons mean the same to me,'
Paul would claim years later, "but I can just feel that I was her
favorite."
The use Andy made on in life of the same devices his mother
later
and father employed keep their children in constant, edgy com-
to
petition for their attention indicates that he was intuitively aware of
the family dramas surrounding his father's death.
One day before Andrei went into Montefiore Hospital for a series
of tests, he called John out onto the back porch. John recalled: "He
says to look after Mother and Andy because Paul is going to get
married soon. 'You're going to be real proud of Andy,' he says. 'He's
going to be highly educated, he's going to college.' He told me he
had enough postal bonds saved up to pay for Andy's first two years
in college, and he said, 'Make sure the money isn't spent in any other
"
way. Make sure the bills are paid and we don't lose the house.'
Remembering the day Andrei Warhola died, John continued:
"Andy came down to breakfast and asked Mother, How come you
tickled my nose with a feather?' And she says, 'I wasn't even in the

24
'

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

room.' And Andy says, 'Well, somebody tickled my nose and I woke
up and saw a body going out the door into the hall.' About eight
hours later my dad passed away, and my mother said, 'That must
"
have been an angel or God letting you know.'
"Andy sure had an emotional reaction to his father's death," re-
called Ann Warhola, who married Paul the following year. "As was
traditional, his dad was laid out in the house for three days with
somebody sitting up with him through the night, and his mother
always told me Andy refused to go down and see him when he was
laid out."
Paul remembered: "When they brought the body into the house,
Andy was so scared he ran and hid under the bed. He just didn't
wanna see Dad. He started crying. He begged Mother to let him stay
with Tinka at Aunt Mary's or to have Tinka come over and keep
him company. Mother was always fearful that his nervous condition
might come back, and agreed."
His father's funeral may have been the only one Andy ever went
to. Throughout his life he would always react todeath with a show
of utter indifference. On that occasion, at thirteen, he betrayed no
emotion; his feelings appeared completely submerged as his father's
coffin was lowered into the ground in St. John Divine Byzantine
Catholic Cemetery in suburban Bethel Park. In photographs taken
outside the family house after the funeral, Andy seems to be burst-
ing as if relieved of some inner burden and fueled by new energy.
Years later John Warhola said: "If there was any outstanding thing
that affected Andy during his childhood more than anything else, I
think it was when my dad passed away."

Now Julia began to cling to Andy the way he had clung to her
throughout his vulnerable childhood. They became equals in a pact
of mutual support. She later told John that she would not have
made it through this hard time without Andy. Their bond was
strengthened by family squabbles. Uncle Joseph's wife, Strina, who
had been Andrei's most outspoken critic during his lifetime for
being tightfisted, announced that she thought her family should
inherit a portion of his savings. Julia refused. "My husband was a
good man," she said. "Not a drunk man. I had eleven thousand
dollars in the bank. I just pay taxes. I raise my children.
Then there was Paul's marriage. In April 1943 he asked his

25
VICTOR BOCKRIS

mother how she felt about his getting married: "I says, 'Is this gonna
maybe change the situation?' She says, 'I'm not gonna stand in your
way. If you want to get married, that's fine.' I says, 'Well, we'll live
here. We'll rent the second floor and I can pay you so much a
"
month.'
The arrangement was doomed from the start. Ann Warhola
struck Paul's family as overbearing. She was apparently given to
religious soul-searching and believed that everybody must find his
"inner truth" and declare it openly. Nothing could have been less
natural for the Warholas, whose intricate family ties were based on
not expressing their true feelings. Ann seemed to dislike Andy in
particular, perhaps because of his effeminacy, and Andy was tor-
mented by her presence. Paul was caught in the middle. He began
staying out late. Ann would fly into rages, turning the house into a
war zone. The situation deteriorated further when Ann announced
that she was pregnant and that Paul, who had been called up to join
the navy, would shortly be leaving her in Julia's care.
By the time the baby, Paul Warhola, Jr., was born in early 1944, it
was evident that the arrangement could not continue. This was
brought to a head by Julia's ill health. For some time she had been
suffering from hemorrhoids. Now she found herself physically inca-
pable of caring for a recuperating, difficult new mother and a baby.
To everyone's relief Ann moved back into her parents' house to
await Paul's return from the war.
Their relief was short-lived. Julias hemorrhoids started bleeding
so badly that she was forced to call in her doctor, who prescribed a
series of tests and diagnosed colon cancer. Her chances of survival
were at best fifty-fifty, he informed both Julia and John, and that

chance depended entirely on her agreeing to an operation a colos-

tomy which was at the time still experimental. Since Julia was inca-
pable of making the decision, Paul was rushed home from training
camp to give the doctors permission to cut out Julia's bowel system
and replace it with a bag against her stomach. The boys and Julia
seem not to have been completely aware of what was involved. They
were simply told that the operation was essential and must be done
at once. For the rest of her life Julia remained convinced that she
had never had cancer, that the whole terrible ordeal had been un-
necessary. True or not, when Andy later tried to persuade her to
have another operation to replace the colostomy bag with tubes,
Julia flatly refused because the first operation had been so painful.

26
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

For Andy, his mother's ordeal was terribly traumatic: Her experi-
ence, coming had re-
after the harsh medical treatment his father
ceived, bred in him and surgery that may have
a fear of hospitals
contributed to his own premature death. It also seems to have stimu-
lated a lifelong reliance on prayer. "I'll never forget the day Andy
came down to the hospital after Mother was operated on," recalled
John Warhola. "The first thing he asked me, he says, 'Did Mumma
die?' We visited her in the hospital every day, and we just prayed.
We prayed a lot, and I think that had a bearing with me and Andy
getting real close. We were brought up to believe that prayers are
the only thing that are going to help you, and when Andy had
nowhere else to turn, he got closer to God. 1 think prayer really
helped him through a tough life."
As if his mother's condition were not trouble enough, adolescence
now struck Andy with a fury. When Julia was released from the
hospital after three weeks' confinement, her youngest son's angelic
looks had vanished. His nose had become a great bulbous cherry; his
skin had broken out again. "He didn't feel much like eating," John
recalled. "He says, 'Open a can of soup,' and the quickest thing I
grabbed was tomato soup."

27
ITTSBURGH IN THE 1930s and 1940s was an excellent place to
study art. The Carnegies, Mellons, and Fricks were among
the leading collectors in the world, and they sponsored com-
petitions, art centers, and free Saturday morning art classes at the
Carnegie Museum for talented children from all over the city. Pitts-
burgh boasted at least two outstanding local artists during Andy
Warhol's childhood — the folk artist John Kane, who had received a
great deal of publicity when it was revealed that he painted over
photographs, and the academic painter Sam Rosenberg, whose
street scenes of Oakland and Greenfield emphasized the hot pinks
and reds of the city and the Old World "nobility" of its immigrants.
The city's public schools put a premium on the teaching of art,
employing a number of innovative instructors who gave Andy not
only a solid technical grounding but the inspiration to see art as a
way of life. Chief among them was Joseph Fitzpatrick, who taught
the Saturday-morning classes at the Carnegie Museum. His prize
pupil was nine-year-old Andy Warhola, who had been recom-
mended by Annie Vickerman, his art teacher at Holmes.
The Carnegie Museum classes were split into two groups: the
Tam O'Shanters, named for Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie, com-

28
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

prised the fifth to seventh grades, and the Palettes were the older
students, in grades eight to ten. The Tarn O'Shanters" class was held
on the first floor of the museum in the ornate Music Hall, where
three hundred or so students would assemble on Saturday morn-
ings. Their teacher, the tall, flamboyant Fitzpatrick, was a Pittsburgh
character of some renown. Teaching for him was a performance.
"Look, to See, to Remember, to Enjoy!" he would bellow from the
stage at the children, who listened in rapt silence. "Art," he would
say, "is not just a subject. It's a way of life. It's the only subject you
use from the time you open your eyes in the morning until you close
them at night. Everything you look at has art or the lack of art."
What, for example, had their bus driver looked like that morning?
Fitzpatrick taught them to draw with authority, starting with an
understanding of the fundamentals of drawing and painting, then
encouraged them to manipulate the basic forms. Of his work with
his most famous pupil he said: "What I taught him may not have
helped with the kind of thing he did later on, but it acquainted him
with different styles."
The children sat in rows and worked in crayon on Masonite
boards. Each student would describe what he had observed during
the week had helped him improve on the previous week's draw-
that
ing and would then do a new drawing based on this knowledge. The
subjects were simple —
a coffee pot, a table. Local artists sometimes
came to talk about their work and techniques. The students visited
the museum's galleries to relate what they had learned to what they
could see. For Andy, these classes opened his eyes in other crucial
ways. As Ultra Violet, one of his "superstars," later wrote in her
memoir Famous for Fifteen Minutes: "They gave him his first chance
to meet children from neighborhoods beyond his ethnic ghetto and
to observe how the well-to-do dress and speak. Several times he
mentioned two youngsters who arrived in limousines, one in a long
maroon Packard and the other in a Pierce-Arrow. He remembered
the mother who wore expensively tailored clothes and sumptuous
furs. In the 1930s, before television and with no glossy magazines
for poor families like Andy's the art classes opened a peephole
. . .

for Andy to the world of the rich and successful."


According to Fitzpatrick, Andy was an original even then: "A
more talented person than Andy Warhol I never knew. I en-
couraged him to do whatever he wanted to do because he was so

29
VICTOR BOCKRIS

individualistic. Personally he was not attractive. He had no consider-


ation for other people. He
lacked all the amenities. But he did seem
to have a goal from the very start. You weren't exactly conscious of
what it was, but he stayed right with it. And knew exactly what to do
to get the attention he outwardly seemed to avoid."
In September 1941, Andy
entered Schenley High School. With a
mix of black, Jewish, Greek, Polish, and Czechoslovakian students,
Schenley was a lower-middle-class school with mediocre academic
standards. Nonetheless, the art department was quite good, and
Andy made the most of it.
Determined to fulfill his father's prediction and go to college,
Andy had become Ann Warhola
highly disciplined in his work. As
observed of the time before she moved out of Dawson Street, "When
Andy came home from school he would go straight to his room and
work. Dinner would be ready and you could hear his mother yelling
for him to come down and eat. Sometimes she would take food up to
him. When he did come down and sit with us he never had much to
say, and when he did talk it was always about his work and nobody
paid too much attention."
Andy's talent was gaining him approval from both teachers and
students. He drew compulsively and amazingly well. Drawings piled
up in stacks all over his room. "In Miss McKibbin's art class he went
straight to his desk, got out his materials, and drew and drew,"
recalled Lee Karageorge, a classmate. "But socially he was sort of left
out. He wasn't even in the art club because his talent was so superior
to the rest of us."
Small and beset with an acne so pronounced that his family
dubbed him "Andy the Red-Nosed Warhola," he was nonetheless
not picked on by other boys at school. His brother John recalled "a
fellow there that really protected him, an Irish kid, Jimmy Newell,
who later on became a policeman. He was a friend of mine and I
asked him to look out for Andy. He was the toughest kid in the
neighborhood." He was further protected by his art. Anywhere in —

home room, at Yohe's drugstore, during breaks he could be found
with a sketchbook. Boys would huddle around his desk and hold up
drawings of his, exclaiming: "Look at this, guys!" He even made a
sketching friend, a boy named Nick Kish, who lived down the block
on Dawson. "We weren't twentv-four-hour bosom buddies," remem-

30
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

bered Kish, "but on Saturday mornings we'd go to the park and


sketch. Andy would say, 'Hold your hand out. I want to draw it.' I
painted Andy, he painted me."
Years later Andy commented, "1 wasn't amazingly popular, al-
though I guess I wanted to be, because when I would see the kids
telling one another their problems, I felt left out. No one confided in
me." Nevertheless, he didn't seem that strange, according to several
old classmates. "He was oddball-looking but not oddball as a per-
son," one Schenley graduate said. "He didn't dress outlandishly. He
often wore a favorite sweater-vest with the sleeves of his shirt rolled
up, and, like almost everyone else, he wore saddle shoes. But he had
that white hair which he wore down in bangs or swept back. Most of
the other boys wore crewcuts, and sometimes they made fun of him.
They called him 'the albino.' He was more serious than most of us
were, but that doesn't mean he didn't have fun."
As at Holmes, his friends were mostly girls. With one, Ellie Simon,
he maintained a close friendship throughout college and into his
early years in New York. Another friend recalled: "Ellie had a thing
about helping other people, particularly if they had emotional or
physical problems." By now Andy had a lot of problems, and Ellie
was a font of sympathy. Although there was no romance involved,
they spent so much time together that Julia became jealous and
warned Andy that they would not be able to marry because Ellie was
Jewish.
He remained close to Margie Girman and her friend Mina Serbin,
who was, like him, a member of the school safety patrol. Every
afternoon after school, Andy and Mina would patrol the street
crossings until the students had all withdrawn from the area. Then
he would accompany her to Yohe's drugstore and join the other kids
eating ice cream, playing the jukebox, and fooling around. Andy
always had a sketchbook and would draw while the others talked,
joining in only during their more serious discussions about who was
going to college and how many neighborhood boys had been killed
in the war. Says Mina Serbin: "Andv was always complimenting me.
I was captain of the cheerleaders and I was popular, but I wasn't that

pretty. He would always say how beautiful my hair was or what nice
colors I was wearing. We didn't really have dates in those days. Who
could afford it? But we went bowling in Oakland together, and we

31
VICTOR BOCKRIS

went and we'd walk to the movies holding hands. One


ice-skating,
time, when was about fourteen, a man sat next to me at the mov-
I

ies and put his hand on my knee and offered me candy. I was
very upset, and I told Andy. I remember he went off looking for the
man like he was going to do something to him. Andy was going to
protect me."
During his junior year a student canteen called the High Spot
opened where, for twenty-five cents, the students could drink Cokes
and dance to a jukebox. Andy was a member of the board of the
High Spot, and could usually be found there on Friday nights. "I
didn't think Andy was the greatest jitterbugger," Mina recalled, "but
he did slow-dance very nicely."
He was successful enough with girls to stir jealousy. Seeing him
walking Mina or EUie home, the other boys would wonder how
Warhola, with his pimply face and high-pitched voice, was able to
talk so easily to the creatures who made them tongue-tied.
For at least one old classmate, Andy provoked confused feelings.
Back then, he said, he was emotionally insecure because his parents
were getting a divorce, and he attracted a lot of derision because he
was one of the smallest boys in the class. At first, Andy befriended
him. But the friendship turned sour when Andy started taunting
him. It began in the showers during the compulsory nude swimming
period: "Everybody hated to go into the pool, so for most of the
hour everybody would just stand in the shower. Andy was always in
that shower. He used to twit me because I was on the lower end of
the scale, as was he, in terms of being the shortest-hung studs in the
shower. The short-hung guys would face the shower and the other
guys would turn around. I very distinctly remember he always
stayed in the back of the shower and never went in the swimming
pool. Andy had an ugly body. He had a little dick and a kind of
hunched back. He wore his hair straight back and had this bulbous
nose. I did not suspect him of being gay. It wasn't the sort of thing
one thought about at that time."
Andy's taunting got worse. In the school corridors he would point
at the younger boy's crotch and go "euuugh euuugh." "He used
. . .

to ridicule others, too," his victim recalled. The old classmate, who is

Jewish, had the distinct impression that some of this was inspired by
the anti-Semitism that was common among boys of Andy's back-
ground. But the sudden turnabout in their budding friendship may

32

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

have been caused by deeper confusions in Andy's always com-


plicated feelings about intimacy.

"1 tried and tried when was young


to learn something about love
I

and since it turned to the movies for some


wasn't taught in school I

ideas about what love is and what to do about it," Andy wrote years
later in his Philosophy. "In those days you did learn something about
some kind of love from the movies, but it was nothing you could
apply with any reasonable results."
This may have been less disingenuous than it sounds, for as a
teenager he was the quintessential movie junkie. His special favor-
ites were the films from Warner Brothers, the studio that owned the

only two movie houses in Oakland, and one whose products films —
noir starring the likes of Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney, and
slapstick cartoons with Bugs Bunny, Tom and Jerry, and so on
were perfect nourishment for the two sides of his imagination, the
dark and the goofy. (Significantly, he would later claim that Warner
Brothers' heroic yokel Popeye the Sailor was his favorite childhood
hero.)
The radio had become the family hearth, particularly with the war
bulletins and and Edward R. Murrow
voices of Hitler, Churchill,
coming every night from Europe. According to Mina Serbin, Andy's
favorite subject of conversation was the war's death toll, and his
favorite radio character was the Shadow, with the show's signature
statement "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The
Shadow knows."
Serbin further recalled that Andy's preoccupation with death ex-
tended to his fascination with homegrown disasters. Railroad acci-
dents, hotel and circus fires, earthquakes, hurricanes, epidemics,
plane crashes, bizarre suicides: The newspapers and magazines were
full of "on-the-spot" photographs of such events, the grislier the
better. And since Andy never
left Pittsburgh, it was the movies and
the news that provided him with the "scenes of his childhood" that
he would use and reuse throughout his life. As he later wrote, "You
live in your dream America that you've custom-made from art and
schmaltz . . . just as much as you live in your real one."
By his senior year at Schenley, Andy had developed a special
relationship with his art teacher, Joseph Fitzpatrick. Mina Serbin

33
VICTOR BOCKRIS

vividly remembered the mentor and his protege "bending over


Andy's drawings, scrutinizing them together. It was a very warm re-
lationship. Joe would make him sit and do things that Andy didn't
think he could do. He brought all of that out of him."

But it wasn't a matter of imposing a vision which would, in any
case, have been impossible. With uncanny aptness, the inscription
next to Andy's high school yearbook photograph reads: "As
genuine as a fingerprint."

During his senior year at Schenley, Andy was accepted at both the
University of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Institute of Technology.
He chose the latter because it had the stronger art department.

Things had improved at home. Julia Warhola had survived the


shock of her colostomy and was devoting all her energies to support-
ing Andy's ambitions. She moved out of the front bedroom so that
he could have the best rooin in the house to work in, and she paid
his first year's college tuition out of the postal savings bonds left by
Andrei. With Paul away from home, John was the man of the house,
and he took care of the monthly bills by working as a Good Humor
ice-cream vendor. Still, enrolling Andy at Carnegie Tech was
fraught with problems.
First, it turned out that Andy had no birth certificate, because
Julia had failed to register the event. Although this problem was
remedied with a signed affidavit, John recalled, "they weren't going
to accept him because he was going to just go in the evenings to save
money, but my mother told him to go back and tell them that he'll go
in the daytime and she gave him the money. I think it was two
hundred dollars a semester. I remember before he went to talk to
the people at the office he had to kneel down and say some special
prayers with my mother."
Carnegie Tech, on its beautifully landscaped campus in Oakland,
near the rows of mansions where the Pittsburgh elite lived, was a
zone of culture distinctly separate from the workaday life of the city.
The university's academic standards were high, the courses competi-
tive, and hard work was stressed. Laborare est orare, "To labor is to
pray," was the school motto. Warhol's freshman courses were Draw-
ing 1, Pictorial and Decorative Design, Color, Hygiene, and
Thought and Expression. In one way or another he had trouble

34
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

with all of them, but his most serious problem came in Thought and
Expression.
The course was taught by Gladys Schmidt, a stern woman who ran
the only artistic salon in Pittsburgh. One of the course's require-
ments was attending plays staged by the drama department and
writing interpretive essays about them. Andy, with his immigrant
accent and vocabulary —
he would say "ats" for "that is," "Jeetjet" for

"Did you eat yet?" and "yunz" for "all of you" and his inability to
write grammatically, was in trouble from the start. "It was said that
his mutilations of the English language were the despair of Gladys
Schmidt," one of the other teachers recalled. "Andy was never very
strong in his academics, but that had nothing to do with his intelli-
gence. There was a language problem at home, and it was also
difficult for Andy to follow directions in the beginning, because he
had already developed enough to be very self-directed."
Warhola never spoke in Gladys Schmidt's class and was incapable
of forming his thoughts coherently in writing, often relying on the
help of two classmates: his old friend Ellie Simon and Gretchen
Schmertz, a slender, talkative young woman whose father was a
professor in the architecture department. Gretchen Schmertz re-
membered Andy's appearance at the time as "thin, soft-spoken, and
very pale, as if he never came out in the sun. He appeared to be frail,
but I don't think he really was because he always produced a lot of
work, inost of it at night." Working at night was a habit Andy had
developed in high school because he was afraid of the dark, and it
was the only time he could be completely uninterrupted. Now that
he had his own room, he could work as late as he liked.
The two girls helped him write his papers. They would get to-
gether after class and ask him what he thought about the book or
play in question. Gretchen would put his ideas into proper English,
then the three of them would go over the paper to make sure it
sounded as if he had written it. This ploy, however, could not cover
up Andy's difficulties when he was called upon to speak or write
exam papers.
At the same time, he was having trouble with his art teachers. The
faculty was led by a group of older academicians, including the
department director, Wilfrid Readio, and the anatomy teacher Rus-
sell ("Papa") Hyde. Neither knew what to make of the strange young

man. Often his work seemed completely slapdash. He would, for

35
VICTOR BOCKRIS

example, tape a piece of torn construction paper over the gaps


between one figure and another in a drawing, or leave the paw
prints of the family cat on his work as a sign of creativity. On oc-
casion he would bring in something completely different from
what the class had been told to do, as if he had simply ignored the
assignment.
Robert Lepper, who was a younger, broader-minded teacher than
some of his colleagues, recalled Andy as "a timid little boy who was
often in academic difficulty. At that time the work of the students
was graded by a jury system. The majority prevailed. At first, Andy
was regularly proposed for 'drop' from the institution for failure to
maintain standards. It is to the credit of the faculty, some ten or
twelve, that the proposal to 'drop' failed by at least one vote, and that
Andy was permitted to continue his studies. He regidarly split the
faculty down the middle. Some of them thought he couldn't draw at
all. Others recognized his talent immediately. Andy was the baby of

the class; the other students all looked after him. Still, if anyone had
asked me at the time who was the least likely to succeed, I would
have said Andy Warhola."
He had found a mother figure in the art department chairman's
secretary, Lorene Twiggs. Most people who met Andy during his
first year at Tech say that he was so shy he could hardly speak. Soon,

however, he was pouring his heart out daily to Mrs. Twiggs. Conjur-
ing up a tale of abject woe, he told her how ill his mother was, in
clinical detail. He emphasized how poor
they were and how difficult
it was for him any work done at home. His brothers, he
to get
claimed, made fun of him for wanting to be an artist and let their
children stomp all over his work. To illustrate his predicament, he
always wore the same pair of baggy jeans, a turtleneck, a frayed
workshirt, and a pair of sneakers that looked as if they had been
found in a Goodwill box.
Gretchen Schmertz believed that "the main threat to him was
poverty. We were concerned that he was warm enough in the win-
tertime. Nobody did the Joe College dressing at the time —
the girls

wore blue jeans but it was a case of: Does he have gloves for his
hands and a decent coat or sweater? I never visited his house; it was
off-limits." The truth was that his mother served Andy delicious,
piping hot meals whenever he would eat them, and chased him
around the living room every morning trying to force a woolen hat

36
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

onto his head because he caught cold so easily. Andy evaded these
attempts but finally agreed to take a pair of earmuffs, which he
rarely wore.

In the economic recession following the war, jobs were scarce, and
many returning soldiersbegan to takeadvantage of the opportunity
of going to college on the GI Bill. Since the art department could

accommodate a maximum of a hundred students, it was announced


that thirty to forty members of Andy's class would be dropped at the
end of the first year to make room for the veterans. In fact, only
fifteen of the forty-eight in Andy's class would survive. Despite the
help of his friends, Andy failed Thought and Expression, and his
other grades were also poor. At the end of his freshman year Andy
was dropped from Carnegie Tech. On hearing the news, he burst
into tears. (Throughout his life, rejection was one of the few things
that could reduce him to tears.) This rejection so scarred Andy that
later on, he would deny ever having attended college.
"When Andy came home that day," said John Warhola, "he was
very upset and very determined, alternating between crying and
saying that if they threw him out he would go to art college in New
York. I wondered how he would be able to do that, but Andy just
said he would. Then Mother said, 'We'll say some prayers and every-
"
thing will be all right.'
A few teachers and Mrs. Twiggs put up a fight for him, and finally
the faculty offered him the option of going to summer school and
producing work in order to be considered for readmission in the
fall. There was less pressure at summer school, and Andy, ac-

companied by the ever-faithful Ellie Simon, thrived on it. He made


up Thought and Expression, and took "Papa" Hyde's course in
anatomy.
Russell Hyde was in his seventies. Over six feet tall with a big head
of neatly swept-back silver hair, he was as formal in his appearance,
always wearing three-piece suits, as he was keen on Nicoleydes' "nat-
ural" approach to drawing. "I think Andy's relationship with Papa
Hyde that summer was extremely important," recalled one of An-
dy's classmates. "In my opinion, it was the metamorphosis of Andy
Warhol. He gave Andy a lecture one day, saying, 'Andy, damn it,
you just must stop drawing in a manner where you try to please me.

37
VICTOR BOCKRIS

You do the way you see it. I don't care how good it looks, how bad
it

it You've got to do it to please yourself. And if you don't do it,


looks.
"
you'll never amount to a damn.'
In the meantime, Paul Warhola had started a new business. He
had bought a flatbed huckster's truck and was selling fruit and vege-
tables door to door. He gave Andy a job for the simimer, helping
him three or four mornings a week for three dollars a day. They
would load the truck early in the morning at the produce market
and follow a regular route. Andy would run from door to door
yelling, "Fresh strawberries! Fresh corn!" and delivering orders as
Paul drove the truck down the street.
Soon Andy started to carry a sketchbook on the truck. He
sketched everything he saw around him at the produce yard and in
the streets, using a "speed-sketching" technique he had learned at
school. He would put the pencil on the paper and draw a figure in
ten seconds without taking the pencil off the paper. He drew people
standing in doorways or gathered around the truck. "It was a very
uninhibited style," one witness recalled. "He drew what he saw. You
could see the nude bodies of the women through their tattered
clothes, babies hanging on their mothers' necks. In a very simple
manner he really got the essence of this depressed side of life."
Andy presented a notebook full of these drawings to the art de-
partment and was reinstated at Tech. In fact, the first thing his
classmates saw when they came back for the fall semester of 1948
was Andy's huckster drawings hanging in a group, accompanied by
a striking self-portrait. This display was Andy's first show, and it
made him into something of a figure in the department and on
campus, especially when the school paper annoimced that he was to
be honored for the best summer work done by a sophomore. The
forty-dollar Leisser Prize was the first money Andy ever received for
his art.
"I think Andy was a natural ground-breaker," recalled Betty Ash,
one of the few black students in the department. "Like Courbet, who
came from peasant stock and was on the upwardly mobile road via
art, Andy wore his peasant heritage like a badge of honor. His use of
the working-class vernacular was part of it."
The brightest students in the department formed a group led by
Philip Pearlstein, a twenty-four-year-old intellectual from a middle-

38
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

class Jewish family. Like Andy, Pearlsiein had been taught by Fitz-
pairick as a child, and he had made a splash by having two of his
paintings reproduced in Life magazine when he was fifteen. He
would become Andy's closest friend at Tech. Other members of the
circle were Leonard Kessler, Arthur Elias, Jack Regan, George
Klauber, Pearlstein's girlfriend Dorothy Kantor, Regan's girlfriend
Grace Hirt, Ellie Simon, and Gretchen Schmertz. They were a noisy,
argumentative, high-spirited bunch, and their seriousness about
what they were doing, shaped by the war years, was unprecedented
even by the already high Tech standards. Shortly after he won the
Leisser Prize, they all began to notice Andy. As Leonard Kessler

remembered "Here was this cherubic little guy drawing these


it:

beautiful, graceful pictures of cherubs, and we started to talk to him.


He was never argumentative, never put anybody down. He was a
gentle and very kind person, and he had a whimsical smile and a
wide eye, as if he was always ready to make some outlandish remark.
Once we were sitting on the grass and he was looking up at the sky
and he said, 'Maybe there are giants out there in the universe and
"
we're like the ants on the grovmd.'
"Here was this kid who just drew like an angel," said Gretchen
Schmertz. "He had his own quality of line, this wonderful shaggy,
jagged line." Jack Wilson, another student, recalled that "Andy was
the damndest mixture of a six-year-old child and a well-trained
artist. He put them both together totally without inhibition." And

Philip Pearlstein said: "It was very apparent to all of the students
that Andy was was not apparent to the
extraordinarily talented. It

faculty. But there was this marvelous quality. Andy was a very young
person. He liked to laugh. He was very naive and left himself open
in a way. He was like an angel in the sky at the beginning of his
college times. But only for then. That's what college gets rid of."
Jack Wilson saw a darker side: "He was very naive and left himself
open, but I can't remember Andy laughing. He always had a kind of
sad face."
Andy blossomed with their association. He was able to play up the
bad-little-boy side of his personality, delighting in trying to shock
the not-easily-shocked veterans by drawing pictures of little boys
masturbating and urinating. They, in turn, delighted in his naivete
and talent. The women in the group all mothered him. Soon he had

39
VICTOR BOCKRIS

them all thinking of him as the class baby. Without being the leader
of the group, he was always at its center, protected and nurtured.

Many of Andy's professors in the art department were commercial


and industrial designers. The teachings of the Bauhaus, the
German-based movement led by Walter Gropius and Laszlo
Moholy-Nagy to bring about the marriage of art and technology,
was particularly emphasized. The Painting and Design faculty be-
lieved that fine art and commercial art were essentially the same
thing, and their avowed aim was to break down the barriers between
them. The P&Ds, as their students were called, were taught that the
most important thing to learn was good design. Moholy-Nagy's Vi-
sion and Design and Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook were two of
their principal texts. Moreover, the Bauhaus emphasis on art as
business, as an organization of people, was something that Andy
would not forget when it came to building his New York studio, the
Factory.
By second year Andy was thriving in this environment and
his
casting off some of the shyness of his freshman year, although he
still needed a lot of help with his written work. He joined a student

film club, the Outlines, that screened films from the Museum of
Modern Art in New York. The club hired guest speakers, and Andy
heard lectures by the avant-garde filmmaker Maya Deren and the
composer John Cage. Pittsburgh had a fine symphony orchestra,
and he started going to concerts. He also became interested in bal-
let and modern dance. Jose Limon was a particular hero, and Andy

and Philip Pearlstein saw him every time he came to town. Martha
Graham arrived for a series of performances and made a tremen-
dous impact on the group. Andy was particularly moved by her
performance of Appalachian Spring, and he and his friends posed
for photographs parodying her style.
Indeed, Andy was so interested in dance that he began going to
modern dance classes with Kessler's sister, Corkie Kaufman. He had
natural rhythm and found it agonizing to do his plies, but twice
little

a week he would change into a leotard and join the girls to explore
rhythm, space, and movement for an hour. He also joined the mod-
ern dance class at Tech, in which he was the onlv male student, and

40
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

posed somewhat defiantly with the girls tor their yearbook picture.
Asked many years later if she recalled him, his teacher Dorothy
Kanrich snorted, "He was a nut!"
His greatest pleasure was the parties. In the living room of
Gretchen Schmertz's house or at the Kesslers', Andy would sit at the
tables with his fingers covering his mouth in a characteristic gesture
he had copied from his mother as he listened to the conversation
swirling around him. "He enjoyed parties immensely," said Kessler.
"He glowed. You could see the little cherubic face lighting up."
Andy never spoke about homosexuality and never made any sex-
ual advances, but it was evident from his mannerisms and the way he
dressed that he was probably gay. He used to wear a corduroy jacket
with the collar turned up, which he would hold closed across his
throat with one delicate hand. Walking with a dance step, he whis-
pered "Hi!" to everyone he met, in a surprised, breathless voice.
When he was sitting down, his hands were always artfully placed or
suspended from his wrists. Betty Ash said, "People tended to shield
him from others who said unkind things about him. I remember
admiring one of Andy's drawings in an exhibition, and there was
this one guy who liked to tell dirty jokes and make fun of any fella he
thought less than fully masculine. I remember him making a com-
ment about how he didn't understand why everybody was always
celebrating the work of this fruitcake." But according to Perry Davis,
the teacher who was closest to Andy, "Homosexuality was pretty well
accepted in art school. No one really thought much about Andy and
sex because he left a very sexless impression."

In the summer of 1947, Pearlstein, Elias, Jack Regan, Dorothy Kan-


tor, —
and Andy rented a studio a landmark event. The biographer
Albert Goldman, a student in Tech's drama department at the time,
recalled the significance of such an act: "Art was something that
went on in a studio.That was a very important word a bohemian —
ideal. And you always wore [as Andy did throughout his life] tur-
tlenecks —a very vital element of being an artist." The Barn, as Andy
and his friends called their bohemian ideal, was the carriage house
of a Victorian mansion across from the Carnegie Tech campus. It
cost ten dollars for two and a half months. They all had their own

41
VICTOR BOCKRIS

space to work in. To inaugurate it they threw a bohemian party with


a chamber orchestra, then settled down to a spell of serious work.
"That was the summer we all decided to dedicate ourselves to paint-
ing," recalled Art Elias. Andy did a series of paintings of children on
swings and little boys picking their noses. Even this early on he was
drawn to serial imagery and intent upon reviewing periods of his
childhood. "Andy was very influenced by Ben Shahn and Paul
Klee," recalled Elias, "but he and the rest of us didn't really know
what painting was. We were all rather nonverbal, but we all bent
over backward to help Andy, possibly because he was so passive.
One day we were walking over the Schenley Bridge together, and he
said, 'Entertain me.'"
While Andy was at Carnegie Tech, he discovered the blotted-line
drawing technique that was to be the mainstay of his commercial art
career in New York during the 1950s. Just how he came upon it is
unclear. Wilfrid Readio taught blotting in his technical-resources
course, but Andy always maintained that he discovered the tech-
nique when he accidentally spilled some ink on a piece of paper.
What seems most likely is that he copied it from the well-known
artist Ben Shahn.
For these drawings Andy would take two pieces of paper, lay
them next to each other, and attach them by a piece of tape that
would act as a hinge. He would then draw on the right-hand sheet.
Before the ink could dry, he would lift that sheet and press it down
on the left-hand sheet. The "blotted" line was a smudged mirror
image of the original line drawing. Not only did Andy like the look,
but he also liked the implication that, since his hand had not actually
drawn the line on the paper that would hold the final image, he had
removed himself one step from the result.
From early childhood Andy had been using elements from maga-
zines in his pictures. At Tech he was always ripping pages out of Life
and using parts of them in his blotted-line drawings. If he were
doing a drawing with a chair in it, he might trace a chair from a
photograph. If he traced another object from a photograph onto a
drawing via the blotted line, he was distancing him.self two steps
from the final result. What Andy did by combining the blotted-line
technique and tracing details from photographs was directly in-
fluenced by the Bauhaus approach to art: "personal comment" was

42
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

removed from the work in favor of clear, strong design; the tradi-
tional boundary between commercial and Hne art was blurred.
Some of his teachers later agieed that Andy had come to Tech
with a style and developed it on his own, that what he got from the
institutionwas what he took, not what he was given. Many of Andy's
friends however, that Robert Lepper's course, Fainting and
insist,

Design, was a crucial influence, although Lepper himself was mod-


est about his role, saying only that Andy did very good work in his
class. Lepper taught a psychological approach to art: It was neces-
sary to know how a person in a drawing felt before you drew him.
Lepper assigned his students modern novels and short stories to
read and illustrate. Andy excelled at the task. He began a series of
large blotted-line drawings that showed a keen understanding of
what the books were about and an acute ability to choose an image
that captured their essence. One memorable example, now in the
Carnegie Museum Library, was a large blotted-line drawing illus-
tradng the fictionalized character of Huey Long giving a Nazi-style
salute in Robert Penn Warren's All the King's Men.
Among the other faculty members, perhaps the most influential
on all the aspiring young painters was Balcomb Greene, who seemed
to exemplify best what being an artist was all about. Tall, with a deep
disembodied voice, Greene looked like John Carradine and was the
heartthrob of many of the women students. The fact that he was an
abstract painter and painted at night — and in the nude — added to
most of
his legend. His wife, "Peter," a constructivist sculptor, spent
the winter in her studio in New
York, making him even more of a
target for the mad crushes of the female students. Greene, like
Perry Davis, Robert Lepper, and a few others on the Tech faculty,
maintained a high-minded attitude toward art, and their example
encouraged Andy to think of himself as "an artist," to see art as a
possible profession.
In the spring of 1948, with one more year of college to go, Andy
was given a job in the display department of Pittsburgh's premier
department store, Joseph Home's, painting backdrops for windows.
He thought the store a wonderful, bizarre paradise, and he dressed
accordifigly, painting his shoes and fingernails a different color
every day. Once again he charmed people before they could object.
Larry VoUmer, his boss and the only person in Pittsburgh Andy ever

43
VICTOR BOCKRIS

openly acknowledged as an "idol," was a suave businessman, a dis-


play directorwho had worked in New York with topflight artists.
Vollmer once told Andy how he and Salvador Dali had installed a
fur-lined bathtub in the window of Bonwit Teller. There was a
dispute between the great surrealist and Vollmer, and when Dali
attempted to remove the tub, it went crashing through the plate-
glass window onto Fifth Avenue. In the ensuing uproar, Dali spent a
brief time in jail, and as a result of the publicity his show sold out.
Here was a lesson in public relations that Andy would not forget;
nor was it lost on him that an artist as famous as Dali would agree to
do commercial installations for a department store.
Vollmer was as impressed with Andy as was Andy with him. An-
dy's commercial work was eclectic and varied. His only fault was that
he worked too slowly. The most important thing he learned at
Home's was that to make it as a commercial artist, he would have to
work at top speed.
At the store he was also exposed to a group of unabashed homo-
sexuals. According to Perry Davis, "There were a number of flam-
ing queens in the display department, and he was fascinated with
them and the talk of their costume parties. The students always
talked about Andy's being innocent and naive, but I felt that wasn't
quite it. He just hadn't had the exposure. And then I think he still
was so loyal to Mama that he had to go home at night, even though
he might have wanted to do something else."
This was the first time Andy was making any money to speak of.
He bought himself an elegant cream-colored corduroy suit that be-
came known to his friends as his "dream suit." Although it was not
the most practical outfit, it defined his emerging self-image as an
artist and dandy. It also signaled what his relationship with money
would come to be: He would splurge on impractical extravagances,
but he would also plough his money back into his work. He spent the
rest of his summer earnings on his first trip to New York to scout out
job possibilities and to visit galleries and the Museum of Modern
Art.

At the beginning of September 1948, Andy Warhola put his port-


folio of paintings and drawings in a brown paper bag and, with
Philip Pearlstein and Art Elias, boarded an eastbound Greyhound

44
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

bus. He first boldly visited the two worlds that were foremost in his
mind. In the offices of (ilamour magazine he received a sympathetic
reception from the art director, Tina Fredericks. She was impressed
by Andy's portfolio and promised him freelance work after he grad-
uated. At the Museum of Modern Art he saw for the first time
original work by Picasso, Klee, Shahn, and Matisse.
The group clowned for snapshots outside the museum and
roamed the city. Joan Kramer, a former Tech student, had invited
them to stay at her apartment in Greenwich Village. George
Klauber, who had graduated from Tech the previous year and was
already working as the assistant art director at Fortune magazine,
had asked them to dinner at his parents' house in Brooklyn. George
spent the evening talking about his success, about how exciting the
magazine world was. He offered his contacts should any of his
friends move to the city. It seemed to Andy that George knew
everybody.
Before Andy left New York, he visited the offices of Theater Arts
magazine, where he fell instantly in love with a blow up of the
sexually provocative photograph that appeared on the back of Tru-
man Capote's novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms, which had just been
published. He must have turned on all his charm, because he left the
office with the photograph of Capote.
The twenty-three-year-old Capote was everything the twenty-
year-old Andy wanted to be and was not. He lived in New York and
was said to give dinner parties for Greta Garbo and Cecil Beaton in
his boyfriend's apartment. He was young, attractive, talented,
glamorous, rich, and suddenly spectacularly famous. Moreover,
Andy felt that Truman's description of himself at thirteen in the
opening chapter of Other Voices, Other Rooms could just as well have
been a description of himself: "He was too pretty, too delicate and
fair-skinned; each of his features was shaped with a sensitive accu-
racy, and a girlish tenderness softened his eyes, which were brown
and very large. ... A kind of tired, imploring expression masked his
thin face, and there was an unyouthful sag about his shoulders."
Truman Capote now became Andy's idol, superceding Shirley
Temple. As soon as he got back to Pittsburgh, Andy began to write
Capote fan letters, but he got no response. He began a series of
sensitive blotted-line watercolors to illustrate Capote's novel. And he
worked to refine his mystique of the sensitive working-class aesthete.

45
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Most often he could be found in the coffee shop at the campus


Beanery dressed in baggy blue jeans, open-necked work shirt or
T-shirt, and heavy work shoes —
a precursor of James Dean, Allen
Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac. People began telling each other "Andy
stories," imitating him, and speculating about what he would have
thought or done in such-and-such a situation. He had become the
object of a little cult, complete with his first worshipful (and self-
destructive) fan, an underclass art student who tried to commit
suicide and eventually had to leave school.
At the art department parties Andy always kept slightly apart.
"We would get costumed and do song and dance," said Betty Ash.
"One time Andy arrived with chartreuse-green hair combed for-
ward. I think he was trying to look like a woman in a painting by
Matisse." (It is more likely that Andy was imitating the role Dean
Stockwell played in the 1948 film The Boy with Green Hair, about a
young waif who is shunned by society when his hair mysteriously

turns green.) "Andy," she continued, "would always wind up isolat-


ing himself. One evening I had gone out to the hall, and I could see
a figure in the shadows on one of the little narrow stairways that led
up to the studios.Andy was sitting in a characteristic pose. He had
his hands clasped, his fingers entwined between his knees, and he
was sitting on the steps with his head leaning against the wall. When
the party got to the stage where everyone thought, 'Well, now we're
really partying,' he would tend to fade away. In fact, all the conver-
sations I had with him would be marked by a certain reticence. He
would say a few words and pause, reflecting on what he was say-
ing. But he seemed to be able to see things on a couple of levels si-

multaneously always with a wry quality, seriousness mixed with
humor."
His work was now beginning to cause a stir. Balcomb Greene
acquired a Russian wolfhound, and this inspired Andy to do a series
of dog paintings. In one work a woman was shown nursing her
"baby," a little dog. Andy confided to Perry Davis that as a child he
had always felt like a puppy, and the creature in the picture may

have been inspired by a mutt half dalmation, half chow the —
Warholas had acquired when he was nine. (According to Harold
Greenberger, who lived down the block, he and John and Paul used
to play roughly with the dog. When the animal got bigger, it became
so vicious that nobody in the family could go near it except Julia.)

46
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Andy's clog painting was hung in a small exhihition but was re-
moved on the orders of Wilfrid Readio, who thought it was disrep-
utable. On another occasion Andy asked the most conservative
students from the engineering and women's colleges to stick out
their tongues so he could draw them. He was so unthreatening that
many complied. When Professor Lepper assigned him to build a
model of an Egyptian room for his final project, Andy presented
him with the candy-coated model of a nightclub.
His greatest cause celebre was a painting he called "Nosepicker."
Every year the Pittsburgh Associated Artists held an exhibition of
local work. Andy had shown two paintings the previous year, and
for their March 1949 exhibition he submitted an autobiographical
painting, somewhat in the manner of George Grosz, of a little boy
with one finger thrust defiantly up his nose. The painting (officially
titled The Broad Gave Me My Face, but I Can Pick My Oum Nose) created
a sensation among the jury, which included Grosz himself, as well as
several regional academic painters. Just as Andy had polarized the
faculty at Carnegie Tech, he now polarized the jurors. Half of them
thought was a terrible insult; the other half, championed by Grosz,
it

thought it was an important work. In the end the painting was


rejected, which only got it more attention. It was Andy's first succes
de scandale.
Among the multifarious projects he took on during his final,
triumphant year at Tech were several collaborations with Philip
Pearlstein. These two artists, who in their maturity would become
leaders of major schools of painting, were complementary oppo-
sites, Pearlstein being heavyset, intellectual, bourgeois, and hetero-
sexual. Pearlstein clarified points over which Andy was confused
and introduced him music and intellectual conversation.
to classical
Andy "used" hilt. He was
Pearlstein, as he used everything, to the
always receptive to people who could teach him. In return, Andy's
energy and lightness of vision helped keep Pearlstein afloat with his
own ideas. They designed the set for a student play, using a large
collage of newspapers and signs. They wrote and illustrated a chil-
dren's book about a Mexican jumping bean called Leroy. When
Andy wrote out the title, he misspelled it "Leory." This accident
seemed perfect to both of them, so they left it that way. Pearlstein
later observed: "I would say if there's any relationship between
Andy Warhol's work and my own, it would be a kind of cold looking

47
VICTOR BOCKRIS

at something, not worrying about what meaning it had, but just that
it isinteresting as an object."
Several of his friends noted that Andy adopted an unusually busi-
nesslike attitude toward his work. At the end of each semester, when
most of the students gave away or discarded their pieces, Andy
would sell what he did not need for his portfolio to other students.
He drew portraits of people at the Pittsburgh Arts and Crafts Cen-
ter for five dollars each, but when he was offered seventy-five dollars
for a painting on show in the Pittsburgh Associated Artists annual
exhibition, which he had listed at one hundred dollars, he refused to
lower the price, and the painting did not sell. This showed a remark-
ably uncompromising attitude toward business, for seventy-five
dollars was a lot of money in 1949.
During his four years at Carnegie Tech, Andy took several steps
toward becoming Andy Warhol. He began to experiment with
changing his name. As art director of the university's literary maga-
zine, The Cano, he was Andrew Warhola. On the Christmas card he
designed, reproduced, and sent to all his friends he signed himself
Andre, an affectation he had picked up from George Klauber, who
had spent time in Paris after the war. On the painting in the Associ-
ated Artists exhibition he was credited as Andrew Warhol. To his
friends he was Andy.
As graduation approached, he was becoming increasingly con-
cerned about what to do. He faced a real dilemma. On the one hand,

he was worried about leaving his mother and, for her part, Julia
could not imagine living without Andy. But, on the other hand,
what was he going to do in Pittsburgh? For a while he seriously
considered becoming a high school art teacher. Mina Serbin remem-
bered asking Andy what his post-Tech plans were at a graduation
party in the Schenley Hotel: "He said he was going to go into teach-
ing. I think he felt that Mr. Fitzpatrick was the kind of teacher he
would like to be, and I think he contemplated being a teacher be-
cause he didn't feel he was good enough to make it in New York."
According to John Warhola, Andy had sent his portfolio to an art
school in Indiana to get a teaching post: "He was really disappointed
when they sent everything back and says they can't use him. That's
when he said, 'Well, I'm going to New York.' "
Julia warned him that if he went to New York, he would end up
dead in the gutter without a penny in his pocket, like "Bogdansky," a

48
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Ruthenian artist whom his father had once tried to help. But his
friends urged him to go. They knew Andy could make it. What gave
him the final push was Pearlstein's decision to move to New York:
Why not do it together? he suggested. Balcomb Greene gave them
his blessing and offered to arrange a cheap summer sublet. Once he
had made up his mind to go, Andy was enormously excited, and
Julia, despite her invocations of Bogdansky's ghost, did not stand in
his way.
Just before graduation Andy performed in a show put on by the
art department's Take It Easel Club, in which several students put
on skits satirizing their professors. While one of them imitated a
teacher lecturing on the importance of the T-square, Andy sud-
denly burst on stage waving a large piece of colored paper in each
hand, singing a song written by Leonard Kessler: "Oh, you can't
scare me, I'm sticking to emotion. It's my devotion. Oh, you can't
scare me, I'm sticking to emotion ." . .

49
N June 1949, Andy and Philip Pearlstein moved into an apart-
ment on St. Mark's Place in the heart of the Lower East Side
overlooking Tompkins Square Park. It was a sweltering, cockroach-
infested, sixth-floor cold-water walk-up, with a bathtub in the
kitchen and a toilet in the closet, conditions as squalid as any Andy
had known in Pittsburgh. Provided he could keep his personal ex-
penses to a bare minimum, the two hundred dollars he had saved
would suffice to see him through the summer. Beyond that, he was
counting on his portfolio of drawings to get him work. Pearlstein
recalled: "He had familiarized himself with all the elegant fashion
magazines of the period. His portfolio was simply dazzling."
Pearlstein was also hoping to be able to make enough from com-
mercial art to support his larger endeavors. His inclination toward
realism and portraiture was already apparent, if pointedly out of

sync with the direction being taken by the action painters Jackson
Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Franz Kline — who were beginning
to be recognized as artists of heroic stature. Critics had lumped
together Pollock's "all over" paintings with their lyrical riot of pig-
ment, de Kooning's fierce "Women," and Kline's huge black-and-
white canvases with the work of "cooler" nonfigurative artists such as

50
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Mark Rothko and Barnett Newman into a movement, abstract ex-


pressionism, although there was little agreement among the artists
themselves as to what that meant.
The Cedar Bar on MacDougal Street was where they all hung out,
and itwas already a subterranean legend for their occasionally vio-
lent, chair-smashing arguments. The Cedar was a short walk from
Andy and Philip's apartment, but it was hardly welcoming to the
two arrivistes. Whereas Pearlstein might identify with the abstract
painters' love of intellectual justification of their work, it was un-
likely that he was going to follow in their footsteps. For Warhol, the
influence of the abstract expressionists would be of critical impor-
tance to his art and pop art in general, but the two-fisted world of
the Cedar Bar was not for him. He was far more taken with the plays
of Tennessee Williams and the heavily homosexual theatrical world
than he was with Jackson Pollock's anguished drips, which he did
not understand.
In any case, as Pearlstein recalled, "the chances of making it as a
fine artist in those days were nil," the growing recognition of the
abstract expressionists notwithstanding. But the opportunities in
commercial art seemed unlimited. America was fast becoming the
most productive nation in the world: In the early 1950s, the nation's

spending on advertising rose to nearly $9 billion fifty-three dollars
for every man, woman, and child in the country —
and the need for
images that would "persuade" was inexhaustible. At the same time,
owing largely to increased advertising revenues, magazines were
proliferating. "The [commercial art] crowd was the smuggest, mean-
est, drunkest bunch of people you ever saw," one fashion veteran
would recall. But George Klauber, Andy's old friend, had already
demonstrated that the prospects were good for someone with flair
and hustle.
On his second day in New York, Andy went to see Tina Freder-
icks at Glamour magazine in the Conde Nast building in the heart of
Madison Avenue's "ad alley." Fredericks, who remembered him
from his visit the previous year, was as intrigued by Andy's man-
— —
ner his loose way of standing, his breathless whisper as she was
by the way his drawings blended commercial and fine art. She even
bought a small drawing of an orchestra for herself for ten dollars.
Then she said: "I need some drawings of shoes, Mr. Warhola. I need
them tomorrow morning at ten o'clock. Can you do them?" (A

51
VICTOR BOCKRIS

friend later commented: "Little did she know the wellspring she
stirred. Andynot only loved shoes. He loved feet.")
Andy said he could draw anything, and the next morning he was
back in her office at ten: To Fredericks' surprise he had drawn the
shoes with a lived-in, rumpled look that had a slightly suggestive
sexual edge to it. "They were terrific, but they wouldn't sell shoes,"

she recalled. She explained that Glamour needed something with


cleaner, harder lines; the shoes must look new. That night, with a
little help from Pearlstein, Andy completed a new set of drawings.

This time Fredericks bought them for the magazine and gave him a

second assignment more footwear. Andy had found his calling
card as a commercial artist: shoes.
He quickly set about making himself unforgettable. "Brush your
hair! Put on a suit!" Pearlstein would say as they set out to launch
their assault on Madison Avenue, heading forth every day with their
portfolios to meet the art directors of agencies and magazines whose
names Klauber had supplied. But Andy paid no attention. Inspired
by the publicity surrounding Marlon Brando's Stanley Kowalski in
A Streetcar Named Desire, his uniform was chinos, T-shirts, and worn
sneakers, and he carried his drawings in a brown paper bag. To
confuse matters, he spoke in a fey whisper, sounding, one friend
remembered, "as if own part in a play by Truman
he had written his
Capote." His friends nicknamed him "Raggedy Andy," and his im-
age of traumatized naivete and hipster innocence gained the sym-
pathy of art directors, particularly women. Sometimes he would give
a cheap bouquet of flowers to each of the receptionists he saw.
Asked by one embarrassed recipient, "Have I done something spe-
cial?" Andy replied, "No, you're just a nice lady." Other times, while
waiting for hours on the off chance of getting to see a busy art
director, hewould serve as a gofer, fetching coffee and doughnuts
and ingratiating himself with everyone he could at any level of the
business.
These were the golden years of the fashion magazines, which had
attracted the most innovative graphic-design talent in the field,
much of it European-born and Bauhaus-influenced. In this milieu,
Andy's drawing ability was immediately recognized and his eccen-
tricities regarded as a plus. Art directors were also struck by how

much fun he seemed to have doing the work. Unlike most commer-
cial artists, who felt that they were prostituting themselves, he made

52
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

each job a special celebration. "The impression he left," recalled


George Klauber, who had become his most valuable New York con-
tact (Andy later said Klauber "invented" him), "was of this eager,
interested person, who drew beautifully." Within days of Andy's
arrival in the city, Klauber's boss. Will Burton, whose prestigious
chents included Upjohn Pharmaceuticals, had assigned him to de-
sign a cover for one of the drug company's pamphlets. More work
quickly followed from Charm and Seventeen magazines, as well as
from Columbia Records for a series of album covers.
Andy would later insist, "I never wanted anything. Even when I
was twenty and hoped that maybe one day I would be a success and
very famous, I didn't think about it." But Pearlstein recalled him as
"a workaholic who sat at a table and worked all day and often late at
night. He would do several versions of each assignment, showing all
of them to art directors, who loved him for that."
Whereas Andy's portfolio fit perfectly into the magazine world,
Philip's was more political, and it was almost immediately apparent
that he was going to get nowhere as a freelance illustrator. Soon he
settled into a full-time job with the graphic designer Ladislav Sutner,
doing layouts and mechanicals for plumbing and ventilator cata-
logues during the day and working on his own paintings in the
evenings, while Andy labored over his commercial art assignments
in the hot, dingy kitchen. Despite Pearlstein's presence, Andy would
recall that summer as lonely: "I used to come home and be so glad
to find a little roach to talk to. It was so great to have at least some-
one there to greet you, and then just go away." One of the cli-
mactic moments in the "Raggedy Andy" saga occurred when he
presented his drawings to the grande dame of the fashion maga-
zines, Carmel Snow of Harper's Bazaar, and a cockroach crawled out
of the pictures. "She felt so sorry for me," he told everyone, "that
she gave me a job."
Although Andy gave art directors the impression that he thor-
oughly enjoyed his work, his Tech classmate Jack Regan had a dif-
ferent sense of him. Dining with Philip and Andy on St. Mark's
Place, Regan and his wife, Gail, got the impression that Andy was
struggling with old feelings of inferiority. Throughout dinner he
complained of being rejected because of his Pittsburgh accent and
ungrammatical speech patterns. Indeed, he was still very much a
Pittsburgh boy. Every day he wrote his mother a postcard, saying, "I

53
VICTOR BOCKRIS

am fine and I will write again tomorrow." Two or three times a week
he would pop into a church to pray. Julia wrote back regularly,
enclosing a one- or a five-dollar bill when she could.
Near the end of the summer, shortly after he turned twenty-one,
he was published in Glamour with an illustration for an article en-
titled "Success Is a Job in New York," showing a career girl climbing
a ladder. The credit listed his name as Andy Warhol, a misspelling
he adopted from then on. With their sublet running out, Philip and
Andy answered an ad in the New York Times and found themselves
a single large room at one end of a loft over a truck garage at
323 West Twenty-first Street. The loft's principal tenant, Fran-
cesca Boas, was a dance therapist working with disturbed children,
and she had fixed it up like a theater: toward the back was a pro-
scenium arch behind which she lived with a huge dog named Name.
Andy and Philip took up residence in the front of the loft. Klauber
visited them there and was not favorably impressed. If anything,
he thought, the place was an even worse dump than their apartment
on St. Mark's Place.
"Francesca took an interest in us," Pearlstein said. "I guess we
were both odd enough, but Andy especially intrigued her. During
the course of that winter, she actively encouraged him to 'open
himself up,' and he slowly metamorphosed from Andy Warhola into
Andy Warhol."
He was still painfully insecure. One day a friend from Tech,
Joseph Groell, overheard him telephoning around to various maga-
zines. He introduced himself by saying, "Hello. This is Andy
Warhol. I planted some bird seeds in the park today. Would you like
to order a bird?" Then, in a whimsical, whining voice, he declared
that it was raining, that he had "a hole in my shoe and do you have
any work for me?" When whoever he was talking to said no, Andy
replied, "Well, I'm not coming out today." Hanging up after one of
these calls, he turned to Groell and said in his normal voice, "Isn't
this ridiculous? I don't want to behave like this."
Days on Twenty-first Street quickly settled into a routine. Philip
would go to his job, while Andy hustled up new assignments. Re-
called Pearlstein: "He would study the printed results carefully for
the effectiveness of his work and apply the results of these self-
critiques to his next assignment. At the other end of the room, I
worked at painting after the day's work at Sutner's office. I had

54
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

some records that I played — Bartok, Stravinsky, Mahler, and Wal-


ton's Faqade. with Edith Sitwell reciting her poetry. That was Andy's
favorite, but he hated Mahler."
Together they battled the cockroaches, which went after the black
paint they used for lettering. Andy would leave an empty soda-pop
bottle out after lunch; by night it would be full of them. Some
evenings, if they had money to spare, they would buy standing-room
tickets for Broadway shows such as Death of a Salesman and Member of
the Wedding or would go to the movies, mostly second runs on Forty-
second Street. There was little intellectual exchange between them,
according to Pearlstein, but he did recall a telling moment after the
movies one night when Andy complained that the film had been
terrible, and he replied that nothing could be so bad that there was
not something interesting in it. At the time, Andy made no comment.

But it was a line he would use about his own films many years
later.
By the of 1949 the rest of their group from Tech the Kes-
fall —
slers, Leila Davies, —
and EUie Simon had all moved to New York,
and they picked up where they had left off. None of them seemed
sure of what they were going to do. Kessler was making a little
headway as a children's book illustrator, and Leila was working in a
jewelry shop in Greenwich Village. While their education had given
them skills in design, it had also confused them about what art
meant beyond being a possible livelihood. Andy saw little difference
between his commercial and fine-art drawings, but the others said
he shouldn't waste his time and talent, he should be painting more.
These criticisms floated back to friends in Pittsburgh. Betty Ash
commented, "Part of the disappointment was, well, if Andy's got a
job as an ordinary commercial artist, does that mean he's sold out,
that he's just like the rest of us?"
In March 1950, Andy, Philip, and Francesca were evicted from
the West Twenty-first Street loft. With Philip about to marry his
college sweetheart, the painter Dorothy Kantor, he and Andy now
parted company. Andy always found it hard to maintain close rela-
tionships with friends after they got married, for he needed their
undivided attention. But Dorothy was also a friend from Tech. He
attended their wedding and remained close to the Pearlsteins for a
few more years.
Through Leila Davies, Andy arranged to move uptown into a

55
VICTOR BOCKRIS

two-bedroom basement apartment at 74 West 103rd Street, off


Manhattan Avenue near Central Park. The place was officially
rented by a dancer with the Ballet Theater, Victor Reilly, and in-
habited by a changing roster of as many as six tenants at a time.
Word passed among his bemused, protective Pittsburgh friends that
Andy had "moved in with a bunch of dancers." It was a transition
period, introducing him to the bohemian world of dance and the-
ater — people with whom he felt a greater affinity than with intellec-
tuals like the Pearlsteins.
Sharing the girls' bedroom at one end of the corridor were
Margery Beddows and Elaine Baumann, both dancers, and Leila
Davies. Andy, Victor, and another Ballet Theater dancer, Jack
Beaber, shared the boys' room, where Andy arranged a small draft-
ing table with neatly aligned pens, inks, and brushes under a bright
light next to their three permanently unmade mattresses. He
thrived on working in the crowded apartment. "It was an impossible
scene," recalled Lois Elias, Art's wife, who visited that summer. "All
I remember is Andy sitting there drawing, surrounded by this com-

plete chaos and people doing things that would seem to be disrup-
tive of any concentration. The food was mixed in with the clothes."
The kids were playful and friendly, leading the kind of existence
portrayed in a favorite play of My Sister Eileen, about immi-
theirs.
grants from the midwest to New
York. They shared spaghetti sup-
pers, went to Judy Garland, Fred Astaire, and Gene Kelly movies,
and sang along to Carol Bruce's rendition of their anthem, "Be-
witched, Bothered, and Bewildered." They can be seen in a series of
photos Leila Davies kept, munching ice-cream cones and camping it
up outside the apartment under a banner reading, "we love our
MOTHERS, EVERYONE." Leila and Elaine were in charge of taking care
of Andy and making sure he ate; he called Leila "Mother" and
Elaine "Little One." Since he was doing a lot of his assignments at
night, he began the habit of sleeping well into the day, often not
sitting down to breakfast until the afternoon. He was usually so
noncommittal about what he wanted to eat that Elaine once became
frustrated enough to throw an egg at him.
Despite the appearance of camaraderie, Andy would write
twenty-five years later: "I kept living with roommates, thinking we
could become good friends and share problems, but I'd always find
out that they were just interested in another person sharing the rent.

56
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

At one point I lived with seventeen different people in a basement


apartment on 103rd and Manhattan Avenue, and not one person
out of the seventeen ever shared a problem with me. I worked very-
long hours in those days, so I guess I wouldn't have had time to
listen to any of their problems even if they had told me any, but I
still felt left out and hurt." Reading this came as a surprise to many

of his roommates, who recalled cooking for him, mending his


clothes, taking him to parties, movies, and dance recitals, listening to
his problems about his work and his mother, and posing for him.
"We certainly cried on each other's shoulders enough," says Leila
Davies. "He used to get discouraged a lot, but he kept going. I don't
think there was anything more important than his work."
By now Andy had fulfilled one of his early ambitions, turning out
a series of powerful blotted-line illustrations for plays by Giraudoux
and William Inge and an article on Garcia Lorca for Theater Arts
magazine, drawings that captured the ambiguous sexual nature of
the characters with a highly sophisticated, ethereal touch.
He was spending very long hours working and experimenting,
and his eyes were beginning to weaken under the strain. At Tina
Fredericks' urging, he went to an optometrist and got himself a pair
of glasses with very thick lenses, which he wore conscientiously. Now
he was filling his sketchbooks with drawings of his roommates and
the apartment cat. He also did a number of large paintings on can-
vas, which have since been destroyed. One of them prefigured his
later celebrated "death-and-disaster" paintings. Based on an old Life
magazine photograph by H. S. Wong of a screaming baby who had
been abandoned in the ruins of Shanghai after a 1937 Japanese
bombing attack, the painting was horrific yet surprisingly decora-
tive,executed with the blotted-line technique and pastel colors. The
Life caption stating that up to 136 million people had seen the pho-
tograph reproduced in various media had undoubtedly caught An-
dy's attention as much as the shocking image itself. Nonetheless, it
may have touched a nerve he did not want to expose, expressing too
much his own feelings of vulnerability, for he quickly abandoned
the subject in favor of more decorative images such as chubby
cherubs and butterflies. With images of acrobats and trapeze artists
he filled a ten-foot mural on the walls of Elaine Baumann's bedroom
in her parents" apartment (later painted over).
With the building on Manhattan Avenue slated for demolition in

57
VICTOR BOCKRIS

the fall of 1950, the group broke up. Andy moved in with another

former Tech classmate, the painter Joseph Groell, who had an


apartment on East Twenty-fourth Street. When Groell returned to
Pittsburgh for several months that winter, Andy found himself liv-
ing alone for the first time in his life.

By the beginning of 1951, he had added to his credits a series of


book-jacket illustrations for the publishing firm New Directions.
And he had made his first television "appearances": Art Director and
Studio News, in a showcase article entitled "Andy: Upcoming Artist,"
reported that his right hand was being shown on NBC's morning
news programs, drawing the weather map.
He had also produced a provocative drawing of a young sailor on
his knees injecting heroin into his arm, which was published as a
full-page advertisement in the New York Times on September 13,
1951, for a radio program about crime called "The Nation's Night-
mare." This ad, for which he earned more than he had ever been
paid before, gained him a great deal of attention. It was reproduced
as an album cover for a recording of the program and eventually, in
1953, won him his first Art Directors' Club gold medal, the Oscar
of the advertising industry. The "Nations Nightmare" drawing,
though atypical for him, was in keeping with the sensationalism of
much illustration in the early 1950s. As Vance Packard had noted in
his best-seller The Hidden Persuaders, advertising had begun to play
on the darker side of human psychology, combining sex with vio-
lence, status-seeking with loneliness. Such influences would not fully
come to light until Warhol completed his best-known pop paintings
in the sixties.
Andy's next major assignment was to illustrate Amy Vanderbilt's
Complete Book of Etiquette. He was making enough money now to
afford a new Brooks Brothers suit and trenchcoat, which he wore to
go out in the evenings, while assiduouslv maintaining his poor-boy
image for art directors. According to several of Andy's old Pitts-
burgh friends, who were becoming increasingly critical of him as he
became successful, he would sometimes charge ridiculously low
prices for his drawings if a magazine would, in exchange, include a
brief biographical sketch of him.
He was also beginning to experience what he would refer to for
the rest of hislife as "boy problems." Although he seems never to

have spoken very directly about the subject of homosexuality with

58
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

any of his friends —


it was always characteristic of him to draw out

the details of their personal lives rather than confiding anything


about his own —
his difficulty in getting romantically involved was
obvious to friends like Klauber, who were relatively open about their
gayness. For all Klauber's bravado, being gay in America in the
1950s was not only illegal but dangerous. It was the heyday of
Joseph McCarthy, whose Senate subcommittee had named as "na-
tional security threats" not only suspected communists but
"homosexuals and other sex perverts," and the threat of being
beaten up on the street or shaken down by the police was felt by the
entire gay community.
Soon Andy was frequenting New York's "lavender" social world,
which could only flourish underground. Again, George Klauber was
his guide. Klauber was familiar not only with the distinctly homosex-
ual enclaves, stylish bars like Regents Row, but also, and more im-
portant, with the salons of interior decorators and set designers at
which Andy, having persistently begged Klauber to take him along,
was a frequent guest. According to one veteran of that milieu:
"There was still all this hate and fear of the underground, but being
underground wasn't tense or fearful, it was quite relaxed. There
were a lot of people in that scene and there were lots and lots of
parties. It was extremely outgoing and, as long as you didn't disturb
the straight world, completely nice."
From all accounts, the glamour of this secret world was of far
greater appeal to Warhol than any opportunity
it provided for sex-

ual liaisons. In this respect he was extremely tentative. Like


still

many gay men of the time, Andy feared that he was sick, emotion-
ally stunted —
that, after all, was what the psychiatrists said —
and he
imagined that "normal," heterosexual people were "happier" than
he. Moreover, he was acutely sensitive about his physical appear-
ance. His hair was thinning rapidly, his skin would still erupt in
blotches when he was nervous, and his new thick-lensed glasses, with
only a tiny area to focus through, made him feel even odder than
before.
Not that evervone shared this view of him. One friend recalled, "I
always thought of him as a rather good-looking chap and I don't
know why people made fun of the way he looked." George Klauber
found him attractive enough to fantasize having an affair. Andy did
not reciprocate his advances, and Klauber "got the feeling he was

59
VICTOR BOCKRIS

inaccessible, untouchable." ("Kiss me with your eyes" was one of his


pet expressions.) seemed to Klauber that Andy limited his roman-
It

tic life to crushes on attractive but unavailable young men. One

friend of the time observed: "He more or less expected to be re-


jected by the beautiful boys he was always falling for. His attitude
was, 'Aren't they beautiful creatures?' He just wanted to look at
them, to be around them, to admire them. It wasn't that he wanted
to get into bed with them. He was much too self-conscious for that.
He was watching a beauty pageant."
Still at the top of Andy's list of beauties was Truman Capote.

During his first year in New York, he had written Capote fan letters
almost daily, announcing that he was in town and asking if he might
draw Truman's portrait.
Capote later told Jean Stein, the author of Edie: An American
Biography, "I never answer fan letters. But not answering these
Warhol letters didn't seem to faze him at all. I became Andy's Shir-
ley Temple. After a while I began getting letters from him every
day! Until I became terrifically conscious of this person. Also he
began sending along these drawings. They certainly weren't like his
later things. They were rather literal illustrations from stories of
mine ... at least, that's what they were supposed to be. Not only that,
but apparently Andy Warhol used to stand outside the building
where I lived and hang around waiting to see me come in or go out
of the building."
Months later Andy screwed up his nerve and called Capote about
the drawings. He got Nina Capote, the author's mother, on the line,
and she invited him up her Park Avenue apartment. Andy
to
quickly realized that Mrs. Capote was more interested in acquiring a
drinking companion than in looking at his work. They repaired to
the Blarney Stone, a bar on Third Avenue, where they drank boiler-
makers and Nina talked at length about Truman's problems and
what a disappointment he had been to her. By the time they re-
turned to her apartment, Nina Capote was drunk and listening in-
tently to all of Andy's problems. This is how Truman found them
when he entered the apartment later that afternoon. Not wishing to
be unkind, he sat down and listened to Andy's story, which he found
woeful. "He seemed one of those hopeless people that you just know
nothing's ever going to happen to," Capote recalled in Edie. "Just a
hopeless, born loser, the loneliest, most friendless person I'd ever

60
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

my life." Yet, after the visit, when Andy telephoned daily,


seen in
Truman took the calls, which would center on Andy's activities. This
relationship soon ended when Capote's mother answered the phone
and told him, "Stop bothering Truman!"
"Like all alcoholics, she had Jekyll-and-Hyde qualities," Capote
said, "and although she was basically a sympathetic person and
thought he was very sweet, she lit into him." Surprised and upset,
but long accustomed to obeying his own mother's instructions, Andy
stopped writing and calling.
Warhol would speak animatedly to friends about other, equally
unattainable mad crushes —
on the dancers John Butler and Jacques
D'Amboise, the photographer Bob AUyson, and a succession of
anonymous beauties. He claimed, to the disbelief of his listeners,
that someone had given him a "sore bum" by "fucking the ass off"
him the previous night. Even in the Manhattan Avenue apartment,
his strange private life had been characterized by a detached, voy-
euristic interest in sex, and he began painting nude figures of men
and coy, stylized drawings of genitalia, which he said he was as-
sembling into a ''Cock Book." Sometimes he asked if he could draw his
friends' feet. Andy was a classic foot fetishist and had what many of
his friends found to be a creepily erotic relationship with his own
shoes, which he would always wear scrunched down at the back and
falling apart, with holes in the soles and his toes sometimes sticking
out at the front. Later, when he did begin to have sexual relations,
he found the ritual of kissing his lover's shoes particularly erotic. A
surprisingly large number of people are said to have acquiesced to
his requests, and he did hundreds of cock and foot drawings, the
latter to be included in a ''Foot Book."
One of those who posed for him regularly was Robert Fleischer.
Fleischer, who, with his bushy red mustache, struck an elegant
figure, was a stationery buyer at Bergdorf Goodman and a part-time
model. He had first been introduced to Warhol by Elaine Baumann
at the Manhattan Avenue apartment. Later, Fleischer had commis-
sioned Andy to do a stationery design, a job that had proven frus-
trating since Andy seemed incapable of accurately aligning the
acetate sheets that separated each color. This later became a Warhol
trademark, but then it was an annoyance that had to be corrected at
the printer's. Nevertheless, the two men had become friends.
At first Fleischer, like so many others who knew Andy, felt "a

61
VICTOR BOCKRIS

tremendous sense of protecting this poor innocent waif who was


going to get strangled in the big city." But soon he came to believe
that Andy was using his "helplessness" to manipulate people, partic-
ularly after Andy began drawing a series of increasingly explicit
portraits of Fleischer and his lover, which seemed to be testing what
he could get away with as well as the limits of their friendship.
"Andy sketched us screwing a couple of times," Fleischer told the art
historian Patrick Smith. "Andy would get very excited. He wouldn't
quite join in, but he loved watching. He would very often like to

draw me nude and see me with an erection, but he never actually


touched me, and I think that I never really put myself in a position
of letting him, or leading him to think that I was interested physi-
cally, because I wasn't. At one time he said that he got so hot when
he saw men with erections that he couldn't have an orgasm himself.
But he started Wasn't it all right if he sketched in
to strip that day.
his jockey shorts? And
he did."
In his own way Andy was opening up. While part of his image at
Tech had been his delight in shocking classmates, it was nothing
compared to the behavior he displayed at a party back in Pittsburgh
at Balcomb Greene's. "There were a bunch of students there," Perry
Davis recalled, "and he came in and said, 'Okay, everybody take off
their clothes, I brought my sketchbook.' " Robert Fleischer told Pat-
rick Smith that when the Manhattan Avenue apartment had been
breaking up, Elaine Baumann's parents gave a Halloween party,
which Andy was expected to attend with several other roommates.
"It got later and later and all of a sudden at midnight — they had
obviously done this on purpose to make an entrance — they rang the
bell, and in they walked, hand in hand, and around each of their
necks was a big cut-out daisy, and they were carrying garlands, as
they do in high school graduations. They came in as a daisy chain,
and that's what they used to call orgies in those days. The whole
place fell apart hysterical." To Fleischer, however, their laughter
was humiliating. It may have been Andy's idea of a joke, but he felt
exposed.
It was while he was living alone that Andy developed his lifelong

dependency on the telephone, which he would later call his best


friend. Itbecame not only his lifeline to art directors and money but
a magical machine that enabled him to have more intimate conversa-
tions than he could manage in person. Since he was frightened of

62
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

going to sleep alone but was not able to sleep with anyone else, it was
also the perfec t companion for him in bed. Klauber, who was "going

madly crazy" for a young man that winter, grew to expect the regu-
lar late-night phone call from Andy to ask about the evening's activi-
ties. "This was Andy's big vicarious connection. The kid would leave

about two o'clock in the morning, at which point I'd speak to Andy
about what happened. He had to know all the details, and, naturally,
I told him. Hearing stories is what made him happy: 'Tell me more,

tell me more.' Then I introduced him to my second great love,

Ralph Thomas [Corkie] Ward, and I think Andy fell in love with
Corkie."
A tall, freewheeling poet and artist with curly brown hair. Ward
was something of a romantic ideal to his friends, but it wasn't until
Christmas of 1951 that Klauber noticed Andy's interest in him. On
Christmas Eve the three of them, along with a young man named
Charles, had gone to see a French film. Afterwards they had picked
up a Christmas tree and taken it back to Klauber's apartment, where
they celebrated the season by dancing around the living room.
Klauber recalled the scene vividly: "I had taken my trousers off, and
Ralph and 1 were waltzing wildly around and crashed into a table,
and when I got up I had this big gash in my side. So we called for an
ambulance, which meant the police would come too. Andy got quite
sick with apprehension and flew the scene. He was really terrified.
Of course to the cops it was apparently a gay party, and they thought
somebody had stabbed me."
Whereas he had previously been content to indulge himself in
voyeuristic games, Andy became more forward with Ward. In the
weeks that followed he wrote him a number of love letters, but his
overtures were rejected. A close enough friendship did develop,
however, to make others wonder if they were lovers, even though
they were not. It was Klauber who now felt left out.
Early in the spring of 1952, Ward and Warhol began collaborat-
ing on a series of privately printed books. It was the first of many
times he would keep a romance going by collaborating on some
work. The first, A Is an Alphabet, consisted of twenty-six Warhol
drawings, outlines of heads and bodies with doggerel captions by
Corkie. Loi'e Is a Pink Cake was a bit more interesting, consisting of
twelve Warhol illustrations of famous love stories with accompany-
ing verses by Ward, such as. "The moor of Venice pulled a boner.

63
"

VICTOR BOCKRIS

when he throttled Desdemona." The third book, there ufos snow in the
street,with blotted-line drawings mostly of children, remained un-
printed for years. The underlying whimsy of these books was de-
lightful, and they made excellent promotional gimmicks to send to
art directorsand Andy's other clients. "The nature of Andy's pro-
motion was so personal that it really had an influence in making him
known," Klauber recalled. "People began collecting [the books]. If
you went into an ad agency you would often see an Andy Warhol
thing on display."
Whatever intimacy existed between Andy and Ward ceased dur-
ing the following year. As Ward discovered, maintaining a close
friendship with Andy was because he was so easily hurt.
difficult
Moreover, Ralph also tended to look down on Andy's devotion to
— —
work and reward which was all-consuming. "Andy," said Ward,
"did everything for money.

64
HE RELATIONSHIP WITH Corkie Ward coincided with Andy's
move in the fall of 1952 into his own apartment, a dirty,
mouse- and louse-ridden cold-water basement flat in a build-
ing under the tracks of the since-demolished Third Avenue elevated
train on East Seventy-fifth Street. Soon his mother and brother Paul
arrived for a visit. After cleaning the apartment and cooking a
big meal, Julia did Andy's laundry and questioned him about his
finances. He had never had to fend for himself before, and she was
understandably worried that he wouldn't be able to take care of
himself. She found all his clothes dirty and in need of mending, and
realized that he was subsisting largely on candy and cake. During the
fourteen-hour drive back to Pittsburgh, Julia recited her litany of
fears and prayers for her youngest son.
In Pittsburgh, Paul was just beginning to be successful in the
scrap-metal business, and Julia was considering moving with John to
a house in the suburb of Clairton, where Paul lived. Paul recalled:
"We bought her a house out there. Then my brother John decided
that he was getting married. So Mother felt that there was no need
for her to come out to a big house. She says, 'Well, the only thing
"
that I can see, I guess, is I'd like to be with Andy in New York.'

65
VICTOR BOCKRIS

In the early spring of 1952, Julia rode to New York with her son
John in his ice-cream van. "Andy had a hole in the sole of his shoe as
big as a silver dollar," recalled John, "so I left him my best pair of
shoes."
The Dawson Street house was put up for sale and was sold a few
months later for $6,800. Julia put the money in the bank (and held
on to it until her death). John took his father's memorabilia, and
Andy's schoolbooks and student artworks were carted out to Paul's.
"I asked what I was supposed to do with these things," Paul recalled.
"Andy told me. Just discard 'em. Just pitch 'em.' " On further con-
sideration, Paul decided not to throw away ten paintings done on
Masonite board. "I stuck 'em in the rafters and never figured much
on 'em." His children would later use them as dart boards. (Like his
father, Paul believed that his yoimger brother would be famous one
day and the paintings would be worth a lot of money. At the same
time, he viewed Andy's work with some indifference. Never once,
for example, did he attend one of his shows.)
In early summer Paul again drove his mother to New York, this
time to stay. He was not happy about leaving Julia to live in Andy's
"terrible place," but he could see that they needed each other. The
first months on East Seventy-fifth Street were hard. Andy's income

was still irregular, and he invested as little as possible in his living


quarters. Like his father, he was intent on saving money, and he was
not going to squander any of it on what most people considered
basic necessities. On his last visit John had accompanied Andy to a
printer to pick up one of his promotional books and was struck
by Andy's similarity to their father: "He told the printer, 'This isn't
what I told you to do.' And the printer says, 'Well, I thought you
wanted it this way.' Andy says, 'Well, no, you didn't listen to me.'
The way Andy stood up to him just reminded me of my father. So
when we left I told Andy, 'Well, aren't you going to pay him?' 'No,'
he says. 'He didn't do what I wanted.' My father was that way. Even
though he wasn't built like Dad, Andy was tough."
Mother and son shared the bedroom, sleeping on mattresses on
the floor, while Andy used the kitchen table as a studio. The bathtub
was usually full of paper he was marbling, leading friends to believe
that he rarely used the tub for bathing. He had bought a Siamese cat
to keep the mice at bay, and a second Siamese was soon adopted.
Before long the two, Hester and Sam, began multiplying.

66
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Andy was clearly concerned about his mother's presence in New


York just as he was starling to enjoy success, although (ieorge
Klauber remembered that he was "very gentle with her, very nice
about it." At first he did not think she would stay long, certain
that she would miss her large, loving family and her chuich and
priest in Pittsburgh. It soon became clear, however, that she wanted
to dedicate her life to supporting his efforts.
Most of Andy's friends were kept at a distance from Seventy-fifth
Street. A part of him was ashamed of his mother in her peasant
dress and babushka, her persistence in speaking po nasemu, her nag-
ging him for not dressing properly and not getting married. A
steady refrain was that she was only there until he found a "nice girl
and settled down." Nonetheless, it became increasingly clear to An-
dy's friends that the two of them were made for each other. "Julia
was the source of the tenacity and gentleness and down-to-earth
resilience, which were at the core of Andy's character," commented
the art historian John Richardson. "Narrow and uneducated she
may have been, but Julia struck those who met her as humorous,
mischievous, and shrewd —
like him." Underneath her naive peasant
exterior Julia was the only person in Andy's life as manipulative and
powerful as he. Indeed, by the end of the decade their personalities
would become so intertwined that Julia would claim, in more than
one bitter tirade, that she was Andy Warhol.
Still, for the time being Julia's arrival on the scene was more

positive than negative. She was good company and she knew how to
make Andy laugh. With his mother to take care of him and run the
household, Andy was free to focus completely on his work. Further-
more, ever canny in the development of his legend, Andy promoted
her presence as much as he kept her hidden. When the fashion
crowd heard that the strange, fey, talented boy lived with his
mother, they became even more amused and fascinated.

In March 1952, Andy achieved another of his goals: to publish in


Park East, a magazine about the rich and celebrated denizens of the
Upper East Side of Manhattan. Moreover, he had taken his first
tentative steps toward acceptance as a fine artist when he showed his
illustrations of Truman Capote's writings to Alexandre lolas, a
dealer in surrealist art, at his Hugo Gallery. David Mann, lolas'

67
VICTOR BOCKRIS

assistant and part of George Klauber's smart set, recalled that lolas'
initialresponse was uncharacteristically enthusiastic: "Andy came in
looking like a poor boy with a pimply face and very ordinary clothes.
It was the end of the season — it was almost June — but lolas said to
me, 'Look at this man's work!' We both thought it was amazing, and
he said, 'Well, we have nothing else to do. Why don't we just take on
another show in June?' " Unfortunately, lolas himself was in Europe
along with almost everyone else of importance in the art world when
Andy Warhol's first gallery opening took place on the afternoon of
June 16, 1952.
Of Andy's close friends, only Klauber came. All evening long,
Andy paced the gallery nervously, upset that Truman Capote had
yet to arrive. Julia came to the opening and hovered in the back-
ground inher coat and babushka, making Andy even more ner-

vous the first and last time she appeared at one of his public
events. Among the other visitors to the gallery that day was a young
commercial artist named Nathan Gluck, who, a few years later,
would become Andy's assistant. Days later, just before the show
closed, Truman and Nina Capote did come to see it. According to
David Mann, Mrs. Capote was particularly enthusiastic about the
drawings, and Andy was thrilled.
Art Digest gave these drawings of boys, butterflies, and cupids a
brief review: "For various reasons one thinks of Beardsley, Lautrec,
Demuth, Balthus, and Cocteau. The work has an air of precocity, of
carefully studied perversity." But for the most part, 15 Draxvmgs
Based on the Writings of Truman Capote was not taken seriously, except
by Andy's friends and those few others who admired his talents as a
draftsman. Nor did any of the pieces, priced around three hundred
dollars, sell. Nonetheless, Andy had made an invaluable connection
in David Mann, his first champion in the world of serious art.
Andy's commercial career turned a corner in the spring of 1953.
Wearing his scrunched-down shoes, his chinos, and a paint-
spattered T-shirt under a sloppy jacket, he was visiting the office of
Klauber's boss. Will Burton, to give the art director a hand-painted
when Burton introduced him to an energetic, intelligent
Easter egg,
woman named Fritzie Miller, who had just become an agent for
commercial artists. "Andy," Burton said, "meet Fritzie. You need
her."

68
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Andy's work into McCall's and the


"Fritzie Miller's help in getting
Ladies' Home Journal and Vogue and Harper's Bazaar was key
later into
in establishing Warhol as the most sought-after illustrator of wom-
en's accessories in New York," wrote Calvin Tomkins in a 1970
profile of Warhol. "It was amazing, Fritzie thought, how someone
with Andy's background could hit the right note so unerringly. The
childish hearts and flowers and the androgynous pink cherubs he

used were not quite what they seemed to be there was a slight
suggestiveness about them that people in the business recognized
and approved. He could kid the product so subtly that he made the
client feel witty." In the months his earnings from illustra-
next six

tion work would nearly double income that year to over twenty-
his
five thousand dollars. Warhol, at twenty-five, despite all outward
appearances, was doing well enough to have confounded the early
expectations of his friends. The driving ambition behind his hapless
"Raggedy Andy" facade was now fully apparent.
As soon as he began to make money, it became clear that he was to
have what one friend described as an "unhealthy" relationship with
it: He either wildly overspent or underspent. He seemed oblivious to

his need for new clothes and furnishings for the apartment. Yet he
would go regularly to the Plaza Hotel for breakfast (afterwards sit-
ting outside the Palm Court, hoping to be mistaken for Truman
Capote). He'd become a regular at the Cafe Nicholson, an expensive
restaurant celebrated in Park East as a gathering place for young
writers, dancers, and designers. Andy was a favored customer be-
cause he always tipped lavishly and left the waiters a cluster of Her-
shey's chocolate kisses. A daily excursion was a visit to the most
expensive pastry shops, where he might buy a whole birthday cake
for himself, to be devoured the moment he got home. Such expen-
ditures were a great annoyance to Julia, who began to treat him as
she had her husband, nagging him to contribute some of his earn-
ings to their family in Pittsburgh.
These extravagances were in marked contrast to the marginal life
Andy and Julia were living beneath the rumbling El. W' hether be-
cause he was momentarily short of cash or embarrassed to be seen
with her anywhere else, he took Julia to a W^oolworth's lunch
counter for their first Thanksgiving dinner in New York. ("It would
make him incredibly sad," recalled Pat Hackett, Andy's secretary in

69
VICTOR BOCKRIS

the 1970s and 1980s, to dredge up this memory from the winter of
1952.) For the strength she brought him, Julia's presence was also
all

a constant reminder of Andy's less than affluent childhood.


In the summer of 1953 Andy sublet a fourth-floor walk-up at 242
Lexington Avenue, near the corner of Twenty-fourth Street, from
hisTech classmate Leonard Kessler, with the proviso that for several
months Kessler be allowed to keep one of the smaller rooms as a
studio for his work as a children's book illustrator. George Klauber,
who had a car, was recruited to help Andy move. He arrived to find
Andy sitting helplessly at East Seventy-fifth Street, totally unpre-
pared. was left to George, as he recalls
It it, to "help him pack all his
boxes, and carry them out to the car."
The new apartment was larger than its predecessor. The door

opened into a big kitchen that Andy


furnished with a table and a set
of straight-backed chairs and decorated with a picture of Jesus
pointing to his Sacred Heart. There was a large room in front over-
looking the busy street and a smaller one off to the side. In the back
was one big room and a small bedroom. While Kessler kept the small
front room as his studio, Andy and Julia shared the little back bed-
room, still sleeping on mattresses on the floor. The rest of the place
quickly filled with stacks of paper, magazines, photographs, and art
supplies until every surface was covered, and Andy was confined to
doing his work at a portable desk on his lap. The shoes, gloves,
scarves, hats, handbags, belts, and jewelry he was assigned to draw
added to the clutter. One day when Kessler was helping to shift
some piles around, he turned up a check for seven hundred dollars
that someone had sent Andy months earlier but which had got
overlooked.
The cat population,meanwhile, multiplied to anywhere from
eight to twenty, depending on how quickly Andy could give them
away. Most of his friends received at least one Warhol kitten, a
number of which turned out to be unusually skittish and vicious.
One day, one of the cats bit Julia's hand so badly that she had to go
to the hospital. The cats roamed through the paper jungle, clawing
and urinating on Andy's materials, storming through the unruly
heaps of artwork in fits of feline mania. Julia was forever cleaning
up after them with and mop. The television set was on
a bucket
continually, as often as notaccompanied by Broadway show tunes
on the record player. One friend noted that being in the apartment

70
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

without knocking anything over or tripping was like walking on a


tightrope. Other friends described the place as a "bat cave." To
Klauber the cats appeared to be Andy's "surrogate children." They
became part of" his legend: Andy was living in a mad studio with
his mother and twenty-one cats. The smell, people added, was
indescribable.
The apartment was situated over a night club, Shirley's Fin-Up
Bar, and the booming beat of "You're So Adorable" floated up
through the front windows, along with the thunder of the Lexing-
ton Avenue subway. For the first time in his life Andy, who could
now think of himself as a New Yorker, was in his element.
That summer both of Andy's brothers visited him, now that there
was enough room for them and their children to camp out in the
apartment. His mother always enjoyed their visits, and the children
seemed to have fun playing with Uncle Andy, who supplied them
with crayons so they wouldn't bother him and always gave each of
them a present when they arrived.
Visitors generallybecame more frequent, although they could
seldom find a place to sit among the piles of paper and the cats.
Regardless of who was there, Andy would condnue working on the
next day's assignments. The only time he wasn't working, appar-
ently,was when, on impulse, he would go to the Cafe Nicholson or
the theater, paying for dinners and tickets with crumpled bills ex-
tracted from various pockets and even out of his shoes. He'd sud-
denly get a whim to see the most successful show on Broadway,
often ending up with a friend in the most expensive seats in the
front row. He also revived his interest in dance, now that he could
afford tickets to see Paul Taylor, John Butler, and Martha Graham.
Julia, with her folksy manner, muddled English, and ready laugh-
ter, became a favorite among his friends as she sewed, cooked, and,
on occasion, colored in Andy's drawings. "I got to know Julia quite
well," Leonard Kessler recalled. "She used to make kapushta, which is
cabbage with short ribs of beef. It's marvelous if you live in Alaska or
the Yukon. On the hottest day of the summer she'd say, 'Kapushta
will keep you warm.' 'Mrs. Warhola,' I'd say, T am warm.' 'You can
be warmer,' she would reply."
George Klauber was a regular guest for kapushta. "Dinner was just
an eating thing," he said. "Andy was always impatient to be going
somewhere afterward. His mother was not much interested in con-

71
VICTOR BOCKRIS

versation. She was lonely. The thing is, he didn't know what to do
with her."
Other friends who visited the Lexington Avenue apartment were
fascinated by the relationship between the two of them, particularly
by their antagonistic moments, during which Julia would "sit on"
her eccentric son. One constant subject of contention was Andy's
way of dressing. He was beginning to "dress up," but in his own way.
"He often bought expensive shoes," one visitor recalled, "but before
wearing them, he would spill paint on them, soak them in water, let
the cats pee on them. When the patina was just right, he'd wear
them. He wanted to appear shabby, like a prince who could afford
expensive shoes but couldn't care less and treated them as worth-
less." Often he would leave his shoes unded. Nor did he seem to
know how to knot a tie: "When he couldn't make the ends match
up," a friend recalled, "he just cut them off. Eventually he had a
whole box of tie ends. This drove his mother crazy. As he was going
out of the house, she'd be going after him about why he didn't meet
a nice girl and get married, etc. She herself hardly ever went out
except to go to the A&P."
For his part, Andy would cringe with embarrassment and whine,
"Oh, Ma! Leave me alone. Ma!"
Overall, however, it was apparent that Julia was overjoyed to be
with her son. "I like New York," she would bubble. "People nice. I
have my church, nice big church on Fifteenth Street and Second
Avenue. And the air air better than in Pennsylvania."
. . .

Andy's life had taken on a fairly regular pattern. He would get up


around nine, and his mother would make him breakfast. Then he
would work briefly, put on his "Raggedy Andy" costume, and leave
the house by taxi, heading for a magazine or ad agency. He would
later write: "It was like being a laboratory rat and they put you
through all these tests and you get rewarded when you do it right,
and when you do it wrong you're kicked back. Somebody would give
me an appointment at ten o'clock, so I'd beat my brains out to get
there at exactly ten, and I would get there and they wouldn't see me
until five minutes to one. So when you go through this a hundred
times and you hear, 'Ten o'clock?' you say, 'WeeeelUl, that sounds

72
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

funny, I think I'll show up at five minutes to one.' So I used to show


up at five minutes to one and it always worked."
After seeing the art director, he might have a business lunch at an
expensive East Side restaurant. After lunch he would go to another
office to pick up materials for an assignment. Late in the afternoon
he usually dropped by a new favorite hot spot, Serendipity, for
coffee and pastries. Situated in a basement on East Fifty-eighth
Street, Serendipity dispensed ice cream, cakes, and coffee, along
with fashionable knickknacks, in a tasteful, all-white setting. It was a
mecca for celebrities such as Gloria Vanderbilt and Truman Capote.
The proprietors, Steven Bruce, Calvin Holt, and Patch Harrington,
formed an impression of Andy as somebody special and spirited
with the sad, forlorn manner of a poor relative visiting from out of
town. Before leaving, he would usually buy pastries to take home,
stopping on the way to buy a book, a record, or magazines.
During the evening he was frequently invited out to parties or
would go to the opera, ballet, or theater with friends. After the
evening's entertainment, he would usually work for a few hours
before going to bed around three or four in the morning. Into this
setting he brought a new friend who would briefly become his first
real lover.
Alfred Carlton Willers met Andy in 1953 in the photo collection
of the New York Public Library, where Warhol frequendy went to
look for source material for his illustrations. Andy would take home
a number of photographs at a time. He would trace a face from one,
part of a chair from another, the head of a cat from a third, then
apply the blotted-line technique to the composition, and presto! an
original drawing whose sources were unrecognizable. (The most
important thing, he liked to say, was what he left out.) To make sure
no one could detect his sources, he would hold on to the photo-
graphs long after they were overdue, paying large fines rather than
returning them. This way he soon built up a sizable resource bank of
photographs. Willers, who had learned typing and shorthand in the
air force, was working as a secretary to the collection's curator while
waiting to begin an art history course at Columbia University.
Carl, as he called himself (Andy teased him by calling him Al-
fred), was twenty years old, a native of Iowa, whose boyish good
looks were accentuated by a thatch of blond hair so long some

73
VICTOR BOCKRIS

friends jokinglynicknamed him "Palm Tree." It was his first year in


New York, and he was, perhaps, more innocent than he cared to
admit.
That fall he became a frequent visitor to the Lexington Avenue
apartment and one of Andy's companions for dinners at the Nichol-
son and for spur-of-the-moment theater outings. Julia appeared to
be delighted that Andy had found a close friend and treated him as
if he were another son. Carl was amazed by the Warhol household:

Andy, Julia, and the cats, who all seemed to have emerged from a
European folk tale, were a distinctly different reality from the im-
pression Willers had initially formed of his new friend. Typically,
Andy had tried at first to obscure the details of his private life by
telling "Alfred" that he came from Hawaii. (Marlon Brando re-
portedly did the same thing, making up different stories about his
background. One need often look no further than Hollywood stars
for clues to Andy's conduct, since he was constantly appropriating
aspects of their behavior.)
In the evenings Carl began helping Andy color in drawings; often
he served as a hand or foot model. Frequently they went out. Willers
recalled: "In the fifties, there just seemed to be a party every night.
He had many friends who had plenty of money and who would give
these wonderful parties. I think Andy liked parties because he
didn't have to be trapped. If he wanted to leave, he could. If he
really didn't want to go somewhere, which happened often, he could
be very adamant about it. When someone else came up with an
idea
— 'Andy, let's suddenly go here!' —he would say, 'No, no, no,
no,' often because he was afraid he would be shy in a strange place."
Sometimes, if it got late, Carl would stay over, sleeping on a couch in
the front room while Andy worked through the night.
The Andy Warhol Willers knew "used his shyness like a little boy,
but it was a really playful thing, it was very obvious. He really felt
people should be playing, but he wasn't at all boisterous. He was in
fact rather quiet." At the Nicholson, their dinner conversations were
superficial, never emotional or intellectual. Andy was amused by
any tidbit of gossip, and he would laugh about something he'd seen
on television while blissfully devouring his third chocolate souffle,
after which he would become remorseful. "He had a great deal of
guilt about all this eating of sweet things," said Willers, "because he
thought that was making him fat and causing these skin eruptions.

74
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL


He thought he was totally unattractive too short, too pudgy. He
thought he was grotesque."
Aiulys increasing baldness was also a source of particular distress.
At the time Willers met him, Andy had little hair on top ol his head
and had begun wearing a cap with a snap-down brim even to diinier
parties, a practice Willers considered uncouth. "Andy, this is in-
sane," he would tell him. "People think it's either phony or rude.
Why don't you buy a wig?" Finally, Andy bought a light-brown
toupee, the first of several hundred hairpieces he would accumu-

late brown, blond, white, silver, gray. Years later in his Philosophy
Andy explained, somewhat satirically, his decision to "go gray":

I decided to go gray so nobody would know how old I was and I

would look younger to them than how old they thought I was. I would
gain a lot by going gray: (1) I would have old problems, which were
easier to take than young problems, (2) everyone would be impressed
by how young I looked, and (3) I would be relieved of the responsibil-
ity of acting young —
I could occasionally lapse into eccentricity or

senility and no one would think anything of it because of my gray


hair. When you've got gray hair, every move you make seems "young"
and "spry," instead of just being normally active. It's like you're get-
ting a new talent.

It was apparent to Willers that Andy was attracted to him but

found it very difficult to act on his feelings, especially around Julia.


Even when Andy thought he had locked her in her bedroom for the
night, she would suddenly emerge, grinning and laughing, with a
bucket and mop. Sometimes she would stagger, appearing to be
slightly drunk and giggling over some private thought. At other
times she would curl up under a pile of drawings on a chair and fall
asleep, only to spring out from underneath them in the middle of
the night and lurch into the bedroom. In her loneliness she was
beginning to develop the same kind of drinking problem her sister
Mary had, and which had gotten her sister Anna labeled the black
sheep of the family. Perhaps a part of Andy delighted in this. He
seems to have been what is called in Alcoholics Anonymous a "para-
alcoholic," a person who thrives on relationships with alcoholics,
enjoying their behavior while acting as if he were trying to get them
to stop drinking.

75
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Although Carl was sure that Julia thought that he was only help-
ing her son and suspected nothing more between them, she was also
an inhibiting force. One night, as Carl casually bent over to kiss him
good night. Andy brushed him awav and silently motioned for Carl
to follow him to the other room. He was concerned that his mother
might emerge from the bedroom and catch them in an embrace.
Safe from her eyes, Andy was finally able to kiss him good night. On
another occasion, when one of Andy's friends asked Julia if she had
slept well the night before, she replied, quite seriously, "Oh, no! I
stayed up all night watching Andy sleep." (Ten years later Andy
would make a film called Sleep about staying up all night to watch his
boyfriend sleep.)
It was in his art that his intimacy with Willers was best expressed.

He began a series of portraits of Carl, at one point impressing him


with the seriousness of his intentions by stopping work on his illus-
trations for several days and clearing a space in the apartment to
concentrate on five large canvases of Willers posing naked. He drew
him lying on his back and leaning on his side facing forward. One
finished canvas depicted not one man but two men as lovers.
Around this time Andy and Carl consummated a brief, nervous
affair. "I think Andy's sex life is a truly complex subject," Willers
remarked years later. "When I knew him, he was already celibate,
for all intents and purposes, except that if somebody pushed him a
little bit, or said, 'Come on, Andy, let's get in the sack,' he would,
maybe . . . ma\be. But if he could barelv get into bed with someone
like me, whom
he knew probably as well as he did anyone at that
particular point, I can't imagine who else he could ever have

managed with. He was so incredibly self-conscious, he really had


such a low opinion of his own looks." (In this area of her son's
development, Julia was no help. Whenever she was threatened by
his interest in somebody else, she would fix him with a hard look and
tell him, so there could be no mistaking the message, the story of a

Ruthenian peasant whose beautiful wife only married him for his
money.)
Andy's sole comment on the affair with Carl came years later
when he said that he was twenty-five when he had his first sexual
experience and twenty-six when he stopped.
Like Corkie Ward, Willers came to the conclusion that for Andy,
work was more important than sex, and that he was not interested in

76
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

getting physically involved with anyone. They would remain dose


friends for the next ten years, although unbeknownst to (larl, Andy

destroyed all the portraits he had made of him.


In the fall Klauber recruited Warhol, along with
of 1953, (ieorge
three other Tech classmates. Art and Lois Elias and Imelda
Vaughn, to join a play-reading group in an apartment on West
Twelfth Street. Andy's first appearance with the Theater 12 Ciroup
is remembered vividly by the apartment's tenant, Bert Greene: "The

first play we worked on was Congreve's The Way of the World, and

Andy couldn't even read the words. He was really having difficulty.
Finally, we stopped and I said, 'Andy, do you want to read the scene
over?' And he said, 'No, no, I'll stumble through.' I thought he'd
never come back, because it was a big public embarrassment to not
be able to read in front of all these other people, but he wasn't
abashed at all.
For the next months Andy attended rehearsals and designed
six
programs and Often he came with Imelda Vaughn, a charm-
sets.

ingly eccentric woman who had been a friend of his at Tech. "She
seemed to be Andy's lodestone when he started becoming a little off
the wall," recalled Greene.
Warhol was an anomaly in the group, looking like a slightly gaga
preppie, with his granny glasses, his weirdly knotted ties, and the
ballet slippers he now wore. "When he liked people's perfor-
mances," said Greene, "he would give them presents. Once he gave
someone a walnut with a tiny doll inside. Or he would give you little
drawings with messages on them like, 'I'm happy to be here tonight.'
His spelling was atrocious, but it was endearing and he was inge-
nious. He was a great admirer of physical beauty and was never
abashed about it. When there was a handsome man, or even a beau-
tiful woman, in the group, Andy would be riveted to them and
instantly make them gifts."
Greene could also Andy was soaking up as much culture
see that
as he could. He was introduced to the idea of Bertolt Brecht by
another member of the group, Harold Fine, whose explication of
the German playwright's "alienation effects" undoubtedly in-
fluenced Andy's "passive" aesthetic. In time, Andy's thespian skills
also improved considerably. Greene was impressed by his portrayal
of the old servant, Firs, in Chekhov's play The Chen-y Orchard. As
Andy read the line "Life has passed me by as though I had never

77
VICTOR BOCKRIS

lived," Greene felt that he was expressing what was perhaps a real
inner melancholy. Andy was, he thought, still trying to learn "how
to live."
Bv now the old Tech group was breaking up. Leonard Kessler
had decided to move to Long Island, leaving the Lexington Avenue
apartment to Andy. Leila Davies was giving up her jewelry business
and returning to Cleveland. With others from his old crowd, she
shared a sense of pleasure at how far Andy had come. (Elias was
struggling, and Pearlstein, who had yet to make his mark, had be-
gun supplementing his income as a magazine paste-up man by giv-
ing private painting lessons.) But they all worried that Andy was
making a mistake by neglecting his talent as a fine artist.
Strong currents were pulling Andy in conflicting directions. As
the art critic Hilton Als wrote in an analysis of Warhol's career in the
1950s, by juxtaposing fragility of line with a strong sexual subtext
(mostly in his images of boys), Andy was satirizing the common ad-
world concept of the "weird" boy window dresser or illustrator,
producing the images they would expect from such a creature but
also getting awav with more than they realized. "Not only were his
various assignments pleasing to the eye and therefore bought, but
he made a style out of his sissy preoccupations with butterflies and
ladies" shoes and boys," Als wrote. "The style was made powerful
through its reproduction in magazines and in books. It became a
taste. That was Warhol's difference." And in that difference there
was a trap.

In 1954 Andy showed three times at the Loft Gallery on East Forty-
fifth Street,which was run by the well-known graphic artist Jack
Wolfgang Beck and his assistant Vito Giallo. Andy, who had been
introduced to Beck and Giallo by Nathan Gluck, was included in the
group show in April. The painter and influential critic Fairfield
Porter came to the opening and later wrote a scathing put-down,
saying that they were all cominercial artists trying to be fine artists
and branding the Loft a commercial-art gallery.
Andy appeared unwilling to engage in the conflict between com-
mercial and fine art, acting as if he thought the whole subject be-
yond him. His first one-man show at the Loft Gallery consisted of a
series of marbled-paper sculptures with small figures drawn on

78
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

them. Art Elias thought: "This was really a genius show, because it
was anti-art, the death knell of abstract expressionism."
Andy's second show, which was devoted to drawings ot the dancer
John Butler, received a brief review in Art News by Barbara (iuest,
who wrote: "Andy Warhol has developed an original style of line
drawing and a willingness to obligate himself" to that narrow horizon
on which appear attractive and demanding young men involved in
the business of being as much like Truman Capote or his heroes

as possible. His technique has the effect of the reverse side of a


negative."
If the work attracted little serious attention in the fine art world,
Andy had by now emerged as a star of commercial art. All the art
directors of the major agencies flocked to the opening. Vito Giallo
recalled: "Even though he was shy and withdrawn at times, they all
wanted to talk to him. And he would just listen. He was always like
that; he wouldn't make any comments, never had much to offer, but
everybody liked him. He had tons and tons of friends, because he
was different. He would never swear, for instance. He used things
like 'Holy cow' and 'Wow' and 'Gee whiz,' and people just thought
that was so cute and different and funny. He had this childlike
quality that people were fascinated by. They just had to know this
person and what made him tick. I could never figure out why, be-
"
cause he just stood there and said 'yes' or 'no.'
Shordy after meeting Giallo, Andy hired him as his first assistant.
Of his year with Warhol, Giallo says: "I got there [the Lexington
Avenue apartment] around ten or eleven o'clock and I'd work into
the early afternoon. Andy was probably the busiest commercial art-
ist at that point, making a tremendous top-notch salary, thirty to

fifty thousand dollars a year. His mother liked me, and that meant a

lot to him, that someone could talk to her and get along with her
very well. She was constantly offering us sandwiches all day, and
would never understand what we were talking about. I don't think
he respected her very much. One time I said to Andy, 'You know
your mother has to go down these five flights to go to the A&P and
come up the steps all by herself with all these shopping bags. Don't
you think that's too much for her?' He said, 'Oh no, she loves it.'
She'd be floating in and out of the rooms, cooking, cleaning, picking
up. He depended on her completely, which always kind of shocked
me, but I think she really enjoyed it.

79
VICTOR BOCKRIS

"Andy liked gossip. I like gossip. We always had that wonderful


rapport of, What's happening? What's going on? We would never
talk about art. It was always about people and parties — who's going
with whom. He would want to know everything about me. What do
you do? Who do you see? But he would never give any information

about himself. He would like to talk about guys who was hot, who
was sexy. He would like to know if I had seen this guy or what he was

like how he was built. I think Andy did get an actual sexual excite-
ment out of talking about it.
"He had a friend named Valerie who had a boyfriend who was a
sailor. On certain nights of the week he would go for lessons — they
gave him sex lessons. I think he was there just to observe and take
notes— I thought that was kind of cute.

"And what was so refreshing about him was that he never com-
plained, never talked about anything that was a problem. I never

saw him upset never, never. Everything was always 'wonderful.'
"

80
N THE FALL of 1954, Andy fell in love with the most exciting
person he had ever had such feelings for. Charles Lisanby, who
designed sets for the immensely popular Gari-y Moore Show on
television, was good-looking, tall, elegant, and well connected. If
some people thought he was a trifle snobbish, that was fine with
Andy, for Lisanby moved in exactly the world Andy wanted to be
part of: He was an escort of the actress Carol Burnett; he knew
James Dean; he had worked with the photographer Cecil Beaton.
Lisanby, for his part, was intrigued — —
and disturbed by Warhol:
"Inside he was a very beautiful person. That's what I really liked
about him. But he had an enormous inferiority complex. He told me
he was from another planet. He said he didn't know how he got
here. Andy wanted so much to be beautiful, but he wore that ter-
rible wig which didn't fit and only looked awful."
The two friends went everywhere. "I would circulate, and Andy
would sit in a corner without saving a word," recalled Lisanby. "Peo-
ple thought he was dumb, but he was anything but dumb — he was
more brilliant than even he knew." Charles thought Andy "the most
interesting person I ever met, the strangest little guy with an original
and unique approach to everything."

81
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Lisanby's effect was enormous. Immediately, Andy decided to


improve appearance. Seymour Berlin, the printer who did his
his
promotional books, was enlisted to put him through a workout at
the McBurney YMCA three nights a week. "When he got there,"
Berlin recalled, "he could not do a push-up, but he worked out very
good because I saw a big change in strength." Berlin saw Andy at his
most relaxed: He would talk about his adventures in the world of
New York celebrities; about how he would buy five-hundred-dollar
and cut them with razor blades and spatter them with paint to
suits
draw attention to himself; about sending Truman Capote and Cecil
Beaton presents in the hope that they would want to meet him.
Berlin was all ears, but he thought there was something seriously
unbalanced about Andy's need to be with famous people. "The
wrong things were always important to Andy," he concluded. "He
would get very upset if these people did not respond to his gifts and
letters. He'd complain that they were taking advantage of himV
In 1955, Andy's career took a big leap forward when he got his
biggest account of the fifties —
a weekly ad in the society pages of the
Sunday New York Times for the fashionable Manhattan shoe store I.
Miller. The store's vice president, Geraldine Stutz, and the art direc-
tor, Peter Palazzo, who had known Andy since his arrival in New
York, decided that he was the perfect choice to launch a campaign to
revive the store's sagging image. Stutz was thrilled by what he
brought in: "The strength and spareness of Andy's work took peo-
ple's breath away. Andy always prided himself on doing exactly
what he wanted, but the reality was that we presented Andy with an
idea in simple form; he took it away and came back, having trans-
formed this idea into something that was universal yet special. The
effect was a sensational resuscitation of the I. Miller name."
Shortly before getting the I. Miller account, Andy's relationship
with his assistant, Vito Giallo, had broken down. As Giallo remem-
bered it, "Andy had a way of dropping people. He would constantly
call me and say, 'Oh, let's go to a party tonight.' But he really ex-
pected you never to refuse. One night when he wanted me to go and
see Valerie and her boyfriend perform and I couldn't, he was
peeved. I didn't hear from him for a long time after that."
That autumn Nathan Gluck, who had originally introduced Vito
to Andy, took Giallo's place. When he was excited or upset he would

82
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

exclaim, "Oh, Jesus Christ!" and to tell him, "My mother


Andy had
would like it if you wouldn't say Nathan soon developed an
that."
easy relationship with Julia, who regaled him with retellings of bibli-
cal tales, in one of which "Moses was born in the bull." Over the next
nine years Gluck's ideas would have such an influence on Warhol
that many of their friends came to feel that he was being shamefully
exploited. Gluck calmly denied this: In his view, he was nothing more
than Andy's assistant.
One of his important early contributions was to get Andy assign-
ments to decorate windows for Gene Moore at Bonwit Teller. Moore
was highly impressed by Warhol and his work: "On the surface he
always seemed so nice and uncomplicated. He had a sweet, fey, little-
boy quality, which he used, but it was pleasant even so and that was —
the quality of his work, too. It was light, it had great charm, yet there
was always a real beauty of line and coinposition. There was nobody
else around then who worked quite that way."
As the I. Miller ads began to make an impact with their freshness
and startling use of white space, Andy jumped at the chance to
develop his reputation as the man who drew shoes. Steven Bruce,
one of the owners of Serendipity, remembered Warhol coming into
the restaurant with a huge portfolio of rejected I. Miller drawings
and saying, "What do I do with these?" Bruce suggested that Andy
frame them and sell them in the shop for fifteen to twenty-five
dollars. The next thing he knew, Andy had brought in a whole
portfolio of watercolored shoe drawings called "A la Recherche
du Shoe Perdu" to be sold as well. Serendipity was one of Warhol's
first "factories"; he would make drawings at tables in exchange

for his meals. "At first I thought Andy never changed his shirt,"
recalled Bruce. "I said, 'I see you day after day in the same shirt.'
He said, 'Oh no, I bought a hundred of them, I wear a new one
"
every day.'
But selling drawings in a coffee shop was not going to win Andy
acceptance as an artist. Labels were everything, and if someone was
known as acommercial artist, no serious gallery was going to be
interested. was especially galling that, while Andy was at the peak
It

of his commercial career, his old roommate Philip Pearlstein was


being accepted at the prestigious Tanager Gallery. Pearlstein's
struggles had been a subject of some derision among Andy and his

83
VICTOR BOCKRIS

gay friends, who felt that they had a more discerning sense of the
Zeitgeist than the intellectuals. Andy responded to his old friend's
good fortune with the subtle aggression tliat would later become
typical of him. The Tanager was a co-op gallery, which meant that
the artists decided whose work was to be shown. Andy asked Pearl-
stein to submit some of his paintings of nude men on his behalf.
Nudes were a perfectly acceptable subject, but these were so overtly
homoerotic that Philip felt he would have been insulting his high-
minded colleagues by presenting them. When he tried to explain
that the paintings should be done more objectively, Andy cut him
off, pretending not to understand what he meant. Pearlstein got
the impression that Andy "felt I had let him down." After that, he
recalled, "we were seldom in touch." But Andy would not compro-
mise himself. He showed a portfolio to David Mann, "Drawings for a
Boy Book," consisting mostly of penises decorated with bows, kisses,
and faces of beautiful young men. Mann, who now had his own
Bodley Gallery next to Serendipity, liked the work and decided to
give Andy a show.
Charles Lisanby helped hang the show, which opened on Valen-
tine's Day 1956. Champagne and martinis were served, and Andy
was dressed in an elegant custom-tailored suit. Although the gallery
was packed with friends, mostly good-looking young men, he
seemed ill at ease. Although the drawings were priced at only fifty to
sixty dollars, just two or three sold. Moreover, the reviews were
lukewarm. Critics could not be expected to take drawings of narcis-
sistic boys by a homosexual display artist seriously, even if they were

in the style of Cocteau and Matisse. Nonetheless, with the help of


Mann, a few of the less overtly sexual drawings were included sev-
eral months later in the Recent Dmivings show at the Museum of
Modern Art. The "window decorator" had crossed over.

Julia Warhola never openly acknowledged that her son was gay. All
through the 1950s she more or less ignored the situation by accept-
ing the objects of his adoration as adopted sons. Charles Lisanby had
been coming to dinner at Lexington Avenue regularly and got along
very well with her. For Andy, however, the relationship was deeply
troubling. He was in love, but that love was unrequited; he and

84
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Charles had never even kissed. Charles was certainly aware of what
Andy wanted, but he preferred to remain strictly friends. Nonethe-
less, Andy's hopes for real intimacy soared when Charles meiuioned

that he was planning a trip to the Far East in the summer of 1956 to
look at Oriental art and asked if Andy wanted to come. Andy said

yes as casually as possible,and by the time they left on June 19, the
trip had developed into a journey around the world.
Andy's hopes were dashed almost immediately. He had carefully
suggested that they take separate rooms in San Francisco, their Hrst
stop, but when they got to Honolulu on the second night, Charles
said, "This is ridiculous," and got them a double room with twin
beds, overlooking the beach. It was the middle of the afternoon,

and Charles wanted to check out the beach. Andy, pleading jet lag,
stayed behind.
As soon as Charles got to the beach he ran into a young man
whom he persuaded to come to his room "to take some pictures."
When they reached the room, Charles discovered he'd forgotten his
key. knocked, and after a long pause Andy peeked out: "Who's
He
tha what are you doing?" Then, as Lisanby remembered, he
went berserk, screaming, "How dare you bring someone back here?"
"Andy, stop it!" Charles cried, and grabbed hold of his wrists.
Andy screamed, "How dare you? Get out of here and don't come
back!" He slammed the door. Lisanby then took the young man to
another hotel and bought him exotic drinks for the balance of the
afternoon.
He returned to Andy at seven. "I still didn't have my key and he
wouldn't open the door," he recalled. "I shouted, 'Andy, I know
you're in there and you might as well open up because I can go and
get another key!' Finally he did, then slouched on the bed and said,
'I want to go home. There's no use in going on.' He was very aloof,

trying to shake the whole thing off. I was feeling very guilty. I
wanted very much to stay his friend. I didn't want to lose him. I said,
'Yes, we are going on. You've come this far and I won't let you
go back.'
"I realized he wanted to be persuaded to go on, that he wanted me
to give in. remember the windows and the ocean outside. It was
I

close to sunset. I sat down beside him and I put my arms aroimd
him, trying to calm him down, and he totally broke down crying. It

85
VICTOR BOCKRIS

got worse. He couldn't stop. He couldn't stop sobbing hysterically. It


was that he didn't want to be alone. Andy always wanted to be in his
own center, but he wanted somebody to share it with.
"I knew that he loved me, but he said, in a soft, trembling voice, 'I
love you.' I said, 'Andy, I know, and I love you too.' And he said, 'It's
not the same thing.' And I said, 'I know it's not the same thing, you
"
just have to understand that, but I do love you.'
They stayed in that night. Lisanby ordered dinner. Andy did not
eat anything. The next morning he acted as if nothing had hap-
pened. In the afternoon he took some photographs of Charles in a
swimsuit on the beach in front of the hotel. Before they left that
evening for Tokyo, Charles made it clear that there were to be no
more such confrontations on the trip.
As far as Lisanby could tell, Andy had got over the incident com-
pletely once they'd left Hawaii. They had a wonderful time in the
Far East, traveling through Japan, Indonesia, Hong Kong, the
Philippines, and ending up in Bali. Andy proved to be the more
courageous traveler, refusing to leave a restaurant during a small
earthquake because the locals didn't, riding over a deep gorge on a
narrow bridge without fear whereas Lisanby was terrified, wanting
to try the most authentic food. At the same time he was utterly
impractical, refusing to take any responsibility for the practicalities
of traveling.
In some places they were quite an exotic couple. Visiting a gay bar
in Japan, they were surrounded by fawning teenage boys. Deep in
the jungle of Bali in the middle of the night, at a traditional dance by
teenage girls, they found themselves the only white men. Andy ap-
peared to be enjoying himself but would hold back from getting
involved. He preferred, it seemed, to experience things vicariously
through Charles, who danced with the boys and girls.
Somewhere along the way Lisanby got food poisoning, and he was
terribly sick by the time they arrived in Calciitta. A doctor recom-
mended several weeks in bed. Charles declared that he did not want
to die in Calcutta, and they flew to Rome via Cairo. From here on
the trip took on a new madness. When the plane landed in Cairo
they were astonished to see the airport surrounded by soldiers and
tanks — a prelude to the Suez crisis. All passports were confiscated,
and the passengers were herded across the runway while fighter jets
screamed overhead. In a Quonset hut they were forced to watch a

86
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

propaganda film, then were marched back onto the plane. Andy,
according to Lisanby, walked through the scene like a zombie, oblivi-
ous to the danger to their passports, luggage, and lives. They went
on to Rome the next morning, and at the Grand Hotel, Charles
collapsed and summoned an Italian doctor.
For the next two weeks he was confined to bed. To his dismay
Andy decided to stay right there too. Rather than see Rome, he
preferred to draw Charles, asleep and awake. After a while, Charles
found it hard to have Andy constantly in the room, depleting what
little energy he had. He begged Andy at least to go and see the pope,

and Andy made a few excursions, returning forlornly with some


scarves he had picked up. When Charles recovered, they went up to
Florence, but Andy seemed barely interested in the art, inumbling
"Wow" or "Gee" at a Titian or Botticelli, seemingly disconsolate that
the object of his desire was back on his feet. Their final stop, Am-
sterdam, was, according to Lisanby, a success. With the prospect of
going home, Andy seeined to have cheered up enormously.
The moment he got through customs at the airport in New York,
Andy took off without so much as a good-bye, leaving Lisanby, with
all his bags and packages, to get into a cab alone. Lisanby was

shocked: "I had never imagined Andy could be that decisive. It was
as if the whole trip had been an act, and he had really meant every-
thing he'd said in Honolulu and was just waiting to get home. I was
very angry."
So, apparently, was Andy. To a friend he complained that he had
"gone around the world with a boy and not even received one kiss."
After waiting several days for Andy to phone, Lisanby finally
called him: "I said, 'Why did you do that?' And he said, innocendy:
'I thought I was supposed to go home alone.' Over the next eight

years they saw a lot of each other, but it was never the same. In his
Philosophy years later Andy (perhaps) explained his behavior:

I was walking in Bali, and saw a bunch of people in a clearing

having a ball because somebody they really liked had just died, and I
realized that everything was just how you decided to think about it.
Sometimes people let the same problems make them miserable for
years when they should just say, So what. That's one of my favorite
things to say. So what.
My mother didn't love me. So what.

87
VICTOR BOCKRIS

My husband won't ball me. So what.


I don't know how I made it through all the years before I learned
how do that trick. It took
to a long time for me to learn it, but once
you do you never forget.

Lisanby's rejection had been a terrible blow, but there were distrac-
tions.Andy's friends at Serendipity had persuaded him to rent the
second-floor apartment at 242 Lexington, which one of them, Cal-
vin Holt, was vacating; let Julia keep the fourth floor, they argued;
he should be leading his own glamorous life. They offered to deco-
rate the place for him, and when they finished, they had created a
look that would be widely imitated: in the living room, a long white
wicker sofa, at either end of which were placed white columns with
globe lights on top; behind the sofa, an imposing potted palm;
nearby, a couple of rockers made out of twigs and branches. In the
front room, they put a round oak table and bentwood chairs under
an enormous Tiffany glass shade. White curtains covered the win-
dows; the kitchen cabinets were filled with white china. In the bed-
room was a Louis XlV-style gilded four-poster bed and a tiger-skin
rug a la Eartha Kitt. A stereo phonograph had been rigged up to
be heard throughout. It was all vaguely reminiscent of a Tennessee
Williams play.
Andy now had his own stage set, and he started giving parties.
They were, by all reports, great fun: Broadway show tunes on the
stereo, hordes of the eccentric girls Andy was always trying to pro-
mote, and the most beautiful boys, everyone in the bloom of youth.
Influenced by Nathan Gluck, whose own apartment was like a
museum, Warhol had begun collecting art. He bought watercolors
by Magritte and Tchelitchev, a drawing by Steinberg, an early Klee,
a colored aquatint by Braque, a Miro, lithographs by Picasso, and a
sand sculpture by Constantino Nivola (which Julia tied to the book-
case with a rope when she discovered how much it had cost). Nathan
was disturbed by the cavalier attitude with which Andy handled his
acquisitions. Most of them were left leaning against the wall or were
tacked up without fraines.
On the spur of the moment his brothers in Pittsburgh, Paul or
John, would decide, "Hey, let's go to New York and see Bubba
[Julia]!" and descend on Andy's apartment with their kids. Andy
appeared to enjoy their visits almost as much as Julia did. George

88
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Warhoia, his nephew, recalled: "He had bunk beds set up for us.
Bubba used to go to the market and buy vegetables and cook on a
big stove. Andy would buy us presents. Once it was a real nice
camera. You took the picture and a mouse shot out."

Socially and artistically Andy's next show at the Bodley Gallery in


December 1956 was a breakthrough. These were large blotted-line
drawings of shoes painted gold, or decorated with gold metal and
foil, like the lacquer furniture he had seen in Bangkok. The "dis-

tanced," iconographic golden slippers were a distinct contrast to the


voyeuristic male portraits he had shown at the beginning of the year

— —
and perhaps consequently more successful. He gave each shoe a
name: among others, "Elvis Presley," "James Dean," "Mae West,"

"Truman Capote," and "Julie Andrews," who arrived at the open-
ing with her husband, the designer Tony Walton.
The show was followed by a two-page color spread in Life maga-
zine. Andy had been so worried that his work was going to be re-
jected that he had taken David Mann to Life^ offices with him.
According to Mann, "Andy kept saying, 'Oh God! They're not going
to like these, this is going to be absolutely terrible, they're going to
"
tear me down.'
With Mann's help Andy was beginning to get some fooUng in the
gay-fashion-celebrity world. The socialite Jerome Zipkin commis-
sioned a shoe portrait. Patrick Higgins, aide to cosmetics tycoon
Helena Rubinstein, came to the gallery: "Madame," said Mann, "had
seen the show, and would Andy consider doing a portrait of her?
Andy did it. Then 1 got this call from Patrick. 'About that portrait,'
he said, 'Madame likes it very much but do you think you could
better the price?" It was $125 and I said, 'Well, you know, it's only
$125 and it was commissioned.' I could hear her going on in the
background, 'Tell him $100!' and he said, 'She suggests $100.' I said,
'Well, no, I don't think so,' and so he said, 'Well, all right, she'll buy it
anyhow.' Andy got so upset. He said, 'Oh God! What does she think
"
of me?'
The Ryan bought the gold shoe Andy
socialite D. D. had dedi-
cated to Capote, and sent it to Truman as a
Truman Christmas
present with an accompanying note describing Warhol: "He's be-
coming very well known. Very on-coming. "Even then I " never had

89
VICTOR BOCKRIS

the idea he wanted to be a painter or an artist," Capote recalled. "I


thought he was one of those people who are 'interested in the arts.'
As far as I knew he was a window decorator. Let's say a window-
. . .

decorator type."
Capote's bitchy response was, unfortunately for Warhol, on tar-
get. And if Warhol had any illusion that his shoes were going to put
him in a class with Jackson Pollock, all he had to do was read the
caption for the spread in Life. It described him as a "commercial
artist" who sketched "imaginary footwear ornamented with candy-
box decorations as a hobby."

In the fall of 1956, Andy —


who, after two years of going to the gym,
could now do —
push-ups made another determined effort to
fifty

change his appearance, this time by having his nose scraped. If not,
his doctor had said, he would end up looking like W. C. Fields. Andy
had the operation done in St. Luke's Hospital, but after waiting two
weeks for the scars to heal, he felt he only looked worse. "He
thought the operation would change his life," said Charles Lisanby.
"He thought that I and other people would suddenly think that he
was as physically attractive as the people he admired because of their
attractiveness. When that didn't happen, he became rather angry."
As David Mann remembered: "Andy had a bad complexion, bad
hair, no shoulders. I mean, he was a mess! But he was always falling
in love with these beautiful boys. Even when they became friends
and went to his parties, the last thing in the world they were inter-
ested in was going to bed with him. That wasn't a very happy thing
for him."
Indeed, friends began noticing a pronounced change in the
"sweet" Andy to whom everything had been "wonderful." When an
old friend of Corkie Ward's died, Andy presented no condolences
but only asked if his Tchelitchev paintings were for sale. And when
the fashion photographer Dick Rutledge remarked, "I can't stand
this fucking fashion world any more. I'm going to kill myself!" Andy
said, "Oh, can I have your watch?" It was a very expensive watch,
and Rutledge took it off and threw it at him. Andy kept the watch
for the rest of his life.
Worries about his appearance did not seem to dampen Andy's
ardor for the next object of his desire, a good-looking young pho-

90

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

tographei named Ed Wallowitch. Wallowitch shared a basement


apartment with his brother John, a pianist, on Barrow Street in
Greenwich Village. It was a salon for the downtown gay scene lots —

of red wine and old movie posters and Andy began spending a
good deal of time there. At first, John was happy about Andy's
passion for his brother: "Ed couldn't keep his hands off Andy, and
Andy was all over Ed. Andy was very sweet in those days. Adorable.
Artistique. Once we all went up to his apartirient to see Mrs. Warhol
and he showed us two refrigerators. He kept one filled with cham-
pagne, which he said was for her."
The writer Robert Heidie, who would work with Warhol on sev-
eral films in the 1960s, saw the relationship from another angle: "Ed
and John were heavy into the martinis, but Andy wasn't drinking.
He was more like the little boy." Andy had started wearing dark
glasses, and Heidie felt that "on some level he was always acting
the real person was submerged and there was definitely a pre-
Oedipal thing about him. His mother was a very important, almost

spooky presence 'My Andy can do no wrong. He's a good boy'
and Andy would retreat into that four- or five-year old."
The affair with Ed was the most sexually active one Andy had
ever had: He let Ed take photographs of him in bed, in which he
looks extraordinarily at peace.

By 1957 Andy was doing so well financially that on the advice of an


accountant he established Andy Warhol Enterprises. He also began
investing a good deal in the stock market as well as broadening the
area of his collecting. Through a new friend, Ted Carey, he had
developed a particular interest in American folk art.
The year ended with another successful show at the Bodley Gal-
lery. Although they did not receive as much publicity as the "Golden
Slippers," his "Gold Pictures" —
black line drawings of street kids
and handsome young men done on gold paper sold well. More- —
over, the Gold Book, which Andy sent out as a promotional gift that
Christmas, was widely appreciated. Only John Wallowitch began to
feel a little uncomfortable when he realized that Andy had ti aced all
of the book's drawings from Ed's photographs without giving him
any credit.
There was at least one contemporary of Andy's who was so far

91
VICTOR BOCKRIS

ahead of him on the path he wanted to follow that it made his head
swim with envy. This was Jasper Johns, at twenty-seven just two
years older than Andy, whose first one-man show at the Leo Castelli
Gallery, Flags, Targets, and Numbers, had opened four weeks after the
closing of Andy's show at the Bodley. It had caused a sensation. The
Museum of Modern Art had bought four of the paintings un- —
precedented for such a young artist.
Johns had done what Andy had dreamed of. He had appeared,
seemingly from nowhere, with an exhibition so controversial and
powerful (and featuring Warhol's favorite subject, the penis) that
the worst his critics could do was to call him unpatriotic because he
had painted the American flag. Each work was a kind of compressed
historical essay about the boundaries of art, in both the choice of
subject matter and the application of paint; each asked bold ques-
tions about people's expectations of art —about what, when all was
said and done, "art" really was. Overnight Johns had created an
earthquake in the New York art world, separating "old" modern art
from something radically new.
In fact, profound change, as always in the art world, had been
occurring without anyone quite realizing it. The pop art movement
that had begun in England in 1956 had spread to France and was
beginning to find followers in America among such young artists as
George Segal, Roy Lichtenstein, and Claes Oldenburg. The New
York scene still centered on the abstract expressionists, but they
were not moving with the same velocity as they had in the early- and
mid-fifties. De Kooning, for example, had spent all of 1957 on one
canvas, painting it over and over again because he didn't think it was
working. "It was an insane time," recalled the photographer and
filmmaker Robert Frank. The majority of the painters were, in the
words of one such artist, "a scruffy, excitable lot. It was us against
the world." "Everybody was in everybody else's pocket," recalled
another. "There was rivalry — —
egos were gargantuan and there
was a lot of competition, but at least the struggle was private and not
corrupted by the media."
It was a scene from which Andy Warhol was still excluded because

of his success as a commercial artist and his open homosexuality,


and this made the success of Jasper Johns all the more rankling. For
Johns, too, had been a commercial artist (and for the same man.
Gene Moore, at Bonwit Teller). Two months later, when Johns's

92
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

close friend Robert Rausthenberg, whose roots were also in com-


mercial had an almost equally dramatic success at Castelli, Andy
art,
was inore determined than ever to make a real mark. He began
haunting the Castelli Gallery at 3 East Seventy-seventh Street with a
vengeance.
Gaining acceptance was another matter. In the 1950s the public
revelation that two men were "a couple" would have destroyed their
careers. Now, when Warhol approached Johns and Rauschenberg at
openings, they cut him dead. "He was unpopular with the people he
wanted to be popular with and very unhappy about it," said David
Mann.
It was at this time that Andy, through Tina Fredericks, met Emile

de Antonio. The eloquent and stylish artists' agent had already been
a catalyst in many careers of the period. His circle of friends in-
cluded not only Johns and Rauschenberg but the composer John
Cage and the choreographer Merce Cunningham. "Andy was fas-
cinated by the collaborative nature of their friendship," recalled de
Antonio. "But they were not interested in knowing him. The mys-
tique of the great artist was already on them, and Andy was too
'commercial.' He was also, frankly, too swish. A number of times I
said to them, 'Why don't we invite Andy to dinner?' and they said
no."
"De," as de Antonio was called, was also struck by another charac-
Andy seemed to be "engrossed" by the idea of evil. "That
teristic:

used to be one of his favorite subjects. He'd ask, 'Isn't that evil?' or
exclaim, 'Oh, De, that's absolutely evil.' I sensed that what he meant
was someone dominating another person."
Meanwhile, his affair with Ed Wallowitch was beginning to go
badly. Ed had finally moved into his own place. When Ed's sister,
Anna May, decided to get married, he felt abandoned and began
drinking heavily. After a while Andy began seeing less of him. Ed
suffered a psychological collapse and had to move back into his
brother's apartment, where he stayed, while taking Thorazine, for
six weeks. John Wallowitch remembered: "The analyst thought it
would be better for Edward to go to a place out on Long Island that
could handle this kind of thing. But it cost $250 a week. At the time,
I was making three dollars an hour and there was no money coming

in from Ed, or our parents. I called Andy up and asked him for
$600 to help Ed out. He said, 'Oh, I'm sorry. My business manager

93
VICTOR BOCKRIS

won't let me do would be nice if Andy had come to see him or


it.' It

called, but no, there was nothing. I loved Andy, but there was some-
thing malevolent and evil about the way he sucked off Ed's energy."
Emboldened by the example of Johns and Rauschenberg, Andy
in 1959 was steadily progressing toward the pop art that would
make him, a few years later, an art world sensation in his own right.
Now he was using repeated images more and more. Like everything
he would do from this point on, Warhol's repetition was double-
edged: on the one hand, it seemed to celebrate St. Francis' asser-
tion that "there are thousands of flowers, thousands of people,
thousands of animals, and each one is different, each one unique."
On the other, in Warhol's hands, repetition underscored the banal-
ity of existence. Perhaps by this time he had come to believe that

people never really change, that his problems would repeat them-
selves over and over.
The show he was working on for David Mann, Wild Raspberries,
prefigured his brand of pop art in its imagery of fanciful food — hot

dogs and desserts although it was still a bit precious, not fully
"cool." Andy's collaborator on the work was an important new
friend, Suzi Frankfurt, who was helping him devise fantasy recipes
to be handwritten by Julia under each drawing. Suzi took a dislike to
Mrs. Warhola: "She was talented in some mad way, but she was so
manipulative. Andy had to chain her to the light box to get all the
calligraphy done. She said she'd copy it over and she didn't. He gave

her too much bloody credit he adored her too much. She was too

weird for me too much the Czechoslovakian peasant."
Wild Raspbenies opened on December 1, 1959. "Clever frivolity in
excelsis," the New York Times judged the work, effectively putting the

lid on Andy's serious aspirations. No publisher wanted a book of the


recipes and drawings, so he and Suzi published it themselves. "We
went around with shopping bags full of books, she recalled, "but
"

nobody wanted them." Nor was the rest of Andy's life going well. He
had bought a townhouse at 1342 Lexington Avenue between East
Eighty-ninth and Ninetieth streets for $67,000 but had lost his L
Miller account and was scrambling to keep his income up to his
needs. Now he had to do more commercial art than ever to pay his
expenses, and most of the joy had gone out of the work. The break-
up with Ed had persuaded him to stay celibate for a while, but he
was leveling a new round of "bottomless" demands at Charles

94
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Lisanby, with whom he was still in love. "I was very concerned about
him," said Lisanby, "but I did not want to go and live with him. I felt
trapped. Perhaps [the relationship] became so intense because it was
never consummated. I always knew he never forgave me for not
being his lover."
Worst of all was the crisis with Julia. Now, in the big new house,
she was relegated to the basement. Julia had become increasingly
lonely in New York. She returned to Pittsburgh twice a year, and
John and Paul visited New York with their growing families, but her
only regular social life was provided by her weekly visits to church
and daily outings to the supermarket. Living in such isolation, she

had begun to drink heavily Scotch whisky much of the day. Andy,
accoiding to most visitors, continued to behave as sweetly as ever
with her, but there were growing signs of conflict. Ted Carey, one of
Andy's assistants and closest friends, said: "She was very lonely.
Whenever I was there she'd come upstairs and talk. Andy didn't like
me talking to her because I wouldn't work fast enough to suit him,
and he'd come in and yell at her, 'You've been talking to Ted!' And
she'd go downstairs. But the moment he left, she'd come back and
"
talk. She loved television —
programs like 'I Love Lucy.'
Julia, for her part, was always nagging Andy about money. "Built
into Andy," observed de Antonio, "was the fear that there was never
going to be enough money, there was never going to be enough of
anything; things were always going to turn out badly. That seemed
to me his mother's voice."
Whenever he went out, Andy carried wads of money, and he kept
piles of it around the house. Andy's friends thought him unbeliev-
ably generous to his family. According to Suzi Frankfurt, "He used
to feel guilty about his brothers. He said, 'I made more in two
minutes than they make in a year.' He loved them." Indeed, both
John and Paul recalled that not only did Julia send regular caie
packages, but Andy paid all their expenses when they visited, and he
helped them out with loans and gifts. Nonetheless, at this time Julia
appears to have felt that he was not contributing enough. And so
she packed her bag one day and declared that she was moving back
to Pittsburgh.
She stayed away for some time. According to Suzi Frankfurt, "the

house became a nightmare a disgusting mess." Joseph Giordano, a
painter and art director who knew Andy and Julia well, told the art

95
"

VICTOR BOCKRIS

historian Patrick Smith years later: "He just couldn't function. I

think he expected me to get in there and function, but itwas just too
much of a household to run. So he finally called her back. She
insisted I be there that night, and when she came in, she slammed

her suitcase on the floor, looked at him, and said, 'I'm Andy
Warhol.' And there was a big discussion about why she was Andy
Warhol. . The crux of Andy Warhol is that he felt so unloved, so
. .

unloved. I know it came from his mother. She made him feel
. . .

insignificant. She made him feel that he was the ugliest creature God
ever put on this earth."
In 1959 and through half of I960, Andy had what he called a
nervous breakdown. Later he made light of the situation in The
Philosophy of Andy Warhol, blaming his troubles on "picking up prob-
lems from the people I knew. I had never felt that I had problems,
because I had never specifically defined any, but now I felt that these
problems of friends were spreading themselves onto me like germs."
He went to a psychiatrist, but the visits were not successful and he
soon stopped going. (About psychiatry he once remarked: "It could
help you if you don't know anything about anything.") How near
Andy actually was to a breakdown is a matter of conjecture. Nathan
Gluck, who was with him five days a week, noticed no sign of any-
thing wrong at all. Seymour Berlin, his body-building friend, said:
"I wouldn't say that he was a manic-depressive, but at times he was
very elated and then somehow, if something didn't go the way he
wanted, very depressed." Suzi Frankfurt recalled this period as "the
only time in his life when if you said, 'Oh, Andy, that's terrible.
That's ugly!' he'd get very hurt.
Emile de Antonio probably got to the heart of the matter: "He was
so jealous and envious then of Johns and Rauschenberg. Andy
never expressed anger. He was always cool and understated, but in
maybe two hours of conversation, in his silent, withdrawn way, he'd
say, 'Why don't they like me? Why cant I see them? Why do they say
no when you ask if you can invite me to dinner? Why can't I be a
painter?' That tension was underlying his entire existence in New

York because that was why he came here^ to be a painter."

96
N 1960 Leonard Kessler ran into Warhol coming out of an art-
supplv store carrying paint and canvas. "Andy! What are you
doing?" he greeted him. Andy said, without skipping a beat,
"I'm starting pop art."
"Why?" Kessler asked. And Andy said "Because I hate abstract
expressionism. I hate it!"
A few weeks later, when Ted Carey admired a Rauschenberg
collage at the Museum Andy snapped, "That's noth-
of Modern Art,
ing. That's a piece of shit!"
Carey said, "Well, if you really think it's all promotion and anyone
can do it, why don't vom do it?" He answered, "Well, I've got to think
of something different."
In "starting" pop art (the term had actually been around since
1958) Warhol called upon everything he had learned from advertis-
ing and television, where the dollar sign and the gun were predomi-
nant symbols, where the subliminal message was sexual desire
without gratification, and where the immediate aim was to shock. He
decided to paint a series of big black-and-white pictures of what
"artists" were supposed to hate most: advertisements. He took from
the backs of magazines the simplest, crummiest, cheapest ads for —

97
VICTOR BOCKRIS

wigs, nose jobs, television sets, canned food —


made them into slides,
and projected them onto blank canvas. Then he "copied" an en-
larged, fractured section of the ad in black paint, letting drips and
splashes accidentally splatter. The paintings were ugly and banal,
but they reverberated with anger and contempt. The art dealer Ivan
Karp noted: "Basically it was an act of compulsion; he had to do it.
As a person working in commercial art, which was essentially tow-
ering blandness, Andy had to apologize in his mind for being in-
volved. To make an art of it seemed a way of getting the anxiety out,
which is what much art is about: You need to confront the images
which cause you distress in order to relieve the distress."
A second series depicted some of Andys childhood cartoon favor-
ites: Dick Tracy, Popeye, Little Nancy. He painted large pictures of

cartoon frames using bright colors but obliterating most of the


words with messy hash marks and drips (fearing that the work
would not be taken seriously without such "abstract expressionist"
references). De Antonio was coming around regularly to encourage
him, but Andy was frustrated. One day he urinated on some canvas
to see what it would look like but, unsatisfied with the results, rolled
it up and put it away. Another day he put a piece of canvas out-

side the front door to see what kind of picture people's footprints
would make.
The summer of I960 brought a breakthrough. De Antonio was
present: "One night I went over and had a bunch of drinks and he
put two large paintings next to each other against the wall. Usually
he showed me the work more casually, so I realized this was a pre-
sentation. He had painted two pictures of Coke bottles about six feet
tall. One was just a pristine black-and-white Coke bottle. The other

had a lot of abstract expressionist marks on it. I said, 'Come on,


Andy, the abstract one is a piece of shit, the other one is remarkable.
It's our society, it's who we are, it's absolutely beautiful and naked,
"

and you ought to destroy the first one and show the other.'
With his interest in American folk art, Andy wanted to paint
twentieth-century "folk" objects like Coke bottles just the way they
looked, but he had feared that people would dismiss this as the work
of a commercial artist. Hearing de Antonio's response, he was ex-
cited. He called up other people in the art world. The first was Leo
Castelli's assistant, Ivan Karp, whom he invited to look at the paint-
ings. Karp was who wore dark Brooks
a classic earh sixties character
Brothers suits like the Kennedys', sported sunglasses, smoked big

98
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

cigars, and He was a highly articulate man who


called people "baby."
had something big was about to happen in the art
a feeling that
world and that it was going to happen in America. When he
knocked on the door of 1342 Lexington Avenue he knew nothing
about Andy Warhol other than that he was enthusiastic enough
about the new art to have spent $475 on a Jasper Johns drawing he
had bought from Castelli.
Karp encountered Andy just as he was taking steps to change his
image. The new Andy had decided to draw attention to his physical
oddness: He had, for example, begun wearing a silver-blond wig,
which he wore uncombed and just slightly askew. He had also
started to change the way he spoke, mumbling monosyllabic, often
incoherent replies to any questions. And he exaggerated everything
else in his repertoire, like his slightly effeminate dancer's walk and
his limp wrists —
a bizarre takeoff of Marlon Brando and Marilyn
Monroe. "He made a virtue of his vulnerability, and forestalled or
neutralized any possible taunts," the critic John Richardson would
later write. "Nobody could ever 'send him up.' He had already done
so himself."
Once Karp had stepped into Andy's domain, negotiating his way
around a sculpture of a wrecked car by John Chamberlain that
partially blocked the entrance, he followed the artist down a dimly lit
corridor lined with ghostly figures —
a wooden statue of Punch, a
life-size Mr. Peanut, a cigar-store Indian. The stereo was blaring
rock music in the living room/studio. Andy positioned himself si-
lentlv in a corner, did not turn down the sound, and Karp was left to

take in a somber, surreal Victorian setting. The room had previously


been a psychiatrist's office, and the windows were boarded over to
keep out light and noise. There were several works by modern mas-
ters on the walls —
Karp noticed a large Toulouse-Lautrec print of a

man on a bicycle and a long Empire sofa against one wall.
Warhol's own paintings were neaUy stacked against another wall.
What made the biggest impression on Karp was the record playing
over and over. (Andy, who was drawn to falsetto renditions of songs
about broken hearts, later explained that he was in the habit of
playing one song a day at least a hundred times until he "understood
what it meant.")
As Karp remembered it, he started dancing around the room,
shouting out comments. "I was being quite arrogant. I told him that
the onlv works 1 thought of any consequence were the cold, straight-

99
VICTOR BOCKRIS

forward ones like the Coca-Cola bottle." He thought that the same
people who were interested in the new painter Castelli was looking
at— —
Roy Lichtenstein might also be interested in Warhol, and as
he left, he agreed to show Castelli several slides of Andy's work.
Andy was so excited that he immediately sent Karp a Little Nancy
painting he had admired, tied up with a red ribbon and with a note
signed "Love from Andy."
During the next few weeks, Ivan brought several collectors to
Andy's house. They were at first dumbfounded when Andy an-
swered the door wearing an eighteenth-century mask festooned
with jewels and feathers (Karp was under the impression he wore it
to conceal the blotches on his face), and offered similar masks to
each of thein. They were further taken aback when the masked
artist stood mutely in the corner while the day's rock single blared
from the phonograph. Nonetheless, each collector bought one or

two paintings for a few hundred dollars each^ much less than Andy
was used to earning for a single commercial drawing. But Andy was
enormously grateful to Ivan and insisted he take a commission.
Although Andy continued to work with Nathan Cluck every day,
his commercial art friends were gradually excluded from his new
world. Karp accidentally discovered that Warhol was well known in
the advertising community while walking with him one day on Madi-
son Avenue. "He knew every fifth person. I said, 'My God, Andy, I
thought you were a secret soul!' He said, 'Oh, I know them I just
. . .

know them casually.' "


In July, Karp brought Henry Geldzahler, the new young assistant
curator for twentieth-century American art at the Metropolitan
Museum, to Warhol's studio. While they talked, Andy kept painting
on the floor, surrounded by a television set, radio, and phonograph
all playing at the same time, stacks of teen, movie, and fashion
magazines, and a telephone. He explained that he was trying to
make his mind as empty and blank as possible so no thought or
emotion could go into the work.
"I had heard all my life that Stuart Davis played jazz records when
he was painting," said Geldzahler, "so I knew I was somewhere. Once I
had gotten used to the flickering of the television set, the first thing I
noticed was a pair of Carmen Miranda's platform shoes far higher
than they were wide. Their placement on a shelf in his wood-
paneled living room made a smile-provoking introduction to a camp
sensibility."

100
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

As the new boy at the Metropolitan, Geldzahler was supposed to


discover what was going on in conteniporaiy American art. He and
Ivan had been running around town introducing each other to a
string of emerging artists who were as yet largely unaware of each
other —James Rosenquist, Claes Oldenburg, Tom Wesselmann, Roy
Lichtenstein, Frank Stella. When Andy took up hisinvitation to stop
by the Met to look at Florine Stettheimer's paintings the following
day, Geldzahler felt as if he had known Andy all his life, that he was
in the presence of "someone who epitomized the age in a very spe-
cial way." He agreed to take Warhol's work around to the galleries.

It was a period of opulence, and Henry and Andy were soon

having a wonderful time going to dinners and parties and gossiping


about the art world. According to a friend: "There was a phenome-
non that came out of the fifties: Everyone was a prince. Andy was a
prince. Henry Geldzahler was a prince. They operated on a broad,
extravagant level of endless expense, privilege, and freedom. There
was infinite money. Everyone was really smart and naive and sweet
and grasping and powerful and brilliant."
As their acquaintance grew into what would become a lifelong
friendship, Henry enjoyed playing "humanist scholar" to Andy's
"Renaissance painter."
"Oh, vou know so much," Andy would say. "Teach me a fact a day
and then I'll be as smart as you."
"Cairo is the capital of Egypt," said Henry.
"Cairo the capital of Egypt," repeated Andy.
is

Although thev were never lovers, the relationship became inti-


mate. Andy spoke to Henry on the phone every night before he
went to sleep and every morning as soon as he woke up. "He was
very much a night creature and literally afraid to go to sleep at
night," recalled Geldzahler. "He wouldn't fall asleep until dawn
cracked because sleep equals death and night is fearsome, and if you
fall asleep at night, you're not quite sure about waking up again. But

if you fall asleep in the daylight, it's kind of a comfort knowing that

the sun is out there. It's very primitive, it's a kind of inverted sun
worship, because Andy actually detested the real sunlight."

By the fall of 1960, the Castelli, Green. Judson, Tanager, Martha


Jackson, Stable, and Hansa galleries were putting on or planning
shows by Johns, Rauschenberg, Oldenburg, Wesselmann, Lichten-

101
VICTOR BOCKRIS

stein, Rosenquist, Segal, Indiana, Stella, Red Grooms, Jim Dine,


Lucas Samaras, Robert Whitman, and others in the new American
wave. As his allies stepped up their campaign to get his work shown,
Andy was only too aware that "the new movement" had arrived and
that until he got a gallery to represent him, he could not be a "new
person." Unfortunately, both his cartoon and advertising series fell
short when compared with much of the other new work, especially
the paintings of Roy Lichtenstein.
Lichtenstein was also appropriating cartoons and advertisements,
but he had taken the bolder step of copying the images as precisely
as possible — with no "comments" by brushstrokes and drips — then
"blowing them up." Rosenquist was also using cartoon images, with
strong results. Next to their work Warhol's looked uncertain, and
the reaction to it was largely negative, even from his early supporter
David Mann: "Whenever he had come to me before, I had been very
enthusiastic and said, 'Oh, great, let's do a show.' Now when he came
to me with his early pop paintings, I wasn't for them. The break was
not unpleasant. He said, 'If you don't think they're good and if
"
you're not interested in them, I'll take them elsewhere.'
Other prominent dealers, including Sidney Janis, Richard Bel-
lamy, and Robert Elkron, agreed with Mann. Martha Jackson of-
fered Andy a show, then canceled it out of fear for her reputation as
a "serious" dealer. Despite the enthusiasm of Karp and Geldzahler,
much of the art world considered the work ridiculous. In time,
many people said, Andy Warhol would return to commercial art,
which was right where he belonged.
Typical of the way Andy was generally regarded in the New "^'ork
art world at the beginning of the 1960s was the reaction of the
socialite Frederick Eberstadt: "You couldn't miss him, a skinny
creep with his silver wig .... To put it mildly, I was not impressed.
Andy asked me if I ever thought about being famous. Andy would
start off conversations like that .... He said he wanted to be as
famous as the Queen of England. Here was this weird coolie little
faggot with his impossible wig and his jeans and his sneakers and he
was sitting there telling me that he wanted to be as famous as the
Queen of England! It was embarrassing. ... In fact he was about the
most colossal creep I had ever seen in my life. I thought that Andy
was lucky that anybody would talk to him."
In the face of such disgust not even Karp's considerable salesman-

102

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

ship could make nuitli headway on behalf of his discovery. "1 had
a little network of friends in the art business," he recalled, "and
when I said, 'Look at Warhol's work, it's terrific, it's going to be a
revelation,' they said, "You're nuts. It's nothing at all. It's empty
"
stuff, shabby, squalid, horrible.'
"If you think he's so great," other gallery owners would tell Karp,
"why don't you take him yourself?" And that, of course, was the
question. In January 1961, Karp finally steered his boss, Leo Cas-
telli, to Andy's house. Castelli remembered Warhol's pale, mottled

face from numerous visits to the gallery, but they had never spoken,
and Karp was concerned about the impression Andy's bizarre envi-
ronment would make on the fastidiously civilized Italian. On the
way he assured Castelli that the eccentric young artist was actually a
"fine and sensitive gentleman who is a serious artist but has a curious
way of being."
This was certainly evident as soon as Andy opened the door,
wearing one of his eighteenth-century masks and offering two
others. A nonplussed Leo received "a very curious impression" from
the dark, cluttered house and the blasdng rock music. Karp's hopes
sank: "The exoticness presented as a bohemianism Leo wasn't inter-
ested in. He was as warm and sociable as he could be, but I saw him
troubled and anxious during the whole interview."
Castelli left the house without committing himself, saying they
would talk in a few days. According to him: "We didn't stay long
not more than half an hour. I just felt the paintings were not inter-
esting. They seemed to be spoofing all kinds of things. You really
weren't quite sure what he was going to do."
Moreover, there was the problem of Lichtenstein. According to
Karp: "Leo said, if we were interested in Roy, could we really be
legitimately interested in Warhol? He thought there might be, in the
fragile beginning of an artist's career, a jeopardy to one or to the
other, and if we were to commit ourselves to Lichtenstein, it would
be a threat to his career to have another artist working like him."
Several days later Andy met Castelli alone in his office. Castelli
said he liked what Andy was doing but told him what he had told
Karp. Andy appeared dejected but was unusually outspoken.
"You're mistaken," he insisted. "What I'm doing will be very differ-
ent from what anybody else is doing. I really belong in your gallery
and you should take me, because I'm very good." When Castelli

103
VICTOR BOCKRIS

repeated that it would be impossible for him to represent him, Andy


became upset and cried out, "Well, where should I go?" His final
words, however, were defiant: "You will take me. I'll be back."

Despite his brave fagade, Andy's mood was shaky in the spring and
summer of 1961. For one week in April his paintings Advertisement,
Little King, Superman, Before and After, and Saturday Popeye were
shown by Gene Moore in a Bonwit Teller window behind five man-
nequins spring dresses and hats. Not surprisingly, this display
in
received no attention in the art world.
Andy was working at what was to him great financial risk. Painting
was not only expensive but time-consuming, and his income had
dropped. He told his brother John that he had made sixty thou-
sand dollars in 1960 and hadn't saved a dime. "What did you spend
the money on?" John asked. "That's what I'd like to know," Andy
replied.
But he had become an aggressive salesman, as Robert Scull, the
New York taxi magnate and collector, discovered when he visited
Warhol after the Castelli rejection. Scull, who bypassed the dealers
and paid cold cash to artists for their works, was busy acquiring on
the cheap a pop art collection that he would sell for millions ten
years later. "I want to sell you some paintings," Andy told him. "I
don't care how many you take. I just need $1,400. Here's five. Will
that do?" When Scull, taken aback, paused, Warhol snapped, "Okay,
take six." Andy soon became a regular at Robert and Ethel Scull's
parties. Presented with a lavish meal, he would eat nothing, mum-
bling,"Oh, I only eat candy."
But as he lay awake at night, he would become so terrified that his
heart would stop if he fell asleep that he grabbed the bedside phone
and called up friends to talk all night until dawn. As Karp was
beginning to realize, "Andy was a tender, fragile person. He
couldn't stand having anything bad said about him or his work. He
took rejection very poorly."

By the end of the year Andy was back where he had started. He had
justcome out of a "nervous breakdown" and feared he might be
slipping into another. After he attended Claes Oldenburg's cele-

104
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

hialed Lower East Side exhihilioii. The Store, in early December,


with its garishly painted soft sculptures of some of his favorite sub-
jects — underwear, ice cream, and pies — he
was so upset that he
hadn't had the idea that he told his assistant Ted Carey
that he was
too depressecf to go out to dinner. Later that evening Carey stopped
bv with an interior designer, Muriel Latow, who was struggling un-
successfully to support her own gallery. Andy usually rallied around
Muriel's forceful personality, but on this evening she and Ted could
see he was in a funk.
According to Ted Carey: "Andy said, 'It's too late for the car-
toons. I've got to do something that will have a lot of impact, that will
be different from Lichtenstein and Rosenquist, that will be very
personal, that won't look like I'm doing exactly what they're doing. I
don't know what to do! Muriel, you've got fabulous ideas. Can't you
"
give me an idea?'
Yes, she could, Muriel replied, but it would cost Andy some
money.
"How much?" he asked.
"Fifty dollars," she answered.
Andy promptly wrote out a check and said, "Okay, go ahead. Give
me a fabulous idea!"
"What do you
like most in the whole world?" Muriel asked.
know. What do I like most in the whole world?"
"I don't
"Money," she replied. "You should paint pictures of money."
"Oh, gee," Andy gasped, "that really is a great idea!"
In the silence that followed, Muriel elaborated. "You should paint
something that everybody sees every day, that everybody recognizes
. .like a can of soup."
.

For the first time that evening Andy smiled. As he would later tell
Robert Heidie: "Many an afternoon at lunchtime Mom would open
a can of Campbell's tomato soup for me, because that's all we could
afford. I love it to this day."
The
next morning Andy sent Julia out to buy one of each of the
thirty-two varieties of Campbell's soup at the local A&P, and he
started to work. First he did a series of drawings. Then he made
color slides of each can, projected them onto a screen, and began
experimenting with different dimensions and combinations. Mean-
while, he was doing the same thing with dollar bills, painting them
individuallv, then in rows of two, then in rows of one hundred.

105

VICTOR BOCKRIS

Finally he hit upon his format for the soup cans. Many pop artists
were using supermarket food images in their work, but they
crammed their pictures with them. Andy invested the same objects
with a new seriousness, an iconic dignity, by isolating them: He de-
cided to do one portrait of each of the thirty-two cans as exactly as
possible, pristine against a white background.
While the art world would become inflamed over this act of sub-
version, Andy saw the whole thing much more simply, directly
and deeply. Behind his patented mixture of bravado and self-
deflation there is a poignancy about the essential "worthlessness" of
all art in a statement he made a few years later to the New York

Herald-Tribune: "Just ordinary people like my paintings. It took in-


telligent people years to appreciate the abstract expressionist school
and I suppose it's hard for intellectuals to think of me as art. I've

never been touched by a painting. I don't want to think. The world


outside would be easier to live in if we were all machines. It's nothing
in the end anyway. It doesn't matter what anyone does. My work
won't last anyway. I was using cheap paint."

106
THE TEMPO of Andy's work picked up, his studio became a
As niglitly salon for visitors, among them the proto-pop artist
Ray Johnson, who was an important influence on many art-
ists of the period, and the art critic David Bourdon. Bourdon, who

had known Andy in the late fifties but had not seen him for several
years, called on him as soon as he heard of the new work: "I first
visited him in March 1962 to see the soup cans. They had been
illustrated in a newsletter. From that moment on we became really
fast friends and I was there a couple of evenings a week. It was kind
of an informal sitting room. He had a hard, phony. Empire-style
sofa, floor lamps, chairs and tables, and some Planter's Peanut
ashtrays. He was doing all his painting in that room, and as the
months went by the furniture gradually disappeared as the roUed-
up canvases took over." While his guests sat drinking Scotch, Andy
would drift in and out, taking phone calls from Henry Geldzahler or
checking on his mother in the basement.
From 1959 to 1971, Julia Warhola lived alone in the dark, dank
subterranean room where she invented a world of her own that
could have been in depression Pittsburgh, or for that matter in
Mikova. Along the wall under the half-window that faced the street
at eye level was a couch covered by a sheet. Against another wall was

107
VICTOR BOCKRIS

her bed. In the corner stood her altar with a crucifix. Apart from the
simple kitchen table and chairs at the other end of the room next to
the stove, that was all her furniture. The rest of the room was clut-
tered with shopping bags, mail, a talking parrot in a cage, and cat
hairs. A multitude of skittish Siamese cats could be seen under the
kitchen cabinets between sudden forays to overturn a stack of mail
or a bag full of junk.
Julia Warhola was by nature a pack rat, and she never discarded
anything no matter how useless. Her long cotton peasant dress and
apron were usually covered with buttons, paper money, notes, and
other memorabilia affixed with safety pins. Andy spent a modicum
of his time in his mother's domain, appearing regularly each morn-
ing for breakfast and before going out, when they would recite a
brief prayer together and she would caution him to watch himself.
As with everything else about his life, Andy mythologized his
mother's exile in the basement, telling friends she was an alcoholic
whom he had to keep locked up with a case of Scotch, except at five
in the morning, when she would ascend to clean the house. As the
years went on, Andy's own quarters upstairs sank beneath his ac-
cumulation of junk, and Julia was largely reduced to mopping up
after the cats. The Pittsburgh Warholas, who continued to visit as
often as they could, noticed that whenever they came, Julia was so
lonely that she could not stop talking.
In his own way, however, Andy treated Julia well. He gave her
five hundred dollars a week for household expenses, some of which
she spent on care packages for Pittsburgh and Mikova or put aside
in a large glass jar. (Paul once found six or seven thousand dollars
stashed away in a large jar.) Since the house was only eight blocks
south of Harlem, she was afraid to go farther afield than the corner
supermarket, drugstore, and post office on her daily sorties into the
neighborhood. But once, when Andy suggested that she would be
better off in a house on Long Island, she balked, claiming that this
was the best place she had ever had and she did not want to leave it.
"Uncle Andy" had become something of a hero to his nephews
and nieces. "We'd always wait for him to wake up," remembered
George Warhola, Paul's third son. "Bubba used to bring his orange
juice up every morning and then we'd go up and talk to him. One
time we went in and pulled the covers off his head and saw him bald.
He yelled, 'Get out of here!' When he was going out we'd be up
there watching him shave and get dressed. He was like a movie star

108
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

to us. idol. And he'd have his Chanel perfume and he'd
He was our
say, 'Here,you want to try it?' We always wanted to know, 'Well, gee.
Uncle Andy, who'd you meet that's famous?' And he'd tell us all
about the people he went out to dinner or parties with. Sometimes
we'd help him stretch canvases. He'd pay us two dollars an hour and
bring us home presents."

In May 1962, Irving Blum, who owned the Ferus Gallery in Los
Angeles, paid Andy a visit. He found him kneeling next to the
glowing television set with the radio and the record player blasting
opera and rock simultaneously, painting his sixteenth portrait of a
soup can. "What happened to your cartoons?" asked Blum, who had
seen his paintings of Superman a year earlier.
"Oh," replied Andy nonchalantly, "Lichtenstein was doing them
better, so I'm not doing them any more. Now I'm doing these." He
explained that his intention was to paint all of Campbell's thirty-two
varieties. After watching him for an hour, Blum asked if he was
going to show them in New York. When Andy said that he didn't
have a gallery, Blum offered to show the whole set in L.A. that July.
Andy paused. He knew from experience that summer was a bad
time to show art in New York, but when Irving assured him it was
the best time to be shown in Los Angeles, he whispered, "Oh, I
would adore it." They agreed that the paintings would sell for one
hundred dollars each (the same price Warhol had charged for a
painting his junior year at Carnegie Tech, and a tenth of what he
was getting for a commercial drawing). Andy would receive fifty
percent.
According to David Bourdon, Andy's ambition bordered on the
desperate. "It was very naked, but so was the weak side. Andy wasn't
he was later. When dealers
as adept at concealing his vulnerability as
wouldn't take him on or collectors wouldn't buy, his face would fall
and he would whine. Andy's most voluble emotions were always
ones of distress and disappointment, a kind of plaintive 'How could
"
they leave me out? How could they do this?'

As Andy relentlessly hustled the art scene, going to an opening or


party every night, keeping his eyes and ears attuned to every devel-
opment, he began finding some acceptance (although the presence

109
VICTOR BOCKRIS

of Jasper Johns at one of these events reportedly would make him so


nervous that he would have to keep running to the toilet to urinate).
Reaction to the Campbell's soup can paintings began well before
they were shown. Andy was featured in the first mass-media article
— —
on pop art in the May 11, 1962, issue of Time in which he was
quoted: "I just paint things I always thought were beautiful, things
you use every day and never think about. I'm working on soup
and I've been doing some paintings of monev. I just do it because I
like it."

When the Ferus show opened on Julv 9 (there was no formal


opening and Andy did not attend), the public, according to Blum,
was "extremely mystified. Artists were provoked, but they tended to
shrug, not really condemn. There was a lot of amusement. A gallery
dealer up the road bought dozens of Campbells soup cans, put
them in the window, and said, 'Buy them cheaper here sixty cents —
for three cans.' Not a great deal of serious interest."
But John Coplans, who edited a bright new West Coast art maga-
zine, Artforum, saw the show and was impressed. As word spread,
people took strongly opposing positions on the work.
The soup cans had grown in Blum's estimation as well: "After
about three weeks I rang Andy up and said, 'I'm haunted by these
pictures and I want to suggest something. I'm going to attempt to
keep these thirtv-two paintings together as a set.' Andy said, 'Irving,
I'm thrilled, because they were conceived as a series. If you could
keep them together it would make me very happy.' I said I had
reserved a few of the paintings, but that I could approach the vari-
ous collectors to get them back. As soon as I hung up, I called the
first collector I had promised one of the paintings to —
the movie
actor Dennis Hopper. I explained what I wanted to do, and he
gracefully relinquished the picture to me. I did that six times, and
when I had the complete set, I called Andy and asked what price
could he make me on the group. Andy offered me all of them for a
thousand dollars over the course of a year, and we agreed that I
would send him one hundred dollars a month."

The one hundred or so artists, dealers, critics, and collectors who


made up the hard core of the pop movement were as diverse and
eccentric a group as only New York could put together in one room.

110
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Among them were a number ot unusual women, most prominently


Eleanor Ward, who owned the Stable Gallery. She was a legendary
character
— "a composite of all the movie stars of the thirties and
forties, Joan Crawford and Bettc Davis rolled into one," her assis-
tant Alan Groh said. That same summer, when an autumn show at
her gallerv was canceled, Mrs. Ward considered giving Andy his
Hrst one-man pop exhibition in New York.
Although not as businesslike as Castelli's, the Stable Gallery — so
called because itwas located in an old stable on West Fifty-eighth
Street — had been instrumental in the careers of two of Andy's fa-
vorite painters, Cy Twombly and Rauschenberg. The gallery also
represented the surrealist Joseph Cornell, and had just taken
on Robert Indiana and Marisol. But it was not for everybody.
"Eleanor," said Groh, "was completely unpredictable. You wanted to
embrace her and the next moment she could say something unbe-
lievably devastating." Friends who had warned Andy about her
must have been unaware that she was not unlike the women who
had given him his start in the fashion world. When she called to ask
if she could drive in from the country to look at his work, Andy just

said, "Eleanor Ward! Oh, wow!"


She asked Emile de Antonio to take her over to Andy's house that
night. "Andy," said de Antonio, "was incredibly nervous and agi-
tated from the beginning. Eleanor and I drank ourselves into the
wall for about three hours, and I could see Andy was losing his cool
because he looked as if people were sticking pins into him. Finally, I
said, 'Well, come on, look here, Eleanor, are you giving Andy a show
or not? Because he's very good, and he should have one, and that's
why we're here.'
"She pulled out her lucky two-dollar bill and sort of waved it in his
face and said, 'Andy, it just so happens I have November, which as
you know is the best month to show, and if you do a painting of this
two-dollar bill for me, I'll give you a show.' She was a beastly woman
and she was obscene with that two-dollar bill."
According to Eleanor Ward, all Andy said was "Wow."

The summer of 1962 was enormously producdve for Andy. He


finished painting the contents of his mother's kitchen, doing can-
vases of rows of Martinson's coffee cans, Coca-Cola bottles, S&H

ni
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Green Stamps, and a number of large Campbell's soup can portraits,


as well as 50 Campbell's Soup Cans, 100 Campbell's Soup Cans, and some
"Glass —Handle with Care" labels. The idea of repeated reproduc-
tion was very much in the air. John Cage had declared repetition
a fundamental principle of twentieth-century art. In his just-
published autobiography Self-Portrait, another high priest of the
avant-garde, Man Ray, had written that reproduction was the only
way anything could survive in a society that destroyed everything it
laid eyes on. But Andy's use of it was seen as unusually subversive.
After all, many artists painted the same subject over and over from
different angles, but to paint and repaint the same subject as iden-
tically as possible seemed to undermine art's essential value the —

uniqueness of each work seemed designed, in fact, to render it
meaningless. To Andy, who as a yoimgster had counted the sheets
hanging on his neighbors' clotheslines during his walks to school,
that repetition was a way of pointing up distinction —
for wasn't every
sheet, after all, different?
In July he discovered a technique that would change his career
decisively.He was trying to find a quicker way to paint rows of dollar
bills. Nathan Gluck suggested he silk-screen them. Photo silk-
screening, which Andy would make his primary medium for the rest
of his life, is a sophisticated stencil process in which a photographic
image transferred to a porous screen can be quickly duplicated on
canvas by laying the screen on the canvas and applying paint or ink
over it with a rubber squeegee. With a silk screen, an image can be
printed on a canvas in a matter of minutes.
Andy quickly realized that this process was tailor-made for his
talents, which were largely as a conceptualist and designer. Still

foraging in his childhood for images, he went back to his first collec-
tion, the movie-star publicity pictures, and did silk-screen paintings
of Elvis Presley, Troy Donahue, Warren Beatty, and Natalie Wood,
repeating the same picture over and over again in rows across a
large colored field. But he didn't hit full stride with the new tech-
nique until Marilyn Monroe committed suicide that summer on Au-
gust 4, the day his Soup Can show closed in Los Angeles.
As soon he heard the news, Andy decided to paint a portrait
as
series using a black-and-white publicity photograph taken by Gene
Korman for the 1953 film Niagara. On this occasion he first applied
a good deal of paint to the canvas. Outlining the shape of Monroe's
head and shoulders, he painted in a background, then painted her

112
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

eyeshadow, lips, and face before applying the silk-screened image


from the movie still. During the late summer and early fall, Warhol
did twenty-three Marilyn portraits. They ranged from Gold Marilyn,
a small single image silk-screened onto an expansive gold held (an
updating of the icon paintings of his Byzantine Catholic upbring-
ing), to the famous Marilyn diptych, one hundred repetitions of the
same face across twelve feet of canvas. The colors were garish
("overworked Technicolor," one critic would write) bright yellow —
for her hair, chartreuse for her eye shadow, her lips a smear of
red —
and they were frequently out of register with the black-and-
white background image. When Nathan Gluck pointed out the flaw,
Andy mumbled, "Oh, but I like it like that." The misprints and the
occasional clogging of the screen gave each face a slightly different
"mask," making the point that although her face had been repro-
duced endlessly, Marilyn Monroe was more than the plastic con-
sumer product she appeared to have become.
"I just see Monroe as another person," Andy would say later, "I
wouldn't have stopped her from killing herself. I think everyone
should do whatever they want to do and if that made her happier,
then that is what she should have done. As for whether it's symbolic
to paint Monroe in such violent colors: It's beauty, and she's beauti-
ful, and if something's beautiful, it's pretty colors, that's all. Or
something."
The elusive movie star's mask was reproduced to the point where
itwas impossible to say where the mask ended and the real woman

began in that sense very much like the man who had created them.
The Marilyn paintings were to remain a landmark in Warhol's work.
As the critic Peter Schjeldahl wrote: "Visually and physically the
Marilyn diptych had majesty reminiscent of Pollock and Newman.
The effect was like Moby Dick retold, to resounding success, in street
slang, with a sexy actress standing in for the fearsome white whale.
With his subject matter and technique in place, Warhol suddenly let
loose a pent-up profound understanding of New York school paint-
ing aesthetics."
And the writer Ron Sukenick:

Warhol's serial photo silk screens of Marilyn Monroe are about as


sentimental as Fords coming off the assembly line, each one a differ-
ent color, but each one the same as every other. . . . What happens to
the idea of originality with the advent of mass production, or to the

113
VICTOR BOCKRIS

idea of the unique artifact? As with the computer, there is only the

abstract program and the can reproduce infinitely.


"hard" print-outs it

It is perhaps because of such factors that Paul Bianchini insists that

Pop Art represented America's first real break with European tradi-
tion, and, one might speculate, a final and irreversible one, as op-
posed to Abstract Expressionism, which can be seen as an extension
of European ideas.

As soon ashe had finished the Marilyns, Andy silk-screened all


the paintings of coffee cans. Coke bottles, dollar bills, and soup cans
he had done earlier that summer. Released at last to do exactly what
he wanted, he made one hundred pictures in the next three
months. His living room looked and sinelled as if it had been hit by
a paint bomb.
And at last he had a real home away from home the Stable —
Gallery. "Look what the cat dragged in," Andy would chortle, turn-
ing up that fall with rolls of canvases under his arm, dressed in
paint-splattered jeans, his hair askew, sneakers unlaced, chewing
candy. Eleanor Ward openly adored him and was convinced that he
was a great artist. She was also beginning to sell what he was bring-
ing in, buying several of them for herself at a fifty percent discount.
She called him "my Andy Candy."
Moreover, the serious art world was rallying around. By now Art
News had acknowledged his soup cans for their "quality of lofty
elegance," claiming there was, as the critic Gene Swenson wrote, "as
much humanitv and mystery in them as there is in a good abstract
painting."
Old friends saw a distinct change in the Andy they had known.
That September he attended a Labor Day weekend partv at the
Brooklyn Heights home of George Klauber. Bert Greene recalled:
"We were all waiting for him to arrive, because he was the one
among us who had achieved a certain level of fame. He came with an

entourage of very good-looking boys I don't want to say 'call
boys,' but expensive boys and certainly like acquisitions. He had
more authority, an air of hauteur. He didn't seem so little-boy fey. A
close friend of ours, Aaron Fine, was dying of cancer. He had
wanted to come but couldn't, so he'd sent a question in his place. I
said, 'Andv, Aaron wants to know why you picked the Campbell's
soup can to paint."

114

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

" 'Tell him,' he said, 'I wanted to paint nothing. was looking for
I

"
something that was the essence of nothing, and that was it.'

On October 28 the Cuban missile crisis ended when it was an-


nounced that the Soviet premier, Nikita Khrushchev, had backed
down to all of President Kennedy's demands for the dismantling
of Soviet nuclear missiles in Cuba. New York and America—
breathed a euphoric sigh of relief, and three days later, on Hallow-
een, pop art exploded in the media at a group show at the Sidney
Janis Gallery. "Pop," the artist Robert Indiana would proclaim, "was
re-enlistment in the world. It was shuck the Bomb! It was the Ameri-

can dream optimistic, generous, and naive." The curator Walter
Hopps said of the opening party: "Jean Tinguely showed an icebox
that had been stolen from an alley outside Marcel Duchamp's secret
studio. When you opened it, a very noisy siren went off and red
lights flashed. It set the noise and tone that was to continue all the
way through the sixties."
Andy Warhol had three paintings in the show, including 200
Campbell's Soup Cam. People pointed at him and whispered his
name. He was quoted as saying: "I feel very much a part of my
times, of my culture, as much a part of it as rocket ships and televi-
sion." But to at least one onlooker that night, the writer David Dal-
ton, he seemed more "like a white witch, looking at America from an
alien and obtuse angle."
The Janis show marked a changing of the guard. The older ab-
stract painters affiliated with the gallery —
Philip Guston, Robert

Motherwell, Adolph Gottlieb, and Mark Rothko held a meeting
and resigned in protest. De Kooning, who was also a member of the
Janis Gallery, did come to the opening. He paced back and forth in
front of the paintings for two hours and left without saying a word.
James Rosenquist, one of the artists in the show, said: "After the
opening. Burton and Emily Tremaine [well-known collectors] in-
vited me to their house on Park Avenue. I was surprised to find
Andy Warhol, Bob Indiana, Roy Lichtenstein, and Tom Wessel-
mann there. Maids with little white hats were serving drinks, and my
painting Hey! Let's Go for a Ride! and Warhol's Marilvn diptych were
hanging on the wall next to fantastic Picassos and de Koonings.
Right in the middle of our party de Kooning came through the door

115
VICTOR BOCKRIS

with Larry Rivers. Burton Tremaine stopped them in their tracks


and said, 'Oh, so nice to see you. But please, at any other time.' I was
very surprised and so was de Kooning. He and the others with him
soon left. It was a shock to see de Kooning turned away. At that
moment I thought, something in the art world has definitely
changed."
Warhol's Stable show, which opened one week later, included his
best paintings: the Marilyn diptych, 100 Soup Cans, 100 Coke Bottles,
100 Dollar Bills, and many others that have since become classics.
Eleanor Ward was so nervous she would not come upstairs from her
office for the longest time, but Geldzahler, Karp, and de Antonio
were there to support Warhol, along with a host of other artists and
critics riding the wave of exhilaration —
Marisol, Indiana, David

Bourdon, Ray Johnson, and Gene Swenson as well as friends from
the 1950s like Charles Lisanby, Suzi Frankfurt, Nathan Gluck, and
many others. Mrs. Warhola finally made an entrance and passed out
soup can buttons. Sarah Dalton, David Dalton's twin sister, modeled
a dress reproducing Warhol's painting Glass —
Handle with Care. The
sharp-eyed Leo Castelli was there too, realizing that he had grossly
underestimated Andy Warhol.
Nervous but loving every minute of it and accompanied by a
group of good-looking young men, Andy arrived late and hurried
into Mrs. Ward's office to learn that a prominent collector, the ar-
chitect Philip Johnson, had already bought the Gold Marilyn for
eight hundred dollars. Eleanor Ward remembered: "Andy was
thrilled and he was happy and he was gay. His work was accepted
instantly with wild enthusiasm." For the rest of the evening, how-
ever, Warhol seemed withdrawn, standing in a corner with a blank
expression. "His eyes were soft, expressive," recalled a friend. "They
were the eyes of a fragile night creature who discovered himself
living in the blaze of an alien but fascinating world." Philip Johnson
later said that Andy's demeanor was the only thing he really liked
about the whole crazy show.
"At a party I gave after the show," recalled Henry Geldzahler,
"the art critic Barbara Rose referred to Andy as an 'idiot savant.' I
"
later reported this to Andy, who said, 'What's an idiot souvent'f
Contrary to his unlettered image, Andy was an avid reader with a
quick, punster's love of language.
The show was a controversial smash. Many of those who saw it
joked about how terrible it was, but it almost sold out. Typical was

116
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

the reaction of William Seit/, who bought a Marilyn for the Museum
ot Modern Art for |25(). When Seitz's colleague Peter Selz called
him and said, "Isn't it the most ghastly thing you've ever seen in your
life?" Seitz replied, "Yes, isn't it? I bought one."
With dumb-blond image and, as it seemed to many, his dumb
his
paintings, Andy became the number-one target for anybody who
wanted to attack pop art, particularly among the first- and second-
generation abstract expressionists and their followers. Reviewers in
that camp called Warhol's work, among other things, a "vacuous
fraud." According to David Bourdon: "That generation of artists
had struggled for so long for the little amount of attention they got,
only to be eclipsed by pop art, that they had this tremendous
amount of animosity, especially toward Andy."
Among who thought Andy a fraud who had betrayed his
those
real talent were a number of old friends. Charles Lisanby upset
Andy He pleaded
greatly by rejecting the gift of a Marilyn portrait.
that his apartment was too small, but confessed privately that he
"really hated it." According to Lisanby, Andy got quite worked up,
his voice cracking as he said, "But it's going to be worth a lot of
money one day!" "I kept saying, 'I think it's wonderful what you're
doing. Just tell me in your heart of hearts you know it isn't art.' He
would never admit it, but I knew he knew it wasn't."
Andy gave Ed Wallowitch a Campbell's soup can painting and was
furious when Ed sold it for a few hundred dollars. "You should have
held on to it," he fumed. "You would have made a lot of money."
Vito Giallo thought Andy was barking up the wrong tree. "I didn't
like that pop art school at all and I said to Nathan, 'I can't believe
"
he's doing this, I just can't see it.'
The new work also got rough treatment from his family. James
Warhola, Andy's nephew, remembered his uncle smarting under
the sarcastic dismissal of Marge and Ann Warhola: "They said, 'This
isn't art, Andy. When are you going to get rid of this stuff?' Paul "

recalled: "Mother used to say when I was going home, 'Take a


couple of paintings.' And I'd say, 'Ah, Mom, I don't want to take the
paintings." 'Oh, go ahead,' she'd say. In fact she even gave paintings
away. She gave one to her sister. Her sister gave it to her grand-
daughter, and when the granddaughter sent it to New York for
Andy to autograph it, Andy says, 'Hey! How did this ? I was . . .

looking for this. You gave away one of my best paintings. Ma!"
Mother also wanted to throw out the sculpture in the vestibule. She

117
VICTOR BOCKRIS

says, 'When Andy's gone, take this out and put it in the rubbish.'
Andy overheard. He cried, 'Ma! Ma! That's from a famous sculptor.
"
Maaaa!'

In the autumn of 1962, Andy's arrival at public events began to have


an effect: at his entrance the party would, as David Boiudon put it,
"snap to." Patti Oldenburg summed up his social appeal: "The min-
ute Andy walked into the room you felt really good. He was always
smiling and he always looked shiny, brushed, and scrubbed. He was
so open you could imagine anything happening."
Andy would never go anywhere alone, and he made a point of
gathering around him the most attractive, sexiest women on the
scene. Prominent among them were Marisol and Ruth Kligman.
Marisol was a Venezuelan sculptor who was Andy's Stablemate at
Eleanor Ward's gallery, and, like Andy, a new star. She belonged to

no "school" but her own and she was both beautiful and spooky, as
silent and distant as Andy. With each other they were, recalled a
friend, like "two pussycats rubbing their heads together." (Marisol
said she found Andy sexually attractive because he was so strong.
On at least one occasion she expressed the desire to go to bed with
him, but nothing came of it.)
Ruth Kligman had a beauty that resembled Elizabeth Taylor's,
and she had been a close companion of some of the greatest abstract
painters — Kline, de Kooning, and Pollock, who was with her the
night he killed himself by ramming his car into a tree on Long
Island.
"Andy," she recalled, "was fascinated with de Kooning and Pol-
lock, and through me, he wanted to be part of that lineage. And I
wanted to be part of him, because I knew that he was this incredible
talent and genius. He asked equally about their work and per-
sonalities. He felt that I was much too nice to everybody. He used to
say, 'Oh, be aloof, be aloof, be aloof.' He was always telling me that I
should behave more like Marisol."
Ruth started seeing Andy regularly after his Stable show. "We had
a terrific crush on each other, and I think it was sexual. We didn't act
it out, but we would hug sometimes. I remember getting a little
carried away once and he said, 'Oh, Ruth,' and squirmed out of it.
We'd have frivolous conversations about, 'We should get married
and, Ooooh, how wonderful it would be,' but then he would talk

118
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

about not wanting to invest his emotions that much. He was always
curious about what other people did sexually, and he would say,
'Oh, you're better off puttingall your energy into your work. Sex

takes up too much But he was never judgmental of other


time.'
people's problems. If someone was committing suicide over love, he
completely understood it. He gave you the feeling he'd experienced
it. To me, his complexity was in his humanism juxtaposed to his

desire to be detached and machinelike. He could be very loving,


very kind, very generous, and yet cut you off if it wasn't going to
be good for his career."
His effect on other friendships could be just as devastating. As a
result of their rivalry over Andy, Marisol and Ruth Kligman, who'd
been friends for years, stopped speaking. (Ruth found herself
abruptly cut off two years later when she told Andy she was getting
married. He told her he found it impossible to maintain relation-
ships with married people. He had to come first or not at all.)
Now, the Peter Pan of the commercial art world was, in the serious
art world, a threat. His strange, alien appearance —
that pale slab of
a Slavonic face, inscrutable beneath a blond wig —along with the
steady hint of homosexuality was confounding. Stealing the beauti-
ful young darlings of the art establishment was a brilliant move. It
partially masked his homosexuality, leaving him less open to homo-
phobia. It associated him with the great painters they had been close
to. And it caught the attention of the media, for Andy knew that

photographers were more likely to snap away if he were standing


next to a beautiful woman.
"He would try to appear artless and naive," said Charles Lisanby.
"But he knew exactly what he was doing. He really knew the effect
he was having. Always, always."
Still, Andy probably did not calculate the degree of enmity he had

stirred up in the abstract expressionist camp, inspired as much by


his manner as by the work itself and the methods he used to produce
it. For dating Andy, Ruth Kligman was made to feel that she was

somehow betraying the old group. "De Kooning," she said, "never
liked me to mention Andy. Andy polarized the departure from
abstract expressionism to pop art because he looked like pop art, and
also he was very anti-painting. De Kooning represented a classical
approach. Andy was more modern, more 'anti-art.' "
One Sunday in Greenwich Village, Andy and Ruth ran into Mark
Rothko. When Ruth said, "Mark, this is Andy Warhol," Rothko

119
" "

VICTOR BOCKRIS

turned and walked away without a word. On another occasion,


Marisol took Andy and Robert Indiana to a party. When they
walked in, the room fell silent. Then Rothko could be heard de-
manding of his hostess, "How could you let them in?"
Andy handled the uproar brilliantly. His strategy was, "Don't think
about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide whether
it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they're decid-

ing, make even more art." Indeed, rather than defend himself, he
encouraged the attacks. It was true, he declared, that anybody could
do what he did. In fact, he liked that idea. It was true, he said, that
his subject was "nothing." And it was true that his paintings would
not last. By accepting all the criticism with open arms, he demol-
ished it.

Andy immediately revealed himself to be a master of the inter-


view. One of his famous responses was a direct steal from an old play
of Tallulah Bankhead's. The reporter asked, "Do you think pop art
is

"No," he replied.
"What?"
"No."
"Do you think pop art is

"No," he replied. "No, I don't."

Vulgarity — or the charge of vulgarity — has often been the spur to


major development of Western art. As it was in the
shifts in the
sixteenth century with Caravaggio and his use of Roman street peo-
ple in religious allegories, with Manet and his Dejeuner sur Vherbe,
which sent French academicians reeling in the nineteenth century,
so it was with the pop artists of 1962. As the social critic Tom Wolfe
was to observe: "Pop art absolutely rejuvenated the New York art
scene. It did for the galleries, the collectors, the gallery goers, the
art-minded press, and the artists' incomes about what the Beatles
did for the music business at about the same time. Avant-gardism,
money, status, Le Chic, and even the 1960s idea of sexiness it all —
buzzed around pop art."
Like the other forces that made what was shortly to become "the
sixties" — rock music, the Vietnam war, the civil rights struggles, the
political assassinations, the moon walk — pop art was a great leveler.

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"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

scrambler, and disregarder of old boundaries. And at the head of


this uprising, for that is what it essentially was, stood the unlikeliest
of standard-bearers, an artist who seemed determined to remain as
blank a slate as possible. Which meant that commentators could find
in the phenomenon of Andy Warhol just about anything they
wanted to find.
For many, it was a matter of sexual politics. In the critic Kenneth
Silver's view, "Warhol made blue-collar gay American art. His sub-
jects were drawn from both the mass culture in which he grew up
and the 'campy' culture which he grew into. Indeed, that second,
gay culture is really a gloss on Warhol's first aesthetic experiences,
the mass ones in the picture press and on the silver screen, just as his
own art was in turn a focused and selective form of both popular
and gay culture."
Ron Sukenick observed that Warhol's art was essentially an attack
on elitism:

Warhol deflated the mystifications connected with high culture, but


at the same time he devastated the adversary position of avant-garde
art in relation to the middle class. Warhol assured [the middle
. . .

class] that, don't worry, there's nothing about art you don't under-
stand. There is an element of vindictive contempt in Warhol's activi-
ties, in view of which it is fascinating to consider [Peter] Schjeldahl's
observation that Warhol is one of the few American artists who have
ever come out of the lower working class. "Warhol went from the

bottom of the heap to the top without ever passing the middle, so it's
like he was completely free of the middle-class perspective. [His art
had] no anguish, no doubt, no apology, no existentialism, no expres-
sionism, nothing except what it was."

Whatever its ultimate significance, there was no denying its im-


mediate impact. Using Marcel Duchamp's 1912 shocker as a touch-
stone, Henry Geldzahler best summed up Andy's astonishing
ascendancy in 1962: "The Campbell's Soup Can was the Nude Descend-
ing a Staiicase of pop art. Here was an image that became the over-
night rallying point for the sympathetic and bane of the hostile.
Warhol captured the imagination of the media and the public as had
no other artist of his generation. Andy was pop and pop was Andy.

121
8

WARHOL NOW ENTERED most intense period


his
By June 1963, he could no longer work home. Canvases
at
as a painter.

were spread over the living room; paint and ink from the
silkscreen had splattered on the floor and furniture. Junk lay
everywhere. Andy rented a studio in an abandoned hook-and-
ladder firehouse a few blocks away on East Eighty-seventh Street.
The annual rent for the second floor of the city-owned building was
only one hundred dollars, but he had to hopscotch over the holes in
the floor; the roof leaked, sometimes destroying paintings, and
there was no heat.
Andy's engagement with his work was demonic. In order to keep
up the pace, he decided to hire an assistant to help him with his silk
screens the way Nathan Gluck was continuing to help on his com-
mercial art projects. Gerard Malanga got the job.
Malanga looked like Elvis Presley as a fashion model. He came
from a poor family in the Bronx, where, like Andy, he lived alone
with his mother. He had been rescued from poverty by some admir-
ing poets and groomed in the homosexual literary community that
floated around W. H. Auden and Charles Henri Ford. Malanga was
only twenty and primed for action when Andy hired him.

122
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Malanga's account of his work (some would say collaboration) with


Andy is as good a description of what made Warhol's art as anyone


can give: "Andy loved all sorts of machines and gadgets tape re-
corders, cassettes, Polaroid, Thermofax. But the focus for all this
experimentation was silk-screening for making a painting. Andy's
reasoning was that the silk screen would make it as easy as possible to
create a painting. When the screens were very large, we worked
together; otherwise, was pretty much left to my own devices. I had
I

a first-hand knowledge of silk-screen technique, having worked for


a summer as intern to a textile chemist in the manufacture of men's
neckwear, so I knew what I was doing from the start. Andy and I
would put the screen down on the canvas, trying to line up the
registration with the marks we made where the screen would go.
Then oil-based paint was poured into a corner of the frame of the
screen, and I would push the paint with a squeegee across the
screen. Andy would grab the squeegee still in motion and continue
the process of putting pressure on pushing the paint through the
screen from his end. We'd lift the screen, and I would swing it away
from the painting and start cleaning it with paper towels soaked in a
substance called Varnolene. If this was not done immediately, the
remaining paint would dry and clog the pores."
Nathan Gluck took an instant dislike to Malanga, and it is easy to
see why. With his droopy eyes, his mouth constantly open in a pout,
and his insouciant poetic air, Gerard represented the new model of
the boy peacock, proud of his beauty, and actively bisexual. More-
over, he was immediately accepted as an equal by Andy and rapidly
propelled into his personal life, whereas Nathan had never once
been invited by Warhol to a social affair.
Almost immediately Andy asked Gerard back to the house to

meet his mother and have lunch a rare invitation. Malanga still
had no idea that his new boss was anything more than a commercial
artist, and as he walked into the living room, he was afraid that

Andy might make a pass at him. This was something he wouldn't



know how to deal with, for Andy looked so fiendish "real weird,
threatening, and overpowering," he recalled.
Warhol left him alone in the room, which reminded Malanga of
nothing so much as the seedy archives of a pornographer, while he
went to check in with his answering service. Malanga looked around,
saw some paintings of Campbell's soup cans, and it dawned on him

123
VICTOR BOCKRIS

that Warhol was one of those pop artists he had read about in a
magazine. He felt "in awe of the situation," but when Andy returned
to the room with Julia carrying a tray of hamburgers and 7-Ups, he
began to relax. With his mother in the room, he noticed, Andy
became a little boy, which put him on just about the right level for
Malanga, who had the innocent and spontaneous intelligence of a
somewhat louche eight-year-old. Indeed, Gerard wrote later, they
often felt like children together. In one of Andy's favorite fantasies
that would have meant feeling like two little girls playing in the
street after school.
And yet, during those first few weeks, Malanga had a sense of fear
around Andy. "That was the paradox," he said. "The word alien is
the perfect description of him, because this very sweet presence was
coming out of this demonic-looking person." Gerard soon discov-
ered that the two of them had much in common. They were both
collectors of movie memorabilia, and they were soon going out to
the movies several nights a week, calling each other "Andy Pie" and
"Gerry Pie." Gerard was struck by Andy's ability to make people feel
like his best friend, even after knowing them for only five minutes:
"If you were to meet him for the first time and Andy Hked you, he
became your instant fan, and this, in turn, would give you a feeling
of self-esteem."
In the spring and summer of 1963, Warhol painted a number of
outstanding portraits. A series of six-foot-tall silver images of Elvis
Presley holding a gun, based on a film still, were among the best.
Andy had first brought Elvis into his work in 1956 in the Crazy
Golden Slippers show at the Bodley Gallery, in which the pop idol was
represented by an elaborately festooned boot. Elvis was the only
subject Andy took with him from the fifties into the sixties. A multi-
ple Red Elvis had appeared in the Stable Gallery show; one of his
many experiments with the soup cans was called Campbell's Elvis
(the singer's face was superimposed over the can's label). Just how
conscious Andy was of his long affinity with Elvis is problematic, but
in his study The Iconography of Ehis, John Carlin noted striking paral-
lels between the two men:

Both came from humble backgrounds and meteorically captured


way that seemed to break entirely with the
their respective fields in a
past. Each betrayed his initial talent as soon as it became known, and
opted for a blank and apparently superficial parody of earlier styles

124
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

which surprisingly expanded, rather than alienated, their audience.


Both went into film as a means of exploring the mythic dimensions of
their celebrity.
On the surface both men shared a scandalous lack of taste. Particu-
larly as both took repetition and superficiality to mask an obscure but
vital aspect of their work: the desire for transcendence or annihilation
without compromise, setting up a profound ambivalence on the part
of both artist and audience as to whether the product was trash or
tragedy.

Another notable portrait series from this period was devoted to


Robert Rauschenberg (with whom Andy had become friendly) using
a sequence of Rauschenberg family snapshots. Another was devoted
to the Mona Lisa, the multiple reproductions of which Ivan Karp
described as quintessential pop: "cold, mechanical, tough, alien, and
bland." That fall the collector Robert Scull gave Andy the opportu-
nity to do something different on a large scale when he commis-
sioned a portrait of his wife.
Ethel Scull was nervous about Andy doing her portrait because
"with Andy you never knew what to expect." When he came to pick
her up to be photographed for the silk screen, she expected to go to
Richard Avedon's studio and was dressed accordingly in a designer
outfit. Instead, Warhol took her to a Photo-Matic machine on Forty-
second Street. She protested that she would look terrible, but Andy
told her not to worry and took out one hundred dollars' worth of
coins. "He said," she recalled, " 'I'll push you inside and you watch
the little red light.' I froze. He came into the booth and poked me
and made me do all kind of things and I finally relaxed. We were
running from one booth to another. Pictures were drying all over
the place. At the end he said, 'Now, do you want to see them?' They
were sensational.
Andy, she recalled, delivered the portrait in pieces, and her hus-
band invited him to complete the work in their apartment. Andy
demurred: " 'Oh, no,' he said, 'The man who's up here to put it
together [Warhol's assistant] —
let him do it any way he wants.'

"Bob said, 'But Andy, this is your portrait.'


"Andy said, 'It doesn't matter.'
"So he sat in the library, and we did Then, of course, he did
it.

come in and gave it a critical eye. 'Well, Ido think this should be
here and that should be there.' When it was all finished, he said, 'It

125
VICTOR BOCKRIS

really doesn't matter. It's just so marvelous. But you could change it
"
any way you want.'
"Andy's attitude toward women was very complicated," said
Henry Geldzahler. "He admired them. He wanted to be one. He
wanted to be involved in their creation. Ethel Scull Thirty-Six Times
was the most successful portrait of the 1960s. It was a new kind of
look at a single human being from thirty-six different points of view,
obviously influenced by the cinema and television. He was creating
an image of a superstar out of a woman who could have been any
one of a series of women."
Andy knew that he needed to come up with a new idea that would
shock as much as the soup cans and dollar bills. For a while he
played with pornography. As Robert Indiana, who spent a lot of
time with Warhol in 1963, recalled: "Everybody who was involved
with the art world in New York was convinced that the next concern
of young artists after pop was going to be pornography. I remember
going around New York visiting studios with Warhol just to see all
the really rather raw pornography that was being done. I had the
feeling that he was going to go in that direction." Andy did two large
paintings called Bosoms I and Bosoms II, using paint that could be
seen only under ultraviolet light, and was enthusiastic enough to tell
Gene Swenson, who wrote for Art News, "My next series will be
pornographic pictures. They will look blank; when you turn on the
black lights, then you see them —
big breasts. If a cop comes in, you
could just flick out the or turn to regular lights
lights, —
how could
you say that was pornography? The thing I like about it is that it
makes you forget about style; style isn't really important." But he
quickly dropped the idea when he discovered that the breast paint-
ings would be impossible to sell.

It was Henry Geldzahler who steered him in a more productive


direction. As early as June 1962, Geldzahler had suggested that
Andy start looking at the dark side of American culture. "There's
enough affirmation of life," he had said.
"What do you mean?" Andy had asked.
"It's enough affirmation of soup and Coke bottles. Maybe every-

thing isn't always so fabulous in America. It's time for some death.
This is what's really happening. He gave Andy a copy of the New
"

126
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

York Daily News with the headline "129 die in jet" emblazoned on its

front page. From Andy executed a large, stark black-and-white


it

painting that was much admired in the Stable show.


The death portraits of Marilyn had brushed up against the theme
once again. Then, in the spring of 1963, Andy silk-screened a pho-
tograph from Life of a police dog tearing the trousers off a black
man in Alabama onto a seventeen-foot-high yellow canvas and
called it Mustard Race Riot. Following a suggestion by the painter
Wynn Chamberlain, he started doing a series of paintings based on

news photos of violence car crashes, suicides, funerals, the electric
chair, and the hydrogen bomb.
"I realized that everything I was doing must have been Death," he
told Gene Swenson. "It was Labor Day and every time you turned on
the radio they said something like, Tour million are going to die.'
That started it. But when you see a gruesome picture over and over
again, it doesn't really have any effect. The death series I did was
divided into two parts: the first on famous deaths and the second on
people nobody ever heard of and I thought that people should think
about some time: the girl who jumped off the Empire State Building
or the ladies who ate the poisoned tuna fish and people getting
killed in car crashes. It's not that I feel sorry for them, it's just that
people go by and it doesn't really matter to them that someone
unknown was I thought it would be nice for these un-
killed, so
known people remembered. There was no profound reason
to be
for doing a death series, no 'victims of their time'; there was no
reason for doing it at all, just a surface reason."
Working with Malanga, Andy painted the series rapidly, silk-
screening images onto canvas painted with a single coat of garishly
colored paint —lavender, pink, mint green. He reproduced photo-
graphs of dead bodies torn limb from limb, wrapped around
wrecked, burning cars, sixteen or twenty times on a single canvas. As a
result of the silk screen clogging or slipping out of line, some pic-
tureswere clear, some were blurred, some were lined up straight,
some were crooked. The effect was raw and hard. The paintings
were given titles like Vertical Orange Car Crash, Green Disaster Twice,
Purple Jumping Man, Lavender Disaster.
"Each painting took about four minutes," said Malanga, "and we
worked as mechanically as we could, trying to get each image right,
but we never got it right. By becoming machines we made the most

127
VICTOR BOCKRIS

imperfect works. Andy embraced his mistakes. We never rejected


anything. Andy would say, 'It's part of the art.' He possessed an
almost Zenlike sensibility, but to the critics Andy became an existen-
tialist because the accidents were interpreted as being intentional

statements."
These were Warhol's most political statements to date, although in
a conversation with Oldenburg and Lichtenstein on radio station
WBAI in New York
he rejected such imputations, claiming the di-
were an expression of indifference. "Ask somebody
saster pictures
else something else," he told the moderator. "I'm too high right
now." On another occasion, he said: "The United States has a habit
of making heroes out of anything and anybody, which is so great.
You could do anything here. Or do nothing. But I always think you
should do something. Fight for it, fight, fight. I feel I represent the
United States in my art, but I'm not a social critic: I just paint those
objects in my paintings because those are the things I know best. I'm
not trying to criticize the United States anyway, not trying to show
up ugliness at all: I'm just a pure artist."
But the critics had discovered a new "profundity." In Pop Art,
John Rublowsky wrote about the "death-and-disaster" paintings: "In
his search for artistic truth, Warhol has stripped away the layers of
pretenses and repression that obscure dark memories and knowl-
edge all of us share. ... It takes a special kind of person to venture
into an entirely new dimension."
Gerard Malanga was often amused by such effusions: "I was with
Andy twenty-four hours a day at that time, and I know he would
never choose an image for the reasons critics dug up. He was really
on a roll because every one of those images was a hot image. Andy
used shocking colors in his paintings; even the silver was hot when
he juxtaposed red lips on it. I think Andy put his sexual energy into
his work, but he never talked about it. The emphasis was on pretty.
That was the word he used. It was never 'beautiful,' it was always
"
'pretty.'
"I don't think he was trying to make social statements in these
paintings," said Henry Geldzahler. "I think that he's turned on by
certain images, and those images that turn him on are loaded,
supercharged images. I think the death image, the image of corrup-
tion, the image of decay, is really closer to his heart."

128
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Geldzahler wrote: "What held his work together in all media was
the absolute control Andy Warhol had over his own sensibility, a
sensibility as sweet and tough, as childish and commercial, as inno-
cent and chic as anything in our culture."
The "death-and-disaster" paintings have since become recognized
as among Warhol's best work, but at the time, many of his support-
ers found them unacceptable. Just as Lisanby had rejected a Mari-
lyn, David Dalton refused a gift of a disaster painting, commenting
that he didn't want to have to look at dead people on the living-room
wall every day. Eleanor Ward flatly refused to show them, and cracks
began to appear in Andy's relationship with her. During 1963 he
did not have a one-man show in New York. The paintings were soon
to make him famous in Europe, however. In Germany, where pop
art was already being collected, they were admired, the art critic
Heiner Bastian recalled, "as the greatest things we had ever seen."
In January 1964 they were shown at Ileana Sonnabend's gallery in
Paris. The focal point of the exhibition was Blue Electric Chair, a large
painting on two panels, one of which consisted of the same image of
a death chamber, with a sign reading "silence" in one corner, re-
peated twelve times. The other panel was simply an empty blue
monochrome, which had been added not only as an ultimate "com-
ment" on death but to double the value of the painting.
The French greeted the work rapturously. "Their subjective qual-
ity is neither sadness nor melancholy, nor regret nor even bit-

terness," the critic Alain Jouffroy wrote. "The traditional feelings


attaching to death are banished. In front of these pictures we are
cleansed. The paintings become the holy scenes of a godless world."

129
VIRTUALLY EVERYONE WHO claimed to know Andy Warhol
during his years of ascendancy thought of him as someone

whose only sexual release was his work which explained,
perhaps, the almost fetishistic power of his "scenes of a godless
world." In fact, as early as 1961, he had recommenced having sexual
relationships. His first affair after his period of celibacy was with a
man in the art world who wishes to remain anonymous. A promiscu-
ous man with a reputation as a seducer, he claims to have gone to
bed with Warhol many times between 1961 and 1963. In those days
a gay man was forced into being either "butch" or "femme"; when
he was picked up he would be asked which he was. Andy was
definitely "femme." Years later, "Mr. X" said that Andy was ex-
tremely good in bed, so "light-fingered" that Andy had brought him
to greater heights of pleasure than he had ever known before.
Theirs was a purely sexual relationship with no emotional ties.
(On one occasion, "Mr. X" says, when he and the art writer Gene
Swenson stopped to pick up Andy at his house before going out, he
went upstairs and engineered Andy into bed while Swenson waited
unwittingly downstairs.) When the affair began, Andy was not yet a
celebrity, but as soon as he became famous he turned cautious and

130
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

took great pains to cover his tracks, at least as far as his active sex life
was concerned. Nonetheless, in public he seemed to become more
overtly "gay" than ever. John (iiorno, who was a stockbroker on
Wall Street by day and a figute in the gay scene by night, recalled:
"Andy made a point of his gayness by the way he walked, talked, and
gestured as a kind of statement, but the reason it worked is, it was
very qualified. He kept it out of his work; he didn't try to put the
make on anybody he was involved with professionally."
Giorno was the first in a long line of younger men with whom
Andy became infatuated during the sixties. In April 1962 he and
Andy started dating. A
evening would begin with an art
typical
opening or dinner, followed by a film screening, and ending with
the two of them back at Giorno's apartment. Andy had started
taking diet pills — —
amphetamines and on many occasions he and
Giorno would sit up talking through the night, Giorno drinking,
while Andy broke open one capsule after another, licking the tiny
pills Andy the relationship grew increasingly
off his fingers. For
painful: Giorno, who was good-looking as well as promiscuous, re-
fused to go beyond kissing. The idea of going to bed with someone
who looked like Andy, recalled Giorno, was "gross and disgusting,"
and the most intimate he allowed their two-year relationship to be-
come was letting Andy perform fellatio on him several times. On
one of those occasions Giorno noticed five or six different colored
hairs emerging from under Andy's wig at the nape of his neck. "It
looked like a Frank Stella painting," recalled Giorno, "and I said,
?' He explained that he went to a chichi
'Andy, what in the world . . .

uptown hairdresser once a month to have it dyed."


The turning point came a year later, when Andy took John
to the firehouse to look at the Elvis paintings. Standing at the top
of the stairs, they started to kiss. John was drunk, and as they
headed down the steep flight, still kissing, he slipped and fell, pull-
ing Andy
with him. They timibled to the bottom, body over body,
landing in a stunned, silent heap, both miraculously unhurt.
"We
—coulda been killed!" Andy cried out, meaning —^John re-
called "You tried to kill me!"
After that Andy started to look at Giorno in a different way: A
month he would release
later his pain by transmuting his reluctant
lover into an object of art.
By then Andy had already cast Gerard Malanga as John's rival.

131
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Andy soon began using him to make John feel as bad as possible,
playing Gerard off against John just as he had played Marisol off
against Ruth. And for the first time with a man, it worked. Giorno

would have gone to bed with Andy, but it was too late. Now that
Andy had subjugated him, he spurned him. It was a pattern that
Andy would perfect.
Andy had started taking the diet pills to keep him going through
his twelve-hour workdays, followed by rounds of social events that
often kept him out till three or four in the morning. Soon, it would
be not at all unusual for him on being offered a cocktail or a plate of
food to say, "No thanks!" and pop a pill in his mouth instead, chas-
ing it with a glass of soda. In time, he would make not sleeping or
eating as much a part of his legend as his silver wigs and beatnik
clothing.
Andy knew what he was doing with drugs. He was also very care-
only what was legal, for as he started to gain notoriety, he
ful to take
knew that he would be a prime target for the police. At the begin-
ning of 1963 he got a prescription for Obetrol, a diet pill that pro-
duced a sense of infinitely expanding time without inducing the
teeth-grinding verbosity or the awful crash of Dexedrine and many
of the other amphetamine pills so easily obtainable in the sixties.
Declaring that he had to become pencil thin, Andy started working
out at the gym again, going several afternoons a week.
His path was not always as smooth as his "Wow! Gee whiz!" pop
persona suggested. Henry Geldzahler once got a frantic call at 1:30
A.M., only an hour after he and Andy had parted. Andy wanted to
meet him at The Brasserie in the Seagram Building in half an hour.
When Geldzahler protested that he was already in bed, Andy said it
was very important: "We have to talk, we have to talk." Imagining
that something of creative import was at stake and wanting to be in
on its every moment, Geldzahler rushed to the restaurant to find a
pale, trembling Andy perched on a banquette.
"Well," Henry said, hurtling into the booth breathlessly, "what is
it? What is so important that it can't wait until tomorrow?"

Staring at him with wide-awake blank eyes, Andy replied, "We


have to talk, Henry. Say something!"
It was, as Geldzahler heard it, a cry for help from a man who had

got stuck in a metaphysical twilight zone where he was too alone with
his work.

132
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

This was also a period when Aiuly would go to the movies fanati-
he wasn't spending an afternoon sitting with Emile de An-
cally. If
tonio through one of De's monumental hangovers in a Forty-second
Street cinema, watching one of the worst monster and gangster
movies ever made, he was squiring Malanga to the glittering pre-
miere of Dr. No or to Orson Welles's version of Kafka's The Trial. In
between he would sit with John Giorno, the poet Charles Henri
Ford, and sometimes Malanga, in the Film-Makers' Co-op run by
Jonas Mekas and watch hour after gruelling hour of underground
art films. "There are so many beautiful things," Andy would whis-
per to John between reels. "Why doesn't somebody make a beautiful
movie?"
In July 1963, Gerard and Charles Henri took him to Peerless
Camera, where he spent $1,200 on a Bolex 8-mm camera. He told
anybody who would listen that he had no idea how to load or focus
the camera, chortling gleefully, "I'm going to make bad films!"
One night that summer, John and Andy spent the weekend to-
gether on Eleanor Ward's estate in Old Lyme, Connecticut, sharing
a room with twin beds. As usual, John passed out in a drunken
stupor around 4:30 in the morning. When he woke up to go to the
bathroom several hours later, he discovered Andy lying in bed next
to him wide awake and staring. "What're you doing?" Giorno
mumbled.
"Watching you," came the mechanical reply.
Several hours later Giorno awoke again: Warhol had switched
angles and was on a chair at the foot of the bed, "looking at me,"
John recalls, "with Bette Davis eyes. I said, 'Andy, what are you
"
doing?'
"Watching you sleep," he said.
For the longest time Andy had been wanting people to "do
things" for him while he watched. Having abandoned the naked-boy
drawings and paintings of the 1950s and then turned his attention
to media subjects for his art, he began asking friends to undress for
his camera. Ruth Kligman had been insulted when he asked her to
let him film her while she got up, took a shower, and got dressed.

Now Andy was becoming bolder. On the train back to New York
that night he told John he wanted to make a movie and asked him if
he wanted to be a "star."
"Absolutely!" said Giorno. "What do I have to do?"

133
VICTOR BOCKRIS

"I want to make a movie of you sleeping," Andy replied.


Giorno agreed, and several nights later they took a taxi over to his
flat, where Andy set up his equipment. Giorno later wrote: "I was

sitting on a seventeenth-century Spanish chair as he checked out


where to put his tripod and lights, and suddenly Andy was on the
floor with his hands on my feet, and he started kissing and licking
my shoes. I had always heard he was a shoe fetishist. 'It's true!' I
thought with a rush. 'He's sucking my shoes!' It was hot, and I got
some poppers to make it better. I jerked off while he licked my shoes
with his little pink tongue and sniffed my crotch. It was great. Al-
though Andy didn't come. When I wanted to finish him off, he said,
"
'I'll take care of it.'

For the next two weeks Andy shot four hours of footage per night
on several different occasions. When he had the film developed, he
discovered he had ruined all of it because he had not rewound the
camera properly. Now, he shot the whole film again. While the
footage was being developed, Andy decided to visit Hollywood.

Pop art was rapidly taking over the West Coast scene. Irving Blum
was planning his second Warhol show of the Elvis Presley and
Elizabeth Taylor portraits that September. The Oldenburgs had
moved to California, and Claes was having an opening the day after
Andy's. Furthermore, Marcel Duchamp, the spiritual godfather of
pop art, was having a retrospective the following week. To make the
scene even more inviting, Dennis Hopper offered to give Andy a
movie-star party, and Hopper's wife, Brooke Hayward, had ar-
ranged for him to stay in the suite of her father, the producer
Leland Hayward, at the Beverly Hills Hotel. This was an invitation
Andy could not refuse. "Being a star was absolutely a dream of his,"
said Ruth Kligman. "But he didn't want to just be a movie star, he
wanted to be the head of a studio."
Dispatching the Elvises in a giant roll of silver canvas and blithely
instructing the astonished Blum to cut them up and stretch them
any way he long as the entire wall was covered, Andy
liked, as
announced that he would be arriving the day before the opening
and would see Blum at the Hoppers' party that night.
In the course of that summer, Andy's reputation had risen fast on
the West Coast. He had been prominent among the artists included

134
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

in the Pop Art/USA show at the Oakland Museum,


leading the
California painter Larry Bell to write, "It is opinion that Andy
my
Warhol is an incredibly important artist. He has been able to take
painting as we know it and completely change the frame of refer-
ence, and do it own terms." California was ripe for
successfully in his
Andy's arrival. "Vacant, vacuous Hollywood," Warhol wrote, "was
everything I ever wanted to mold my life into. Plastic, white on
white." And also: "I always wanted Tab Hunter to play me in the
story of my life."

After the death of Elizabeth Taylor's husband Mike Todd in a plane


crash in 1961, Julia had told Andy, "Too many big shot die in
plane." Since then he had acquired a fear of flying that would last
the rest of his life. Rather than taking a plane or train to the West
Coast like the movie stars of his dreams, Andy made the decision to
drive across America, as in Jack Kerouac's beat classic On the Road.
As a teenager Andy had been given driving lessons by his brother
Paul,and one day in 1952 Paul had tried to give him a lesson in New
York. It had ended in a minor accident on Park Avenue, with Andy

blaming Paul for not having put on the biakes, even though he had
been in the drivers seat. He never attempted to drive again. Now, to
make the cross-country trip in four days, he needed two drivers.
Characteristicallv he picked two of the least responsible candidates
for the job: Taylor Mead, a clownish star of underground films with
a huge appetite for marijuana and Quaaludes, and the painter
Wynn Chamberlain, whose beat-up Ford station wagon would fur-
nish their transportation. They planned to make the journey as fast
as possible, stopping only to eat and sleep. As Andy's boon compan-
ion and glorified valet, Gerard Malanga was persuaded to take a
sabbatical from Wagner College, where he was studying poetry.
For their comfort. Chamberlain put down the back seat and
placed a mattress in the back. There W^arhol and Malanga lolled,
listening to hit tunes of the dav like "Puff the Magic Dragon,"
"Dominique, and "If I Had a Hammer." Except for Andy, everyone
"

smoked pot. Their first stop was St. Louis. Andy, who was paying
for everything with his Carte Blanche card, treated everyone to a big
steak dinner, after which he declined to join the others in hitting the
town. When Malanga returned to their motel room several hours

135

VICTOR BOCKRIS

later,he was struck by the studied manner in which Andy was sitting
there, doing absokitely nothing. He had the impression that Andy
regarded the whole trip as a movie in which he was the mysterious
star from a script by Samuel Beckett.
The next night they came close to getting killed when Chamber-
lain raced through a red light at a crossroads in the middle of no-
where and narrowly escaped colliding with a car coming at them
broadside. After a brief silence, Andy said in the small, tight voice of
a complaining wife, "Wynn, where were you}" After that he insisted
that the radio be turned on all the time with the volume as high as
possible.
On the third day Taylor freaked out and said if they didn't stop
for a break he was getting out of the car and hitchhiking. Andy
agreed, and they pulled into a truck stop full of teenagers and
truckers. "It was like we were from outer space," Mead recalled.
Andy commented that these heartland innocents were living in the
past while they were was frightening to be
living in the future. It
homosexual in that context, said Mead, but Andy clearly enjoyed all
the attention.
As soon as they got to Hollywood, things started to happen fast.
No sooner had Andy checked into his suite at the Beverly Hills
Hotel than there was a knock on the door. In walked the under-
ground movie star and filmmaker Naomi Levine, whom Andy had
recently met in New York and who had flown out on Film-Makers'
Co-op business. From the moment Andy arrived, she attached her-
self to him like a limpet mine.
Warhol later wrote that Dennis Hopper's party was the most excit-
ing thing that had ever happened to him. Still, the Hollywood
Warhol visited that year was dying. You only had to look at the
year's most ballyhooed films Cleopatra, It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad
World, How the West Was Won —
and note that the top box-office stars
were still Doris Day, John Wayne, Rock Hudson, and Elvis Presley,
to see what the trouble was. Moreover, the yoimg stars Hopper had

gathered to fete Andy among them, Sal Mineo, Suzanne Pleshette,

Troy Donahue, Peter Fonda, and Dean Stockwell seemed every bit
as square. What Andy was going to do in the cinema was so far
removed from their view of things that he must have realized there
was little point in pursuing the "new Hollywood." Andy may have
enjoyed himself that night, but he made no effort to contact any of
them, apart from Hopper, again.

136
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

The opening the following night was a big disappointment. In a


last-minute decision that puzzled Mead, Andy decided to withhold
the Elizabeth Taylor paintings and show only the Elvis Presleys. The
work was coolly leceived by the local critics and collectors, and not
one painting sold. Although Andy was by now adept at masking his
reactions, he resented the bad reviews and what he considered the
flat-out stupidity of the movie stars who had failed to snap up his
work. He was convinced that these paintings, which could have been
purchased for a mere one-thousand dollars, payable in installments,
would soon be worth a great deal more. As far as he was concerned,
they were money hanging on the wall.
They were also among his best works. Stephen Koch would later
identify the source of their extraordinary immediacy: "It is worth
how startling and suggestive pictures like Triple Elvis
noticing just
once were and how powerful they remain. Ordinarily when we look
at —
any given image, there is a certain passage of tiine five, maybe
fifteen —
seconds during which the mind is simply identifying pre-
cisely what it is looking at. In Warhol's case, the dme span of recog-
nition is invariably reduced to a flash."
Despite the failure of his show, Warhol turned up, in apparently
high spirits, at Oldenburg's opening the following night, as well as at
Marcel Duchamp's opening on October 8 at the Pasadena Art
Museum, at which he spent a good deal of time talking with
Duchamp, one of the century's seminal art figures. Andy was so
excited by the show and the party afterwards that for one of the
few times in he drank too much, and was sick on his way back
his life
to the hotel in the early morning. Bored by the formality of the
Beverly Hills Hotel, Warhol and company had moved to the Santa
Monica Beach Motel and were spending the rest of their visit with
the street people and emerging hippies, whom Mead knew.
One night when Mead was preparing to give a poetry reading,
Andy mistook his contemplative warm-up for a depression. Ac-
cording to Mead, "Andy said, 'Oh, you should calm down. Here!'
and he pulled out this big gray cock and tried to make me blow him.
I 'You gotta be kidding! I have to think about my reading,' and
said,
I —
walked off. It was a totally evil thing to do cold-blooded and
ruthless shit. The dumbest peasant wouldn't be that cruel or mis-
read a state so much. I couldn't handle it, because Andy usually
had a certain amount of consideration, but he was just being a dirty
little kid."

137
"

VICTOR BOCKRIS

Malanga too was seeing a side of Andy that startled and upset
him. Throughout the trip he had shared hotel rooms with Andy,
with no hint of sexual overtures, so he felt he was doing nothing
inappropriate when, after a party, he brought a girl back to their
room and put the chain on the door for privacy. Andy returned
unexpectedly early: "I was only in bed with her for half an hour
when, all of a sudden, Andy's at the door of our hotel room. He was
so angry that I had put the chain on the door and he couldn't get in,
he literally tried to break the door down. He was banging on the
door, shouting, 'Why is this door locked? Who's in there? Come on!
Open it! Open this door up!' We put on our clothes and I let him in.
As soon as he saw the girl, that just made him more annoyed, and he
reprimanded me. He was really pissed off.
The same week, Naomi Levine, who had decided that Andy's
work "was all an excuse to be with people," had a tantrum. Andy
had made a film during the California visit starring her and Taylor
Mead called Tarzan and Jane, Regained Sort of. The filmmaking had
gone remarkably well, particularly several nude scenes with Naomi
during which she was filmed "swimming" in the hotel bathtub. She
felt she was making progress at winning Andy over, but at the same

time, she said, she was beginning to see "how he provoked people
with his passiveness into becoming freaky." She later recalled: "He
had obviously decided he liked me, and he was very sweet. One
night he took a big bag of sugar and opened it and poured it down
my arm."
As Malanga saw it, "Andy was putting up with Naomi. She was a
very sensitive person and he went out of his way not to hurt her
feelings. Andy's passive state made women feel they could approach
him. Women felt that Andy was almost asking them to take care
of him."
But once the filming was completed, according to Malanga, Andy
got tired of Naomi's needy presence. Things came to a boil after a
day spent at Disneyland when she flirted with him during a boat ride
through a tunnel. Finally, she snatched at his wig in an attempt to
break his composure. Anybody who wanted to make Andy get an-
gry had only to try forcing him to do something. Stunned by his
rage, Naomi flew back to New York.
Tarzan and Jane taught Andy an important lesson: If he was going
to work with groups of people, he would have to be even more
detached to control them. That he hadn't quite mastered this was

138
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

apparent on the way back to New York. In a North Carolina motel


room, he made a pass at Malanga: "We were horsing around in the
room when Andy suddenly tin ned around and put his hand on my
crotch over the sheets. I didn't say anything but I shook it off,
turning over. He suddenly turned c|uiet and that was the end of the
incident." When they got back to New York, however, Andy, who
had usually been generous in this matter, refused to give Gerard cab
fare, obliging him to carry his heavy suitcase all the way to the Bronx
on the subway.

The next day, Andy and Gerard went straight back to work silk-
screening photographs of car crashes and suicides. After painting in
the morning, they spent the afternoon looking for a new studio.
Gerard wanted a place where he would have a room of his own to
Andy wanted a large, open space where he could paint, make
live in.
movies, and "do everything." In the six months they had been work-
ing together, Gerard had made himself indispensable as Andy's
assistant and sidekick, so much so that the two had become an entity,

a kind of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas of the art world. A Sam
Montana cartoon in the Village Voice that winter depicted Warhol
commenting on a painting, saying, "I dunno, Jerry, its not boring
enough," and Malanga replying, "Golly, will it hurt us, Andy?"
Although they were widely assumed to be lovers, according to
Malanga they were not: "It was almost as if he was sexless. He
cringed from physical contact. I think that celibacy gave him enor-
mous manipulative power over the magnificently beautiful people
he brought together. But it was congenial. We were like two teen-
agers hanging out together. I don't think Andy was consciously try-
ing to hide something about himself so much as he was attempting
to maintain a mystique, partly for control and partly as a cover for
his own inadequacies."
That November, Art News ushered in another phase of Andy's
career, the Warhol interview. Conducted by Gene Swenson as part
of a series of talks with pop artists, it revealed yet another talent that

would set Andy apart from his rivals his gift for the eminently
quotable and shocking utterance, such as: "I think everybody should
be a machine. I think everybody should like everybody." In time,
such declarations would become "sayings, as much keynotes of the
"

sixties as the lyrics of the Beatles and Bob Dylan.

139
VICTOR BOCKRIS

But the mask of blankness was not yet fully in place. On a more
conventional level, Andy also told Swenson that he had a grand
theme: Everything he painted was about death. Soon he would have
the most sensational death of the century for a subject. Of John F.
Kennedy's assassination on November 23, Warhol would later claim:
"I thought Kennedy was great, but I wasn't shocked by his death. It
was just something that happened. It isn't for me to judge."
John Giorno, who rushed over to Andy's house upon hearing the
news, remembered quite a different reaction: "We sat on the couch,
watching the live TV coverage from Dallas. Then we started hug-
ging, pressing our bodies together, and trembling. I started crying
and Andy started crying. Hugging each other, weeping big fat tears
and kissing. It was exhilarating, like when you get kicked in the head
"
and see stars. Andy kept saying, 'I don't know what it means!'
With uncanny intuition he found the perfect image to express
that meaning: his That Was the Week That Was portrait of Jacqueline
Kennedy, based on eight newspaper head shots taken in the minutes
before and after the assassination and funeral and metamorphosed
into a sixteen-panel work. Andy had admired Mrs. Kennedy enor-
mously, and his dignified setting of her image in golds and blacks
heightened the presentation of her as a transcendent figure above
the horror.
Later, Stephen Koch wrote what may be the most perceptive de-
scription of this work's power:

These images have a frontality that would hit us smack in the eyes
were it not for Warhol's countermove: his voyeur's transformation,
his anesthetizing stare. This distance is uniquely Warhol's own. The

game here is power the back and forth of Warhol's work is always a
subtle eroticized interplay of active and passive terms. This is why
soup cans can come from the same artist who shows the images of a
man leaping to his death; why the duration of an entire film can sink
into the voyeuristic absorption in the face of a man asleep. [The
. . .

art produced in this period] trafficked in themes of major dimen-


sions: what it means to see feelingly, what it means to fear what you
want to see; the struggle with the visual power of fame, beauty, death,
and terror.

140
10

T THE END of November 1963, a truck containing Warhol's


painting equipment from the firehouse and 1342 Lexington
Avenue pulled up outside a warehouse and factory build-
ing on East Forty-seventh Street. Andy was pleased with his new lo-
cation. It was just down the block from the United Nations and

overshadowed by the Chrysler Building not at all the sort of
neighborhood where an artist might be expected to have a studio.
The new space, on the fifth floor of 231 East Forty-seventh, could be
reached by a rickety open freight elevator or a flight of stairs. It was
a large single room, about one hundred by forty feet, with a couple
of toilets in the back and a pay phone. Metal columns stood four-
square, defining its central area. The floor was concrete and the
brick walls were crumbling. There was little natural light, since most
of the windows facing south had been painted black, and the ceiling
was low. It had previously been a hat factory.
Without missing a beat, Andy continued painting, turning out
electric chair pictures and White, twenty repeated images of a 1947
Life photograph showing the body of a young fashion model who
had jumped out of the Empire State Building and landed, still ele-
gant, on the roof of a car.

141
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Summing up Warhol's career in a catalogue of the Saatchi Col-


lection in London, Peter Schjeldahl perceptively noted the almost
ecstatic aura of such a work:

Like most modern artists, the halcyon Warhol was both radical and
conservative, looking both forward and backward in cultural time.
Initially appearing to ridicule the preciousness of art with a technique

of mass production, Warhol and his silk-screening actually a clumsy

and messy artisan device finally mocked mass production and ex-
on to
alted painting. This was possible because, for a while, he was
something serious: chaos — systems
entropy, human madness, and

death as a crack in the world through which could be glimpsed a
violent bliss.

Andy's next idea may have been at least partly inspired by the
hope that Eleanor Ward would reject him again, thus making it
easier for him to leave her gallery: He would make four hundred
sculptures of grocery boxes for Campbell's tomato juice, Kellogg's
cornflakes, Del Monte peach halves, Brillo pads, and so on out of
plywood, silk-screening them to look as much like the originals as
possible, except that theywould be nailed shut.
Mrs. Ward was The
idea sounded like a disastrous depar-
aghast:
ture for someone who had only just been accepted as a painter. How
much would he sell them for? she asked. Three hundred to six
hundred dollars each. Finally, his enthusiasm won her over.
He and Malanga got to work. For three months, rows of wooden
boxes were stacked the length of the studio as they toiled in what
one observer described as "a production line in a surrealist sweat-
shop." Although the results were intended to look as though they
had come off an assembly line, making the boxes was the hardest
work they had ever done. They had to hand-paint six sides of each
box, wait for them to dry, and then silk-screen at least four of the
sides.
At the same time, Andy was increasingly turning his attention to
film. As soon as he had returned from Hollywood, he had thrown
himself into getting Sleep developed and edited while Taylor worked
on the finishing touches of Tarzan and Jane. Andy had watched
television replays of the famous Zapruder film of the Kennedy assas-

142
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

siuation that November, and had been fascinated by the "replay" ol


the event in slow motion. Perhaps because of tliis he insisted that
these early hlms be projected several frames per second more slowly
than they had been shot, a scarcely noticeable shift that enhanced
their hypnotic effect.

Naomi Levine proved a great help in getting Andy into the New
York underground film scene by screening the six-hour Sleep in
Wynn Chamberlain's loft at 222 The Bowery for Jonas Mekas, who
ran the Film-Makers' Co-operative and published Film Culture mag-
azine. Many people were to dismiss Sleep as an insult to their in-
telligence, but Mekas saw it as an important work. To him the
displacement created by running the film at sixteen instead of
twenty-four frames per second was the essence of Warhol's art, the
"one little choice that shifts the whole to a totally new angle." Warhol
was presenting a new vision of the world, Mekas declared, "celebrat-
ing existence by slowing down our perceptions."
In late 1963 and early 1964, Andy filmed Km. He would get a
couple like Marisol and Robert Indiana to pose in a mouth-to-mouth
kiss, and hold the pose for three minutes. In many cases he mated
couples who were not at all compatible. Several segments were
filmed at Naomi Levine's apartment on Avenue B in the East Vil-
lage. One day when Naomi felt uncomfortable with a partner,
Gerard Malanga stepped in and began his movie career as a War-
hol star.
Sleep was followed by three shorter, minimal films: Haircut, which
showed one man ritualistically cutting another man's hair; Eat, in
which Robert Indiana took thirty-three minutes to eat a mushroom;
and Blow Job, in which the camera stayed resolutely on the twitchings
of an actor's face while his penis was being sucked off-camera, again
for thirty-three minutes. (The climax of the film, and presumably
that of the star, was signaled by the lighting of a cigarette.) Sud-
denly, as much as pop art was coming to be virtually defined in the
public eye by Warhol, so "underground film now seemed to have
"

been entirely made over by him. Even Stan Brakhage, one of the
movement's masters, a filmmaker whose style was as kaleidoscopic as
Warhol's was stark, came around. At Mekas' invitation, he had sat
through Sleep and Eat and gone into a rage, announcing that they

143
VICTOR BOCKRIS

were all being taken in by a charlatan. When it was discovered that


the films had been mistakenly projected at twenty-four frames per
second instead of Andy's desired speed of sixteen, he was persuaded
to sit through the films again —and was won over. Here, he an-
nounced to Mekas, was an artist whose films were achieving as great
and clear a transformation of reality as were his.
Andy, typically, adopted a less exalted view. "My first films using
the stationary objects," he told the perceptive journalist Gretchen
Berg, "were also made to help the audience get more acquainted
with themselves. Usually, when you go to the movies, you sit in a
fantasy world, but when you see something that disturbs you, you
get more involved with the people next to you. You could do
. . .

more things watching my movies than with other kinds of movies;


you could eat and drink and smoke and cough and look away and
then look back and they'd still be there. ... I made my earliest films
using, for several hours, just one actor on the screen doing the same
thing; eating or sleeping or smoking; I did this because people usu-
ally just go to the movies to see only the star, to eat him up, so here at
least is a chance to look only at the star for as long as you like, no
matter what he does, and to eat him up all you want to. It was also
easier to make."
While Andy was working on the Brillo boxes and the early films,
a twenty-one-year-old hairdresser and lighting man, Billy Linich,
arrived to help design the studio. Attractive and intense, a self-
proclaimed Buddhist and black magician, Linich had been living
with several other young men in a Lower East Side apartment in
which everything was painted or tinfoiled silver. Andy had met him
there and had immediately seen Billy and his friends as the precur-
sors of a new style. Would Billy, he asked, do the same thing to the
studio that he had done in his apartment? "It must have been the
amphetamine but it was the perfect time to think silver," Andy
wrote. "Silver was the future, it was spacey —
the astronauts. And . . .

silver was also the past —


the Silver Screen. And maybe more
. . .

than anything else, silver was narcissism —


mirrors were backed with
silver."
Andy was drawn at once to Billy. "Andy took to a lot of people
who were shy," said Malanga. "He would sit right next to the person
and budge up to them, listen intently, and maybe ask questions,
always like a little boy. Andy was really good at making people feel

144
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

important. He always sat down with somebody who didn't have an


identity for himself. He found these people because he needed
them."
From January to April 1964, Linich toiled away, meticulously
transforming the dark, crumbling room into a giant, silver reflector.
In the meantime, he was living in the studio, having built himself
a nest in a back corner next to the toilets, where he slept on the
floor like an ascetic. Indeed, with his strong, sinewy arms, wash-
board stomach, handsome, serious face, and close-cropped hair,
Billy looked very much like Hollywood's idea of one of the twelve
apostles.
As soon as he started working there, a number of Billy's down-

town friends began to show up talented misfits, most of them gay
and heavy users of amphetamines, and all of them given to theat-
rical extravagance in costume and manner. With iioms des guerres like
"Rotten Rita," "the Mayor," "the Duchess," "Mr. Clean," and "the
Sugar Plum Fairy," they might have crept off the pages of Jean
Genet. They were called the "amphetamine rapture group." (Later,
they would be referred to in the gay lexicon as "mole people,"
homosexuals who remained underground throughout most of the
sixties, only to emerge as pioneers of gay liberation toward the end
of the decade.) Outstanding among them, as far as Andy was con-
cerned, were Freddie Herko and Ondine.
Of Herko, an aspiring dancer in Broadway musicals whom he
filmed roller-skating all over New York on one bleeding foot, Andy
wrote: "The people I love were the ones like Freddie, the leftovers
of show business, turned down at auditions all over town. They
couldn't do something more than once, but their once was better
than anyone else's. They had star quality but no star ego they —
didn't know how to push themselves. They were too gifted to lead
'regular lives," but they were also too unsure of themselves to ever
become real professionals."
Ondine (born Robert Olivo) was a self-described "running, stand-
ing, jumping drug addict" and brilliant verbal acrobat. Silent Andy
was fascinated by the intensity of this crazy rapper. "And Ondine,"
said Billy Linich, "was also ahigh-power intellect. He could be so
cruel and what he thought was wrong or right, some-
didactic about
times people just looked at this dragon monster and missed the
whole point of the aesthetic dissertation he was giving them. One

145
VICTOR BOCKRIS

day, Ondine, Andy, and I were trying to think of what to call his

studio. We said, we'll call it either the Lodge or the Factory, and
since was a factory before, let's call it the Factory. And everybody
it

just said, 'Yeah, that seems right.' We were the prime movers, the
catalysts, the destroyers, taking away people's fagades. Saying, 'Are
you really telling me this is your true self or are you just putting
"
on shit?'
Billy persuaded Andy to bring his big Harman Kardon hi-fi sys-
tem from his house to the Factory, and Billy, Ondine, and friends
often stayed up for several days at a stretch taking speed, listening to
opera recordings, and talking nonstop.
As traffic increased, Billy became studio manager. Under his
watchful supervision, the paraphernalia of drug use were kept out
of Andy's sight. "They didn't want to offend him, and I was con-
stantly aware of his security, safety, and well-being," said Linich.
"He didn't know that people were shooting up because they were
very discreet. And anyway, once he had his Obetrol he would be
joyously in tune with everything they were doing."
Brigid Berlin was one of the few women among the mole people.
Brigid's claim to fame, apart from her high-society heritage (her
father was president of the Hearst Corporation) was that she was
said to have squirted Nikita Khrushchev in the face with a water
pistol when he United Nations in 1960. She was known as
visited the
"the Duchess," or "the Doctor" because, she boasted, she would give
anyone who asked for it a poke of amphetamine through the seat of
their pants (her new name at the Factory soon became Brigid Polk).
She shot speed several times a day, gorged on food, and was at times
grotesquely overweight. She was also highly emotional, given to
screaming tirades. Nonetheless, she seemed to bring out a protec-
tive instinct in Andy, who was entertained by her informed gossip,
delivered in a broad society accent, about everyone from J. Edgar
Hoover to the Duchess of Windsor. She got rid of a lot of anger
against her parents by yelling at Andy, who would listen blankly,
and she adored him from the moment they met. For the rest of his
life she remained one of his closest friends.

Three other women in the amphetamine rapture group were self-


styled witches: Dorothy Podber, Orion de Winter, and Diane di
Prima. Their attitude, according to Linich, was, "how dare you come
into my presence and not be exquisite and perfect and know exactly

146
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

what you're doing because if you don't I'm going to hnd out and

destroy you!" Naomi Levine was back in Andy's good graces, but she
had been eclipsed as a "superstar" by a young society woman, Mrs.
Leonard ("Baby Jane") Holzer.
Baby Jane, who had appeared in Kiss and had been hanging out
with Andy since then, witnessed with a degree of alarm the transfor-
mation of the Factory by the mole people into a perpetual happen-
ing, although she thought some of their drugged-out performances
"brilliant." With her leonine mane of hair, the latest in high-style
clothes, and her friendship with the Rolling Stones, this beautiful
Park Avenue socialite, the wife of a wealthy businessman, had been
thrust into the fashion spotlight by the British photographer David
Bailey and been profiled by Tom Wolfe as the 'Girl of the Year,
1964." Andy designated her a "superstar" and escorted her to par-
ties, openings, and rock shows, thereby doubling his attention from

the press. Indeed, Andy seemed to love the press so much that some
of his friends decided that he felt really alive only when he saw a
photograph of himself in a newspaper.

The moment the Factory opened its doors, it became a cultural


mecca, part atelier, part film studio, part experimental theater, part
workshop, and a Salvation Army for all the artists and
literary
would-be artists who couldn't find shelter elsewhere. "I don't think
anybody ever had a studio like the Factory on Forty-seventh Street,"
said Emile de Antonio. "There were political people, radicals, peo-
ple in the arts, disaffected millionaires, collectors, hustlers, hookers.
It became a giant theater. I once said to Andy, 'You're making a film
of a film, aren't you?' He laughed."
Billy Linich ran the place like a theater, vacuuming up after each
performance or poetry reading, continually repainting the silver.
When Andy gave him a 35-mm camera, he became the unofficial
recorder of all that went on, developing the film in a darkroom
converted from one of the lavatories. Over the years he built up an
extraordinary document of life at the Silver Factory that would be
collected in the catalogue for Warhol's first European retrospective
in Stockholm's Moderna Museet in 1968.
Factory was undoubtedly a man's world, and a gay mans
The
world It quickly took on a style and attitude of its own.
at that.
Ondine remembered that "Andy was always so provocative sexually.

147
VICTOR BOCKRIS

I think heknew that everybody was really thinking about big cocks.
When people came to see him at the Factory, like foreign journalists
or art dealers, he would say quite blandly, 'Check him out, see how
big his cock is,' and these people would be horrified." According to
Malanga, one of Andys favorite fantasies of himself was as the
proprietor of an all-male brothel. His idea, Malanga recalled, "was
that he would sit at a table with a cash register on it in a large
dormitory with rows of beds without partitions between them. Peo-
ple would come in and have sex with a boy in a bed and then pay
Andy the money on their way out."
As the developed, so did Andy's new look. He now dressed
sixties
like an SS guard in a B-movie about the Second World War, with a
few embellishments of his own: black leather jacket, tight black jeans
(under which he wore panty hose), T-shirts, high-heeled boots, dark
glasses, and a silver wig (to match his Silver Factory). Sometimes he
emphasized his pallor and Slavonic features with make-up and wore
nail polish. He was now very thin, and the general "look" he was
after was clean, hard, and arrogant. He hardly ever laughed and
rarely spoke in public. But when he did speak it was in a new,
disembodied voice that sometimes sounded like Jackie Kennedy on
television, laced with sarcasm and contempt. The British social com-
mentator Peter York wrote: "The absolute flatness [of his voice], the
affectlessness, meant you couldn't see behind it at all. Drawing on
druggie and toughie and gay styles, it forged an adoptive Manhattan
occupational tone for the sixties. The drug voice meant: I'm so far
away you can't touch me. The ethnic tough-bitch wisecracking voice
said: No quarter given and none expected. The New York fag voice
said: Oh, c'mon."
Stephen Koch noted: "Warhol's hypnotized voyeuristic stare of
smarmy whitened worminess inspired much fascinated talk about
what you find under rocks." His followers, though, told him he
looked magnificent.
As his image changed, as he surrounded himself with a body-
guard of flagrantly gay, shameless young men, many old friends
began to back away from him. Charles Lisanby said: "I warned him
to stay away from that kind of thing, but he was fascinated to be in a
room where somebody was shooting drugs. I never got the idea
from talking to Andv about it that he was doing any of this himself,
but I thought it was terrible. I once accused him of just doing things

148
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

for effect and of trying to be different, doing things that would


disturb people because he thought 'different' was better. He always
denied this and what he was doing was really what he
insisted that
wanted to be doing. But I said to him, 'Andy, if you hang around
"

with these kind of people one of them's going to kill you!'


Suzi Frankfurt was also getting turned off: "I hated the way he
dressed, and I said so. He said, 'Ooooohhhh, Suzi . you don't like
. .

it?' And he really got into having bad manners and he got tougher

on the exterior. For example, I'd have a dinner party for someone
Andy liked because they were so rich. He would ask if he could
bring ten people, and then they'd arrive two hours late.
Ruth Kligman was confused by Andy's new ways. At his request
she had invited some friends to a showing of Blow Job, which she
regretted: "I showed the film but I didn't like it. Even the word blow
job offended me. There were all these strange people I couldn't
relate to who were all on speed. And there was a kind of prurience I
didn't like. Andy took of sexuality and put it into his voyeur-
his lack
ism, watching people. people who I thought had
He would provoke
no ego to get into their dark side, into their homosexuality, even if
they weren't gay. He remained the master and he would make all
sorts of promises to these people, like to Freddie Herko and all
these pathetic souls who hung around, and I thought that was very
negative."
In fact, many of Andy'sold friends thought he had changed so
much that he no longer even recognized them at parties. "It was as
if," recalled George Klauber after one such occasion, "he just looked

right through me."


To the mole people at the Factory, Andy had become a demonic
hero. They started calling him Drella, an amalgam of Dracula and
Cinderella. "It was a homosexual campy fairy-tale thing, like the
Wicked Witch of the North, and Andy was cast as the bad guy,"
recalled Malanga. One day, one of the mole people "witches,"
Dorothy Podber, arrived at the Factory with her dog. Carmen
Miranda, and asked Andy if she could shoot his Marilyn paintings.
When he said he didn't mind, Dorothy put on a pair of white gloves
and pulled a small German pistol out of her pocket, aimed at a stack
of Marilyn Monroe paintings, and fired. After she left, Andy went
."
over to Ondine and said, "Your friend just blew- a hole through . .

Ondine said, "But you said she could."

149
VICTOR BOCKRIS

"Andy was playing with a loaded pistol in everything he


really
did," said Ondine, "but everytime I saw him witness real violence, he
was completely surprised. He didn't suspect violence on other peo-
ple's parts, and violence shocked him. He didn't have street smarts."
But he did have business smarts. When he saw that the bullet had
passed cleanly through four Marilyns, he retitled them Shot Red
Marilyn, Shot Light Blue Marilyn, Shot Orange Marilyn, and Shot Sage
Blue Marilyn, and later sold them.

Now Andy became openly confrontational. In April 1964, Warhol


had adisagreement with the architect Philip Johnson, who had com-
missioned him to do a mural for the American pavilion at the
World's Fair in New York. Andy had delivered a twenty-by-twenty-
foot black-and-white mural called The Thirteen Most Wanted Men,
based on a series of mug shots of criminals. It had been installed
beside works by Rauschenberg, Lichtenstein, and Indiana. On April
16, however, Johnson informed Warhol that he had twenty-four
hours to replace or remove the piece. Word had come from Gover-
nor Nelson Rockefeller that the painting might be insulting to some
of his Italian constituents, since most of the thirteen criminals were
Italian. When Andy suggested he replace it with large pictures of
the fair's organizer, Robert Moses, Johnson "forbade that because I
didn't think it made any sense to thumb our noses at Mr. Moses and
I thought it was in very bad taste. Andy and I had a little battle at the

time. The next dav, Andy went out to the fair with Malanga and
"

Geldzahler and instructed that his mural be painted over in silver.


"That," he said, "will be my art."
A few days later, Warhol's Brillo Boxes show opened at the Stable
Gallery. Andy had said he wanted the gallery to look like the interior
of a warehouse, and Alan Groh had lined the boxes up in rows and
stacked them in corners. The show was immediately a cause celebre,
another rallying point for those for and against the new art. "The
most striking opening of that period was definitely Andy's Brillo Box
show," said Robert Indiana. "You could barely get in, and it was like
going through a maze. The rows of boxes were just wide enough to
squeeze voiu^ way through. Passage was made harder by a man who
"

had passed out between a row of boxes and was left sleeping there.
Robert and Ethel Scull immediately put in an order for a large

150
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

number of the boxes, and there were long lines waiting outside the
gallery. But the presentation of the boxes as sculpture confounded
many people, not least among them the abstract expressionist
painter James Harvey, who had actually designed the original Brillo
box. "When Andy's show happened," said the art chronicler Irving
Sandler, "Harvey's dealer at the Graham Gallery came out with a
press release saying that while Andy was selling these for three
hundred poor starving artist James Harvey had to
dollars, here this
support himself by making commercial things like Brillo boxes."
The press had a field day. Photos of Warhol and Harvey appeared
in Newsweek with their respective products. Andy called Harvey and
offered to trade one of his sculptures for a signed original, but
before the trade could be arranged, Harvey died of cancer.
The night after the opening, the public got its first view of the
Silver Factory. Andy had decided throw a party, and Billy had
to
been up for several nights putting the finishing touches on the ceil-
ing and lighting the room with white, red, and green spotlights.
"Reynolds wrap is what hits you," wrote a reporter of the first
great art party of the decade. "The whole place is Reynolds wrap,
the ceiling, the pipes, the walls. The floor has been painted silver.
All the cabinets have been painted silver. The pay telephone on the
wall is silver. The odd assortment of stools and chairs are silver. And
the bathroom is silver-lined and painted, including the toilet bowl
and flushing mechanism."
The party also marked a turning point in Andy's career, for it was
the last time he would be photographed in a group with Oldenburg,
Lichtenstein, Tom Wesselmann, and Rosenquist. From now on he
would appear surrounded only by his own people.
From the point of view of the socialite Marguerite Lambkin, who
gave the party with the Sculls, the event was not a success: "First of
all, Bob Scull wanted detectives at the door to turn away people who

weren't on the list, but, as Andy and I said, how can we keep out an
artist bringing someone he'd had dinner with? What should have
been frivolous and fun was for us a nightmare. We had everyone
from Senator [Jacob] Javits to the New York police, who dropped
in. The detectives gave up. Bob Scull was furious because Ethel

hadn't been photographed by Vogue. The next day Andy rang to ask
if I wanted any Brillo boxes."

The Sculls, it turned out, had canceled their entire order. Accord-

151
"

VICTOR BOCKRIS

ing to Nathan Gluck, who was still laboring away on Warhol's com-
mercial work 1342 Lexington Avenue and who witnessed the
at
return of the boxes, Andy was devastated by the rejection.
It didn't make sense. Here he was, famous beyond the art world,

his name synonymous with pop art, and his work was not selling.
Very few of the "death-and-disaster" series had sold, and while the
Brillo boxes were an artistic success —
even Jasper Johns had to ad-
mire "the dumbness of the relationship between the thought and the

technology" actual sales, as Eleanor Ward had feared, were sparse.
Andy's relationship with had already deteriorated, and
his dealer
now it fell apart. He had begun making
overtures to Leo Castelli,
and Mrs. Ward was extremely hurt when she found out, accusing
him of ingratitude after all the time and money she had invested in
his two shows.
Castelli was glad to take him on, once the delicate negotiations had
been completed by Billy Linich. The final bitterness between Andy
and Mrs. Ward occurred over the ownership of Warhol's Colored
Mona Lisa, which Mrs. Ward insisted he had given her and Andy
insisted he had not. The matter was finally settled in court by a judge
who ruled that they each owned fifty percent. But, as Alan Groh
pointed out, "the monetary value of the early paintings was not
something he took too seriously because the largest painting in the
first show was only about $ 1 ,200. It wasn't a matter of major concern

to anyone. He had paintings he would throw away. He'd say, 'Oh, I


don't want that one,' and throw it out."
As Taylor Mead saw it, the move to Castelli ensured Andy's suc-
cess: "Their grand plan was already in operation. They were taking
over the art world, with Geldzahler's help. They were all wheeling
and dealing like crazy, with the fine Italian hand of Castelli maneu-
vering. It was in the cards that they were making it. There was no
two ways about it. They were all too cool to be struggling anymore.
They were all on a power trip.

152
11

N THE SUMMER of 1964, Andy started making large-cast films.


The hothouse atmosphere of the Factory sufficed for most of
the scenes, but he also began asking friends to lend their houses
and apartments as locations. This they did at some risk, since it was a
point of honor among the amphetamine addicts to steal as much as
they could. "The drugs may have been responsible," Ondine wrote
later. "[They] enabled you to commit crimes with relish." ("They
were fucking crowd of locusts," recalled one observer, describ-
like a
ing the hangers-on. —
"They stripped everything there certainly
wasn't a pill of any kind left in the bathrooms.")
Andy's casting method was simplicity itself: You submitted to a
screen test that consisted of letting his Bolex stare at you for three
minutes. As Baby Jane Holzer recalled: "You never had to go
through the tense part when you were being filmed by Andy it just —
happened. He'd say, 'Look at the camera and don't blink.' " Malanga
remembered the process less rosily: "These screen tests were studies
in subtle sadism. The results were often brutal." And as Taylor
Mead recalled, "The more destroyed you were, the more likely he
was to use you."
During the spring and summer of 1964, Andy filmed a number of

153
VICTOR BOCKRIS

three-minute segments for Couch. The title was a play on both the
psychoanalytical and Hollywood uses of that piece of furniture; the
action consisted of scenes of people having, or trying to have, sex on
the Factory sofa. Naomi Levine was photographed writhing naked
as she attempted to attract a young man who appeared more inter-
ested in his motorcycle than her breasts. Another actress was filmed
appearing to be anally penetrated by Malanga as she lay atop the
black dancer Rufus Collins. Several scenes involved sex between
men. In all of them, the camera was as unblinking as the perform-
ers. Whatever else Andy intended by it. Couch made the case that
heterosexual coupling was not the totality of human intimacy, that
homosexuality was just as "normal."
In any case, it was hard to know just what Andy hoped to achieve.
According to one observer: "He would sit watching the sex with his
legs crossed, wrapped up in himself like a little child. I thought I was
in the presence of a Buddhist who had achieved the desired tran-
scendent state."

That Andy gathered Malanga, Jonas Mekas, Henry Geld-


July,
zahler, and another filmmaker, John Palmer, in an office on the
forty-fourth floor of the Time-Life Building and filmed Empire, an
eight-hour study of the Empire State Building at night. "It was John
Palmer," said Malanga, "who came up with the idea for Empire.
Jonas Mekas and I changed the reels for Andy. He barely touched
the camera during the whole time it was being made. He wanted the
machine to make the art for him. We started shooting around
6 P.M. —
it was still daylight —
and stopped around 1 a.m. The first
two reels are overexposed because it was all guesswork. What hap-
pens in the course of the first two reels, and partway through the
third, is that the building slowly emerges out of a twilight haze, while
the darkness slowly blankets the sky." Andy had initially intended
Empire to be a sound movie, and after the camera was turned on by
Mekas, he encouraged Henry and John to "say things intelligent."
Later, upon seeing the rushes, he opted for the purity of a silent
soundtrack. He was ecstatic with the results: "The Empire State
Building is a star," he announced. "It's an eight-hour hard-on. It's so
beautiful. The lights come on and the stars come out and it sways.
It's like Flash Gordon riding into space."

154
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

But for most audiences, hip or not, it wasn't much of a turn-on.


"At the premiere screening of Empire at the Bridge Clinema," re-
called Malanga, "we were standing in the rear of the auditorium.
Andy was observing the audience rather than film, and people were
walking out or booing or throwing paper cups at the screen. He
turned to me, and in his boyish voice said, 'Gee, you think they hate
it? . .You think they don't like it?' Empire was a movie where
.

nothing happened except the audience's reaction."


Like the "death-and-disaster" series. Empire was a work inspired
by a Warhol "speed" vision. One observer recalled: "Among the youn-
ger artists, alcohol got almost completely phased out by marijuana in
1964, and then a few months later by LSD, which made alcohol seem
gross. But while everyone else mixed speed and grass and LSD,
which made everything softer and more confused, Andy didn't give
up the speed for a second."
Expressionless behind his omnipresent sunglasses, apparendy
fueled only by Obetrol, Andy seemed determined to dehumanize
himself as much as possible. He declared that the best movie he'd
ever seen was that year's Creation of the Humanoids, in which survivors
of World War HI solve their labor shortage by creating robots. (Its
denouement was the hero and heroine's discovery that they, too,
were machines.) Now, with his own camera, he set out to portray
three men who had given him great nourishment: Drunk was a
seventy-minute study of Emile de Antonio downing a quart of
whisky; Henry Geldzahler was seventy minutes of the curator smoking
a cigar; and Taylor Mead's Ass was a seventy-minute meditation on
exactly what it said it was.
De Antonio and Mead both felt bruised by their experiences in
front of his camera. Said the star of Drunk: "I liked the idea of the
risk involved, but Andy lied to me, which was fairly disagreeable. I
told him I want anybody there except the people who were
didn't
necessary, but once the film started, I could see through the lights

that a lot of people were looking on. I was very angry but still —
moderately sober. Then Andy had a lot of trouble changing the
reel, so by the time reel two began I was on the floor and couldn't get
up. The next day I called Andy and said, 'My lawyer is so-and-so
and the film can never be shown.' He had no reaction."
Mead was even more upset, and shortly after working with Andy,
he left New York for Europe. "I was going to kill him," he said. "He

155
VICTOR BOCKRIS

was manipulating people like crazy, lying to everybody too much,


being too cold-blooded."
Many who were close to Andy at the time were beginning to see
him as a power monger. Said Malanga: "Andy is often commented
about as being a voyeur, and I suppose his desire for power was
initially realized through the voyeuristic distancing of himself from
what he was watching with the use of a movie camera." "He became
very royal," said Henry Geldzahler. "It was like Louis XIV getting
up in the morning. The big question was whom he would pay atten-
tion to that day."
Just as his mother had manipulated her sons so that the older two
were still debating which of them was "her favorite," so Andy

pitched everybody around him into competition for his approval.


Billy Linich and Malanga were constant rivals. At one point Billy
drew up a list of people who were not allowed in the Factory and put
Malanga's name on it. Andy wouldn't let him post the list, but he did
nothing to cool the enmity. Recalled Ondine: "Warhol used them
both beautifully."
Perhaps the character of Mel, based on Warhol, in Stephen Koch's
novel The Bachelor's Bride, best illuminates Andy's motives: "If Mel
felt uncertain about some aspect of himself, if he felt doubtful of


himself intellectually, artistically, socially, sexually, any way he was
in the habit of adding to the Bunch somebody who reflected that
anxiety in some way. Then he would play that person off their
opposite number. And when the panic began, he'd feel strength-
ened, reassured. It was as though the two contending people some-
"

how invalidated each other, and left him autonomous, free.


There was always the threat of exile from the court. John Giorno,
with whom Andy had finally become fed up, was the first to be
dismissed. His memory of that expulsion is still painful: "I totally
loved Andy. At the same time he could arouse one's worst feelings
and fears."
For most of these young, beautiful, psychologically unstable per-
formers, what they felt was the powerful love of followers for a cult
leader: The girls wanted to marry him, the boys to serve him. There
was so much to "learn, as artists, as acolytes. Here was no more
"

"theorizing" but real, often exhausting, work. Here were lessons in


style: how to appear aloof, to create a mystique. "The Factory was a

church," wrote the critic Gary Indiana. "The Church of the Un-

156
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

imaginable Penis. Andy was the father confessor, the kids were the
sinners. The sanctity of the institution and its rituals was what was
important, not personal salvation."
Certainly there was no hope of financial reward. Only Malanga
was actually on the Factory payroll during this period; the others
"worked" for free. Why, then, did so many flock to Andy, and feel
so devastated when he dropped them?
Warhol would later write: "The Factory was a place where you
could let your problems show and nobody would hate you for it.
And if you worked your problems up into entertaining problems,
people would like you even more for being strong enough to say you
were different."
De Antonio saw a darker side: "Andy was like the Marquis de
Sade in the sense that his very presence acted as a kind of release for
people so they could live out their fantasies, get undressed, or in
some cases do very violent things to get him to watch them. He was
able to get a lot of people to do weird things in his early films who
wouldn't have done it for money or D. W. Griffith or anybody else.
He loved to see other people dying. This is what the Factory was
about: Andy was the Angel of Death's apprentice as these people
went through their shabby lives with drugs and weird sex. Andy just
looked, and Andy as voyeur par excellence was the devil, because he
got bored with just looking."
On October 27, 1964, the first of several sensational deaths associ-
ated with Warhol took place when Freddie Herko, who had danced
briefly near Andy's flame, went to a friend's apartment in Green-
wich Village, put on Mozart's Coronation Mass, and danced naked out
of a fifth-floor window, high on LSD. When Andy heard the news
he said, "Whv didn't he tell me he was going to do it? W'hy didn't he
tell me? We could have gone down there and filmed it!
"

The remark, which spread throughout the art and media worlds,
confirmed many people's suspicions about how cold and callous
Andv had become. Warhol's supporters were quick to spring to his
defense, calling it the "complex statement" of an artist who reserved
his "pain" for his art. Ondine thought that Herko's death was the
"completion" of an elaborate performance: "He had prepared him-
self for that moment. Released by Andy, he was able to die as he had
wanted to, all his life. I don't know how else to say it, but working
with Andy gave one a great sense of completion."

157
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Geldzahler continued in his role of Andy's painting mentor. After


the fiasco of Andy's Thirteen Most Wanted Men mural at the World's
Fair, he had suggested that Warhol had looked at death enough in
his pictures; perhaps it was time for some "life." To explain what he
meant, Geldzahler picked up a magazine and opened it to a cen-
terfold of flowers. With a Castelli opening in the offing for the fall,
Andy took the hint and told Malanga to get some silk screens made
of a photograph of four poppies by Patricia Caulfield in Modern
Photography.
During the summer of 1964, with the Supremes and the Rolling
Stones blasting away on the stereo, Andy and Gerard made some
fifty flower paintings, using silk screens of the Caulfield photograph

on a dark jungle-green background. They ranged from four by four


inches (a set of six in a box was priced at thirty dollars) to single
images measuring nine by twelve feet. In November the paintings
were displayed in Warhol's first show at Castelli. They sold out. At
the opening Malanga stood by the door receiving congratulations,
while Andy sat quietly in a corner. Despite their vibrancy, critics

persisted in seeing them as a continuation of his obsession with


death and sex, making much of the fact that the flowers were pop-
pies, "flowers of death" (though they were not, in fact, opium pop-
pies). Carter Ratcliff wrote in A7idy Warhol that they were "a
distillation —
of much of Warhol's art the flash of beauty that sud-
denly becomes tragic under the viewer's gaze." In the Village Voice,
David Bourdon pulled out all the stops: "The artist is a mechanical
Renaissance man, a genius." Ivan Karp, overjoyed that his four-year
tracking of Warhol had at last paid off, crowed in Newsweek: "While
the other pop artists depict common things, Andy is in a sense a
victim of common things; he genuinely admires them. How can you
describe him — he's like a saint. Saint Andrew."
Said Andy
of the flower paintings in Newsweek: "They look like a

cheap awning."

The year 1964 ended in another film triumph for Andy, marked by
considerable bitterness,when Jonas Mekas presented him with Film
Culture magazine's annual award for contributions to the cinema. In
Mekas wrote: "With his artist's intuition as his only guide,
his citation
he records, almost obsessively, man's daily activities, the things he

158
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

seesaround him. A strange thing occurs. The world becomes trans-


posed, intensified, electrified. We see it sharper than before. . . .

A new way of looking at things and the screen is given through the
personal vision of Andy Warhol; in a sense, it is a cinema of hap-
piness."
Andy did not attend the awards ceremony, sending in his place a
silent film of himself and friends that showed them vapidly handing
around a large basket of fruit (a reference to the actual prize) and
staring into the camera with a bored, surly attitude. Not a few veter-
ans of the New York underground film world were outraged. One
of them, Gregory Markopoulous, was quoted as saying: "Here I
spent ten years studying my craft, perfecting my craft, understand-
ing, thinking, theorizing about movies and how they're made and
what a movie really is, and this guy comes along who does absolutely
nothing and knows absolutely nothing. Other people have to set his
camera up, load it, focus it, and he just shoots nothing and he's the
biggest thing going!"
The most influential of them all, Stan Brakhage, had another
change of heart about Andy and resigned from the Film-Makers'
Co-op in a stinging letter to Mekas: "I cannot in good conscience
continue to accept the help of institutions which have come to prop-
agate advertisements for forces which I recognize as among the
most destructive in the world today: 'dope,' self-centered Love,
unqualified Hatred, Nihilism, violence to self and society."
Undaunted, Andy closed out the year by shooting his first
"talkie," Harlot, based on the cult of that time around the 1930s
movie goddess Jean Harlow. This film brought to the Factory a
gifted young novelist and playwright, Ronald Tavel (later, a founder
with Charles Ludlam of the Theater of the Ridiculous), who would
become a close collaborator with Andy. Harlot, at least overtly, of-
fered more "comment" than the previous Warhol films: In Jean
Harlow they saw, said Tavel, "a transvestite like Mae West and Mari-
lyn Monroe, in that their feminineness was so exaggerated that it
became a commentary on womanhood rather than the real thing."
Still using the stationary camera, Andy staged a tableau in which

Mario Montez, a male transvestite performer (whose name derived


from that of another camp favorite, the 1940s B-movie queen Maria
Montez), was sitting on the all-purpose couch dressed as Harlow and
lasciviously eating a banana. Next to him sat an aspiring actress,

159
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Carol Kishinskie, staring into the distance, with a small dog on her
lap. Philip Fagan and Gerard Malanga, looking like a cross between
Rudolph Valentino and George Raft, stood behind the couch.
Tavel's "script," a last-minute improvisation, involved Tavel, the
poet Harry Fainlight, and Billy Linich talking off-camera about
great female movie stars.
Of that time with Andy, Tavel recalled: "I saw him as a continua-
tion in art of Samuel Beckett, and when I was a kid there was no
arguing with Beckett: his was the last horrifying, unarguable word.

That was the tradition Andy belonged to the icy classicist, unap-
proachable, air-tight, very negative. I do not remember him as
somebody well-loved; I remember him in point of fact as somebody
hated. But I was objective about it. I was learning a great deal. That
was a true artistic period in which nobody would dare ask you to be
anything less than your best as an artist, and Andy was uncom-

promising he didn't give an inch. When I knew him he was a pure
artist, certainly a great artist."
A few weeks later Andy used Mario Montez again as the subject of
Screen Test #2. One early viewer recalled: "The enormous, out-of-
focus head of a sultry, attractive girl[Montez] flashes on the screen.
She is brushing her hair. Then sound. The kind of sound you ex-
pect from a very old, used-up army training film, garbled, filled with
static. An occasional word filters through. An off-screen voice is

telling the girl that if she wants to become a movie star, she must
master the art of saying certain words with the right inflection. The
voice starts drilling her on a word, over and over. The word was
'diarrhea.' 'Di-ah-rii-aaa'— and her lips formed the syllables lovingly
and obscenely, her eyes darkened under lowered lids."
Mocking the thing they seemed to "adore," both films had a steely
edge that Warhol's previous films had lacked, and their acceptance
by young artists was gleeful. The February 1965 issue oi Artforum
carried an article entitled "Saint Andy: Some Notes on an Artist
Who, for a Large Section of a Younger Generation, Can Do No
Wrong." It reported:

Art critics who cannot find the art in Warhol, who are mystified at
the virtual idolatry with which he
regarded by a younger generation
is

of painters, might have been even more astonished at the roar of

160
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

approval which greeted tlie award given


Warhol's three-iiiiiuite
to
"Banana Sequence" Los Angeles Film P'es-
[in Harlot] at the recent
tival. For this was an audience of the young, disaffiliated hlmniakers

making movies on nickels and dimes, film buffs who do not, for the
most part, tend to concern tfiemselves with doings in the art galleries,
an audience seeking not the chic but the subversive, not the elegant
but the destructive, not satire but nihilism. "Banana Sequence," with
its blatant and hilarious assault on that world of what Allen Ginsberg
has called the "heterosexual dollar," met all the requirements.

161
12

WHEN Andy met Edie Sedgwick in the apartment of the film


producer Lester Persky in January 1965, he "could see
that she had more problems than anybody I'd ever met."
She also had exactly what he was looking for to mold into a "super-
star." A slip of a girl with blonde, elfin, androgynous beauty, Edith
Minturn Sedgwick, then twenty-two, was the youngest daughter of
an eccentric, blue-blood, New England WASP family. She had
money (she lived on Sutton Place and drove a gray Mercedes), social
position, and a madcap spirit out of the Roaring Twenties. Above all
— —
she had an aura an electric glamour for which there was no
keener eye in New York than Andy's. They would not meet again
for two months, when she and her companion. Chuck Wein, began
turning up at the Factory.
In the meantime, Andy was perfecting his gift for laconic out-
rageousness. Setting himself in front of a remote-control camera for
the benefit of a reporter from the New York Herald-Tribune, he said:
"Why this is marvelous. I mean, if a person were dying he could
photograph his own death." To Vogxie he declared: "Food does not
exist for me. I like candies. I also like blood." Canada's National
Gallery of Art in Toronto had scheduled a show of the "Electric
Chair" pictures and painted Brillo boxes for March, but the

162
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

museum director had ruled llial the grocery hoxes were not art and
were therefore subject to a twenty percent import duty. When the
New York 'I'iincsup to get his reaction, Andy said: "1 really
called
don't care. I some of the important things happening
think with
they must have more to worry about than some dumb little boxes."
Said Ronald Tavel: "People asked why he was so famous. Every
morning when we came to the Factory he would go to the phone and
call his press agent."
In the Warhol-Tavel films, any remaining barriers of taste were
falling fast. That spring they embarked on Suicide, the Factory's first
experiment with color. Tavel recalled: "[Warhol] had met this guy
who had tried on twenty-three different occasions to kill himself by
slashing his wrists, and Andy told me to meet him and get the story.
I was to act out the people who had provoked him, the guy was to

reenact the suicide attempts. On March 6 this guy came to the Fac-
tory and he cooperated completely, as suicides will. It was Andy's
idea to just focus in on the wrists with all these slashes and to have
not blood but water spilled froin a pitcher onto the wrists after each
'story.' You would never see the guy's face. Andy's last-minute inspi-
ration was to get gorgeous flowers from a local florist since the hands
would get kind of dull just being there. So you saw this wringing of
hands tearing apart the flowers, and in the middle of it the guy
freaked out and took the water and threw it in my face. Andy came
up and said, 'Oh, Ronnie, shall we stop? Oh, how awful!' I said, 'No,
I'm fine, the script is still legible.' The guy calmed down and we
finished it. But then he took out lawsuits against us and the film was
never shown."
After Suicide they made The Life ofjuanita Castro, a spoof of revo-
lutionary rhetoric inspired by the diary of Fidel Castro's sister. Two
weeks later, they assayed Horse, a "Western," for which an enormous
stallion was rented and brought to the Factory. The theme, said
Tavel, was implicit cowboy homosexuality in the Old West. "What I
really wanted was to see how easily a group of people under pres-
sure could be moved to genuinely inhuman acts toward each other
and perhaps the horse." Malanga and Tavel held up directions for
the actors on cue cards. The first one read: "Approach the horse
sexually." Things disintegrated in a few minutes when the horse
kicked one actor in the head, and the whole scene erupted in a
brawl.
Their next film was Vinyl, inspired by Anthony Burgess' novel A

163
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Clockwork Orange, with Gerard Malanga cast as the juvenile delin-


quent antihero. Tavel found the book boring and wrote a script
about the rage and dehumanization of sadomasochism. The results,
however seriously intended, were a farce. "The monotonous and the
ridiculous skitter all over the screen like the peal of a long embar-
rassing giggle," wrote Stephen Koch. Most of the actors were stoked
up on amyl nitrate, marijuana, and alcohol, and only Malanga had
bothered to learn his lines. But in Vinyl Andy found his Marilyn
Monroe: Edie Sedgwick had shown up at the Factory with her hair
cut short and dyed silver to look like his, and he had put her in the
film at the last minute. She did nothing but sit on a trunk in the
foreground smoking one cigarette after another, but her impact was
unforgettable.
Malanga gave this description of Andys new superstar: "Her fea-
tures, slight and symmetrical with no outstanding facial bone struc-
ture, were brightened by the vivid and penetrating eyes, full of small
timidities, which recorded perhaps the shock that too great an hon-
esty expects from life. Most of her wardrobe consisted of shirts with
tails hanging out and leotards. She knew how to wear them with a

style and grace unachieved by anyone else. She liked to wear large
earrings. She applied a great deal of makeup before going out.
When she spoke she made sense. She could not be the fool or be
made to look foolish." She was, at the beginning, virtually insepara-
ble from Chuck Wein, a young would-be filmmaker from Harvard.
According to Henry Geldzahler, "He seemed to be controlling and
molding Edie."
"Chuck and Edie's coming to the Factory," said Tavel, "was a
matter of class. Andy wasn't taken in by Chuck for a minute. What
he liked was his blond hair and blue eyes. If he was to be seen with
Edie on his right hand, then on his left he wanted Chuck, the little
look of aristocracy, of class. I thought, Andy! You're an artist. Why
do you care about that shit?" It soon became clear that that was one
of the things Andy did care about: through Edie, Andy would move
up in society.

At the beginning, Andy and Edie's nights on the town were, as


Gerard Malanga said, something "you'd read about in F. Scott Fitz-
gerald." Edie would take Andy, Gerard, and the entourage to din-

164
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

ner, then on to various clubs; she either signed the check (jr paid
cash. "Edie made it happen," said Malanga. "She added something
to the ambience of every public place or private home she entered.
She was an archetype."
Andv saw her as his mirror image: Like him, she craved love but
acted as she didn't care about anybody. (According to the testimo-
if

nials in Jean Stein's biography Edie, her feelings about her parents
were deeply ambivalent. Moreover, two of her brothers had recently
committed suicide.) She was the quintessential "poor little rich girl,"
with her big Mercedes, her fur coats and credit cards, a husky little-
girl voice that always made her sound as if she had just stopped
crying, and huge eyes that one observer described as being the color
of "twice-frozen Hershey bars." Edie had, as Warhol wrote, "a poign-
antly vacant, vulnerable quality that made her a reflection of
everybody's private fantasies. Edie could be anything you wanted
her to be. .She was a wonderful, beautiful blank.
. .

"Vulnerability exuded from every pore of her skin," noted an-


other new friend of Andy's, Isabelle CoUin-Dufresne, who, as Ultra
Violet, would become another of his superstars. "Like a precocious
preppie puppet, she rocked and rolled unconsciously to the sound
of a radio station inside her head. She was always high. Andy liked
high people."
Edie's first starring role in a Warhol movie was in Poor Little Rich
Girl, Andy's "Shirley Templefilm, in which there was no father to
"

arrive on the scene and spoil the fun. Andy worked without scripts,
explaining, "I only wanted to find great people and let them talk
about themselves and talk about what they usually liked to talk about
and I'd film them." If Edie had needed a script, he said, she
wouldn't have been right for the part. For seventy minutes she lay
on her bed, talked on the phone, and walked around her room,
showing off her clothes and describing how she had gone through
her entire inheritance in six months. Gerard Malanga remembered:
"We shot two reels. When they came back from the lab, we pre-
viewed them and, to our horror, found them to be extremely out of
focus — not even close to salvageable. After replacing the lens, we
reshot the two long takes a week later and got it right. We took the
first reel, from the [first version, and sequenced it with the second

reel, from the] second version, so the film opens with an out-of-focus
thirty-five-minute take. That takes a lot of guts." When Poor Little

165
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Rich Girl was shown at the Film-Makers' Co-operative, Edie im-


mediately became an underground star.
At the beginning of her relationship with Andy, Edie seemed to
be happy, at least when she was around him. According to her
roommate, Genevieve Charbin, most of the day was taken up talking
to Andy on the phone. "Andy was a real blabbermouth on the
phone. He told her every little thing he did from the second he woke
up. He would compose exercises with Edie. Andy did one hundred
pull-ups every morning —
which does not surprise me because he
had an incredibly strong back." Almost every evening she went out
with him or worked on a film.
"Andy couldn't have been nicer," noted one Factory observer.
"He never asked her to say bad words. He never asked her to take
her clothes off or have sex or do anything. He just said, 'Now the
camera's on. Talk. You're great. Just be great. Most of the time it
wasn't very good and he didn't care. He didn't criticize her. He gave
her an identity."
Edie's rise to star status delighted the gay contingent at the Fac-
tory. She was gorgeous, campy, always up, always ready to go, and
she seemed to despise straight men. But her arrival was noted with
chagrin by the other women. Baby Jane Holzer stopped coming in.
One day Naomi Levine screamed at Andy for ignoring her and was
hauled to the stairwell by Billy Linich, slapped in the face, and told
to get out.
Andy and Edie quickly became the royal couple of the under-
ground, the coolest, prettiest characters on the New York scene.
"They were both these pale, frail, glamorous people, Henry Geld-"

zahler later said to Jean Stein. "Andy had always felt himself to be
unattractive and to be with Edie was to be Edie for a season. He
loved running around with her, appearing in public. She was one of
his ego images. And Edie thought she was Andy's. She felt pos-
sessed." That spring they attended the opening of Three Centuries of
American Painting at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and were
photographed for the society columns with the First Lady, Lady
Bird Johnson. The New York Times reporter noted that there was
something "seamy" about Andy Warhol in paint-spattered work
pants, a dinner jacket, and dark glasses, and his fragile consort with
cropped, silver-rinsed hair. But as Andy told Leo Lerman in Vogue:
"Success is expressing yourself. It's participation-liberation."

166
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

When he stood next to his alter ego, Andy felt beautiful. "Andy
enjoyed acting, being other than himself," the artist James Rosen-
quist pointed out. "He wanted the escape of being in another life."
He lusted after people, another friend observed, lifting enormous
chunks of other people's personalities and making them his own. In
most women Andy looked for mothers. In Edie he found himself.
"Andy Warhol would like to have been a charming well-born
debutante from Boston like Edie Sedgwick," said Truman Capote.
According to Andy's nephew James Warhola, Andy was soon pranc-
ing around the house wearing black tights and a T-shirt or long-
tailed striped shirt. Just like Edie.

Andy's flower paintings were in Paris in May 1965. When


to open
Ileana Sonnabend offered to round-trip fare to France by
pay his
sea, Andy asked her to spend the money on four plane tickets in-
stead. He was going to Europe for the first time since he had become
famous and he wanted to make as much impact as possible. He
decided to take Gerard, Edie, and Chuck Wein. The foursome ar-
rived in Paris in the early morning of April 30.
Warhol's first visit to France was perfectly timed. "Pop art" had
entered the Franglais lexicon, and it was the talk of Paris. The poet
John Ashbery, who was living there at the time, recalled: "Reporters
were always asking Brigitte Bardot and Jeanne Moreau what they
thought of it; it was the theme of a strip-tease at the Crazy Horse
Saloon, and there was even a pop art dress shop in the Rue du Bac
called Poppard."
The Warhol opening at the Sonnabend Gallery broke all atten-
dance records, and critics raved about the work. Peter Schjeldahl,
the American art critic, recalled the impact: "It was as if, in a dark,
grey atmosphere, someone had kicked open the door of a blast
furnace. The beauty, raciness, and cruelty of those pictures seemed
to answer a question so big I could never have hoped to ask it:
something about being, as Rimbaud had declared one must be, 'ab-
solutely modern.' The future breathed from the walls like raw
ozone."
Andy went gave interviews, and posed with Edie for
to nightclubs,
Paris-Match and Vogue. He
thought the French were terrific because
they didn't "care about anything," and he loved Paris because

167
VICTOR BOCKRIS

"everything is beautiful and the food is yummy." In fact, he was


having "so much fun" that he decided to make a bold gesture. He
told the French press that he was retiring from painting to make
films.
This was not a pose but a carefully planned strategy. Andy's prices
were climbing, but they were still low. A flower painting, for ex-
ample, sold for around two thousand dollars, depending on its size.
Moreover, Andy felt the pop art explosion was spent. His plan was
to stop painting, make it big in films with Edie, then go back to

painting by which time he felt sure the prices for his work would
have increased greatly.
Gerard noted in his diary that Andy was letting himself be too
easily influenced by Edie and was being "very silly" because he had
started taking Seconal to go to sleep. One morning Gerard left a
snappish note in the luxurious room where they were sharing one
very wide bed: "I'm not scheduling myself for a pill head. I took $6
because I had no money and I wasn't going to stay in the hotel till
you decided to wake. There's no reason in the world why you have to
take sleeping pills. This only proves my theory that you are a very
impressionable person. If someone told you to jump in fire you
probably would."
On certain levels Andy
must have enjoyed this. Malanga's position
as Andy's prime minister was being threatened by the Sedgwick-
Wein team. Andy was happily pitting them against one another for
his attention, and Gerard's diary was full of complaints.
From Paris, Andy and his entourage flew to London, where they
visited the art dealer Robert Eraser, went to a poetry reading by
Allen Ginsberg, and were photographed by David Bailey and
Michael Cooper in a series of pictures in which they looked more
like a superhip rock group than an artist and his assistants. It was the
sort of exposure that was increasingly making him an idol to young
people. In the United States, in fact, he already had five fan clubs.
From London they flew to Madrid, then traveled to Tangiers,
where Andy took his first vacation since 1956, staying for a week at
the luxurious Minza Hotel. He complained that the city smelled too
much, but everybody else was happy because of the supply of drugs.
They spent their days having lunch by the pool and walking around
the city walls while Andy dreamed up the movies he was going to
make with Edie.
Back in New York, Edie was passed through customs without

168
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

incident, but Andy and Gerard, whose long hair and cloiiung made
them obvious were taken to separate rooms to be strip-
targets,
searched by customs agents. As he walked off, Gerard saw Andy
surreptitiously drop a stream of pills onto the floor. Apparently he
was not sticking to Obctrol, or else his prescription had run out and
he had bought extra speed illegally.
A limousine took them from the airport straight to a double bill
of A Hard Day's Night and Goldfinger in Greenwich Village. As he
watched the movies, with Edie at his side and his car waiting to take
him to a party at Sybil Burton's disco, Arthur, Andy must have felt
more than content with the movie of his own life.

The next day Warhol astonished Ronnie Tavel with his directness.
He was going to make Edie the queen of the Factory, he said, and he
wanted a script for her. "Something in a kitchen. White and clean
and plastic."
"Do you want a plot?" asked Tavel.
"I want a situation," Andy said.
A soundman. Buddy Wirtschafter, offered his pristine white studio
apartment, and the film Kitchen, starring Edie with Rene Ricard and
Roger Trudeau, was shot there in June. It consisted of the three of
them sitting around a table in a small kitchen making idle talk on a
largely inaudible soundtrack. At the end, Edie was "killed" for no
apparent reason. Andy said the film was "illogical, without motiva-
tion or character, and completely ridiculous. Very much like real
life."

Kitchen got extraordinary critical reaction. "It was a horror to


watch," wrote Norman Mailer, who told a reporter he thought Andy
Warhol was the most perceptive man in America. "One hundred
years from now they will look at Kitchen and see the essence of every
boring, dead day one's ever had in a city and say 'Yes, that's why the
horror came down.' Kitchen shows that better than any other work of
that time. (Mailer would be influenced by the chaos in Warhol's
"

films when he made his own a few years later.)

"Being with Andy and Edie was like running with a teenage gang,"
recalled the writer BobHeidie. Genevieve, Chuck, or sometimes
Ondine would deliver Edie to the Factory late in the afternoon, and,

169
VICTOR BOCKRIS

if there wasn't a film to be shot, the evenings would be spent making


the social rounds. For Andy these evenings were as much a part of
hiswork as painting or giving interviews. He always took several
people with him wherever he went and used the occasions to make
contacts and discuss projects.
"Edie was not only very beautiful, said Heidie, "but there was a
"

lot of sensitivity. She had a kind of Judy Garland quality with the
legs, the deep, penetrating childlike eyes, vaporous skin; people
would stop and stare. It wasn't the real bad drug period, although
she was taking drugs like everybody else. I remember one party at
the Factory that summer: Everybody was there —
Tennessee Wil-
liams, Nureyev, Judy Garland —
and Edie was very high up on a
rafter doing the twist for the longest period of time, alone. She often
talked about trying to get close to Andy. She had some kind of
fascination that bordered on sister-brother incest crush, but she was
always frustrated that she never could get close to him on some
emotional level."
Beauty #2
cut to the quick of the Andy-Edie relationship. While
she sat on her bed in her underwear, drinking vodka with Gino, a
male hustler in jockey shorts (her "Beauty #2"), Chuck Wein, her
"Beauty #1," who had replaced Tavel as "writer on the project, sat
"

several feet away, just off camera, and interrogated her. Edie
emerged as a slightly perverse Hayley Mills until Wein's questions
about her father began to stab. As Chuck took Edie apart, Andy's
camera recorded her twisting and turning in his grip. At one point
Gino tried to make love to her, although it soon became obvious that
he was not as interested as she seemed to want him to be. By the end
of the film, Edie was reduced to the victim she saw herself as.
It was a disturbing piece of work, perfectly executed. The image

of Edie flickering with softness against the hardness of the Silver


Factory was like a window into the soul of Andy Warhol. By captur-
ing the "death" of Edie's every little moment, he "completed" her
just as he had "completed" Freddie Herko.
Beauty #2 was released at the Co-op on July 17, billed as an "un-
traditional triangle (without love)." Critics compared Edie's screen
presence to Monroe's; She was vulnerable, delicate, dynamite. As
one reviewer wrote, "She knew how to eat up a camera alive."
"The films would have an instant audience," said Malanga. "Re-
views would appear in the press; and Edie's career was launched, so

170

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

to speak, but she wasn't getting paid. She thought Andy was making
money with the fihns, because of all the hoopla, l)ut he wasn't. The

sales of his paintings were supporting a highly speculative venture


into filmmaking. If anything, the films were a drain on him
financially. Nevertheless, Edie wanted to get paid, but Andy never
indicated that any payment, however small, would be forthcoming,
except to say to her every so often, 'Be patient.' Andy assumed,
wrongly perhaps, that if he started paying everyone for whatever
the work involved, the end result would be of a lesser quality."
Edie became the envy of every hip girl in town. "She was acting
out the repression of her mother's generation by blasting out each
day constantly," one of her sisters told Jean Stein. "In a way, she was
a metaphor for the young of that time who were not political."
Andy's ambitions grew concomitantly. He told journalists that
Edie could "change the way movies looked" and that he wanted Edie
to play him, "because she does everything better than I do."
The success of Kitchen and Beauty #2 marked the height of Andy's
collaboration with Edie. Now they started thinking about making a
real hit film with Edie in it, maybe, Andy thought, by stringing
several of the shorter films together. When Jonas Mekas offered
Andy a week at the Cinematheque to do anything he wanted, Andy
suggested an Edie Sedgwick retrospective.
Once Beauty #2 made Edie the certified queen of the New York
underground, a lot of people began to give her conflicting advice,
the sum of which was: "Get away from Andy Warhol. He's just using
you. You don't need him. He doesn't even pay you. You could go to
Hollywood!" Foremost among them was Bob Dylan's right-hand
man, Bobby Neuwirth, with whom she was having an affair. He
drew her into the Dylan enclave in Woodstock, where Dylan's man-
ager, Albert Grossman, dangled offers of recording contracts and
movie roles with Dylan on the condition she leave "that madman
Warhol." This grew into a tug of war between the Warhol and Dylan

entourages the two poles of the New York underground, one
homosexual, the other heterosexual, both heavy users of drugs. The
two camps despised each other. At the Factory, Dylan was known as
"the creep." For the twenty-two-year-old cult object in the middle

Edie the battle was devastating.
Henry Geldzahler remembered: "I went to her apartment, which
I thought very grim, a couple of times. It was dark and the talk

171
VICTOR BOCKRIS

was always about how hung over she was, or how high she was
yesterday, or how high she would be tomorrow. She was very ner-
vous, very fragile, very thin, very hysterical. You could hear her

screaming, even though she wasn't screaming this sort of super-
sonic whistling."
In late July, just before Dylan released "Like a Rolling Stone,"
which contained some acerbic comments about the Warhol-
Sedgwick relationship (Andy is "Napoleon in rags"), the two con-
tenders for the underground throne met for the first time when
Dylan went to the Factory to sit for a Warhol screen test. Andy took
his usual refuge in the humble position of the fan, chewing his
fingernails and squealing, "He's here! He's here!" when Dylan, ac-
companied by bodyguards and a film crew, swept in. There was an
immediate standoff between the two opposing entourages. Andy's
loyalists wanted nothing to do with Dylan; for their part, the singer's
people looked at the gays with cold contempt. As for Dylan and
Warhol, it was, one observer noted, as if "two incredible people-
users had come together to see who could take a bigger chunk out of
whom."
"They were like oil and water," said Gerard. "There was just bad
friction. Dylan immediately hated Andy, and Andy thought Dylan
was corny." Visibly annoyed, Dylan sat still and silent through the
screen test and even went so far as to share the ritual toke on a
marijuana cigarette on camera with Warhol and Malanga. But ac-
cording to Bob Heidie: "After being filmed Dylan said, 'I think I'll

just take this for payment,' and walked off with an Elvis painting.
Andy didn't say a word, but his face could have fallen through the
floor." Shortly thereafter, Andy heard that Dylan had used the
painting as a dart board, then traded it for a sofa. "When I'd ask,
'Why would he do that?' " Warhol later wrote, "I'd invariably get
hearsay answers like, 'I hear he feels you destroyed Edie.' He
blamed me for Edies drugs." Andy's protests were not without
foundation, for manipulative drug use may have been more perva-
sive among Dylan's followers than among his own, and it was not
until after she left the Factory that Edie got heavily into heroin.
By August, even Andy could see how badly off Edie was. She
was, he realized, a compulsive liar and a bulimic, who constantly
made herself vomit after eating. She rarely took a bath unless he

172
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

forced her, and she was heavily dependent on ainphelaniines and


barbiturates.
"One night when the parties were over," he told Jean Stein in Edie,
"I guess she didn't want to sleep with somebody, so she asked me to
share a room with her. She always had to have her glass of hot milk
and a cigarette in one hand. In her sleep her hands kept crawling;
they couldn't sleep. I couldn't keep my eyes off them. She kept
scratching them. She just had nightmares. It was really sad."
Another night Edie asked Andy to meet her at the Russian Tea
Room, where she finally confronted him. "Everybody in New York
islaughing at me," she said. "I'm too einbarrassed to even leave my
apartment. These movies are making a complete fool out of me!
Everybody knows I just stand around in them doing nothing and
you film it and what kind of talent is that? Try to imagine how I
feel!" She added that she was broke, and if he didn't give her some
money, she would refuse to sign a release and he could not show any
of the films again.
"But don't you understand," he replied, "these movies are art! If
you wait another year or two, a Hollywood person might put you in
a real movie. You just have to be patient."
"Then she attacked the idea of the Edie Retrospective specifi-
cally," Warhol recalled, "saying that it was just another way for us to
make a fool of her. But now I was getting red in the face; she was
making me so upset I could hardly talk. Around midnight I was so
crazy from all the dumb arguing I walked out."
They patched it up later, but things were never the same. "The
fact that Edie couldn't understand that Warhol was her benefactor,
the fact that she mistrusted him, by putting him down, was some-
thing which I don't think he got over," said Ondine. "He was really
hurt."

As Edie lost her foodng at the Factory, Chuck Wein made his move.
"Chuck was sly and slippery in his own way," Malanga recalled. "He
realized Edie was being drawn in by the Bob Dylan group and he
was losing his grip on her." That August, Wein came up with an idea
for a film about an aging homosexual who rents a boy from Dial-a-
Hustler, then has to protect his "property" from his friends.

173
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Andy loved the idea. He decided to shoot it in a beach house on


Fire Island with Ed Hood, the black-sheep son of a wealthy southern
family, as the old queen and Paul America, a weirdly charismatic
bodybuilder, as the hustler. Just to make sure Edie got the point, he
cast her roommate, Genevieve Charbin, as the female lead.
That September, without saying a word to Edie, Andy took his
cast and crew to Fire Island. Among them were Malanga, Wein, and
Paul Morrissey, a hyperactive young man with a high-pitched voice
and a fast mouth, whom Malanga had introduced to Andy as a
possible technical assistant.
Andy was so fearful that someone might drug his food that he
had brought his own private supply of candy bars, on which he
planned to subsist throughout the weekend.
He began shooting the movie the night everyone arrived, with
— —
Wein "directing" setting up the scene and Morrissey on sound.
When Andy insisted that the camera remain stationary, Wein took
Morrissey aside and explained that this was his movie. He asked Paul
and Gerard to help him shoot the movie without Andy. "It was a
mutiny of sorts," Morrissey recalled, "and I said, 'I'm not going to do
that to Andy.' " To make matters worse, somebody spiked the food
with LSD.
For the of his life Andy adamantly denied that he got dosed
rest
that night.According to Malanga, however, it was obvious to him
that Andy was stoned when he found him picking thoughtfully
through the garbage in the kitchen at six in the morning. When
Malanga asked, "What are you doing?" Andy replied whimsically,
"Oh, I'm just looking for something."
Andy planned to shoot on the beach that afternoon. The camera
would be trained on Paul America lying on the beach, while off-
camera the other performers could be heard talking about him from
the sun deck. Morrissey pointed out that it seemed a pity that Ed
Hood, who was extremely funny to watch as well as hear, would
consequently not be never move the camera,"
visible in the film. "I
Andy annoyed. "I don't like to pan." Finally, Mor-
insisted, slightly
rissey managed to persuade him to shoot the reel twice. The first
time the camera would remain on Paul America, the second time it
would pan back and forth.
When My Hustler was screened the following month, it was shown
with a long pan-shot across the sand from the beach to the house

174
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

that was sharp and funny and in focus. It was, moreover, the first
Warhol fihn in which the sound was audible, thanks to Morrissey,
and it drew a large audience and good reviews. ''My Hustler had,
despite an essentially frivolous air, a real dramatic form, and a hell-
ish dramatic compactness," the film critic Neal Weaver wrote. "The
ugly face of rapacious sensuality was delineated with a fierce econ-
omy almost Balzacian. And the second half of the film, a long scene
in a tiny bathroom, largely between the two hustlers, was rather
remarkable in itself. For an unrehearsed scene, filmed in a single
long take, it achieved an inordinate degree of psychological subtlety,
and a good deal of dramatic tension."
Morrissey's arrival on the scene was one of the many fortuitous
accidents in Andy's career. A Catholic social worker from the
Bronx, Morrissey thought the art world pretentious and boring, and
he believed that the only real artists in America were working in the
movies. He immediately understood what Andy was up to: "Andy
wasn't doing experimental photography; he was experimenting with
people. From the very beginning I could see what he was doing was
very interesting because it left the camera on human beings who
were characters, and the basic ingredient of all dramatic fiction is
character. It was very simple. Andy wanted films that weren't di-
rected. Andy just said, 'Come to the Factory every day.' I was able to
provide the framework in which a film that was basically undirected
had some direction."
Edie was angry after her exclusion from My Hustler, but she
agreed to go with Andy to the opening night of the New York Film
Festival in September. "Clip-coiffed Edie Sedgwick upstaged the
Vampires on screen at the Lincoln Center Film Festival last night as
she swept in on the arm of pop artist Andy Warhol," noted The
World-Telegram. "Edie's outfit included her usual black leotard plus a
trailing black ostrich-plumed cape like a camp version of Mme.
Dracula."
Two weeks later, Andy and Edie reached their zenith as a pop
couple when they went to the opening of his first American retro-
spective at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia.The
show's curator, Sam Green, had painted the floors of the museum
played loud rock music in the background, hoping to turn the
silver,
ambience into something like the Factory's. But he was unprepared
for what happened. The space, which normally held seven hundred

175
VICTOR BOCKRIS

people, was jammed with a crowd of two thousand, most of them


students. When Andy, Edie, Chuck, and Gerard walked into the
room, pandemonium broke out. Two students were pushed
through windows. Dressed from head to foot in black, wearing eight
safety pins on the collar of his turtleneck sweater and a pair of
wraparound sunglasses, Andy was engulfed in waves of ecstatic
young fans. "It was," said Leo Castelli, "just a howling like the . . .

Beatles."
Sam Green became concerned about safety. "I looked at Andy and
he'd turned white with fear. It wasn't anger the crowd was express-
ing, it was hero worship. They wanted to touch him. It was as if Mick
Jagger had been stuck on the subway and discovered by teenage
girls. He was pinned against the wall. I think it was the moment that

Andy knew he was a star."


While the students stood below and chanted, "We want Andy and
Edie! We want Andy and Edie!" the campus security police escorted
the Warhol entourage upstairs to a balcony. Edie Sedgwick seized
the moment to address the crowd through a microphone: "Oh, I'm
so glad you all came tonight, and aren't we all having a wonderful
time? And isn't Andy Warhol the most wonderful artist?"
Andy watched the proceedings "in awe," Malanga recalled. "He
"
kept saying, 'Look how exciting this all is.'
Other members of the group were less thrilled. "It was the peak of
media insanity about pop art and I thought it was quite dangerous,"
remembered Henry Geldzahler, who joined Warhol on the balcony.
"My From the balcony they
attitude was, 'Let's get out of here.' "
were finallytaken up to the roof through a hole in the ceiling and
down a fire escape to the street, where they were whisked away in
police cars. The event made the local television news and enhanced
Andy's reputation in New York, where the story of his being
mobbed by screaming teenagers grew out of all proportion. As
Warhol commented in his memoir of the period, "Now things were
getting really interesting."

That Halloween, Roy Lichtenstein and his wife went to a party


dressed as Andy and Edie, because as Lichtenstein explained, Andy
had made himself and his consort into living works of art. But the
changes in the real Edie were now all too obvious. Her eyes were

176
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

black sockets. She had started wearing long-sleeved Hoor-length


mask her face,
dresses to hide the scratches on her arms and legs; to
she made up like a death's-head. Increasingly in public she
herself
seemed to be more Andy's zombie than his partner. He directed her
every movement with whispered commands to "stand up," "move
around," "pose."
The underground journalist John Wilcock, who was on the set of
her next Him, Bitch, recalled that the shooting ended when Edie
threw a drink at a light and it blew out. Warhol's technique of just
pointing the camera at somebody and turning it on would often
cause this kind of explosion, because the undirected pressure to
perform was so great.
To spite her, Andy began to develop a new superstar. "The
Warhol people felt Edie was giving them trouble," said the actor and
poet Rene Ricard. "They were furious with her because she wasn't
cooperating. So they went to a Forty-second Street bar and found
Ingrid von Schefflin. They had noticed: 'Doesn't this girl look like
an ugly Edie? Let's really teach Edie a lesson. Let's make a movie
with her and tell Edie she's the big new star.' They cut her hair like
Edie's. They made her up like Edie. Her name became Ingrid
Superstar . just an invention to make Edie feel horrible.
. .

Andy's last film with Edie was The Death of Lupe Velez, based on a
script by Robert Heidie. The film was about the last night in the life
of the "Mexican Spitfire" Lupe Velez. Edie acted out a scene in
which she tried to commit a beautiful suicide by lighting a circle of
candles around her bed and composing herself on it after taking a
handful of barbiturates, only to have them make her nauseated. The
film ends with Edie sticking her head in the toilet and pretending to
drown in her own vomit.
It was filmed in color on a December afternoon in 1965 on a tense

set at the socialite Panna O'Grady's apartment in the Dakota apart-


ment building on Central Park West. Edie had been fighting with a
lot of people at the Factory, complaining loudly to Andy that his
films were trying to make her look like a fool. Urged on by Chuck
Wein and unscrewed by drugs, she had been ripping up scripts and
throwing tantrums like a diva.
As they began to shoot. Bob Neuwirth arrived and took Edie into
a side room. "That was where the separation really took place,"
recalled one spectator. "Andy was fuming because somebody had

177
VICTOR BOCKRIS

invaded his domain." Bob arranged for Edie to meet Dylan later
that night, downtown of Fish.
at the Kettle
Warhol asked Robert Heidie to be at the restaurant. According to
Heidie, "Edie arrived before anybody else, so I sat with her. Then
Dylan's limousine pulled up outside and he came in all dressed in
black. Edie said something like, 'I've tried to get close to him but I
can't,' and Dylan said, 'Who?' She said, 'Andy,' and he muttered,
'Oh.' Andy was the last to arrive. It was almost as if he had been
somewhere watching. It was really dramatic. I had the feeling Edie
was on the verge of tears. She seemed estranged from Andy and he
wasn't expressing anything. Right after Andy came in, she more or
less turned around and said good-bye. After she and Dylan left
together, Andy showed no sign of reaction. He just said something
like, 'Edie's on the road down. I wonder who the next girl will be.'
"He was in the drama, but outside it, and I think that's probably
the key to the whole thing. Andy was destructive because he gave
nothing, and that's what Edie had been complaining about: What did
he want from her? After we left the Kettle of Fish, we walked up to
Cornelia Street. I showed Andy the spot where Freddie Herko had
jumped out the window and he said, 'I wonder if Edie will commit
"
suicide. I hope she lets me know so I can film it.'

178
13

WHEN ARE wc going to find someone for A. W.?" cried


OH,Andy to Ondine in the back of a cab one day in the summer
of 1965. (At the Factory, "A. W." stood for "All Witch," "All
Woman," "Andy Warhol.") Despite protestations that he no longer
"believed in love," Andy's yearnings for a lover were more acute
than ever. A year earlier he had "latched onto" (to use Malanga's
phrase) a good-looking, vulnerable young man named Philip Fagan,
whom he had met at a concert and whom he had invited to move
into his house — the first time he had done so with an object of
desire. Fagan agreed, but to many at the Factory he and Andy
seemed more like childish friends than lovers ("two little girls who
baked cakes together," said one observer). Six months later, the
relationship ended when Fagan presented Andy with an ultimatum,
a sure way to sever ties with Warhol. Andy had planned to take both
Fagan and Malanga to an opening in Toronto, but Philip had said
that if Gerard went, he wouldn't. Andy had replied, "It's up to you,"
and the young man, as Malanga recalled, "packed his bags and split.
He never came back, and I don't think he would have been allowed
back, because once a boy walked out on Andy, that was it."
A few months later, he met another "Fagan," a young Harvard

179
VICTOR BOCKRIS

graduate to whom he was introduced by Chuck Wein. Danny Wil-


liams was just the sort of sweet, easily dominated young man Andy
was looking for, and like Fagan, he soon moved into the Lexington
Avenue house. In no time he was wearing the same boat-neck
striped shirts Andy and Edie were wearing and regularly accom-
panying Warhol on his social rounds. After several months the rela-
tionship began to break down. Heidie was with Andy and Danny at a
restaurant on Christopher Street one night, when he witnessed one
of their fights: "Danny was very angry with Andy," said Heidie, "and
I sensed that Andy was afraid of him. Danny jumped up at the table

and pulled off Andy's wig. Andy screamed, 'Danny! Stop it!' For a
second we all saw him bald, then he popped it back on."
By October, Andy had kicked Danny out of his house, but, unlike
Fagan, he was allowed to stay around because he could work the
lightsand sound for the films. He moved into the Factory, set up a
workshop for himself, and lived there through the first months of
1966. Billy Linich had been opposed to the arrangement because
"Danny had a tendency to have nervous breakdowns, to become soft
and physically unreliable in our working space. As far as I was
concerned, that was dangerous and placed us in jeopardy." Danny
began taking amphetamines, but he did not handle them well. The
handsome Harvard preppie turned into an addict, his hair matted
and stringy, his skin coated with the silver dust that crumbled from
the walls of the Factory, his glasses broken and taped together.
When he fell into one of his funks, sometimes threatening suicide,
Andy screamed at him to "shape up." Everyone joined in. Danny
Williams became the Factory's whipping boy, and he retreated be-
hind what one observer described as "a gay farm-boy-exposed ap-
proach, like, 'If you don't watch out I'll hurt myself and it'll all be
your fault!' to which the typical response was, 'Well, fuck you,
"
Danny. Nobody gives a shit!'
As Henry Geldzahler saw it: "Andy was a voyeur-sadist and he
needed exhibitionist-masochists in order to fulfill both halves of his
destiny. And it's obvious that an exhibitionist-masochist is not going
to last very long. And then the voyeur-sadist needs another exhibi-
tionist-masochist. There were always more people around than
Andy could use in any one situation. Therefore there was constant
fighting to get into the royal enclave."

180
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

"It was as if he was collecting people," said Malaiiga. "Andy had a


hypnotic power to create a personality for soniec^ne."
Paul Morrissey was one of the few newcomers to the Factory who
had a strong personality of his own. A self-styled "square," Morris-
sey was determinedly anti-intellectual and (making an exception for
Andy) anti-avant-garde. He adored John Wayne, Katharine Hep-
burn, and the films of John Ford. Consequently, the others looked
down on him as "not an artist." But he had the ability to act as a
buffer between Warhol and the more volatile people at the Factory,
and by the end of 1965, he had become Andy's chief lieutenant,
responsible for passing on Andy's orders and handling requests for
money. Morrissey's withering sarcasm, delivered in a high-pitched
voice, didn't win anyone over, and he was soon the object of general
dislike among his co-workers, who viewed his commercial instincts
with alarm. Among such notions was Morrissey's conviction that the
name Andy Warhol was now eminently marketable.
In December 1965, Andy and Paul were approached by a theater
producer, Michael Myerberg, who had brought the first production
of Waiting for Godot to New York. Myerberg told them he was open-
ing a discotheque in an abandoned airplane hangar in Queens to
compete with the popular club Arthur, and he was willing to pay
Andy a small fee to bring people to the club.
"I had this idea," Morrissey recalled, "that Andy could make
money not only from underground films but from putting the
movies in some sort of rock-and-roll context." Paul suggested that
Andy also supply the music. Under those circumstances, Myerberg
agreed to call the club Andy Warhol's Up. An informal agreement
was reached on a proposed fee of forty thousand dollars for four
weekends the following April, and the Factory "squirrels," as Geld-
zahler called the younger kids, went out looking for a band.
Just before Christmas, the filmmaker and squirrel extraordinaire
Barbara Rubin heard a group called the Velvet Underground at the
Cafe Bizarre on MacDougal Street. The group was comprised of
Sterling Morrison, the lead guitarist, a self-styled "nasty rock-and-
roll biker type" who was in fact the friendliest and funniest member
of the band; Maureen Tucker, the percussionist, a tiny, androgy-
nous figure who kept a metronomic machinelike back beat on tim-
pani and cymbals; John Cale, who played electric viola and bass

181

VICTOR BOCKRIS

guitar, a Welsh music scholar and disciple of the avant-garde com-


poser La Monte Young; and Lou Reed, the hard-edged vocalist and
songwriter, who, at twenty-one, was already a rock-and-roll veteran.
The next night, Rubin took Gerard, Paul, Andy, and a bunch of
hangers-on, including the rapidly fading Edie, to see her discovery.
According to Morrissey, their first impression was that you couldn't
tell if the drummer was a boy or a girl, and that the band sang songs

about drugs and had the word underground in their name, all of
which gave them an affinity to the Factory. Bob Heidie, who was also
present, said that at one point Andy whispered to him, "Gee, do you
think we should, uh, buy them?" Afterward, Andy hit it off with
Lou Reed and invited the Velvets to the Factory to discuss ways of
working together.
A few days later, Malanga got a phone call from a German singer
he had met several years earlier. She was called, simply, Nico. Nice
had a fairly glittering resume. She had had a part in Fellini's La Dolce
Vita. She had studied acting and singing at Lee Strasberg's Actors
Studio. She had a son, Ari, by the French actor Alain Delon. And
she had been hanging out with the Rolling Stones in London. Andy
immediately proposed that she sing with "his" band. Nico, he wrote
in POPism, "was a new type of female superstar. Baby Jane and Edie
were both outgoing, American, social, bright, excited, chatty
whereas Nico was weird and untalkative. You'd ask her something
and she'd maybe answer you five minutes later. When people de-
scribed her, they used words like memento mori and macabre. She
wasn't the type to get up on a table and dance, the way Edie or Jane
might; in fact, she'd rather hide under the table than dance on top
of it. She was mysterious and European, a real moon goddess type."
Andy's idea was to take the black-clad, scruffy young band with its
rock-and-roll music about heroin and sadomasochism, put the icy
blond white-on-white Nico up front, and have them play as loud as
they could behind male and female go-go dancers while his films
were projected in the background and strobe lights roamed the
audience. He understood the need to express distress in the culture:
Why shouldn't rock and roll be disturbing?
When the Velvet Underground visited the Factory a few days
later,they were presented with an offer they could take or leave.
Andy would manage them, give them a place to rehearse, finance
their equipment, support them, and make them famous, in return

182
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

tor which VVarvel, Inc., the cover company, would receive twenty-
five pel cent of their earnings. There was another condition: Nico
must sing with the band. Persuading the \'ehets to play with Nico
was not easv. First ot all, she wanted onlv a back-up band so that she
could sing all the songs, and the multitalented Velvets had no inter-
est in simplv providing back-up. Besides, some of their best songs,
like "Heroin" and "Waiting for My Man," weren't as well suited for
Nice's voice as they were for Lou Reed's. Still, everybody was eager
to do something, and the Velvets finally agreed to Andy and Paul's
proposal that Nico be allowed to sing a few songs and, when not
singing, just stand on the stage looking beautiful.
Lou Reed remembered: "And\ told me that what we were doing
with music was the same thing he was doing with painting and
movies, i.e., not kidding around. To mv mind nobodv in music was
doing anything that even approximated the real thing, with the
exception of us. It wasn't slick or a lie in any conceivable wav. The
first thing I liked about Andv was that he was verv real."

All the Velvets were excited about working with Andv. '"It was like
bang!" the Factory actress Mary Woronov recalled. "They were with
Andy and Andy was with them and they backed him absolutely.
They would have walked to the end of the earth for him." But it was
Lou Reed who was the most affected.
Like Billv Linich and Gerard Malanga, he was ripe for being
molded by the master. Self-effacing and vulnerable offstage, a het-
erosexual who said he wanted to be a drag queen, he was a rock-and-
roller around the bend, a wild man on the guitar who, onstage,
couldn't be "mean" enough. As one verse of "Heroin" went: "When
the smack begins to flow Then I reallv don't care anvmore About /

all you jim jims in this town And evervbodv putting evervbodv else
'

down / And all the politicians making crazv sounds / And all the
dead bodies piled up in mounds." Most of Reed's songs were like
that —sharp, cool, on target —
and he delivered them in a static-
electric voice filled with contemptuous rage.
During the following weeks thev all worked hard together. Andv
gave Lou ideas for songs and asked him how manv he had written
every dav. He taught him that work was evervthing, and Lou came
to believe that his music was so beautiful that people should be
willing to die for it. "It was like landing in heaven, said Reed. "I
"

would hear people sav the most astonishing things, the craziest

183
VICTOR BOCKRIS

things, the funniest things, the saddest things. I used to write it all

down."
The Velvet Underground immediately became a part of Warhol's
entourage. "New York was based on parties then," Morrissey re-
called. "There were twenty parties a night, some of them given by
public-relations companies, and Andy started to find his way onto
some of those lists." He also became famous for crashing parties,

with a dozen people in tow. For example, on New Year's Eve, 1965,
Andy, Gerard, the Velvets, and Edie, who was still on the scene,
started off the evening by crashing the traditional party given by the
playwright Edward Albee and the producer Richard Barr. When
they got to the top of the stairs, Barr pointed at them across the
room and said, "You! Out!" They all exited quickly, half-amused,
half-perplexed by the strength of the rejection. Bob Heidie, who was
at the party, was stunned. "Edie was the Girl of the Year," he said,
"and would have seemed absolutely right that they be there along
it

with Noel Coward and John Gielgud. Apparently, however, they


didn't want a woman there!"
In preparation for the opening of Andy Warhol's Up disco-
theque, a test run was scheduled at the Cinematheque. Jonas Mekas
had given Andy a free hand to do anything he liked in place of the
Edie Sedgwick retrospective, which had been canceled after she re-
fused to sign releases for her films. For the show Billy changed his
surname from Linich to Name, which Andy thought was "so cute."
One of Andy's ambitions was to have an art show "with people on
the walls instead of paintings," so it was decided to present the
Velvets and Nico with Andy's films in the background. Barbara
Rubin was run up and down the aisles screaming threatening
to
questions people while Billy photographed their reactions. And
at
Gerard Malanga was to lead a company of "interpretive dancers"
pretending to shoot up, whip one another, and perform crucifixions
in front of the band.
The show went as planned, and "left nothing to the imagination,"
said Ronnie Cutrone, a teenage art student and one of the dancers.
"We were on stage with bullwhips, giant flashlights, hypodermic
needles, and wooden crosses. It was very severe. It scared a lot of
people."
"It's ugly," said Andy, "a very ugly effect, when you put it all

together. But it's beautiful — the Velvets playing and Gerard danc-

184
THE EARLY YEARS

Andy, age 3 (right), with his mother and brother John: "Being born is
likebeing kidnapped. And then sold into slavery." (Courtesy of John
Richardson.)
THE EARLY YEARS

Andrei Warhijla on a Pittsburgh construction site: An


arch-disciplinarian withan enormous appetite for
work. (Courtesy of John Warhola.)

The house on Beelan Street where Andy lived from age 2 to 4: Flames
from the surrounding steel mills sparked conllagrations in such
dwellings, giving him a lifelong fear of hre. (Photo by Victor Bockris.)
THE EARLY YEARS

Andy (in front) with relatives on the day of his father's funeral in
1942, outside the Warholas' house on Dawson Street: This may
have been the only funeral he ever went to. (Courtesy of Justina
Swindell.)

At age 14 with his


brothersJohn (left) and
Paul on Dawson Street:
Now he was compulsive
about drawing pictmes.
(Courtesy of Paul
Warhola.)
THE EARLY YEARS

Andy as a col-
lege senior in
1948: Accord-
ing to Philip
he
Pearlstein,
was "exiraordi-
narily talented
. . . like an angel
in the sky."
(Courtesy of Ar-
chives Malanga.)

THE FIFTIES

In New York, 1950: Within da\-


of his arrival he had (oiuid his

commercial calling card ladies'
shoes. (Courtesy of Ariluir
Elias.)
THE FIFTIES

f >

With his mother in their fourth-floor apartment at 242 Lexington Ave-


nue, 1958: As the litter mounted, so did the population of cats. (Photo
bv Duane Michals.)

Practicing to be famous— a la Capote— in 1958:"He used his shy-


ness like a little bov— plavfullv." (Photo bv Duane Michals.)
THE SIXTIES

Andy 1963 with Henry Geldzahler (left), David Hockney


(at rear) in

(middle),and Geoffrey Goodman: "Andy was pop and pop was Andy."
(Photo by Dennis Hopper, courtesy of Tony Shafrazi Gallery.)

With Irving I um (rear), Billy A! Bengston, and Dennis Hopper


in Los Angeles 1963: Young Hollywood, from Trov Donahue to

Peter Fonda, tu led out to fete him. (Gourtesy of Irving Blum.)


THE SIXTIES

Shopping in New York, 1964:


Eleanor Ward, his dealer, was
horrified that he was making
sculpture out of grocery boxes.
(Photo by Bob Adelman.)

With Gerard Malanga in Paris in 1965; Andy's desire


for power was intimately linked to his voyeurism.
(Photo by Harrv Shimk.)
THE SIXTIES

With Edie Sed^nvick in 1965: This poov littlt- rich girl was his
mirror image, "a woncltMlul, hcauiiriil blank." (I'hoio l)\ Bdh
Adelniui.)
THE SIXTIES

Filming Beauty #2 with Edie and Gino Piserchio in 1965: By capturing the
"death" of his superstar's every moment in this "untraditional triangle
(without love)," Warhol reduced her to what she saw herself as— a victim.
(Photo bv Bob Adelman.)
THE SIXTIES

From A7idy Warhul's Index Book, published in 1965 (with


Diane Hall pointing a toy pistol in the Factory):
Foreshadowing 1968. (Photo by Stephen Shore.)

The Factory workers, 1965: (top, left to right) Nico,


Biigid Polk, Louis Waldon, Taylor Mead, Ultra V'iolet,
Pai Morrissey, Viva, International Velvet, unidentified
'

peri i; (bottom) Ingrid Superstar, Ondine, Tom


Bake, Tiger Morse, Billy Name, Warhol. (Courtesy of
Archiv Maianga.)
THE SIXTIES

Andy being put into anambulance outside the Factory after being shot.
1968: "it hurt so much, I wished I were dead." (Photo by Jack Smith,
courtesy of the Sew York Dail\ Xews.)
THE SEVENTIES

In Positanc) in 1973 with (left to right) Susan Johnson, Biaiica and Mick
Jagger, Fred Hughes, and Jed Johnson (holding Jade Jagger): No party
was complete witliout And\. (Photo hv Paul Morrisse\.)

With Paulette
(ioddard at the
\Vhitiie\ Museum
opening ot his

celebiitN |)oiti.iiis
ill 1979: A more
glanioroii> stand-in
tor his moilierr
(Photob\ roh\ Okl.)
THE SEVENTIES

At Studio 54 in 1979 with (left to right) Loma Luft, Jerry Hall, Debbie
Harry, Truman Capote, and Paloma Picasso: Where the stars were "no-
body because everybody's a star." (Photo by Anton Perich.)

Doing a celebrity portrait at the


The final result was
Factory, in 1973:
embalmed expressionism. (Photo bv
Victor Bockris.)
THE EIGHTIES

With Jon
Gould (left) in
a helicopter over
New York. 1983: In
lo\e. (Photo by
Christopher Makes.)

With private mas-


seur: "Muscles are
great. Evervbodv
should iia\e at
least one thev can
show off." (Photo
bv Christopher
Makos.)

With Joseph
Beuys. Heiner
Bastian, and
Robert Rauschen-
berg in Berlin.
1982: ".A. nai\e re-
\olutionary."
( Photo b\ Christo-
pher Makos.)
THE EIGHTIES

PALLADIUM
^ PRESENTS^

WARHOLBASQUIAT
PAINTINGS
S AT U -. L) AY SEP TIM B 5 fiJLil 19jBl5_! 1 0PM
?^i;^,^^'^'^ 12o EASXJ4 3IB££I 21Z--47JL-.Z17.1
EXHien^' JN AT TONY SHAFRA2 GALLERY .om.ss.on twenty dollars

Invitation to a party after the opening of Warhol's joint show with


Jean-Michel Basquiat, showing the two artists: "I think I helped Andv
more than he helped me." (Photo by Michael Halsband, courtesy of
Tony Shafrazi Gallery.)
THE EIGHTIES

EiiiM'^l

ANDY WARHOL
DEAD
AT 58

HEAItT ATTACK KILLS DAVID SUSSKIND: PAGB 9

(Copyright © 1987 by New York Post.)

The burial in John the Divine C".emeier\ in Bethel Park: Among the
St.

nunnners Love (head down), James VVarhola (hands


(left to right), Ciael

folded), Brigid Berlin, and Warhol's Filipino housekeepers Nena and


Aurora Bugarin. (Photo by Wilfredo Rosado.)
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

ing and the films and the lights, and it's a beautiful thing. Very vinyl.
Beautiful."
The show, which was renamed Andy Warhol Uptight, was de-
signed to provoke the performers as well as the audience. "They
were a very bitchy, competitive crowd at the Factory," noted one
observer, "and Andy them along. He was always saying,
tricked
'You're going to be a and they got involved with him to the
star!'

point where if they pulled out, they lost everything they had put in.
So Andy could just screw people over left and right. No one got
paid. He was eating people! It was straight-out exploitation."
Edie danced with Malanga at the Cinematheque, but a few weeks
later in February she staged another "final exit" from Andy. They
were all dining at the Ginger Man restaurant across from Lincoln
Center, when she demanded hysterically, in front of the whole en-
tourage: "What am I supposed to be doing in the Velvet Under-
ground? What's my role? When am I going to get paid?"
Pale and shaking, Andy repeated what he always said, "I don't
have any money, Edie! You'll have to be patient."
Edie left the table and made a phone call, ostensibly to Bob Dylan.
Then she came back to the table and told Andy she was leaving
for good.
Of Edie's "defection "
Malanga said: "The people advising Dylan
had they could develop Edie into a singer. So it was
this illusion that
easy for her to finally leave Andy. She was the product of a hetero-
sexual milieu, whereas Andy was very much part of a homosexual
sensibility,and the Dylan group was staunchly heterosexual. Edie's
talent was totally undeveloped. She thought she could further her-
self by being associated with Dylan, but this was merely an optimism
based on hopes and dreams."
Paul Morrissey explained it this way: "Dylan was a creep. I think
he was doing it to spite Andy. He had some sort of dislike for Andy.
Andy didn't care about that. He just felt very upset that Edie would
be so cruel."
Indeed, Andy had rarely been so upset, and he became more so
when he heard that Edie was putting him down as a "sadistic faggot"
and making fun of his films. She had, he wrote, "fascinated me more
than anybody I had ever known. And the fascination I experienced
was probably very close to a certain kind of love." "1 still care about
people," he told an interviewer, "but it would be so much easier not

185
.

VICTOR BOCKRIS

to care. ... I don't want to get too involved in other people's lives. . .

I don't want to get too close. . . . That's why my work is so distant


from myself." He was, he wrote, a victim of the times: "During the
sixties I think people forgot what emotions were supposed to be.
And I don't think they've ever remembered. I think that once you
see emotions from a certain angle you can never think of them as
real again. That's what more or less happened to me. I don't know if
I was ever capable of love, but after the sixties I never thought in
terms of love again."

Meanwhile, Morrissey was pressing Michael Myerberg about the


discotheque in Queens. Morrissey recalled: "There was, let's say, an
Italian influence in this club, and I think they had their own plans
for the opening. Somehow, even Myerberg About a
lost control of it.
week before the club was scheduled to open, this lawyer called and
said, 'They've changed their mind; they're going to open this
weekend with the Young Rascals.' I remember going down to the
Cafe Figaro, where Gerard had taken Andy to see Allen Ginsberg. I
said, 'Andy, they're not going to sign the agreement, we don't have a
club for the Velvets.' Sitting at the table behind me were Jackie
Cassen and Rudi Stern, and they heard me talking. They said,
'You're looking for a dance hall to present a rock-and-roll group?
We know a wonderful place.' I went over to St. Mark's Place with
them and saw the Dom. We signed the rental deal on Friday, and
that afternoon the Velvets moved their equipment in, and Gerard
was up on the back, painting the wall white. At eight o'clock, all
these people showed up. It was packed."
The advertisement in The Village Voice had read: "come blow
YOUR MIND. The Silver Dream Factory Presents The Exploding
Andy Warhol/The Velvet Underground/and
Plastic Inevitable with
Nico." There was no question who the main attraction was: The Dom
was packed because of curiosity about Andy. Not that anyone could
see him. Seven nights a week for the next four weeks, he sat high
above the deafening din up in the balcony of the former Polish
meeting hall, running the film and slide projectors, conducting, as
Jonas Mekas saw him, "light symphonies of tremendous emotional
and mental pitch somewhere in the shadow, totally unnoticeable
. . .

but following every second and every detail of it." The last thing he

186
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

wanted people to do was relax. Whenever he thought the audience


was getting too loose, he ordered the projectionist to "Change it!
Change it!"
Throughout April, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable packed the
Dom with a cross-section of straights and gays, art tramps and artists
(including Salvador Dali, who was advertised as a member of the
group), the thrill-seeking rich, the drugged and the desperate, beau-
tiful girls in miniskirts,and beautiful boys, for all of whom Andy
had created a kind of religious spectacle. This was the first time
Andy had combined all his different worlds under one roof. Lou
Reecl said: "Andy created multimedia in New York. The whole com-
plexion of the city changed. Nothing remained the same after that."
According to Morrissey: "It was almost the first time a strobe had
even been on a dance floor. And Andy had bought the old mirrored
light ball in a junk shop. It was part of his own collection of Ameri-
cana, and pretty soon every hippie in the world had one in their
living room. I always thought we were just reflecting what we saw
about us, but people looked on it as some sort of a political move-
ment. The West Coast hippie movement was a political movement.
People used to say, 'Well, aren't you hippies too?' People outside
New York don't understand that the New York sensibility doesn't
take anything seriously. Everything's just grist for the mill. It was
only provincial attitudes, like in Germany or England or California,
that took this stuff seriously."
But the art pundits waxed ecstatic: "The sound is a savage series
of thrusts and electronic feedback," wrote the Voice critic Richard
Goldstein. "The lyrics combine sadomasochistic frenzy with free-
association imagery. The whole sound seems to be the product of a
secret marriage between Bob Dylan and the Marquis de Sade." Mar-
shall McLuhan, the cultural seer, found the Exploding Plastic Inevi-
table's performances remarkable enough to include a photograph of
one of them in The Medium Is the Message, with its celebrated asser-
tion: " 'Time' has ceased, 'space' has vanished. We now live in a
global village ... a simultaneous happening.
The EPI provoked its share of hostility as well. On more than one
occasion, members of the group were attacked by bottle-throwers as
they left the Dom. It was only to be expected, for, as Stephen Koch
would later write: "Seeing [the Exploding Plastic Inevitable] made
me realize for the first time how deeply the then all-admired theo-

187
"

VICTOR BOCKRIS

ries attacking the 'ego' as the root of all evil and unhappiness had
become for the avant-garde the grounds for a deeply engaged
metaphor of sexual sadism, for 'blowing the mind,' assaulting the
senses; it came home to me how the 'obliteration' of the ego was not
the act of liberationit was advertised to be, but an act of compulsive

revenge and resentment wholly entangled on the deepest levels with


the knots of frustration. Liberation was turning out to be humilia-
tion; peace was revealing itself as rage."

During his first week at the Dom, Andy opened a new show at the
Castelli Gallery. There had been an eighteen-month hiatus since the
Flowers show, during which time he'd devoted himself almost exclu-
filmmaking. Having announced in Paris that he was retiring
sively to
from painting, having insisted to Leo Castelli and Ivan Karp that he
had run out of ideas, he conceived this show as his farewell to art.
Karp had suggested that he paint something "pastoral, like cows"
and so he wallpapered one room of the gallery with the repeated
images of a cow's head, resembling Elsie, the friendly trademark of
Borden's dairy products. The other room he filled with free-floating
helium-filled silver pillows.
As a "happening, the show was powerful, and the critics were
"

suitably puzzled: "The ways his materials were deployed demon-


extremes of stability and mobility; the full
strated, in a single show,
implications of that show are
still to be worked out," wrote the Brit-

ish art historian Richard Morphet. For Calvin Tomkins, the show
was apocalyptic: "With awesome timing, Andy declared Pop Art
dead.
Indeed, it would be eleven years before Andy had another show
of new work at Castelli.

"You just gave them what they wanted," said the actress Mary
Woronov, "and it was like this run. Man, we had a run. With the "

EPI taking in eighteen thousand dollars its first week at the Dom,
with My Hustler making a profit at the Cinematheque, Andy
branched out again by producing his first record album. Velvet
Underground and Nico.
A recording studio was rented for $2,500 for three nights, and

188
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

conflicts erupted about what Nico could or could not sing. In the
end The Velvets, at least, were happy with the arrangement. "Andy
was like —
an umbrella he was just there," Lou Reed recalled. "He
made it so we could do anything we wanted; we made the record
ourselves."
Everything was going well until Warhol and Morrissey made the
kind of mistake that would undercut a good deal of their work
together in the coming years. They did not watch out for the sharks
in the booming rock business, who would move in on a good thing as
soon as they saw it make money. When a genial booking agent
named Charlie Rothchild approached Morrissey and persuaded
him to turn over the Dom's box office to him and let him get other
bookings for the band, Morrissey agreed. Consequently, at the be-
ginning of May, the Exploding Plastic Inevitable, numbering some
fourteen performers in all, found themselves flying out to Los
Angeles for a month-long engagement at a club called the Trip that
promised to put them over the top and get them a big record deal.
They established themselves in the Castle, a large imitation fortress
in the Hollywood Hills, where many rock stars put up their entou-
rages at five himdred dollars a week. There, things began to fall
apart.
Their opening act, the Mothers of Invention, set out to ridicule
the Velvet Underground whenever they could, and the old jealousy
between the East and West Coast entertainment businesses broke
out in the open. Lou Reed was heard to say that Frank Zappa, the
leader of the Mothers, was "probably the single most untalented
person I've heard in my life." In rebuttal, Cher, queen of the local
rock hierarchy, commented that the EPI would "replace nothing
except maybe suicide." The local critics were equally dismissive, and
on the group's third night, the Trip was closed down by the local
sheriff'sdepartment for disturbing the peace. Andy did not want to
spend a in L.A., supporting fourteen people who were doing
month
nothing, but the musicians' union informed him that if the band
stayed in town for the duration of the engagement, they would have
to be paid the entire fee. Tensions were running high, and Reed was
already looking for a way out of his contract with Andy, but EPI
decided to stay and sell their tapes to a record company. After
several rejections, they got a positive response from the producer
Tom Wilson, who was about to move into an executive position at

189
VICTOR BOCKRIS

MGM. But now Reed refused to sign the contracts unless all money
from sales came first to the band, not to Warhol as originally agreed
upon. Morrissey started to think that Reed too was a creep, just like
Dylan.
The moment of truth came when the band was booked to play a
weekend Graham's Fillmore West in San Francisco at the end
at Bill
of the month. By then tempers were so frayed that the New York
contingent could no longer hide their contempt for the West Coast
scene. Morrissey sarcastically asked Graham why the West Coast
bands didn't take heroin, since "that's what all really good musicians
take." It was a put-on, but Graham exploded: "You disgusting
germs! Here we are trying to clean everything up and you come out
here with your disgusting minds and whips! That night Gerard was
"

arrested in the street for carrying the leather buUwhip he danced


with, and spent a nervous night in jail. Everyone split up after that:
Andy returned to New York the trip was over. —
Looking back on the whole experience, which coincided with the
surge of the West Coast hippie movement, Lou Reed reflected: "It
was very funny, until there were a lot of casualties. Then it wasn't
funny anymore. That flower-power thing eventually crumbled as
a result of drug casualties and the fact that it was a nice idea but
not a very realistic one. What we, the Velvets, were talking about . . .

was . . . realistic."

190
14

NDY HAD NEGLECTED to renew his lease on the Dom, and


when he returned to New York, he found, much to his dis-
may, that none other than Charlie Rothchild and Dylan's
manager, Albert Grossman, had taken over the place and turned it
into a lucrative rock club called the Balloon Farm. (A year later,
drawing on the concepts Warhol had pioneered, it would become
one of the seminal and most lucrative rock clubs of the sixties, the
Electric Circus.)
Andy bewailed the collapse of the Exploding Plastic Inevitable.
"Other people succeed who have no talent," he would say. "Here we
are with all you gorgeous people and we can't make it. How come?
Oh, it's so hard." Still, he never let failures stop him in what Malanga
called his relentless drive for "/a gloire." The Exploding Plastic Inevita-
ble had spread his name to a much larger, younger audience than he
had had as an artist and filmmaker. Now was the perfect time to put
out a new film this audience could eat up. The feelings that had
erupted around the disintegration of the EPI were, he thought,
perfect material.
Rather than focusing his camera on one "star," he would turn it
loose —
on the whole bunch Ingrid Superstar, Mary Woronov, Nico

191
VICTOR BOCKRIS

(whom he was promoting as his new "Girl of the Year"), a newcomer


who called herself International Velvet, Malanga, Ondine, and
Brigid Polk. And in the process, he would expose the reverse side of
the sixties, challenging the corny flower-power philosophy of the
hippies and their messiah, Dylan.
Ever since he had been commissioned to do Ethel Scull 36 Times,
Andy had been aware that painting portraits was a quicker and
surer way to make money than painting works like the "death-and-
disaster" series. After pausing briefly to knock off several commis-
sioned portraits (of the gallery owner Holly Solomon and Lita Hor-
nick, a socialite), he embarked in mid-June 1966 on the busiest three
months of his movie-making career.
"Andy tried to film a sequence a week," Morrissey recalled. "To
buy the film, to develop it and get a print was about a thousand to
fifteen-hundred dollars a week, depending on whether it was black
and white or color. He wasn't making a fortune then, so these ex-
periments, which everybody except us thought were idiotic, had
to prove themselves in some popular way."
Between June and September, he shot some fifteen one- and two-
reel films at the Factory, in various apartments, and at the old bohe-
mian Chelsea Hotel on West Twenty-third Street, where several of
the performers were living. His general idea was to film people in
conflict with one another or, if alone, with themselves. The dynamic
behind the films was like that of the EPI: tense and confrontational.
No one in the cast was fully aware of what Andy was up to, but
they were all primed to perform. The films had no plots and, in
most cases, no scripts, except for a few sketches mailed in by Ronnie
Tavel, who had finally become so upset by what he saw as Warhol's
cruelty that he had removed himself to California. As with previous
Warhol films, the scenes were shot in one take until the thirty-five-
minute reels ran out, the idea being that if he aimed the camera at
interesting people and kept it running, something was bound to hap-
pen. "This way I can catch people being themselves instead of set-
ting up a scene and shooting it and letting people act out parts that
were written," he explained. "Because it's better to act naturally than
act like somebody else. These are experimental films which deal with
human emotions and human life. Anything to do with the human
person I feel is all right."
Naturally, this put all the burden on the performers, and this

192
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

pressure was invariably compounded by


personal hostilities and the
effects of drugs. "All these people were used again and again in his
films," Ondine pointed out, "but in ways that would lead them to
really dislike each other, because of the dialogue. Also because of
the drug taking — —
an enormous amount of drug taking most of the
people were off the wall with their own versions of what was hap-
pening." To turn the pressure up, Andy and Paul would plant
rumors about unpleasant reinarks someone had made about some-
one else.
The films were shot under the most primitive conditions. The
sound was recorded optically, which was inexpensive but often
created almost inaudible soundtracks. Warhol's attitude was not to
care. When the soundman on one set protested that the sound was
hopelessly unbalanced and the batteries were dying, Andy shot the
film anyway. It was this reckless, driven, edgy, "Just do it!" attitude
along with everything else that inspired his actors to give him every-
thing they could.
The results were often explosive. For Ondine's scenes, it was de-
cided that he would play the "Pope of Greenwich Village." In one
reel, desperate to be magnificent, he began by shooting up ampheta-
mines on camera, confessing his homosexuality, and lambasting the
state of the Roman Catholic church. As his exposition became more
searing, Ondine uttered what would become one of his most contro-
"Approach the crucifix, lift his loincloth, and go about
versial lines:
your business!" A girl named Rona Page, who had been sent by
Jonas Mekas, came in to "take confession." On camera she made the
terrible mistake of calling Ondine a phony. Flying into a rage, he
slapped her in the face, tore into her, jumped up and slapped her
again. Andy, who hated violence but was too fascinated to stop it,
ran to the other side of the room, followed by Rona. Ondine
stormed off after them, screaming, "Turn off the fucking camera!"
but the camera stared obdurately at the empty couch and ground
on. Off set, Ondine could still be heard yelling, "You phony! You
fool! You moron! You misery! You're a disgrace, a disgrace to your-
self. May God forgive you!"

Andy's methods were unpleasant, Ondine said, "but he pulled out


of these people, including myself, some of the best performances
ever on screen."
In August, Jonas Mekas asked Warhol for a film to show at the

193
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Cinematheque, and Andy and Paul started reviewing the footage


they had shot over the summer. As they screened the twelve to
fifteen reels, they realized that the films related to one another in a
compelling if unintended way. In addition to the Pope/Ondine
story, there were harrowing reels of Brigid, playing a drug dealer,
shooting up amphetamines through her blue jeans, of Gerard
Malanga being called an irresponsible hippie by Marie Mecken in
the role of his mother, of Mario Montez being reduced to tears by
two bitchy homosexuals, of Eric Emerson stripping and telling his
life story, of a lesbian torture sequence, and of Nico cutting her hair

and crying. They quickly assembled twelve of them into a sequence


and gave it the umbrella title Chelsea Girls.
With a running time of six-and-a-half hours, the film was too long
for theatrical distribution. To solve the problem Andy decided to
show two reels simultaneously on a split screen with only one side of
the screen "talking" at a time, thereby cutting the running time in
half. The juxtaposition of actors and action, color and black and
white, sound and silence heightened the schizoid effect, particularly
when the same players appeared in adjacent scenes exposing differ-
ent aspects of their personalities. Ingrid Superstar, who appeared in
more scenes than anyone else, emerged as the comic heroine of the
film. Morrissey explained: "With us everything is acceptance. Noth-
ing is critical. Everything is amoral. People can be whatever they are,
and we record it on film. The one Andy loves is Ingrid Superstar,
because Ingrid can't dissimulate. She couldn't not be Ingrid. She can
do her thing for us because she thinks we're trash. We treat her like
dirt and that's the way she likes to be treated."
Above all, Chelsea Girls stood out as a harrowing portrait of what
Andy Warhol's world had become by the summer of 1966, for by
the time the filming began, even his greatest champion had walked
out. Recalled Henry Geldzahler: "I finally understood what Andy
was doing with people and I had to get out of there to save myself.
There was one tense moment. There was a blackboard in the studio
and I wrote: 'Andy Warhol can't paint anymore and he can't make
movies yet.' He never forgot it."
By the time Chelsea Girls was finished, the Factory was seething,
and casualties were beginning to mount. Danny Williams had re-
joined the EPI as a technician one last time for a week of shows in
Chicago in June, but after an argument with Morrissey during the

194
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

sound check had resulted in a fistfight, he had returned to his par-


ents' house on Cape Cod. On September 8, the week before Chelsea
Girls was to open at the Cinematheque, word arrived at the Factory
that Danny had driven to the shore, undressed, left his clothes in a
neat pile by the car, plunged into the ocean, and drowned. Among
those who had watched Andy's rejection and constant belittling of
Danny, the general attitude was, "If that's what he wants to do, that's
cool." When Williams' parents sent Andy two doorknobs that Danny
had left him with his suicide note, everyone at the Factory pre-
tended they didn't grasp the message about where Andy should
shove them. According to Ronald Tavel: "Andy's reaction was ap-
palling. I was there the day [Williams'] mother called and I said,
'You must speak to her.' He said, 'Oh, I don't care, what a pain in the
"

neck, he was just an amphetamine addict!'


"You couldn't blow your cool ever," remembered Ronnie Cut-
rone. "You were not allowed even to be a human being. Everything
worked through guilt and paranoia."
Billy Name said that he got so sick from exhaustion that he was
reduced to lying on a couch for several days, "urinating this black
and red stuff and crying because it was so painful." Andy advised
him to "see it all as a movie so you don't have to experience all
that pain."
Even Gerard Malanga's relationship with Andy was reaching the
breaking point. Morrissey's involvement had increasingly subverted
Malanga's position as Warhol's closest associate, and he began keep-
ing a daily tally of rebuffs in a "Trip Book," which he described as a
"chronicle of love-hate conflicts," mostly with Andy. A typical entry,
dated September 4, 1968, was an imaginary letter: "Dear Andy,
it began, "it seems I'm always writing you letters to explain myself,

as you find it easy to say nothing. ... I feel that you will do noth-
ing in your almost absolute power to correct the mess you are
responsible for."
On September 15, the day Chelsea Girls opened at the Cinema-
theque, Warhol upbraided Malanga for not getting copies of all the
film reels finished on time. Gerard noted tersely: "Andy is some-
times beneath contempt and his contempt came out in full force
today."
Despite this and other last-minute problems, Chelsea Girls was an
immediate success, a cause celebre that became the first under-

195
VICTOR BOCKRIS

ground film to capture the interest of the general public. The press
had a field day: Chelsea Girls was variously hailed as "the Iliad of the
Underground" (Newsweek), as a metaphor for "burning Vietnam"
(the Village Voice), as "a grotesque menagerie of lost souls whimper-
ing in a psychedelic moonscape" (the New York Times), and as "a
three-and-a-half hour cesspool of vulgarity and talentless confusion
which is about as interesting as the inside of a toilet bowl" (the critic

Rex Reed).
"Don't you make no dirty movies!" his mother had admonished
Andy. And there was a bad moment in Maxs Kansas City, one of his
favorite late-night hangouts, when a drunk attacked the entourage,
pouring a bottle of beer over Andy's head. But Chelsea Girls, which
in two months had moved out of the Cinematheque to "legitimate"
theaters in New York, was making Andy more money than anything
else ever had before.
Andy's associates scoffed at his constant complaint that he didn't
have any money, but in fact it was much closer to the truth than any
of them, even Malanga, would allow. Since the beginning of the
decade, Andy had been earning less than he had during his peak
years as a commercial artist in the fifties, while at the same time
maintaining a much more expensive style of life and work. His
financial demands included the monthly tab for the Factory and the
entourage of fifteen to twenty whom he fed and transported around
with him, as well as the upkeep of his house, supporting his mother,
and sending contributions to relatives in Pittsburgh. All of this was
being paid for by the sale of paintings from which he might see at
most two thousand dollars each, and a monthly stipend from Cas-
telli. Moreover, apart from My Hustler, the films had so far earned

him absolutely nothing, and the profits from the shows at the Dom
had gone into supporting the act, taking everyone out West, and
making the record (a deal had finally been made with MOM), which
would not be released for almost a year.
The film's astonishing success was widely publicized (it earned
three hundred thousand dollars in six months, of which Andy, ow-
ing to a bad business deal, got only half), which brought the long-
simmering money problem at the Factory to a boil. Mary Woronov's
mother sued Andy for showing the film without having gotten a
release from her daughter, and he settled out of court. This paved

196
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

the way for the others to complain, and eventually Andy was forced
to pay everyone in the film one thousand dollars each. Getting the
money from him was a humiliating process, and it took a long time
to collect.
Others who had made marginal contributions to the film, like
Ronnie Tavel, thought of suing too, but changed their minds. "My
"
lawyer said, 'Did you learn something from working with Warhol?'
recalled Tavel. "I said, 'A great deal.' He said, 'Then write it off to a
"

learning experience.'
In November 1966, a lawsuit was leveled against Andy by Patricia
Caulfield, whose photograph he had used to make his flower paint-
ing. She had been prompted to sue him when she heard that Andy
was "rich." A long, costly court case resulted, out of which Andy
ultimately agreed to give Caulfield several paintings and a percent-
age of all profits resulting from any future reproduction of the
paintings as prints.
Other enmities began crowding in on Andy. Ivy Nicholson, a
fashion model who had been at the Factory since 1964, was so des-
perate for attention that she had begtm making noises about "mar-
rying" Andy. On one occasion, when Ondine went over to her
apartment, she opened the door and threw a cup of hot coffee in his
face. Another time, after Billy had ejected her from the Factory, she
left a pile of her excrement in the elevator.

And Edie Sedgwick had reappeared. Dismissed from the Dylan


entourage after his motorcycle accident, and injured in an apart-
ment fire, she had begun coming around the Factory asking for pills
and money. Andy always gave her a few dollars and Obetrol if he
had one to spare. In November 1966 he put her in one last movie to
"help her out." It was called The Andy Warhol Ston, an attempt by
Andy to turn the camera on himself.
Paul Morrissey recalled the filming: "Rene Ricard was supposed
to be Andy, and Edie was in it with him. She was in a bad way, and
we thought we could help her, even though she had been so mean to
do what she did. We thought it might work, but it wasn't any good.
All Rene did was look in the camera and say nasty things about
Andy, and it was really embarrassing because he thought he'd be
funny. I remember very well Andy not finding it funny at all. Any-
body else would have turned the camera off, but he wouldn't."

197
VICTOR BOCKRIS

The Andy Warhol Stoiy was such a painful document of Edie's


one time it was shown at the Factory, those
disintegration that the
watching begged Andy to turn it off.

Andy blamed drugs for what was happening to his "superstars."


"On drugs everything is like a movie," he wrote. "Nothing hurts and
you're not the way you used to be or would have been." Even so, he
continued to play off his performers against one another. That au-
tumn he squired around his latest find, Susan Bottomly (Interna-
tional Velvet), another poor little rich girl with an allowance from
her father that enabled her to pick up the tab at discotheques. An-
other Malanga diary entry reveals just how shrill the competition
among Warhol's entourage had become: "Ingrid is very unhappy
because she feels that she's fading. Mary was someone I invented,
put a whip in her hand, and spread her name around and made her
a star, but she did not really show any interest and because of her
passiveness allowed herself to be eclipsed by Ingrid Superstar, Nico,
and Susan. Nico is the true star because she keeps her distance and is
socially professional. Andy and I go to meet Susan and Edie and
Mary at El Quixote Restaurant in the Hotel Chelsea. We have a lot to
drink. Mary keeps her cool although she's as insecure as Susan, and
Edie is doing nothing to help herself. I bring up the fact that when
Nico comes back from Ibiza she'll eclipse all the underlings. Susan is
very stoned — gets uptight and leaves the table to go to her room."
The journalist Gretchen Berg pinpointed the way in which Andy
fuelled so much insecurity around him: "He believed you should not
alter the way things really are. They have to happen just the way
they happen, even if it happened to himself. He handled people by
not handling them. A lot of people became very petulant and un-
controllable as a result. . He was living in the middle of a vortex
. .

and he really put up with a lot of shit. ... It was like walking around
in a gasoline-filled room holding a match, but I had a feeling he was
very tough and would outlast us all."
One of those around Andy who was feeling particularly uptight
was Gerard Malanga. He felt increasingly replaceable, particularly
after he met an Italian fashion model named Benedetta Barzini and
fell obsessively in love. Andy did not like it when his associates fell in

love because it took their attention away from him. "I sense that

198
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Andy is going to do something chemically destructive between

Benedetta and me," wrote Gerard in his diary. "Andy should learn
not to interfere in other people's private lives."
Malanga was convinced that Andy was trying to "dump" him.
After Benedetta abruptly ended their affair, he heard that Andy
had said, "She was only seeing him so she could be in one of my
movies." The distance between Andy and Gerard seemed especially
gaping when he was left behind while Andy took Henry Geldzahler
(who had become friendly again) to the social event of the decade,
Truman Capote's Black and White Ball at the Plaza Hotel.
Even Julia Warhola was complaining about her famous son in
public. In Esquire, she told an interviewer that she was lonely and ill
but Andy was never at home. (Paul Warhola had nearly died in a car
crash that October, and she prayed for him night and day.) Andy
had removed her still further from his life by forbidding her to
answer his phone. (Brigid Polk recalled that often when she was
talking on the phone to Andy he would suddenly cry, "Hey, Mom,
get off the phone!") In November 1966, Andy starred Julia, in a
movie shot in her basement apartment, as an aging peroxided movie
star with a lot of ex-husbands. "We're trying to bring back old peo-
ple," he said.

Earlier that year, in San Francisco, Andy had met an attractive


young man of
at a cocktail party given for a screening of his film
Michael McClure's play The Beard, about Billy the Kid and Jean
Harlow. (McClure had originally agreed to Andy's making the film
but before a contract was signed had withdrawn permission. When
Andy filmed it anyway with Malanga and Mary Woronov, McClure
was furious. The cocktail party had been planned to mend relations,
but it was not successful. In the end, Andy gave the print to McClure
as a gift.) The meeting with the young man had led to an "erotic
correspondence," and in October, Andy had flown him to New York
and moved him into Lexington Avenue. The day he arrived,
Malanga noted ominously in his diary that the young man was
"obvious about his feelings and will be needing much of Andy's
attention."
Andy's latest love object came from a well-to-do San Francisco
family. He was tall, gangly, and still carrying his baby fat —
another

199
VICTOR BOCKRIS

shy, egoless postpubescent on whom Andy could assert his will.

Andy cast an occasional small part, but he had no gift for the
him in
kind of dramatic self-expression Andy's movies required. Publicly
he commanded little of Andys attention: When Andy went out in
the evenings, he was working. But Andy was possessive of his new
love — vengefully so.
One evening December, Andy was coming home with Malanga
in
around midnight when they encountered the young man walking
toward the Lexington Avenue house with Randy Borscheit, a
youngster Andy had used in a movie called Closet. Gerard recalled
that Andy turned bright red when he saw his lover and Randy
together and blurted out, "What are you doing with him if you're
my boyfriend?" Muttering some excuse to Malanga and dismissing
Randy, he followed the young man into the house and slammed the
door. The following day Andy changed all the locks to his house and
told his San Francisco "catch" to move out.

The had put the Factory under siege. The


success of Chelsea Girls
had raided the place so many times that
police, looking for drugs,
winter that Andy asked his lawyers for emergency phone numbers
where they could be reached in case anybody needed to be bailed
out of jail.
The establishment press was on the attack as well. "It has come
time to wag a warning finger at Andy Warhol and his underground
friends and tell them politely but firmly that they are pushing a
reckless thing too far," wrote Bosley Crowther, the New York Times
film critic. "It is time for permissive adults to stop winking at their
too precocious pranks. ... It is particularly important to put a stout
spoke in Mr. Warhol's wheel." Another article about Chelsea Girb in
the Times declared: "More disturbing than the contagious lethargy
of the movie is the deeper message: These dreamy swingers, playing
their little games, clearly question the most basic assumptions of our
culture — namely that heterosexual coupling, happy or unhappy,
moral or immoral, is a socially significant enterprise worthy of the
Hollywood's tinsel titillation and the art-
closest possible scrutiny.
house film's hard bedrock fornication are replaced by a new sexual
mythology, a cool, low-keyed playful polymorphism. The message
flashed ... is utterly subversive."

200
15

UT HOW TO go beyond Chelsea Girls? At the beginning of


1967, Andy began working on three new films in the Chelsea
Girls mode, using the same actors, improvised dialogue, and
one-take filming. Loves ofOndine was to be a series of confrontations
similar to the Pope/Ondine sequence. With Ondine and Brigid Polk,
he was also shooting scenes of Imitation of Christ, portraying a mar-
ried couple up against a host of problems centering on their son,
who, among other things, wants to wear a dress to school. The third
movie. Vibrations, was about the Kennedy assassination, black magic,
and "love situations," as Andy described them, in which such per-
formers as Rene Ricard and Ivy Nicholson were thrown together to
insult and hit one another. Loves ofOndine and Imitation of Christ were
to be eight hours long; Vibrations was to be the Warhol endurance
test — forty-eight hours of film that would run for twenty-four hours
on a split screen.
The Factory was still attracting an ever-expanding company of
actors, and the new movies presented several fresh faces: Patrick
Tilden,known for his imitations of Bob Dylan; Andrea Feldman,
who would become a superstar and another Warhol suicide; the
raven-haired French heiress Ultra Violet, who had abandoned Sal-

201
VICTOR BOCKRIS

vador Dali's entourage at the St. Regis Hotel to "find" herself in


Warhol films; and a striking young visionary named Allen Midgette,
who had made some early films with the Italian director Bernardo
Bertolucci.
Despite Andy's determination to push on with these ambitious
new projects, 1967 would be a year of unending problems, begin-
ning in March when MGM released the long-delayed Velvet Under-
ground and Nico album. The record was clearly billed as an Andy
Warhol production in both its packaging (the sleeve featured a
banana that could be "peeled") and advertising. One ad in Evergreen
Review read: "What happens when the Daddy of Pop Art Goes Pop
Music? The most underground album of all! It's Andy Warhol's new
hip trip to the subterranean scene." But the popularity of Warhol's
art and film efforts could not guarantee air play for the Velvets.
Although the Beatles had just released their LSD-inspired hit
"Strawberry Fields Forever," songs like "Heroin" were still too con-
troversial for radio. The album fizzled; it has sold steadily ever since,
but Warhol never saw a cent of his royalties.
"Back then we were surprised at how vast the reaction against us
was," recalled Lou Reed. "I thought we were doing something very
ambitious and I was very taken aback by it. I used to hear people say
we were doing porn rock."
Andy genuinely tried to push the record by opening a new club
called The Gymnasium in a rented Czechoslovakian meeting hall on
the Upper East Side, but this time the magic did not happen, the
crowds were sparse, and Andy quickly dropped the expensive proj-
ect. Eric Emerson, one of the EPI dancers and a star oi Chelsea Girls,
put the final nail in the album's coffin when, in need of money to go
to London, he sued MGM for including a photograph of him on the
album's back cover without a signed release. Andy remained com-
pletely passive and refused to lift a finger to stop Eric, with the result
that MGM withdrew the record from the stores, and the Velvets
began looking for new management.
A few months into the start of shooting, problems were devel-
oping on the set of Vibrations. "Things weren't working," recalled
Allen Midgette. "People were not being themselves, the way it was
supposed to be." As Midgette saw it, the aggressive, amphetamine-
fed histrionics of people like Ondine and Brigid had become a
"cheap trick." Midgette himself was taking LSD before his scenes,

202
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

and practicing a discipline of calmness in the face of on- and off-


screen chaos.
Biliv Name had talked Orion, one of the three so-called witches,
into performing with Midgette in one sequence. The "location" was
the classical guitarist Andres Segovia's elegant apartment, the set a
sofa under a magnificent crystal chandelier. Allen Midgette re-
called: "When I arrived, Orion was already on pretty strong acid
and then I took acid. I knew that this was one of those scenes that
was going to be heavy duty. Orion was a very strong woman. Orion
was sitting on a couch and I was sitting on a chair and there was a
huge bouquet of flowers and we were just staring at each other
through the flowers and we weren't saying a word. She insisted on
playing Maria Callas at full volume and Paul kept whining, 'Well,
vou know-, uh, we don't have the rights to that music and, uh, you
know, at least turn it down.'
"Orion said, 'Darling, the stipulation was that I could do anything
I wanted to do so just shut up and listen to the music' And we

continued to look into each other's eyes.


"Finally, Paul started saying to Orion, 'It's very boring. We gotta
do something. You gotta have sex or something or fight with each
other.'
"Orion just looked at him and she said, 'Oh, really?' There was a
machete on the wall and she picked it up and hit the chandelier and
the glass went flying. I will never forget the image of Andy standing
behind the camera, whiter than he normally is, frozen behind the
camera with little pieces of glass on his shoulders and he could not
even speak, he was so terrified."

The day after Andy threw his California lover out of his house and
changed the locks, he started hanging out with a nineteen-year-old
king-size Alabamian who called himself Rod La Rod. According to
Ultra Violet, Rod La Rod claimed to have two gods, the governor of
his home state, George Wallace, and Warhol, whom he called "the
Great White Father." It was an unspoken rule that nobody touched
"Drella," yet Rod and Andy regularly got into bizarre fights in which
they would slap and punch each other. "It appeared to be a physi-
cally violent relationship," saidMalanga, "but Rodney was always
very corny about his physical overtures toward Andy. It wasn't like

203

VICTOR BOCKRIS

he slugged him; they were always love taps, or Andy pushing him
away or trying to block the punches."
"They'd have these fistfights right on the set," said Ondine. "Then
they'd make up. It was just wonderful. They'd foimd each other."
Rod was neither one of Andy's impossible-to-attain beauties nor
one of his quiet, easily dominated houseboys. He was not much to
look at, an ungainly hippie hick in his bellbottom trousers, which
were always too short, and shirts with clashing stripes. Paul, Gerard,
and most of the others in Andy's inner circle found him unsophis-
ticated and oafish. ("It was like the king taking the cowgirl, the
shepherdess into the royal chambers," said one of Warhol's friends.)
That May, Andy flew to France for the screening of Chelsea Girls at
the Cannes Film Festival. With him on the three-week trip was an
assortment of superstars, including Malanga and International Vel-
vet, Paul Morrissey, Rod La Rod, and the producer Lester Persky
who had persuaded Morrissey that they needed him to "make the
deal." Cannes was a fiasco. Word of mouth had labeled Chelsea Girls
a perverse celebration of madness, homosexuality, and hard drugs,
and without even seeing it, Louis Marquerelle, the official in charge
of the "Critics' Choice programs, ruled against showing the film.
"

Andy and company got a lot of publicity but spent a boring week at
Cannes, enlivened only by a dinner at Brigitte Bardot's villa, and
parties honoring Antonioni's B low-Up.
In Paris, the premiere of Chelsea Girls was memorable largely be-
cause the French critic Jean-Jacques Lebel led a walkout in the mid-
dle of the screening. Taylor Mead, who had been living in Europe,
showed up at the Paris Cinematheque and was "awed" by the film.
Andy asked him to come back to the Factory and Mead accepted,
ending what had been three years of self-exile.
A final stop was scheduled in London so that Warhol and Morris-
sey could meet with Paul McCartney and the Beatles' manager,
Brian Epstein, to explore film projects and get their backing for a
British tour by the Velvet Underground. Epstein and McCartney,
while interested in the Velvets' banana album, were involved with
the imminent release of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.
McCartney brought along the album's cover by the British pop artist
Peter Blake to show Warhol, but seemed otherwise mainly con-
cerned about soliciting their help in getting Nico out of his house
before his future wife, the photographer Linda Eastman, arrived

204
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

for a visit from America. Little else of substance was discussed, and
Warhol and Morrissey came away empty-handed. lo McCiarlney's
relief, Nico left with them for the return trip to New York, where
new disappointments awaited.
On the night of their arrival, Andy, Paul, and Nico flew up to a
Velvet Underground concert in Boston, but by then Lou Reed had
hired a new manager, Steve Sesnick, and the band refu.sed to let
Nico join them onstage. The aftermath was bitter. Warhol told Reed
over the telephone that he was "a rat" for breaking their agreement,
and Morrissey accused him of stealing the Factory's share of the
banana album's profits. Reed, for his part, told reporters that he
"was never a great friend of Andy's" and "I fired Warhol!" Thus
ended the collaboration that had sparked the firestorm of the
Exploding Plastic Inevitable.
By the end of May, the bloom was off Andy's friendship with Rod
La Rod. Taylor Mead, who had returned as promised, was as-
tounded by Rod's behavior. "I almost punched him out because he
came on to Andy in such a terribly rough way. He would grab Andy
and hug him and Andy would look pleadingly and Ld scream at
Rod. Then Brigid would say, 'Oh, they love each other.'
"

Ondine, too, had begun telling Andy to "get rid of that boy."
"Andy would start crying. Finally, he actually approached us and
said, 'Do you think I should?' And we said, 'Yeah, plain dump him
because he's a monster.' Andy was the only person I've ever met who
took his friends' advice about love, and he dumped him."
To another friend Andy confided that he had been hurt so often
he didn't even care anymore. "It's too sad to feel, " he said. "I'm
happy because it never lasts."
really afraid to feel

205
16

policy had always been to take whatever was offered,


Andy's
so in 1967, when Paul Morrissey got a phone call from
July
the owner of the Hudson Theater, Maury Maura, asking if
they had any exploitation films he could run, they gave him My
Hustler. Now, almost a year after Chelsea Girls, the mainstream New
York press showed up, as they would for any serious filmmaker.
"Warhol is adept at using non-actors whose lack of theatrical skill
makes the realism of their being wholly convincing," wrote Archer
Winsten in the New York Post. That same week, the New York Times
reviewed with remarkable objectivity highlights of the 24 Hours
Movie screened at the Factory: "The method is superimposition:
three projectors are focused simultaneously on a single screen. As
one projector reels off a far-out party scene, for example, another
projects the oversized face of a man eating. On those two images
may be superimposed a third scene involving an amorous couple.
The sound track has superimposition, too, so that electronic
squawks can be mingled with murmured dialogue."
Three weeks later Maura was back on the phone. "Give us some-
thing like /, a Woman," he said.
"Oh," said Andy, "we'll do /, a Man."

206
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Thus began a trilogy of feature-length Warhol-Morrissey com-


edies, /, a Man, Bikehoy, and Nude Restaurant, which would lead to the
team's ultimate movie success in 1970 with Trash.
I, a Man. while not particularly good or funny, was memorable for

one performance that of a radical feminist and lesbian, Valerie
Solanas. She had founded an organization called the Society for
Cutting Up Men (SCUM) and was publisher of a mimeographed
anti-male rant called "The SCUM Manifesto," which she hawked on
the streets. "All the evils of the world emanate from this male in-
capacity to love," she proclaimed, and she advocated the elimination
of the male sex as a means to world peace. Earlier that year, Solanas
had come to the Factory with a script called Up Y'our Ass. "I thought
the title was so wonderful and I'm so friendly that I invited her to
come up with it, but it was so dirty that I think she must have been a
lady cop," Andy told the journalist Gretchen Berg. "We haven't seen
her since and I'm not surprised. I guess she thought that was the
perfect thing for Andy Warhol."
By the time he returned from Cannes, Solanas had become impa-
tient and wanted her script back. When Andy told her he had lost it,
she started calling regularly, asking for money. Finally, he said she
could come over and earn twenty-five dollars by being in one of his
movies.
Many people who knew or worked with Andy over the years said
that he was almost incapable of saying no. He had never had any
intention of doing anything with Valerie Solanas' script: People sent
him proposals every day, and most of them ended up in the slush
pile of unanswered mail and other papers scattered around the
Factory like a teenager's forgotten homework. Valerie's script had
joined them.
Valerie was good in /, a Man. Andy liked her performance be-
cause she was honest and funny. Valerie, too, had seemed pleased.
When, a few days later, she brought the French publisher Maurice
Girodias to the Factory to see a rough cut of her scene, he noted that
"she seemed very relaxed and friendly with Warhol, whose conver-
sation consisted of protracted silences." Soon, however, Valerie
started up her diatribe against Andy again. He was a vulture and a
thief, she told Girodias, adding, "Talking to him is like talking to a
chair."
Andy had been spending a lot of time with Nico, who was also in /,

207
VICTOR BOCKRIS

a Man, pushing her as a solo act and doing publicity stunts with her.
She had recorded a solo album called Chelsea Girl, and now was
singing on her own in the basement of the Dom. "Andy likes other
people to become Andy for him," Nico said. "He doesn't want to be
always in charge of everything. He would rather be me or someone
else sometimes.It's part of pop art, that everybody can impersonate

somebody That you don't always have to be you to be you."


else.
Andy never developed the kind of rapport with Nico that he had
had with Edie. For all his interest in beauty and glamour, he liked good
talkers best. Nico had a wonderful presence. She was mysterious and
fascinating to be with, but she was not Brigid Polk in the rap depart-
ment. Edie and Andy had been able to communicate on speed.
Nico's use of LSD and heroin made her more remote. Moreover,
Nico was a star in her own right. She was not completely dependent
on Andy; she spent a lot of time with Jim Morrison, Bob Dylan, and
Brian Jones. She was beginning to get sidetracked by drugs, and it
was time, once again, for Andy to find a new girl.

He did, that summer, in Susan Hoffman, who was renamed Viva,


and who took the Factory spotlight as Andy Warhol's latest super-
star in Bikeboy and Nude Restaurant. A painter who had given up
painting for acting when she met Andy, a talented writer who began
collaborating with Paul on scripts, Viva was strikingly beautiful. Her
features were delicate and aristocratic, her hair was worn in an
individual frizzed-out style. Best of all, as far as Andy was con-
cerned, she complained endlessly about personal subjects that no
respectable woman talked about in public, and with a kind of mock-
upper-class languor that Andy began to imitate in his own speech.
As Ultra Violet wrote in her memoir Famous for Fifteen Minutes:
"Viva complained about having no sex, she complained about res-
taurants and lousy food, she complained about being depressed, she
complained about the word artist, she complained about people
hanging up on her, she complained about male chauvinism, she
complained about getting phone calls from weirdos, she complained
about Andys way of stirring people up to fight, she complained
about being called a brainless nincompoop."
Viva was a natural — —
more self-possessed than Edie and, at least
for a while, she had some idea of how to handle her new fame.

208
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Unlike Edie, she also had a real understanding of what Andy was up
to."The Warhol films," she wrote in the Village Voice,

were about sexual disappointment and frustration. The way Andy


saw the world, the way the world is, and the way nine-tenths of the
population sees it, yet pretend they don't. In Andy's movies, women
are always the strong ones, the beautiful ones and the ones who con-
trol everything. Men turn out to be these empty animals. Maybe the
homosexuals are the only ones who haven't really copped out.
The feeling that we were on to something good led us to approach
this seemingly random improvisational method with a contagious en-
thusiasm and a deadly seriousness that we tried hard to hide. In actu-
ality the whole scene, including Andy's direction, was extremely stiff.
Andy's role was like that of all directors, to play God.

The mood at the Factory was heating up. Morrissey's attempt to run
the place in a more businesslike fashion — he had installed office-
— was having a divisive
style cubicles Malanga and
effect. Name Billy
were chafing the most — the former because he was tired of being in
Andy's shadow, the because he wanted the Factory to stay the
latter
way it had been. Malanga was trying to make movies on his own, as
well as getting his poems ptiblished, and demanding rights to certain
Warhol projects. Billy's habit of spraying everything silver was driv-
ing Morrissey crazy. "It was hideous," Paul recalled. "There was
silver powder your hair and lungs and you couldn't ever get
in
clean." In August, Andy didn't invite Malanga to the San Francisco
and Los Angeles premieres of Chelsea Girls, and his former right-
hand man flew off in a huff to Italy, where one of his own films had
been accepted by the Bergamo Film Festival.
That summer, there had been an ugly scene at Max's when Ivy
Nicholson erupted at Andy, screaming and throwing food. Andy
ran out, hopped into a cab, and told the driver to take him home.
The part-time cabbie happened to be an art critic, Ted Castle, whom
Andy knew and who tape-recorded the bewildered artist without his
knowing it: "So Ivy was, you know, she called me up and said, uh,
you know, uh, I'm going to Mexico right now and, you know, can
you give me some money? I'm getting a divorce and I'm coming
back and marrying you, and I said, 'What? You know,' and I decided

209
VICTOR BOCKRIS

that,you know, everything is wrong and I decided that we're going


to get organized and really do things right ." . .

Andy's hope of "doing things right" was beginning to drive On-


dine crazy, too. The problem came to a head in San Francisco, when
Morrissey rebuked Allen Midgette for not wearing shoes to a press
lunch at Trader Vic's, after which Ondine blew up at his idol:
"What's the big deal about someone not wearing shoes? You make
your own rules! You're the original American genius!"

In the autumn of Warhol had been asked to screen a film and


1966,
Columbia University in New York.
give a talk to the film society of
He chose to show them Blow Job. The screening drew an enthusias-
tic, standing-room-only crowd. The critic Rex Reed described what

happened:

Warhol himself was in the audience and had promised to speak at the
end of the film. The audience sat attentively during the first few
minutes of the film, which showed a boy's face. That's all. Just a face.
But something was obviously happening down below, out of camera
range. The audience got restless. The put-on was putting them down
and they didn't like it. (Some of them began to sing "We Shall Never
Come.") They finally began to yell things at the screen, most of them
unprintable. Total chaos finally broke out when one voice (a girl's)
screamed: "We came to see a blow job, and we stayed to get screwed!"
Tomatoes and eggs were thrown at the screen; Warhol was whisked
away to safety through the raging, jeering, angry mob and rushed to a
waiting car.

Thus it was that Andy, who knew better than anyone else the value

of negative publicity, agreed to tour college campuses around the


country in the fall of 1967. By then, he had worked out a program
that would annoy the students even more.
The controversy over the war in Vietnam was at its height, and the
universities had become the storm centers. Radicals like Abbie Hoff-
man, Timothy Leary, and Allen Ginsberg, were crisscrossing the
country giving lectures for one to two thousand dollars per engage-
ment. Just as most students had never read a line of Ginsberg's

210
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

poetry or taken the LSD that Leary was promoting, few had ever
seen a Warhol fihii or painting. But they all knew who he was, and
he had no trouble pulling them in.
The Warhol road show typically included a segment of his dullest
film, the 24 Hour Movie, after which Paul Morrissey gave a brief
speech and Viva answered questions. Andy stood onstage, togged
out in his uniform of leather jacket and dark glasses, saying noth-
ing even when questions were insistently shouted at him. In Viva's
view they were like "Spanky and Our Gang, with Andy as Alfalfa":
"Andy stood on the stage, blushing and silent, while Paul Morrissey,
the professor, delivered a totally intellectual anti-intellectual rapid-
paced fifteen-minute mini-lecture putting down art films, hippies,
and marijuana, saying things [ironically] like, 'At least heroin
doesn't change your personality.' Then I, as Darla the smart ass,

answered questions 'The reason we make these movies is because
it's fun, especially the dirty parts' —
and advised them to drop out of
school."
For this they were regularly hissed and booed. "They really hated
all of us," said Viva, "but they especially hated Andy. They were
always hostile. But afterwards there would usually be a little clique
who would come up and say, 'Come to our house.' Once, on the way
to one of these parties, students on the roof of a college dorm picked
up huge chunks of ice and threw them down at us. Andy was totally
blase. I think he liked it. He always said, 'Everything is magic!' That
was his favorite explication de texte. I think Andy was totally in the
clouds."
Back New York, Andy was going to Max's Kansas City every
in
night. always occupied the corner table in the back room
He "the

captain's table," Malanga called it. There he would hold mostly silent
court among the faithful in a grouping that one photographer
thought of as The Last Supper. "I used to see him every night in
Max's," the artist Richard Serra recalled. "Warhol was already a
people were making up their own tradition,
historical figure. His
and it freed all of us. He
gave us a larger permission, a greater free-
dom to look at a larger reference in American culture. Everybody
understood that he was right on the edge, completely awake. He was
a strangeand wonderful presence."
By now, even the back room of Max's had been politicized into
two camps, with a popular New York disc jockey named Terry Noel

211
VICTOR BOCKRIS

on the right side of the room and Andy's crowd on the left. There
were frequent chick-pea between the two contingents. Noel, as
fights
the self-appointed leader of the anti-Warhol forces, had visited the
Factory several times with urgent appeals that they reform their
wicked ways, saying to Andy: "Don't you know what you're doing is
wrong? Don't you think there's such a thing as right and wrong?
Why are you letting all this negativity be your driving force?"
Andy would listen impassively, but the Factory dog pack didn't
take kindly to sermons. Noel had finally given up trying to save
Andy after Paul America crashed a party at his apartment and
systematically slashed all the guests' coats with a hunting knife: "I'd
had it up to here telling Andy how I felt. It was all over by then. We
were on opposite sides of the line. Everybody I knew thought he had
no talent whatsoever. He had acquired this unbelievable mystique by
letting insanity go on around him, but he absolutely destroyed
everybody around him and the hatred for Andy got real serious."
One night, Andy saw Valerie Solanas huddled at another table at
Max's and encouraged Viva to go over and talk to her. "You dyke!"
Viva said. "You're disgusting!" Valerie immediately told Viva about
a childhood experience of forced incest. "No wonder you're a les-
bian," Viva responded.
The noise at Max's was often laced with threats. One night the
poet Gregory Corso, who was friendly with Edie Sedgwick, came up
to Andy's table and said: "I know you, mister, and I don't like you. I
know all about how you use people. How you make them superstars
of New York and then drop them. You're evil. And you know what
else? You never give anything away. You know what's wrong with
you? Too many lonely women are in love with you. You use them.
You give them dope and then you leave them. I'm glad I'm not in
your faggoty scene. It's all show. I see that beautiful blond, angelic
face of yours and it's got a snarl on it. It's an ugly face."
Andy sat staring straight ahead as if he hadn't heard a word, but,
as the journalist Jane Kramer reported, Allen Ginsberg, who was
sitting next to him, noticed that "a trace of a sad expression had
settled on his face. Flinging his arms around Warhol and enveloping
"
him in a long, happy hug, Ginsberg shouted, 'You've got feelings!'
Many of Andy's friends were struck by the fact that he never
seemed afraid of the explosive people he hung around with. Back in
1964, when Dorothy Podber had stalked into the Factory, pulled out

212
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

a pistolfrom her black leather jacket, and fired a bullet through a


stack of Marilyn portraits,it had been the kind of "event" that was

accepted in those days, and Andy had hardly reacted. In 1967,


however, there were several instances of people coming into the
Factory and shooting off guns.
One of them was a wealthy eccentric who wanted to produce a
film. According to Ronnie Tavel: "At Andy's request I wrote a
three-hour film called Jane Eyre Bear that never got produced be-
cause the guy who was supposed to put up the money came in
throwing around guns and shooting at the ceiling at ten o'clock in
the morning. I knew he was drunk because I had had breakfast with
him and he had been drinking. I thought, well, he likes me, but
don't bullets bounce off the ceiling? Something's going on here
that's too weird."
Early one evening in November, a friend of Ondine's known only
as "Sammy the Italian" ran in waving a gun and made Andy,
Paul, Billy, Taylor, Nico, and Patrick Tilden sit in a line on the
couch. Telling them he was going to play Russian roulette, he put
the gun to Paul Morrissey's head and pulled the trigger. When
nothing happened, they all thought he was just auditioning for a
film role. "You're just so absurd, you're not even good," Mead told
him, but when Nico got up Sammy
fired the gun at the
to leave,
ceiling,and this time it went off.
Andy had been sitting silently on the couch staring at the gunman
as if he were watching a movie. "It was so awful," recalled Mead.
"Andy was such a fucking schizophrenic I just don't think he be-
lieved it."

Sammy then demanded money and started to cry. He said, "I

don't want to do Andy. Here, someone take the gun," and he


this,
handed it to Patrick Tilden, who said he didn't want it and handed it
back.
The most moment came when Sammy put a woman's
frightening
plastic rain hat on Andy's head, made him kneel, and said he was
going to take a hostage. At that point Mead "got so offended that
this little punk had Andy, whom I loved and considered a genius,
kneeling on the floor with a gun pointed at his head that I jumped
him from behind." After a struggle, the gunman ran down the
stairway to the street, while Mead broke the window and screamed,
"Call the police!"

213
a

VICTOR BOCKRIS

The They didn't seem to believe the


police arrived minutes later.
story of what had happened. One of them wisecracked, "Why didn't
you film it?"

After the police was decided to give the story to the New
left, it

York Times. "We wanted


to be known that this had happened to
it

us," recalled Billy Name. "But the Times said, 'No, we don't necessar-
ily believe you. It wouldn't be an important story anyway.' The oc-

currence itself was very disturbing, but the real thud was that no one
cared about us. The New York Times was constantly saying, 'Andy
Warhol, get off the stage, you have had your time, you're not really
art.' Andy was very hurt by it."

The Times was hardly alone in its disdain. Time's art critic, Robert
Hughes, expressed a particularly scathing view of Andy's "super-
star" business:

They were all cultural space-debris, drifting fragments from a variety


of sixties subcultures (transvestite, drug, S&M, rock. Poor Little Rich,
criminal, street,and all the permutations) orbiting in smeary ellipses
around their unmoved mover. ... If Warhol's superstars as he called
them had possessed talent, discipline, or stamina, they would not have
needed him. But then, he would not have needed them. They gave
him his ghostly aura of power. He offered them absolution, the
. . .

gaze of the blank mirror that refuses all judgment. In this, the camera
(when he made films) deputized for him, collecting hour upon hour
of tantrum, misery, sexual spasm, campy, and nose-picking trivia. In
this way the Factory resembled a sect, a parody of Catholicism enacted
(not accidentally) by people who were or had been Catholic, from
Warhol and Cerard Malanga on down. In it, the rituals of dandyism
could speed up to gibberish and show what they had become —
hunger for approval and forgiveness. These came in a familiar form,
perhaps the only form American capitalism knows how to offer:
publicity.

Imitation of Christ was released in November 1967. Jonas Mekas de-


clared that "the protagonist and the feeling and the content is pure
Warhol. Andy Warhol is the Victor Hugo of cinema!" But Andy
. . .

withdrew the film from circulation after one performance, and did
the same thing to the 24 Hour Maine after it was shown once in mid-
December.

214
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Many of the superstars were outraged that a year's work, for


which they had been promised stardom beyond their wildest
dreams, had been negated so arbitrarily. "It was unforgivable what
Andy did to people!" said Taylor Mead. "Patrick Tilden could have
been a superstar! He was the James Dean of the underground. But
just on a whim Andy decided not to pursue it." Perhaps because of
his dismissal in establishment quarters such as the New York Times
and Time, perhaps because he was rising as a collectible in the art
market, Andy, they felt, was pulling back, chickening out.
That December, Random House published Andy Warhol's Index
Book. A collector's item today, the book was a pop art presentation of
the Factory life style, consisting mostly of high-contrast black-and-
white photographs. It included a transcribed conversation between
Nico and Andy talking about the Velvet Underground album and a
desultory interview with Andy that ran through the book. Two im-
ages stood out. The first, spread over two pages, was a pop-out
medieval castle in whose windows could be spotted Brigid, Andy,
International Velvet, and others. Underneath was the caption: "we
ARE CONSTANTLY UNDER ATTACK!" The secoud image was a large
photograph of Andy sitting in the Factory with a woman who looked
like one of Charles Manson's followers standing behind him and
pointing a silver pistol at the back of his head.

215
17

N THE AUTUMN of 1967, while lecturing in Tucson, Warhol and


Morrissey had conceived of a Western with Viva as a bareback
rider. So enamored were they of the idea that Paul had jab-
bered to the local press that their next project would be a Western,
filmed on location in Tucson, called The Unwanted Cowboy.
By the time Andy was ready to shoot his Western in the last week
of January 1968, the title had been changed to Lonesome Cowboys and
the story line had Viva playing a rich rancher who runs into trouble
with a local gang of cowboys. The rest of the cast included Taylor
Mead, in one of his best roles, as her nurse, Eric Emerson, Allen
Midgette, and the newcomers Joe Dallesandro, Julian Burroughs,
Jr., Tom Hompertz, and, as the gang's leader, Louis Waldon. Andy
had the "sheriff" played as a drag queen by Francis Francine. The
picture was to be shot on location in Old Tucson and at the Rancho
Linda Vista dude ranch twenty miles outside the city, where John
Wayne had made pictures. It was to be in color, follow a real story
line, and be sharply edited.

Just before Andy left for Arizona, Gerard Malanga, who had
escaped arrest in Italy for forging and attempting to sell a Warhol

216
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

portrait of Che Guevara, returned to the Factory. Andy was sur-


prised to see him. "Gee, how was Rome?" he asked. Cutting straight
to the point, Maianga apologized for the forgery and tried to ex-
plain why he had done it, but Andys eyes turned to
of stone as
slits

he looked directly into Gerard's eyes and said, with a hard, flat
finality, "You should have known better!"
Transporting the Factory to Arizona at the beginning of 1968
seemed foolhardy: The rednecks of the Southwest would not look
kindly on their life styles being spoofed by the likes of Andy Warhol
and his gang. By now, wherever Andy went it was not so much with
an entourage as an army. In addition to the actors, he took Morris-
sey and a gaggle of witnesses, including David Bourdon, who was
covering the event for Life magazine, the sculptor John Chamber-
lain, and a car thief named Vera Cruise, who sometimes toted a gun.
And a thickset young stud from San Diego known only as Joey had
been flown in to stay with Andy.
The local press, television, and radio had made sure that everyone
within fifty miles was aware of the presence of this ragtag army of
cultural terrorists. On the first day of shooting in Old Tucson, a
crowd of 150 people showed up. The sight of Francis Francine as
the sheriff and Eric Emerson teaching Joe Dallesandro ballet steps
"to tighten the buns" can have done little but confirm their worst
suspicions. That night Taylor Mead made a scene in a restaurant,
calling a local businessman a "big queen." Leaving the place, they
were followed by several cars. David Bourdon said: "I can't tell you
how scared I was. Andy was in the front seat. He wasn't saving
anything, but somebody else and I in the back were getting more
and more agitated. We tried all kinds of things to shake [the cars].
We lost one of them, but the other one stayed behind us. It turned
out they were Just school kids who had recognized us at an intersec-
tion and started following us."
Andy's primitive method of focusing a camera on a group of
people, turning it on, and keeping it going until the film ran out
would no longer work. He began to abdicate his role as director,
gradually letting Morrissey take over. "Paul was doing most of the
directing," said David Bourdon. "Andy was at the camera doing the
actual shooting, filming all the crazy zooms and missing all the action,
and Fred [Hughes] was holding the microphone, but it was always Paul

217
VICTOR BOCKRIS

on the sidelines saying,Now do this, now do that. A lot of the actors


objected, and thought they had a good point. Paul was too heavy-
I

handed, not letting them improvise freely."


With Andy in charge, his actors had felt completely safe and let
themselves fall into whatever transpired. With Paul giving directions
like "You gotta fight!" or "Take your pants down!" they were prone
to lose faith in themselves, with the result, as Viva saw it, that nobody
was relating to anybody else in the film.
On the second morning, Andy awoke to the acrid stench of gas in
his cabin and sprang out of bed to discover that Joey had tried to
commit suicide. One onlooker recalled: "He was another of Andy's
hunks. He was a funny kid and he was sort of in the way, but there
he was. Andy was disconcerted by it; he didn't like it one bit, but
judging how upset Andy was was always difficult. He would get very
upset about little things and stamp his foot and have rages, but he
did not show that he was terribly upset about big things." Bourdon
remembered Warhol being embarrassed by the incident: "The kid
was just a little groupie and he was put on the plane right away."
That evening the whole gang was sitting watching television in the
main cabin when the door swung open and two real cowboys strode
in. Expecting them to whip out shotguns and execute the entire cast

on the spot. Bourdon froze again, but it turned out they just wanted
to see what was going on and had been hoping to catch Viva in the
act. Asked who would have defended them in case of such an attack,

— —
Bourdon paused before answering seriously "Taylor Mead."
Viva's reputation as a vamp was not unearned. According to
Bourdon, who shared the main cabin with her and could hear every-
thing that went on in her room, she slept with every available male in
the company, causing even Andy to remind her that she was sup-
posed to "save it for the film." As far as Viva was concerned, the
conflict between Andy, who wanted to maintain an esoteric ap-
proach to his films, and Paul, who wanted to commercialize them,
was causing tension between the actors. The characters they were
playing in the film began to take over their "real selves," resulting in
an unplanned scene of simulated gang rape. According to one ob-
"
server, Viva was "being punished for being too 'temperamental.'
After the "rape," she stormed off the set screaming, "Get Ultra
Violet for the part. I quit!" (There was a simmering competitiveness
between Ultra and Viva for Andy's attention. Moreover, Ultra had

218
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

been having an affair with John Chamberlain, who was sleeping


with Viva during the making of the Him.)
It was the gang rape scene that drove the locals around the bend.

Ever since the first day of shooting in Old Tucson, the Warhol crew
had been under surveillance by the police and a self-elected vigilante
group who had warned them on several occasions to "leave town,"
only to be told by Viva, "Fuck you!" Almost every day the sheriff
would drive up, screech to a halt in front of the main cabin, haul
himself out of his cruiser, and proceed to "check out" the situation.
Amazingly, they never bothered to bust anyone for drugs, which
would have been dead easy since virtually everybody except —

Andy and Paul smoked so much marijuana that Bourdon had to
sweep the seeds and stems off his porch every morning. After the
"rape," however, the surveillance became so disruptive that Warhol
decided to return to New York and finish the film there.
The rape scene also prompted an official complaint to the FBI.
The local office of the agency contacted their New York office to see
if they might be able to arrest Warhol on grounds of interstate

transportation of obscene material, and Warhol was at once put


under FBI surveillance.
But his most immediate problem was Viva, who was beginning to
believe her own publicity and who was demanding more and more
attention from Andy. When she threw a fit at the Tucson airport,
storming out of the bar after the barkeep refused to serve her,
Warhol turned to Waldon and moaned, "Oh, Louis, please do some-
thing about Viva, I just can't take it anymore!"
In fact. Viva was going through the Edie Sedgwick experience.
Ever since Nude Restaurant, in which she had appeared virtually
naked, complaining in her tired, comic voice about the problems of
being a woman in America, Viva had seized the attention of the
media. In the four months she had been working with Andy, she
had become almost as famous as he. She was his spokesperson; she
traveled with him on lecture tours; she even made a lightning visit to
Sweden, immediately after returning from Tucson, for his first
European retrospective at the prestigious Moderna Museet in Stock-
holm. (It was in the Swedish catalogue that Andy's best-known

aphorism "In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen

minutes" first appeared.) In the view of the media. Viva was
Andy's "woman," just as Edie had been. Indeed, her parents were

219
VICTOR BOCKRIS

convinced they were having an affair. They weren't and they —


were: According to Waldon, Viva was in love with Andy —
but he
was untouchable. He was in love with the idea of being her. And, like
Edie, Viva had never seen a penny for her work.
One cold morning in mid-February, standing outside the Factory
in the pouring rain and unable to get in because she did not have a
key, Viva flipped out. Grabbing the nearest telephone and almost
pulling it out of its socket, she called up the Factory and started
yelling into the mouthpiece, "Get down here right now, you fag
bastard, and open the door or

" at which point the "fag bastard" in

question (Paul Morrissey) hung up. Viva had crossed her Rubicon.
You did not call anybodv at the Factorv a fag bastard without be-
coming subject to instant excommunication. But she hadn't finished
yet. Spying Andy himself climbing out of a cab outside the building,
she ran down the street hollering, "Why don't I have a key to this
place? Fm not treated with any respect around here because Fm a
woman!" According to the writer Barbara Goldsmith, "Warhol re-
garded her, bland as farina, whereupon she flung her handbag at
him catching him across the side of the face. 'You're crazy. Viva," he
"
said dispassionately. 'What do you think you're doing?'
Andy ducked into the building, slammed the door, and rode up in
the elevator, shaking with rage. It upset him terriblv to see Viva lose
control, he wrote: "After a scene like that, you can never trust the
person in the same way again, because from that point on, you have
to look at them with the idea that they might do a repeat and freak
out again."

In the fall of 1967, when business was not going well for Andy
Warhol Enterprises, Andy became involved with the man who
would play the largest role in his career for the rest of his life.
Frederick W. Hughes was utterly different from most of the char-
acters who hung around Andy at the Factory. A Rudolph Valentino
look-alike, dapper, charming, and worldly, he had been born and
brought up in the most ordinary of circumstances in Houston,
Texas, until the art collectors Jean and Dominique de Menil had
taken him under their wing as a teenager, recognizing his good taste
and sharp eye for a picture. By the time he met Andv Warhol,
Hughes, the son of a traveling salesman, had transformed himself

220
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

into a patriciansnob who claimed to be related to Howard Hughes


and be descended from aristocracy. Warhol
to —
who once said, "I
prefer to remain a mystery, I never like to give my background and

anyway, I make it all up different every time I'm asked" must have
recognized something in Hughes, for shortly after their meeting, he
drew Fred into his world like an octopus sucking in food. Before
long, Fred Hughes was running the business.
Andy must have breathed a sigh of relief as he climbed aboard
Jean de Menil's Learjet that fall for a fast trip to Montreal to see his
new self-portraits hanging in the American pavilion at Expo: At last
he had somebody selling his art who knew what he was doing. For
although Andy had always claimed to be happy at the Castelli Gal-
lery, Eleanor Ward had apparently been right in warning him that
Leo would not treat him with the same care he lavished on, say,
Jasper Johns. During 1967, when Warhol's fame was at its height,
Castelli sold only twenty thousand dollars' worth of Warhol paint-
ings, less than artists like Johns and Rauschenberg were getting for a
single canvas. Fred Hughes arrived just in time.
"Castelli never sold a lot of Warhol paintings," explained Hughes.
"That's where / came in. What I did is do. It wasn't like a normal
corporation, taking over the reins and that kind of rubbish. I came
in and was doing. I had a very interesting job with the de Menils'
I

art foundation and I continued to work with that foundation."


Furthermore, Hughes seemed to understand Warhol better than
anyone else who had ever worked for him. Whereas Billy Name,
Ondine, and Gerard Malanga were absolutely devoted to Warhol
and would have died for him under the right circumstances, their
understanding was limited by their own needs as artists. To them he
was a film director who had made Ondine and Malanga superstars
and promoted the photographic aspirations of Billy Name. Hughes
had no longings to be an artist himself, and the picture he saw was
much broader and deeper.
The first thing he did was sell the de Menils several of Andy's
early works that had been ignored —
the hand-painted pictures of
advertisements and cartoons and the "death-and-disaster" series. He
commission from them for Warhol to film a sunset. Next,
also got a
he started getting Warhol portrait commissions at twenty-five
thousand dollars a shot. "The first portraits that got going were
through the de Menils or through a particular friend of mine, Doris

221
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Brynner, Yul Brynner's ex-wife," Hughes recalled. "She was a social


friend, and she got a lot of great people for us to do it just for the
fun of it." Warhol's career suddenly shifted into high gear. With
Hughes at the helm, painting could pay the bills.
As a mark of his esteem for Fred, Andy immediately introduced
him to his mother. Julia Warhola was so taken with the well-
groomed, polite young man, who was so different from anybody
else Andy had brought around, that she dubbed Fred "the Priest."
This was her highest accolade, and it showed that her intuitions
were as sharp as ever: Fred Hughes was going to help her Andy.

At the beginning of 1968, Andy had found a new space for the
Factory, downtown on the fifth floor at Thirty-three Union Square
West. The new place looked more like an office than an artist's
studio. It consisted of two large rooms. The front one had clean
white walls and polished wooden floors and was furnished with
identical glass-topped desks on which stood white telephones and
IBM typewriters. The back room, slightly less formal, was reserved
for painting and screening films.
The new Factory was the creation of Hughes and Morrissey, as
opposed to Name and Malanga. Paul hired a new full-time em-
ployee from Sacramento, Jed Johnson, to replace Gerard. Jed and
his twin brother. Jay, were the epitome of what the new Factory was
about. Very young, soft-spoken, sweet, and elegant, they looked
more like European fashion models than cultural revolutionaries.
The only assistant from the old place who made the move to
Union Square was Billy Name. There he was reduced to a kind of
spectral janitor, and he spent most of his time alone in the tiny
darkroom he built for himself behind the screening room. Andy was
still playing the latest rock songs on his stereo, screening films con-

stantly, and people flowed through. But some of the old hands
found themselves made to feel very uncomfortable when they
dropped by uninvited.
The mo\e had been brought on by the Russian roulette scare.
Andy, Paul, and Fred wanted to remove themselves from the drug-
gies and crazies who were spinning out of control as the fun of
the sixties turned to horror. But Andy could not shake off Valerie
Solanas, who was soon calling with all kinds of outrageous charges

222
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL


and demands and an occasional threat. Nothing infuriated
Warhol so much as a threat. He would shoot his persecutor the kind
ot look his father had used to freeze his three sons with if they
laughed on Sunday. "Andy could slice you with a glance," Malanga
wrote. As soon as Valerie started threatening him, he stopped tak-
ing her calls.

That winter she was interviewed in the Village Voice. Warhol, she
told the reporter, was a son of a bitch: "A snake couldn't eat a meal
off what he paid out." The reporter got her to admit that there was
no SCUM organization, that she had no followers, that she was
operating completely on her own without a friend in the world. But
yes, she pathetically concluded, Andy was still planning to produce
her lost script. Up Your Ass.

The media had a new dish to feast on that February when Time and
Newsweek revealed that back in 1967, Andy had sent out an actor
(Allen Midgette) to pretend he was Andy Warhol and five colleges
had swallowed the bait, paid the fees, and never known the differ-
ence. Now the smoldering outrage at Andy Warhol and all his works
flared up. What an insult! How dare this creep put on institutions of
learning like the University of Rochester and Salt Lake City College!
Who did he think he was? Scribes across the country reached for
phrases like "the pooped artist" and "puke's bad boy." There was
also the suggestion that Warhol might be liable to lawsuits for fraud.
To make amends, Andy was forced to trundle back out on the
lecture circuit, only to be booed and hissed by students more hostile
than any he had faced before. On one occasion, according to Viva,
he was held in a locked room for half an hour while university
authorities determined that he was in fact Andy Warhol.
In May, Andy and the crew headed west again, this time to the
exquisite town of La Jolla, on the edge of the Pacific Ocean just
north of San Diego, where he rented a luxurious mansion for the
three-week shoot of the Siufing Movie, or San Diego Surf, as it was
also called. The police were all over them as soon as they arrived. It
seemed that every tiine V'iva went out the door, she was stopped
by a cop.
San Diego Surf had little of the questionable content of Lonesome
Cowboys. Its "plot" was a spoof of the Annette Funicello-Frankie

223
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Avalon beach party movies. Nonetheless, Warhol's mere presence


had become a threat to red-blooded, middle-class America. One day
the filmmakers' car was pulled over as they were scouting locations,
and all six passengers were spread-eagled against it and questioned.
"So you're Andy Warhol, huh?" snarled the cop. Louis Waldon felt
"very sorry for Andy. I thought it was very undignified to see Andy
spread-eagled. But Andy sat back down and they interrogated each
of us. They were looking for drugs and nobody had anything. They
must have asked each of us twenty or thirty questions over and over
again, and I happened to hear Andy's questioning. Andy was so
brilliant at saying nothing. Finally, he would say, 'Oh ... I don't . . .

uh . yeah
. . .uh . .yeah
. . uh
. . . . . .
.'

" 'Well, were you born there? Is this your age?'

" 'Oh, oh, yes, uh, no ... until finally the whole idea of question-
'

ing got turned around and the cop ended up answering the ques-
tions for him."
The real problem lay in the relations between Warhol and his cast.
If Andy had begun to remove himself in Tucson, he was even more
detached in La Jolla. Taylor Mead, Louis Waldon, and Viva re-
sented Morrissey's controlling direction, and Viva began to hound
Andy, trying to get him to take charge. At one point she yelled at
Louis, "If you're a real man you'll beat the shit out of [Paul] and save
this film from his cheap commercial tricks." Once again the shoot
was aborted ahead of schedule and the troupe returned to New
York.
Flying across the country with Taylor Mead, Andy was supremely
confident about the future and full of grandiose promises to his
volatile cohort. "He said that this was to be "my year,' " recalled
Mead. "He described how we would use the Factory to make my own
films, publish my book, make a record —
everything. I was snowed,
although he would probably have canceled it all on a whim. He was
just a liar, a terrible liar. He'd say anything that was convenient. You
cannot be that cool with people, as Andy was. You cant pull that shit
of kings forever."

224
18

N Monday, June 3, 1968, Andy spent the morning sitting on


the edge of his canopied bed in a dark room on the second
floor of his house on Lexington Avenue, talking on the
phone to Fred Hughes. Hughes reported that he had been mugged
the previous night in front of his own apartment building on East
Sixteenth Street directly across Union Square from the Factory.
Fred's wallet and a watch he'd inherited from his grandmother had
been taken, and he was bitter about the way the neighborhood was
deteriorating. Andy was mildly sympathetic. Before leaving home,
he said his daily prayer with his mother in her basement sitting
room, then made a few stops: checking in with his lawyer, Sy Lit-
vinoff, renewing a prescription from his doctor for Obetrol, doing a
little shopping at Bloomingdale's.

At the same time, Valerie Solanas had arrived at the Factory look-
ing for Andy Warhol. Paul Morrissey told her that he wasn't there
and wasn't expected that day and that she could not hang around.
Solanas left and took up a position down the block, leaning against a
wall. When Fred Hughes went out for lunch an hour later, he
noticed she was still there.
Before heading downtown, Andy knocked on the door of his

225
VICTOR BOCKRIS

friend, the interior designer Miles White. Finding no one at home,


he headed for the Factory. He had a couple of appointments to keep
there, if he felt like it, so he hailed a Checker cab.
It was 4:15 when the cab pulled up outside Thirty-three Union

Square West, and Andy, wearing his basic uniform of brown leather
jacket over black T-shirt, pressed black jeans, and black Beatle boots,
emerged. Union Square Park was jammed with the usual crowd.
Assorted merchants juggled for space on the sidewalk, drug dealers
milled around the statues of Washington and Lincoln and the
monument to Jefferson inscribed with these words from the Decla-
ration of Independence: "How little do my countrymen know what
precious blessings they are in possession of and which no other
people on earth enjoy."
At the same time, Jed Johnson, one of the new assistants at the
Factory, glided down the block carrying a bundle of fluorescent
tubes. Solanas strode up from her position near Sixteenth Street and
joined Andy on the sidewalk as Jed arrived. The three of them
walked into the building together.
As they waited for the elevator, Andy noticed that Valerie was
wearing a thick turtleneck sweater beneath her coat, and it crossed
his mind that she must be awfully warm. As they got into the ele-
vator he also noticed that she was nervously twisting a brown bag in
her hands, and, moreover, that she was wearing lipstick and make-
up, unusual for a radical feminist.
Upstairs, across the polished wooden floor of the Factory's front
room, Fred Hughes sat at his black glass-topped desk next to an
open window that overlooked the park, punctiliously writing a
memo in a black leather notebook. Opposite him at an identical
desk, Paul Morrissey was listening to the telephone and tugging at
his mane of curly hair. Viva was on the other end of the line, uptown
at Kenneth's hairdressing salon, telling him about her part in the
film Midnight Cowboy as she prepared to have her hair dyed for the
role. The art critic and curator Mario Amaya paced between the two
desks. He had been there for an hour, waiting to talk with Andy and
Fred about an upcoming retrospecti\e in London. Amaya had re-
moved his jacket and was in shirtsleeves, smoking a cigarette. He
had been leerv of the leather freaks, with their sex and drugs, who
hung around the Silver Factory. He couldn't understand what a
man of Andy Warhol's tasteful sensibility was doing with such a

226
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

damaged crowd, and he was relieved to note that there were no such
c reatures, nor any signs of their presence, in these austere, busi-
nesslike quarters.
The elevator door opened and Andy wandeied into the room,
followed by Jed and Valerie, chatting. Jed crossed to the private
office in the rear corner of the room. Andy acknowledged Ainaya's
presence and nodded to Hughes, who came out from behind his
desk to remind his boss of the need to discuss the retrospective.
Morrissey told V^alerie she looked awfully well; she said something
witty and nasty in reply; he said something mean to her, and
everybody laughed. He told Andy that Viva was on the phone and
put the receiver on the desk, then excused himself to go to the
lavatory. Andy went over to Paul's desk to talk to Viva, and Fred
turned to Valerie and asked her if she was still writing dirty books.
Sitting in Paul's chair, half-listening while Viva rattled on about
the various dyes they were going to apply to her frizzy filaments,
Andy leaned forward and looked down into the black glass desktop,
inspecting his own coiffure in its reflection. He saw a ghostly visage
looking back at him, and smiled. He then signaled Hughes to get on
the line and continue the conversation with Viva. He was bored.
Valerie reached slowly into her paper bag and drew out a .32-calibre
automatic pistol. She pointed it at Andy. Nobody paid any attention.
She raised the gun slightly. Hughes leaned forward to pick up his
phone receiver. Andy leaned forward. Solanas fired.
Amaya, who thought a sniper was shooting at them from another
building, yelled, "Hit the floor!" Fred Hughes thought a small bomb
had gone off in the office of the American Communist party two
floors above them. Sitting at the beauty parlor. Viva thought some-
one was cracking a whip left over from the more outrageous Velvet
Underground days. In that frozen second only Andy saw what was
really happening. He dropped the phone, jumped from the desk,
and started to move, looking directly into the woman's pinched face.
"No! No! Valerie!" he screamed. "Don't do it!"
Solanas fired a second time. Warhol fell to the floor and tried to
crawl underneath the desk, but she moved in, placed the paper bag
on the desk and, taking aim more carefully, fired again. Her third
bullet entered his right side and exited the left side of his back. He
later said that he felt "a horrible, horrible pain, as if a firecracker
had exploded inside me." Blood pumped from his chest, soaking

227
VICTOR BOCKRIS

through his T-shirt and splattering the white telephone cord. "It
hurt so much," he told friends later, "I wished I was dead."
Believing she had killed Warhol, Valerie Solanas crossed rapidly
to the crouching figure of Mario Amaya. Their eyes met as she stood
over him, fired a fourth time, and missed. He watched her take aim
again and whispered a rapid prayer. Her fifth shot hit him in the
flank, just above the hip; it passed through the flesh and exited his
back. With a shock of adrenaline, he scrambled to his feet and
crashed through the double doors leading into the back room. Once
inside, he turned quickly and tried to lock them against her, but
found that he'd broken the latch, so he held the doors closed with
the weight of his bleeding body. It was in this position that Paul and
Billy Name, who had been developing prints in the darkroom,
found him. They had rushed up to find out what the "firecrackers"
were all about.
"Valerie shot Andy," Mario gasped. "She shot Andy!"
They could hear her trying to open the door. Billy threw himself
against it, while Paul slipped into the glass projection booth that
overlooked the front room.
Believing that the door was locked, Solanas turned to hunt down
another victim. Paralyzed with fear, Fred Hughes stood behind his
desk, staring. Solanas crossed the room to Andy's office, where Jed
Johnson was standing, desperately clutching the doorknob with
both hands. She tried and failed to open the door, then turned
toward Hughes. The thin, dapper businessman epitomized the kind
of people who laughed at her poverty and beliefs. She strode up to
him. She stopped several feet away and raised the gun. Hughes
begged her not to fire. "I have to shoot you," she said and aimed the
pistol at his chest.
Hughes fell to his knees. "Please don't shoot me, Valerie," he
pleaded. "You can't. I'm innocent. I didn't do anything to you.
Please, just leave."
Whether it was the urgency in his voice, the uselessness of shoot-
ing him, or a loss of confidence, the words "just leave" made contact.
Solanas backed away and pressed the elevator button. Then she
walked back, aimed at Hughes's forehead, and pulled the trigger.
The .32 jammed. She whirled toward the brown bag, which con-
tained a back-up .22. At that moment the elevator doors opened

228
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

and Hughes cried out: "There's the elevator, Valerie. Just take it."

Solaiias bolted into it and the doors closed.


Now, Name, Morrissey, Johnson, and a limping Amaya
Billy
rushed Hughes ciawled over to Andy to give him mouth-to-
in.

mouth resuscitation, but because of the wounds in Andy's lungs it


was too painful. "It hurts, Fred, it hurts," he croaked. Hughes
picked up the phone and called for an ambulance and the police.
Blood was spreading to the floor. "I can't ..." Andy kept gasping,
"I can't . . . breathe." Billy Name started to cry, which made Andy
laugh. "Oh, please don't make me laugh, Billy," he whispered.
"Please. It hurts too much."

"I'm not laughing, Andy," Billv replied, cradling the silver head in
his lap, "I'm crving.
Jed Johnson stood over them, choking back tears. Morrissev
paced the room yelling, "Call an ambulance! Call the police!" even
though Hughes had already done so. Amaya hadn't yet realized that
he had been shot.
The telephone rang. Viva was calling from Kenneths to find out
what was going on. She had heard screaming and thought Andy had
been kidding. Hughes said, "Valerie Solanas just shot Andy. There's
blood all over the place. I've got to hang up. Good-bye." Putting the
receiver down, Viva still thought it was a Factory prank, and she
decided to get her hair trimmed before having it dyed. She told the
hairdresser to charge it to United Artists.
Morrissey was terrified that Solanas would return. He tried to jam
the elevator but could not. It suddenly opened, and everybody spun
in horror. Gerard Malanga emerged, accompanied by the drummer
Angus MacLise and his wife, Hettie, hoping to borrow forty dollars.

As Malanga recalled: "There was chaos telephones ringing, peo-
ple running back and forth. Andy lay in Billy Name's lap, gasping,
" Gerard believed
I can't ... I can't . .
.'
he meant "I can't die," and
thought of Julia hearing on television that her son had been mur-
dered. Turning aside, he told Morrissey, "I'm going to get his
mother."
"That's a good idea," Paul replied, and pushed some bills into his
hands for cab fare.
At Kenneths salon, the hairdresser asked Viva if she was going to
call back and find out if what Hughes had said was true. She

229
VICTOR BOCKRIS

hesitated, then dialed. This time Jed Johnson answered. He cried


out, "Yes, it's true and there's blood all over the place. Viva hung
"

up. She still couldn't believe it. A friend who was with her called
back and asked for Andy. "Andy isn't here," a terse voice replied,
"and he may never be back."
It was 4:35. Andy was conscious again. He had been lying there

for fifteen minutes when two members of the Emergency Medical


Service stepped out of the elevator with a wheeled stretcher. They
would not administer a painkiller, saying that pain was a valuable
sign of what was going on in the abdomen. They picked Andy up,
placed him on the stretcher, and wheeled him across the room. But
the stretcher would not fit in the elevator. The medics decided that
they would have to carry him down the stairs.
Lit by bare bulbs suspended from the ceiling, the stairs were steep,
narrow, and smooth with age. The last flight was the steepest but
somewhat wider. They pushed through a broad steel door, past two
sets of glass doors, and into the sunny street, where a crowd had
gathered. As Andy was lifted from the stretcher and placed beside
Mario Amaya in the ambulance, he lost consciousness. The ambu-
lance sped away.
Viva came out of the Fourteenth Street subway and ran across the
park to the Factory. Before she was halfway there, she saw the police
cars and the crowd. She bumped into Jed Johnson on the sidewalk,
saw the empty stretcher, and started screaming. She went up in the
elevator and burst into the Factory. The rooms were being searched
by eight plainclothesmen, one of whom had stopped to pore over
stills from Lonesome Cowboys. One of them looked up. "Okay, lady,"

he said, "tell us what you know." Only then did she fully realize that
this was not a movie. Andy really had been shot. She saw the tape
marking the bullet holes. She threw herself into Billy Name's arms,
crying hysterically. Fred Hughes crossed the room and slapped her,
saying, "Stop it! Now stop it!" She saw the blood on the telephone
cord, and then she fainted.
In the ambulance, the driver said that for an extra fifteen dollars
he could turn on the siren, and Mario Amaya told him to do it: Leo
Castelli would pay. Amaya was afraid to look at Andy, dreading that
he might be dead.
Warhol was wheeled into the emergency room at Columbus Hos-
pital in Cabrini Medical Center on East Nineteenth Street at 4:45,

230
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

twenty-three minutes after he had been shot. A call had been placed
from the ambulance to announce his estimated time of arrival and
his condition —critical. An emergency operating room iiad been
prepared; three nurses and a team of doctors headed by Dr.
Ciiuseppe Rossi, a crack surgeon who had been on his way home
when the report had come through, were standing by. None of them
had any idea who their patient was.
The stretcher was wheeled straight through to the operating
room. The doctors clustered around Andy and began to take his
vital signs. The pulse was faint. They attached him to an
electrocardiogram machine and inserted a catheter in his penis to
empty his bladder and determine the state of his kidneys, then be-
gan to examine his wounds. During these first few moments in the
operating room, Warhol was semiconscious again, and he heard
voices muttering, "Forget it," and "No chance."
Mario Amaya, who was lying on an operating table across the
room, suddenly sat up. "Don't you know who this is?" he cried. "It's
Andy Warhol. He's famous. And he's rich. He can afford to pay for
an operation. For Christ's sake, do something!"
Paul Morrissey and Viva were on their way to the hospital. Valerie
Solanas was wandering through Times Square in a daze. Uptown,
Gerard Malanga was hammering on the door of Andy's house, try-
ing to reach Julia before she heard the news. He could hear a phone
already ringing in the front room.
At 4:51 Andy was pronounced clinically dead, but Dr. Rossi was
determined to try to save him. He began to cut open Andy's chest.
The first step was to massage the heart.
As Andy Warhol lay on the operating table, detectives from New
York's Thirteenth Precinct continued to ransack the Factory, exam-
ining sulls of naked men. slides of "death-and-disaster" paintings,

and files of receipts looking, they said, for "evidence." Fred
Hughes insisted that they should be out looking for Valerie Solanas
instead, but the police were suspicious of everyone at the Factory.
They took Hughes and a weeping Jed Johnson to the station house
and held them as suspects. When Hughes asked if he could call the
hospital to check on Warhol's condition, thev said no.
By the time Andy reached the hospital, the shooting had been
announced on the radio. Now, reporters, photographers, and mem-
bers of Warhol's entourage converged on the emergency waiting

231
VICTOR BOCKRIS

room. Leo Castelli and Ivan Karp arrived and stood with a reporter
in one corner. Another reporter took down a quote from Ingrid
Superstar: "Andy's shooting was definitely a blow against the cul-
tural revolution. We're constantly being attacked." Nearby was Ultra
Violet, declaring to two reporters: "Violence is everywhere in the air
today. He got hurt in the big game of reality." The photographers
snapped.
Viva arrived to find Louis Waldon talking on the phone to Ivy
Nicholson: She was threatening to kill herself the minute Andv died.
Taylor Mead, who would later say that if Valerie Solanas had not
shot Andy, he might have, was there weeping. Minutes later, Gerard
Malanga escorted Julia Warhola into the room. Stooped and gray,
she was wearing a threadbare black coat, black stockings with runs in
them, and a babushka.
"Why did someone harm me Andy?" she cried. "Why did they
shoot me Andy?" Breaking down, Julia was put in a wheelchair and
taken away to be sedated.
"How do you feel, Viva?" barked a radio reporter, shoving a
microphone at her.
"How would you feel," she snapped, "if somebody you love was
shot?"
Ultra Violet closeted herself in a cubicle with one reporter after
another. As the hospital's public relations officer escorted V^iva and
Gerard to the upstairs waiting room so that they could stay with
Julia, they heard Ultra saying to a reporter, "Well, I always thought
that he was a great artist. ... I have made three movies for him, the
first was called ..." Upstairs, the PR man blankly asked Viva if she
was Valerie Solanas.
At 8:00 that evening, in Times Square, Solanas walked up to
William Shemalix, a twenty-two-year-old rookie traffic cop, and said,
"The police are looking for me and want me." She reached into both
pockets of her trench coat, drew a .32 automatic from one and the
back-up .22 pistol from the other. She handed them to Shemalix
and said that she had shot Andy Warhol, explaining, "He had too
much control of my life." Shemalix placed her under arrest and
phoned in a report, requesting further instructions. Hughes and
Johnson were released.
Brought handcuffed into the booking room at the Thirteenth

232
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Precinct, Solanas grinned at the crowd of reporters and photogra-


phers. Asked what her motives were, she said, "I have a lot of rea-
sons. Read my manifesto and it will tell you what I am." The
photographers jumped onto the booking desk, pushing cops out of
the way, yelling at her to look at them. The noise of clicking cameras
and shouted questions was so loud that the booking officer could not
hear Valerie's voice. Eventually, the police hustled the journalists
out of the station house and look her off to be fingerprinted. She
was charged with felonious assault and possession of a deadly
weapon.

In the operating room, the surgical team had been surprised to


discover the amount of damage the bullet had done to the interior
of Andy's chest. It had entered his right side, passed through his
lung, and ricocheted through his esophagus, gallbladder, liver,
spleen, and intestines before exiting his left side, leaving a large,
gaping hole. The doctors removed the ruptured spleen and shortly
after 10:00 p.m., five and a half hours after they had started,
sprinkled some antibiotics into his wounds to ward off infection.
They needed to know if he was allergic to penicillin. Julia could
not remember the name of his private physician, but Gerard
did. They located him and discovered that Andy was indeed aller-
gic. They would have to use some other kind of antibiotic. The
surgeon poured it into the open cavity and sewed the wound
closed.
The emergency waiting room was now jammed with people eating
sandwiches and giving out "exclusive interviews." Viva later said,
"All that was missing was the booze."
Gerard and Viva wheeled Julia out through the crowd of photog-
raphers and put her, still weeping, into a cab. Paul and John
VVarhola, who had come from Pittsburgh, arrived and were taken to
the recovery room. "It didn't look like the same person," said Paul.
"His head was as big as a watermelon! The doctor says, 'Andy was
lucky. I thought he was a goner.' I says to him, 'What's the chances?'
He says, 'You gotta figure fifty-fifty.' "
"He couldn't talk," John recalled. "He wrote it down: 'Who shot
"
me?" I says, 'A girl.' He wrote, 'Did she say why?'

233
VICTOR BOCKRIS

That night there were vigils for Andy. Nico went to International
Velvet's apartment, where they lit candles, sat on the floor, and
prayed. Ivy Nicholson continued to call the hospital every ten min-
utes asking if Andy had died so she could jump out the window.

At Andy's house, Julia Warhola, clutching her son's bloodstained


T-shirt, had calmed down with the arrival of Paul and John and
was at her private altar in the basement, where she would pray for
hours. After leaving the Warholas, Gerard went with Viva to her
apartment, where, according to Malanga, they made love for the
first time.
"I never even knew Andy was so famous until he was shot and
got those headlines," said his brother John. Indeed, the next
all

morning, the early editions of the New York Post and Daily News car-
ried the headlines: "andy warhol fights for life" and "actress
SHOOTS ANDY WARHOL, CRIES, 'HE CONTROLLED MY LIFE.' " All day
long, as Andy remained in critical condition, Fred Hughes, Paul
Morrissey, and Billy Name replayed the whole scene over and over
again into ringing phones at the Factory.
Valerie Solanas, wearing tan jeans, a yellow sweater over a black
turtleneck, and torn sneakers without socks, was brought before
Judge David Getzoff in Manhattan Criminal Court. "It's not often
that I shoot somebody," she said. "I didn't do it for nothing. Warhol
had me tied up, lock, stock, and barrel. He was going to do some-
thing to me which would have ruined me. Could she, the judge "

asked, afford an attorney? "No, I want to defend


can't," she said. "I
myself. This going to stay in my own competent hands." Then she
is

shouted out: "I was right in what I did! I have nothing to regret!"
Getzoff ordered the court stenographer to strike the outburst from
the record, and Solanas was remanded to the psychiatric ward at
Bellevue Hospital for further observation.
At Columbus Hospital, one of Andy's vivid memories as he
slipped in and out of consciousness was, as he later wrote in POPism,
of hearing "a television going somewhere and the words 'Kennedy'
and 'assassin' and 'shot' over and over again. Robert Kennedy had
been shot, but what was so weird was that I had no imderstanding
that this was a second Kennedy assassination — I just thought that
maybe after you die, they rerun things for you, like President Ken-
nedy's assassination."
Bobby Kennedy, who had been shot after winning the Demo-

234
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

cratic presidential primary in California, was also on the critical list.

Andys headlines had been eclipsed.

Of his recovery,Andy remembered the first days in intensive care as


"just cyclesof pain," interrupted only by the surprise appearance of
Vera Cruise, disguised as a nurse. As he gained strength, he was
able to brood on his would-be assassin. "I couldn't figure out why, of
all the people Valerie iriust have known, I had to be the one to get

shot." he wrote later. "I guess it was just being in the wrong place at
the right time. That's what assassination is all about. I realized that it
was just timing that nothing terrible had ever happened to any of us
before now. Crazy people had always fascinated me because they

were so creative they were incapable of doing things normally.
Usually they would never hurt anybody, they were just disturbed
themselves; but how would I ever know again which was which?"
Early in the second week, Gerard and Viva were allowed a ten-
minute visit with Andy by the hospital authorities, who treated
them, said Viva, like "lepers." As she remembered it: "A white cloth
was tied in four small knots at the corners of [Andy's] head, an
electrocardiogram machine monitored his heartbeat, intravenous
tubes dripped solutions into his forearms, and in the next bed a
drug overdose patient was deliriously raving."
"Hi," Andy whispered. His voice was so weak that Viva had to
bend down to hear him. "Look at that guy next to me. Don't tell
anybody, but the nurse is in love with him. They kiss and hug when
they think that nobody can see them. Look at that cabinet full of
drugs. Lm afraid if Brigid gets in here she'll steal all the drugs.
Don't tell her about them."
Uptown at the house on Lexington, Warhola relatives were in and
out, taking care of Julia. Viva and Brigid Polk, who were amazed at
all the religious statues, especially the crucifix over Andy's four-

poster bed, visited her several times the first week, and she talked
their ears off. Between handwringing lamentations for her son,
mixed with emotional flashbacks to the death of her infant daughter
in Mikova, Julia told Viva, "You are an angel and I pray to the good
Jesus that he will save me Andy so he can marry you. Work for other
people. Me Andy don't pay you enough. You need money for the
wedding."

235
VICTOR BOCKRIS

One day, Andy's sixteen-year-old nephew, George, was startled to


see hisgrandmother throwing Andys leather jacket into the trash.
He rescued it and wore it on his next visit to Columbia Hospital.
"Andy," he recalled, "said 'Hey! I want that, you can't have iti' I said,
"
'Gee,Bubba was throwing it out.'
Throughout his six-week hospital convalescence, Andy received
numerous gifts of delicacies, cakes, and boxes of candy. Afraid he
might be poisoned, he insisted that his nephews sample the food
first; they eagerly complied.
On June 13, ten days after the shooting, his doctors reported that
he was "on his way to complete recovery."
That day Valerie Solanas appeared in the State Supreme Court
with two representatives of NOW (the National Organization for
Women): the New York chapter president, Ti-Grace Atkinson, and
Florence Kennedy, a lawyer who had represented the black militant
H. Rap Brown after the Newark riots that previous spring. Atkinson
testified that Solanas would go down in history as "the first outstand-
ing champion of women's rights." Kennedy called her "one of the
most important spokeswomen of the feminist movement" and main-
tained that her client was being prejudicially treated because she was
a woman. Kennedy moved for a writ of habeas corpus on the
ground that Solanas was being improperly detained in a psychiatric
ward, but State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Dickens denied the
motion and sent Solanas back to the hospital for further tests. On
June 28 she was indicted on charges of attempted murder, assault,
and illegal possession of a gun.

As had happened so often in his life, the shooting polarized feelings


about Andy Warhol. At one extreme were those for whom he had
now attained a Christlike martyrdom. At the very least, having been
attacked for "political" reasons, he must now be viewed as a political
artist. At the other pole were the feminist revolutionaries. One

group calling itself the "Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers"


brought out a pamphlet entitled "Valerie Lives," in which Solanas
was described as a "chick with balls" and her victim as a "plastic
fascist." Andy followed the media reaction to his shooting with keen
interest, and he was especially hurt by the article in Titne under the
headline "Felled by SCUM," which sermonized: "Americans who

236
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

deplore crime and disorder might consider the case of Andy


Warhol, who for years celebrated every form of licentiousness. . . .

The pop art king was the blond guru of a nightmare world, photo-
graphing depravity and calling it truth."
And what had been "underground" was now moving into the
mainstream: John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy was being hlmed
that summer in New York, and not only was its subject — male hus-

tlers a "legitimization" of Warhol's concerns, but the British direc-
tor had proposed filming a party scene in the Factory, with Viva in
the role of an underground filmmaker. (Before the shooting Andy
had been asked to play himself but declined.) Andy was flattered by
Hollywood's attention, and a little jealous of all the money being
poured into the film. "Why don't they give us the money?" he com-
plained. "We would have done it so real for them."
Paul Morrissey took up the idea: Why not do their own version of
the hustler story? He drafted a script about a day in the life of a male
prostitute, and assembled a cast featuring Geraldine Smith and Patti
d'Arbanville, two aspiring teenage actresses, along with Joe Dal-
lesandro. For four thousand dollars, Morrissey shot Flesh over two
weekends in July. Andy's input was minimal, consisting of daily
gossip with Morrissey at the hospital about doings on the set. (He
was especially amused to hear that Dallesandro had got an erection
on camera and allowed Geraldine to tie a bow around it.) He also
heard less cheerful news: Edie Sedgwick was in a New York hospital,
suffering the effects of a drug overdose.
On July 28 Andy went home. He spent the first ten days, includ-
ing his fortieth birthday on August 6, in his four-poster, watching
television, especially the news reports of the Soviet invasion of
Czechoslovakia and the riots at the Democratic Convention in
Chicago. He called up his friends, many of whom cried at the sound
of his voice. When he was able to move around a bit, he started work

on a commissioned portrait one hundred faces of Governor Nel-
son Rockefeller's wife, Happy. Since Julia was spending most of her
time in bed as well, Jed Johnson did much of the looking after him,
fixing up the pack-rat mess of the house, shopping, and making
dinner.
On September 4 Andy went out in public for the first time since
the shooting. With him at Casey's, a fashionable restaurant in
Greenwich Village, were Viva, Paul Morrissey, and Letitia Kent, a

237
VICTOR BOCKRIS

reporter from the Village Voice. At one point, Kent asked: "Do you
think you had any complicity in the shooting, in the sense of en-
couraging those around you to act out their fantasies?"
"I don't know," said Andy. "I guess I really don't know what
people do. I just always think they're kidding. I don't think Valerie
Solanas was responsible for what she did. It was just one of those
things."
"We are constantly under attack," Viva put in. "Andy's shooting
was part of a conspiracy against the cultural revolution."
"Well, its our year for crazy people," said Andy. "But I can't feel
anything against Valerie Solanas. When you hurt another person
you never know how much it pains."
Kent asked whether he was still in pain.
Andy replied: "It slows you up some. I can't do the things I want
to do, and I'm so scarred I look like a Dior dress. It's sort of awful,
looking into the mirror and seeing all the scars. But it doesn't look
that bad. The scars look pretty in a funny way. It's just that they are
a reminder that I'm still sick and I don't know if I will ever be well
again. Before I was shot, I always suspected I was watching TV
instead of living life. Right when I was being shot I knew I was
watching television. Since I was shot everything is such a dream to

me. I don't know whether or not I'm really alive whether I died.
It's sad. Like I can't say hello or good-bye to people. Life is like a

dream."
"Are you afraid?" asked Kent.
"That's so funny. I wasn't afraid before," said Andy. "And having
died once, I shouldn't feel fear. But I'm afraid. I don't understand
why. I am afraid of God alone, and I wasn't before."

Andy was still extremely fragile when he starting coming into the
Factory again in September. He would seclude himself in his tiny
office off the main room, as far as possible from arriving visitors,
and emerge briefly only when harmless-looking friends dropped
by, to tape and photograph them with his new Uher-400 recorder
and Polaroid camera. The sound of the elevator doors opening
made him tremble, and Morrissey tried to ban anyone who, in his
view, operated on "tenuous mental health." On this issue Andy was
ambivalent. He later wrote, "I was afraid that without the crazy,

238
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

druggy people around jabbering away and doing their insane


things, I would lose my creativity. They'd been my total inspiration
'

since 1964. ... I didn't know it I could make it without them


Apart from his personal safety, he was most concerned with
money. He told friends that his hospital bill for eleven thousand
dollars had wiped out most of the year's profits, but according to
Hughes, Andy had made a lot of money in 1968 and was doing fine.
One benefit of the shooting was to boost the value of his paintings.
Works that had originally sold for two hundred dollars were now
fetching fifteen thousand and more. "People were willing to buy
them at any price," commented one art dealer. "It was like holding
on to IBM stock." Of course, he saw none of the money from the
resale of his old work, but he still owned many of his early pieces, for
which Hughes was able to command high prices.
In October, Flesh opened for what would turn into a smash seven-
month run at the Garrick Theater on Bleecker Street. While Flesh
lacked the innovativeness of the early Factory films, its compara-
tively formal editing and story-shaping made it much more accessi-
ble than Andy's own movies. Despite a badly recorded soundtrack,
the reviews of Flesh were good, and the film, along with its "strong,
silent" star, Joe Dallesandro (whom Morrissey compared to John
Wayne), gained a cult following.
A lot of people at the Factory criticized Morrissey for taking ad-
vantage of the situation and trying to promote himself as a
filmmaker on his own. When the film was released, however, Paul
chose to play down his own role, and he listed Andy's name as
director in the credits. A "Warhol film" was comparable in his mind,
he said, to a Walt Disney production. Besides, the idea of a "direc-
tor's cinema was "snobbish and trashy." He was, he said, "just doing
"

a job for Andy."

That fall Andy told Viva and Louis Waldon that he wanted to make
a movie with them and asked them "to think of something. They "

came up with the story of a couple who meet in a borrowed apart-


ment to make love for the last time.
Andy had always wanted to make a movie about two people hav-
ing sex, and he decided to call it Fuck. According to Viva, "because
Andy was so shy and complexed about his looks, he had no private

239
VICTOR BOCKRIS

life.In filming as in 'hanging out' he merely wanted to find out how


'normal people' acted with each other. And I think my own idea
about Blue Movie [as Fuck would be called] wasn't, as I believed at the
time, to teach the world about 'real love' or 'real sex' but to teach
Andy."
The ninety-minute film was shot in a single day at David Bour-
don's apartment in long takes with a fixed camera, from which
Andy, at one point, walked away during the shower scene. Paul
stood by uncomfortably on the sidelines and finally walked out dur-
ing the lovemaking scene. Viva attributed Paul's behavior to "embar-
rassment," but according to Malanga, Paul was unhappy at having
failed to "sanitize" Andy.
Afterward, they all headed for Casey's, but as they were ap-
proaching the restaurant Andy stopped and said, "Oh no, we can't
go in there, there's only two women and there's eight men. It won't
look good. Thev'll think we're gay! When everybody assured him it
"

would be all right and urged him to go in, he said, "Oh, okay." He
was very quiet during dinner, Waldon remembered. "He just kept
saying over and over that he thought the film went really well and
"
was 'beautiful."
A week later Andy and Billy Name gave an interview to the au-
thors of The Complete Book of Erotic Art. Andy said he did not think
his films were erotic because "we show everything and the way we
show it, it doesn't look sexy." Then he took off on a long rap about
pornography: "The people who used to do girlie movies copy our
movies now and they're really good. Oh, it's really dirty, I mean I've
never seen anything so dirty. They copy our technique." ("I think it
should be noted," said Billy Name, "that Andy's sort of beyond
sophistication.")
Toanother interviewer, he said that Blue Movie was about the war
in Vietnam.
Blue Movie would be Viva's swan song with Andy. When she saw
the rushes, she was appalled, particularly by the sex scene, which she
felt was flat, quite unlike the balletic sequence she had envisioned.
Andy had to plead with her to sign a release so he could "show it
once at the Whitney."
And Andy seemed to have tired of her. "After Andy was shot he
became really terrified of women," Viva recalled. "He was very
much changed toward me, much cooler. He was sexually afraid of

240
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

women before; I mean you couldn't touch him, he would cringe.


That could have been an act, but afterwards he seemed deeply
afraid."
In November she decided to leave New York for Paris and a
romance with the actor Pierre Clementi. Andy had originally en-
couraged the match, but now he tried to persuade her to stay. In the
end, he accompanied her forlornly to the airline office, paying for

her ticket and adding seven hundred dollars "for my Clementi
dowry," Viva said.
Although her romance with Clementi soon fizzled. Viva's career
away from the Factory prospered. She married a French filmmaker,
Michel Auder, and starred in Lion's Love, a film by Agnes Varda.
When it opened in New York, Andy wrote to tell her, "You were
great . you looked beautiful. We can't wait till you come back to us.
. .

If you need money just ask for it." She did, on several occasions, and
Andy sent it to her. Yet frequently during this period Viva made
bitter remarks about Warhol and the Factory, and once sent a letter
stating that if he did not send more money, she would work as
effectively against him as she had worked for him.
In March 1969 she announced that she had begun work on an
autobiographical novel called Superstar, which would be an expose of
the underground. Andy correctly interpreted this to mean of him.
She also threatened to sue Andy for having allowed Grove Press to
publish the text of Blue Movie, complete with photographs. "We
compromised on a two-thousand-dollar payoff," she said. "I was
always a cheap date. But I guess I learned from Andy that if you
consider yourself an artist, everything you do is equally valuable."

Since the shooting, the Factory hierarchy had become more rigid.
Paul Morrissey increasingly assumed the role of spokesman for the
Warhol films, expounding to reporters on the role of the artist as
"supervisor" in the age of mass communication, on the influence of
television and home movies on his cinematic style. He also assumed
the role of antidrug propagandist, telling the press that drugs were
"obvious, boring, and old hat."
With Andy operating at diminished capacity, tensions were run-
ning high again. In his Secret Diaries, Malanga saw them as stemming
in part from the struggle to see who would "be chosen to be part of

241

VICTOR BOCKRIS

the future the second time around." Brigid Polk, the one woman
who had become closer to Andy was the
after the shooting ("She
wife-figure in his life, sneered Viva), would accuse Paul of being a
"

"power-mad puritan." Someone else would say of Brigid, "She's an


evil pig, but Andy likes to have her around. I don't know why." But
for many who were still there, the Factory remained what it had
always been —
the most stable element in their lives, a home.
The poet Jim Carroll, who was living in Brigid Polk's hotel room
and working part-time for Andy that fall, described the Factory in
his journals as a "medieval monastery" with Andy as the "Pope in
Exile" and Paul as "the abbot and Grand Inquisitor." The favored
choirboy was unquestionably Jed Johnson. "I never knew Andy to
be so satisfied in a love relationship until he met Jed," said Malanga.
"Somehow I felt that Andy might have actually got somebody he
could love in Jed. Whatever companions Andy had prior to Jed
were distractions from his art, but Jed was very helpful. He would
set up the projectors, put the film in the projectors, sweep the floor.
Jed was a real sweetheart."
With Viva gone, the spotlight was now grabbed by two transves-
tites, Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling, who had made a cameo ap-

pearance in Flesh. "Among other things, Andy wrote in POPism,


"

drag queens were ambulatory archives of ideal movie-star wom-


anhood. I'm fascinated by boys who spend their lives trying to be

complete girls, because they have to work so hard double time
getting rid of all the telltale male signs and drawing in all the female
signs. I'm not saying it's not self-defeating and self-destructive, and
I'm not saying it's not possibly the single most absurd thing a man can
do with his life. What I'm saying is, it is very hard work to look like the
complete opposite of what nature made you and then to be an imita-
tion woman of what was only a fantasy woman in the first place.

A third transvestite superstar. Holly Woodlawn, was introduced


to Warhol in 1969. "I was expecting one of those loud, boisterous,
imposing, assuming big shots," Holly recalled of the meeting. "He
was a quiet little nothing, but I thought he was cute."
The drag queens made an intriguing trio: Holly Woodlawn was
the sultry Hedy Lamarr figure; Candy Darling was the super-

242
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

feminine Kim Novak-Marilyn Monroe type; Jackie Curtis, whose


stubble showed through the pancake makeup, was Joan Crawford,
vicious and strong. Andy developed the routine, when visitors ar-
rived, of introducing everyone on staff, regardless of sex, as a
transvestite.
Warhol's stable also included a group of rambunctious, sexy teen-
age girls: Dallesandro's co-stars in Flesh, Patti d'Arbanville, a green-
eved honey blonde who would go on to make it in Hollywood, and
the Garboesque Geraldine Smith; Andrea Feldman; and, later, Jane
Forth. "We all had a big crush on Paul even though he seemed so
asexual .because he was the director, he had the power," recalled
. .

Smith. "And Andy really represented New York to us. Everytime we


went to a party and Andy showed up, it was the party."
To Andy, they were "post-pop," and in the movie lot tradition, he
called them "the kids."
All summer long
there had been a frenzy of typing at the Factory:
Andy's "novel," based on twenty-four hours of tapes recording a day
in the life of Ondine, was to be rushed into print by Grove Press to
cash in on his new notoriety. Billy Name supervised the typesetting,
making sure and typo was left intact so
that every spelling mistake
that Andy's intention of book would be realized.
making a "bad"
Andy had always wanted to call such a book Cock, but it was pub-
lished that November as a in a classy hardback edition at the rela-
tively high price of ten dollars.
Paul Carroll, writing in Playboy, praised Andy's answer to James
Joyce's Ulysses as a "genuine microcosm of the world of words, frac-
tured sentences, grunts, giggles, and blablabla that surrovmds us."
But most of the other reviews were sharply negative, notably in the
New Y'ork Review of Books, where Robert Mazzocco tore into the book
atdizzying (and flattering) length, calling Warhol "a haut vulgarian,"
and the book "a bacchanalian coffee klatsch." The mole people,
wrote Mazzocco, were "ghouls "

"spook-hour hysterics smothered
in sedatives, non-stop gabbers on a Transylvanian talk show. If
Warhol were a genius, they would be devastating. As it is, the char-
acteristics of a, like many of the other characters of Warhol films,
suggest the final touch, or the final solution —
they represent the
bizarre new class, untermenschen prefigurations of the technological
millennium, as insulated from the past, from pleasure and pain,
from humanism and the heroic tradition, as were pygmies and

243
VICTOR BOCKRIS

dwarfs from knights in armor." a, the review concluded, "is [so


much] about the degradation of sex, the degradation of feeling, the
degradation of values, and the super degradation of language, that
in its errant pages can be heard the death knell of American
literature."
Undaunted, Andy delighted in his "novel," reading it over, he
estimated, at least forty times. And so did the "ghouls": The book was
important because there had never been one like it before.
For one of them, however, a marked one of those "final acts" that
Andy's closest associates were inevitably driven to. In this case it was
not a walkout but a walk in. After finishing the galleys, Billy Name
retired into his darkroom at the back of the studio. "After Andy was
shot," he recalled, "it became obvious to me that Paul was almost
completely taking over the management position. Whenever anyone
came from the media, Paul would tell people that he was in charge
up there. I did point out that I was also one of the people in charge
there, but I felt that Andy didn't really need me anymore."
With a stack of books on "white magic," he remained secluded,
refusing to come out of the little back room, letting his hair and
beard grow. He was, he said, trying to "clear the air of all the hec-
ticness that had gone on. I never bothered to tell anyone because
they would just have made something silly out of it." During that
winter, the only evidence of Billy's existence was the empty takeout
containers left in the trash overnight.
"Everybody expected me to try to somehow get Billy to come out,
but I didn't," Andy later wrote. "I had no idea what made him go in,
so how could I get him to come out?"

It was a wonder that Andy didn't go into seclusion himself. For him,
1968, America's most turbulent year since the Second World War,
ended on several disturbing notes. Tom
Hedley, a young editor at
Esquire, witnessed the first at a party given by Larry Rivers in the
Hamptons: "Warhol saw [the painter] de Kooning, made a pilgrim-
age to him, said, 'Hi, Bill,' and offered his hand. De Kooning was
drunk and he suddenly turned to Warhol and said, 'You're a killer
of art, you're a killer of beauty, and you're even a killer of laughter. I
can't bear your work!' It was a very dramatic, ugly moment, face to

244
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

face, and became the of the party. Andy smiled, turned away,
talk
"
and I always loved his work.'
said to Morrissey, 'Oh, well,
The second occurred on Christmas Day. In August, Valerie Sol-
anas had been declared incompetent to stand trial and was com-
mitted to a mental institution. As far as everyone at the F"actory
knew, she was still safely locked away. Then, the night before Christ-
mas, Andy answered the phone. It was Valerie. He must, she de-
manded, drop all criminal charges, pay twenty thousand dollars for
her "manuscripts," put her in more movies, and get her booked on
Johnny Carson. If he didn't, she said, she "could always do it again."

245
19

HE YEAR 1969 began with a flurry of ideas. What about a


television show, Andy suggested, called "Nothing Special,"
consisting of six hours of people walking past a hidden cam-
era? (He had recently had one installed in the Factory to improve
security.) Or a film called Orgy, a large-cast version of Blue Movie,
which would be shot on a journey around the world? Another nutty
notion was to "figure out a way to make a ten-foot mural that will
turn brown in three days, like a Polaroid print." Another, to parody
"systems art" by renting out his superstars to do anything asked of
them for a thousand dollars a day. At Brigid Polk's suggestion, he

had started taking Polaroids of penises of any Factory visitor he
could persuade to drop his trousers. He later estimated that he had
taken thousands of such pictures: "Whenever somebody came up to
the Factory, no matter how straight-looking he was, I'd ask him to
take his pants off so I could photograph his cock and balls. It was
surprising who'd let me and who wouldn't." Indeed, Andy's desire
to record everything around him had become a mania. As John
Perrault, the art critic, wrote in a profile of Warhol in Vogue: "His
portable tape recorder, housed in a black briefcase, is his latest self-
protection device. The microphone is pointed at anyone who ap-
proaches, turning the situation into a theater work. He records

246
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

hours of tape every day but just files the reels away and never listens
to them."
In May, Lonesome Cowboys opened at two theaters in New York,
with Morrissey doing most of the talking to the press about "Andy's
intentions" behind this first "pornographic Western." It was all
meant to be funny, Morrissey said, nothing more. To Variely he
explained: "Sex is the stuff of comedy. The big commercial sex
pictures are just like the underground newspapers, they take the
whole thing absolutely seriously." As for the absence of traditional
characterization in the film, Morrissey said, "When they leave the
theater, people don't say, that was a great movie, they say those were
great people." That summer at the San Francisco Film Festival,
Lonesome Cowboys won the Film of the Year award. Agents from the
FBI attended a showing, and filed a report saying that the "White
Female" (Viva) had not in fact been raped, thus putting an end to
the agency's year-and-a-half surveillance of Warhol.
Had Andy "sold out"? That May, Esquire ran a cover with the line
"The Final Decline and Total Collapse of the American Avant-
Garde." The composite photograph showed Andy drowning in a
can of Campbell's tomato soup. In fact, his chief preoccupation now
seemed to be money. "If only someone would give us a million
dollars" had become his daily litany, and he was looking to Holly-
wood for that pot of gold. Gerald Ayers, an assistant to the president
of Columbia Pictures, had been encouraging Morrissey to submit a
film proposal, and Paul had come up with an idea (in collaboration
with a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, John Hallowell) for a
movie about a celebrity interviewer called The Truth Game. He sent
Ayers the screen treatment, and in late May, Columbia flew Warhol,
Morrissey, Joe Dallesandro, Geraldine Smith, and Jed Johnson to
Los Angeles, putting them up at the luxurious Beverly Wilshire
Hotel.
According to Hallowell, Andy and company arrived half an hour
late for aconference at the studio: "Somehow we got ourselves into
the inner sanctum where the studio head himself greeted us from
behind an enormous desk with various executives assembled. Oscars
shimmered from one wall and, instinctively, Andy placed himself in
a chair below Hollywood's beloved gold statues. Morrissey did the
talking. So much so, that at one point the studio head called him
'Andy.' That produced a Warhol smile. Otherwise, throughout the
entire madly inconclusive meeting, Andy simply sat there swathed

247
VICTOR BOCKRIS

in black leather and uttered not a word. Beneath all the money talk,

the studio was petrified. How could they explain all this to the stock-
holders? Where was the script? But on they went, through days of
talksand telephones and meetings."
During their stay, Andy and his entourage were feted at a dis-
cotheque called the Factory, where Jane Fonda took them under her
wing, and they went to a celebrity-packed screening of Easy Rider.
After four days of waiting for another call from Columbia, Andy
got fed up and took everyone back to New York.

The first anniversary of the shooting brought the news that Valerie

Solanas had been sentenced to three years in prison for "reckless


assault with intent to harm" (she had already served one of those
years in a mental institution). "You get more for stealing a car," said
Lou Reed, reflecting the general Factory view that the judgment was
a sign of the "hatred directed toward Andy by
According to
society."
John Warhola, the short sentence was in part the result of Andy's
refusal to appear in court to testify against Solanas: "He was so thin
and weak, he just didn't want to bother."
In fact, Andy was stUl in pain from one wound that had not
healed properly and needed regular draining. His natural pallor
had become more ghostly than ever. Zipped tightly into his surgical
corset and black leather jacket, he struck Cecil Beaton, who arrived
to take photographs at the Factory, as "a zombie, more dead than
alive." The New Yorkers Calvin Tomkins wrote: "At the moment,
what we seem to see reflected in that strange face is a sickness for
which there may be no cure. Andy, in what one fervently hopes is
just another put-on, begins to look more and more like the angel of
death."
Asked by a reporter for Vogue how he felt, Warhol replied:
"Maybe it would have been better if I had died. I mean, it's so-o-o
awful. Everything is such a mess. I don't know. It's too hard." "But
you seem so cheerful and active," said the reporter. "Yes, I know,"
said Andy. "But you have to . . . you know, you have to pretend."

In an attempt to generate some fast money that summer, Warhol


rented the dilapidated Fortune Theater at 62 East Fourth Street and
showed a series of gay porno films. Gerard Malanga was in charge of

248
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

and the paperwork was done under his name and


the operation,
company, Poetry on Film. The hardcore house was called
that of his
Andy Warhol's Theater: Boys to Adore Galore. Renting the place
was Morrissey's idea, as was the admission price of hve dollars, more
than double the price of watching the same ten-minute loops in
Times Square. Cierard Malanga managed the theater and ran the
music behind the silent reels; co-managing the venture and taking
tickets was Jim Carroll, who wasn't sure if his new job "was a promo-
tion or a demotion froin Studio della Warhol."
One of Warhol's actors, running the projector for
in addition to
several weeks, was also, according to Carroll,"making a nice piece of
change for himself by taking the wealthy swills of our clientele into a
small sofa-filled room beside the projection booth and packing their
fudge for them for prices only a true superstar could demand." Jim
brieflyconsidered reporting him to Paul, but then realized that he,
too, could make a nice piece of change by taking a percentage at
the door.
In spite of the inflated ticket price and the complaints of a few
customers who expected to see Warhol films, the six-week venture
seemed on Tuesdays and Thursdays when the
a success, particularly
features were changed and the 150-seat auditorium was packed. On
a good night they could take in $1,500, although Morrissey, who
would stop by punctually after the last show each night to collect the
day's take, quickly began to suspect that Carroll's uncharacteristic
possession of pocket money was the result of skimming the pro-
ceeds. Carroll was taking out two or three hundred dollars on a
good night. His justification: Andy and Paul were "making out like
bandits on this layer of obscenity." Andy, in fact, realized little
profit, and when plainclothesmen started sniffing around, he
pulled out.
Blue Movie opened at the Garrick Theater on July 21, and the
premiere was celebrated at Max's, where Andy gave away the
"bride," Jackie Curtis (in a white taffeta gown), at his "wedding" to
"groom" Stuart Lichtenstein. During the bridal feast early in the
morning, one of the "kids," Andrea Feldman, jumped up on a ban-
quette and, shoving a fork into her breast, shouted at Jackie, "This is
what a real woman looks like!"
Blue Movie opened well, but it was seized by the police on the
grounds of obscenity. In one of his few public protests, Andy later

249
VICTOR BOCKRIS

wrote: "They came allway down to the Village and sat through
the
Viva's speeches about General MacArthur and the Vietnam war,
through Louis calling her tits dried apricots and through her story
about the police harassing her in the Hamptons for not wearing a
bra, and then they seized the print of our movie. Why, I wondered,
hadn't they gone over to Eighth Avenue and seized things like Inside
Judy's Box or Tina's Tongue} Were they more socially redeemable
maybe? It all came down to what they wanted to seize and what they
didn't, basically. It was ridiculous."
The following week. Lonesome Cowboys was seized by the police in
Atlanta. Asked by Letitia Kent in an interview for Vogue what he
thought about the film being labeled hardcore pornography, Andy
replied, "I think movies should appeal to prurient interests. I mean
the way things are going now —
people are alienated from one an-
other. Hollywood films are just planned-out commercials. Blu£

Movie was real. But it wasn't done as pornography it was an exer-
cise, an experiment. But I really do think movies should arouse you,
should get you excited about people, should be prurient. Prurience
is part of the machine. It keeps you happy. It keeps you running."

Asked about his laissez-faire approach as a filmmaker, he replied,


"Scripts bore me. It's much more exciting not to know what's going
to happen. . . Years ago, people used to sit looking out of their
.

windows at the street. Or on a park bench. They would stay for


hours without being bored although nothing much was going on.

This is my favorite theme in movie making ^just watching something
happening for two hours or so. ... I still think it's nice to care about
people. And Hollywood movies are uncaring. We're pop people. We
took a tour of Universal Studios in Los Angeles and inside or out-
side the place, it was very difficult to tell what was real. They're not-
real people trying to say something. And we're real people not
trying to say anything."

By November, Billy Name had been living in his darkroom for


nearly a year, and Paul was getting worried. "Andy, he's going to die
in there," he said, "and the papers are going to say 'andy warhol
LOCKS MAN IN TOILET.' " Andy replied that Billy "would work it out
for himself." Billy had become more legendary than real. Stories
abounded that he had shaved his head and was caked with scabs

250
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

from lack of light, that his eyes had turned yellow and he had grown
clawlike fingernails. The only person who saw him with any regu-
larity was Lou Reed, who eventually "freed" him by arranging for a
payment of two hundred dollars for one of Billy's photographs to
appear on the cover of a Velvet Underground album. As Billy later
explained, "I said, 'Well, I've done this for about a year now and I've
accomplished what I wanted to and Andy doesn't need me any
more, especially since Fred does a nice job of managing things, I
"
think I will just go out into the world.'
One morning Warhol found Billy's door open and a note tacked
to it reading, "Andy — I am not here anymore but I am fine. Love,
Billy."
In short order the walls of the darkroom were painted white and a
newly leased Xerox machine was installed.

Excited by the success o{ Easy Rider, Andy had been urging Morris-
sey to make a film about drugs. "I thought drugs were bad and at
first I didn't want to do it," "But then Andy said,
said Morrissey.
'You know, it hasn't been done. Nobody's really made a movie about
drugs,' thought. That's true. Well, I'll show how silly it is." The
and I

would be the most expensive Warhol movie to date (it


result. Trash,
was budgeted at twenty to thirty thousand dollars) and by far the
most successful.
Trash, shot during the first two weeks of December, starred Joe
Dallesandro, repeating the role of "the hunk" he had played in Flesh,
but with one difference: He was supposed to be unable to get an
erection because of the character's heroin habit. (Off-screen, Dal-
lesandro lived quietly with his wife and child in the same apartment
building as Morrissey, "in an atmosphere weirdly and powerfully
controlled by Paul," noted Malanga in his diary.) Geri Miller, the
"supergroupie" who had appeared in Flesh as a girl who was think-
ing of having her breasts inflated with silicone, was cast as the first of
several unsuccessful sirens, the others being Jane Forth, a sixteen-
year-old socialite with shaved eyebrows and hair slicked back with
Wesson Oil, and Andrea Feldman as an LSD-crazed teenybopper.
The female impersonator Holly Woodlawn was cast as Joe's wife,
who was given to cruising the Fillmore East rock palace and hunting
for home furnishings in garbage cans.

251
VICTOR BOCKRIS

John Russell Taylor, the British film critic, later noted the film's
antidrug message:

The true subject of Trash is presented neatly, as a sort of formal


statement of theme, in the opening sequence, during which Geri Mil-
ler .. tries everything she can think, of to excite Joe Dallesandro, who
.

remains resolutely, and not too concernedly, as unaroused by her


manipulating as by her elaborate go-go dance. Geri is worried in an
almost maternal fashion about Joe: the trouble she says, is the drugs
he takes. Why can't he trip on sex instead? It's cheaper, nice, and a lot

healthier. Can you trip on sex? asks Joe. Of course, says Geri; isn't it

great when you come? No, says Joe; it's over.

Andy gave the performers twenty-five dollars a day and free


meals at Max's. The atmosphere on
the set was, for a Warhol film,
disciplined (although Andrea Feldman complained that Dallesandro
had gone too far when, in one scene, he threw her on a bed and

ripped off her clothes she had wanted her parents to see the
movie). Jed Johnson, who worked the camera some of the time,
recalled: "Andy and Paul wanted it to be successful. Everything was
ad-libbed, but ad-libbed with some framework and direction for the
actors to work in. Andy was occasionally on the set, but not much.
But even when he was away you felt a real strong influence of his
presence. You thought, 'Well, how would Andy do this?' I still feel
that today." (As Jonas Mekas would write about Andy s role in the
process, "The mystery of it all remains how it all holds together. It's
like the United States —
the idea, the concept, the essentials came
from Warhol, and the particulars, the materials, come from
everywhere and they are held together by the central spirit.")
Of all the ideas Andy had for films, his next effort, Women in
Revolt, was perhaps closest to his heart. Made sporadically o\er a
period of two and a half years, it starred the three drag queens,
Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and Holly Woodlawn, playing women
in different stages of "liberation": Jackie played a virgin school-
teacher from Bayonne, New Jersey; Candy a Long Island socialite
longing to be a movie star; and Holly a struggling bohemian. The
comic high point was the scene in which Jackie paid a former
Mr. America to have sex with her so that she could "find out what

252

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

we're fighting against." After gagging through an awkward blow


job, Curtis ad-libbed (in one of Andy's favorite lines): "This can't be
what millions of girls commit suicide over when their boyfriends
leave them."
Attacking the women's movement was hardly the point: Fred
Hughes later told a reporter, "We are for equal pay, day-care cen-
."
ters, free abortions . .

"And lipstick for both men and women," Andy added.

In January 1970, while Andy, Paul, and Jed were editing Trash, a
showing in London o{ Flesh was raided by the police. In addition to
confiscating the film, they took the unprecedented action of arrest-
ing the entire audience of two hundred people. The raid sparked a
debate in the House of Commons and a ruling by Britain's official
film censor, John Trevelyan, that Flesh was not objectionable, and
that the theater could resume showing it: "This is an intellectual film
for a specialized audience," he said. "I have seen it, and while it is
not my cup of tea, there is nothing at all corrupting about it."
Meanwhile, the Factory was busy with plans for the first major
American retrospective of Warhol art: It would open at the
Pasadena Museum in California in May and travel to Chicago,
Einhoven in Holland, Paris, and London, before ending up at the
Whitney Museum in New York in the spring of 1971.
The show's curator, John Coplans, asked Andy if he had any
special recommendations. Andv insisted that his early hand-painted
works be excluded and that the exhibition be restricted to his
series — soup cans, disasters, Brillo boxes, portraits, and flowers
the representative works of his high-pop oeuvre, completed before
his "retirement" from painting in 1966. Recalled Coplans: "I said,
'Anything else?' He said, 'No.' It was the briefest conversation I've
ever had with an artist on his retrospective."
"Andy thought [the retrospective] was so old-fashioned, so ridic-
ulous, so conventional," said Leo Castelli. And to another acquain-
tance Andy complained that he would "rather have done something
new and up-to-date" for the show. Yet, when asked what sorts of
things he might paint, he said, "Well, I like empty walls. As soon as
you put something on them thev look terrible."
In fact, Andy seemed less interested in painting than in maintain-

253
VICTOR BOCKRIS

ing a Duchampian distance from painting. His ambition now, he


told Malanga, was "to do nothing." "The critics are the real artists.
The dealers are the new artists, too," he told Emile de Antonio. "I
don't paint anymore. Painting is dead." To the photographer David
Bailey he said, "I haven't stopped painting. I paint my nails. I paint
my eyes every day." In reality, all this posturing was purely in jest.
Andy had long planned to return to painting, when the price was
right.
Andy attended the opening on May 12 in Pasadena with a bevy of
superstars, one of whom cooed when she saw the show, "Gee, Andy,
you really are an artist!" This was underscored the following day
when one of the soup can paintings was bought by a German collec-
tor at the Parke-Bernet auction house in New York for sixty thou-
sand dollars, the highest price ever paid at auction for a work by a
living American artist. "At first there was quite a scandal," recalled
Leo Castelli. "People suspected there had been some sort of foul
play and the auction had been rigged. But the price turned out to be
quite correct."
In a 1971 profile of Warhol, Calvin Tomkins tried to define the
phenomenon Andy had become:

Andy is the first and Dali.


real art celebrity since Picasso . The
. .

word, I think, is resonance. From time to time an individual appears,


often but not necessarily an artist, who seems to be in phase with
certain vibrations — signals not yet receivable by standard equipment.
The clairvoyance with which Andy touched the nerve of fashion and
commercial art, the energy emanating from God knows where, the
inarticulateness and and emptiness of his
naivete, the very mystery

persona all this suggests the presence of an uncanny intuition. Al-
ways somewhat unearthly, Warhol became in the 1960s a speechless
and rather terrifying oracle. He made visible what was happening in
some part of us all.

Overnight, the worldwide trade in Warhols boomed. The soup


cans fetched the highest prices, followed by the disasters, many of
which had already been acquired by European collectors and
museums after their initial lack of success in America. A few days
after the Parke-Bernet auction, John Giorno sold a suicide painting

254
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

to a German thousand dollars in cash. Philip


collector for thirty
Johnson, who 1962 had bought his Hrst Warhol, Gold Marilyn, for
in
eight hundred dollars, purchased a disaster painting privately from
Andy for thirty-five thousand, feeling reasonably sure that he was
getting a bargain. "Painting isn't dead," he commented. "Not with
the prices artists are getting."

The astonishing rise in his prices and the traveling retrospective


pulled Andy back into the art world. He had wanted to focus on
films, but the financial lure could not be ignored. In New York the
art scene had become politicized. An "Artists' Coalition" had been
formed, which was demanding a voice in the running of the
Museum of Modern Art, and a protest had been organized at the
museum. Andy was indifferent to all this. "The new art is really a
business," he announced. "We want to sell shares in our company on
Wall Street." In fact, his lawyers and accountants were busy estab-
lishing Andy Warhol Enterprises, Inc., as a bona fide corporation.
Lest it be perceived by the Internal Revenue Service as a "personal
holding company," one of the stipulations to Leo Castelli was that
nowhere in future contracts should it be called for "a painting to be
executed by Andy Warhol the individual."
Andy was proving himself an astute businessman. Vincent Fre-
mont, a young man whom he had met in Los Angeles and who had
replaced Billy Name as Factory manager, recalled: "All our lawyers
and business advisers were always amazed at how good Andy was at
really understanding the basic concepts of a deal. There was no
question that he knew what he wanted."

In Fred Hughes he had someone who could make it happen. "Fac-


tory Fred, " as Malanga dubbed him, took the widest view of Warhol
as an artist, seeing it as perfectly likely that Andy might move into
theater, television, or whatever,depending, he would say, on "the
people you meet who take you one place or another." Hughes
understood that Andy was an instinctive, intuitive person, whose
habit was to go to his office every day and wait for something to
happen. He also dreamed of elevating Andy and company to a
world where they could "splurge on limousines and nice restaurants

255
VICTOR BOCKRIS

instead of waiting around for taxis." To attain that, Andy would


have to start painting again. Andy responded by doing a new port-
folio of flower prints, commissioned by the art dealer David Whit-
ney, to be sold through the Castelli Gallery. He also completed a
portrait commission, arranged by Hughes, of Dominique de Menil.
As a result of Hughes's old connection to the Houston family, the de
Menils had become the biggest collectors of Warhols in America.
And there were ways beyond the art business to bring in money: In
1969 Andy appeared in an advertisement for Braniff Airlines with
Sonny Liston. The copy read: "It happened on a Braniff plane:
world heavyweight champ meets pop guru. Big ugly bear meets
short chic painter. Silent spade meets honkie bullshitter. Meanest
man alive meets strangest artist alive."
With Hughes as a companion, Andy had started collecting again.
"I soon realized that Andy was an avid collector," recalled Hughes.
"At his house on Lexington, I found rooms stacked with an extraor-
dinary diversity of objects, from circus figures and carousel equip-
ment to eccentric Victorian furniture, as well as the work of

contemporary artists a combination of the influences of his back-
ground: on the one hand, that of his mother with her whimsical
sense of humor and love of buying little things from dime stores; on
the other, that of so many European immigrants to New York who
were amassing important art collections. When Andy discovered a
new area of interest, he would become extremely covetous, forcing
me to intercede in an attempt to dampen his frenzy. He had no
pretensions to connoisseurship, and if American Indian baskets

attracted him, he suddenly wanted lots of them. To him it was all


so much fun — he would act like an excited child."
At the time, Andy's collecting frenzy was directed mainly at Art
Deco objects and furniture and American Indian arts and crafts,
both shrewd anticipations of the marketplace. (He was equally astute
about real estate, which was then skidding into a postwar low in
Manhattan. In 1970 he bought two buildings on the Lower East Side
for fifteen thousand dollars. They would be worth a million dollars
by the time he died.)
Collecting got Andy involved with a new social world, people like
Peter Brant, a businessman and collector, and his wife, Sandy, who
would become important business partners in the seventies. Hughes
recalled: "On a trip to Paris in 1969, we and the Brants indulged in

256
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

a rather well orchestrated treasure hunt for Art Deco pieces. The
Brants led the way in Hnding the names of collectors from old
exhibition catalogues and calling them up out of the blue."
After that trip, Andy began making Paris almost a second home,
finding French society much more open to him than New \'ork
society had been, loving the emphasis on glamour, the easy mingling
of art, and fashion. In time, Hughes developed a
aristocracy,
Warhol Paloma Picasso, Eric de Rothschild,
coterie that included
Yves Saint Laurent, and his partner, Pierre Berge. When Andy and
his entourage returned to Paris in September 1970 to film L'Amour,
the fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld lent them his apartment as a set.
("We had run out of New York apartments," quipped Morrissey.) A
vehicle for Jane Forth, playing an innocent abroad, L'Amour also
featured Donna Jordan, another American waif, whose 1940s
outfits —
wedgies, padded shoulders, bright lipstick —
helped inspire
Saint Laurent's 1971 "look." Always a harbinger of fashion himself
(his leather look in the sixties would become the uniform of punk
rock), Andy was now wearing Saint Laurent, creating the role of
the dandy (silk shirts, velvet jackets, designer ties) that he would

maintain throughout the seventies with his own touches (Jeans,
tie askew).
The year ended with a double triumph. In October, Trash opened
at the thoroughly aboveground Cinema II in New York and was an
immediate hit. Even the Times had come around: ''Trash," wrote
Vincent Canby, "could simply not have been made in any time or
place but Spiro Agnew's America, which, in effect, the movie cele-
brates. ... Its heart is counter-revolutionary." Holly Woodlawn was
applauded as a "comic-book Mother Courage." Trash eventually did
better than any other Warhol film, grossing $1.5 million. (One of
its marketing innovations was Andy's use of consumer feedback:

Moviegoers were interviewed as they left the theater, and their


responses were used in the ads.)
In November the Warhol retrospective opened at the Musee
d'Art Moderne in Paris and was heartily acclaimed: "The only great
event," wrote one critic, "in an otherwise bleak period."

was followed by London in February with even greater
Paris
success. For the Tate Gallery's catalogue of the retrospective,
Richard Morphet noted the work's surprising "grandeur," its "ten-
derness and great passion." Andy himself afforded the British press

257
VICTOR BOCKRIS

greatamusement: "He looks like a corpse which has somehow raised


up off a cold stone slab and walked out of the mortuary," wrote
itself
Geoffrey Matthews in the Eventing News. "He really ought to go back
to the mortuary." The public was extremely disappointed not to find
him on display after the opening reception: Andy and his entourage
had flown to Germany for the Munich premiere of Trash.
"Andy was greeted in Germany with an enthusiasm bordering on
adoration, more like a popular monarchist than a pop artist," wrote
Bob Colacello in an article about the trip for the Village Voice. It was
not much of an exaggeration. The first major study of Warhol had
justbeen published, written by the German art historian Rainer
Crone, and Colacello wrote of "Frankfurt boys of fifteen or sixteen
[chasing] after us in the street clutching [the book], beaming ecstat-
ically as Andy
signed each and every one, 'To Mary Andy —
Warhol." Moreover, Flesh (thanks partly to a sensational advertis-
'"

ing campaign by its German distributor) had recently been one of


the top-grossing films in German movie houses. Stern, the leading
magazine, had no trouble getting special permission to pose Andy in
the golden alcove of the castle at Neuschwanstein, intended for the
throne of Ludwig H, the "mad"" king of Bavaria. (The irony of
Andy, the archcapitalist, being "crowned"' in Germany was not lost
on Robert Hughes, who later wrote: "The idea that Warhol could be
the most interesting artist in modern history has regularly been

echoed on the left especiallv in Germany, where Warhol's status as
a blue chip was largely imderwritten by Marxists praising his 'radi-
cal' and 'subversive' credentials.")

Finally, after what a press release described as "a triumphal four-


star tour of world art capitals," the Whitney Museum in New York
performed the canonization. On April 26, 1971, the Whitney
opened its version of the Andy Warhol retrospective and drew the
biggest crowds since its Andrew Wyeth show in 1967. At Warhol's
insistence, the huge fourth-floor space was covered from floor to
ceiling with magenta and green "cow wallpaper," on which his mam-
moth serial paintings of soup cans, car crashes, electric chairs, flow-
ers, Marilyn, Jackie, and the rest were hung in billboard size. The
play of color and form reflected in the lights and polished floors was
dizzying. Andy had wanted to create a show that "anyone could just
get a flash of in a second as the elevator doors opened —
and then
split."

258
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

When the elevator doors opened that night and Andy stepped
into the room, looking, in the words of one guest, "like an Andy
Warhol doll in his corduroy jeans, DeNoyer jacket, and straw hair,"
and surrounded by his rag-tag harem of sexy boys and girls, and
others less identifiable by gender, applause broke out as well as —
hissing. The opening had turned into a happening. For the first
time in New York, the reviews were unequivocal. "The plain ines-
capable fact, which will give pain to his enemies, is that Andy looks
better than he has ever looked before," wrote John Canaday in the
Times.
John Perrault in the Village Voice noted the aptness of the wall-
paper:"He is, like a cow, whatever you need. To minimal people,
he is minimal. To publicity art people, he is publicity. To boring
people, he is camp. To lyrical abstractionists, he is lyricism. To
decorators, he is decoration. To poets, he is poetry. To art critics,
he is criticism. To filmmakers, he is film. To junkies, he is junk. To
motherlovers, he is mother . .
."

Asked how he felt about all the attention, Andy said he was
changing his name to John Doe. Then, opening his jacket, he
pointed to his chest and said, "Here. Wanna feel my scar?"

259
20

YEARS after the shooting, Andy had been a semi-


FOR SEVERAL
looked after by the
invalid, sweet-tempered Jed John-
tireless,
son. In March 1969 he had had a follow-up operation to
remove part of the bullet the doctors had left inside him. It was such
a frightening experience that, according to his brother John, he
developed a phobia about hospitals, announcing, "I never want to
go in again, because I'll never come out alive." The doctors had sewn
his stomach muscles back together in a way that obliged him to wear
a surgical corset the rest of his life to prevent his stomach from
blowing up like a balloon when he ate.
In the meantime, Julia Warhola's health had greatly deteriorated.
Gerard Malanga had been struck by what a "spunky" character Julia
was when he first met her in 1963. "She wasn't an old lady slugging
along; she was very crisp. Don't forget she supported Andy through
times of doubt. Of all the people who spent any time with him over a
period of years, Julia was the only one who was there every day
regardless of what happened. Andy was always the little boy with
Julia."
By 1971, however, when Paul and John Warhola arrived for a
visit,they found a different person. "On one occasion," Paul re-

260
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

membered, "she says to me out of the clear blue sky, 'Take me down
to the other place. I don't wanna stay here. Take me to the other
place.' She put her coat on. We went outside and I walked her
around the corner maybe fifty feet, because she sort of shuffled,
then came back to the house. She said, 'We're here. Oh!' she says,
'
Ihank voul It's so good to be back here.' She was beginning to be
forgetful. She was having hardening of the arteries and getting
Alzheimer's disease. Andy told me mother had to take fifteen pills at
three different times a day. Andy took good care of her. It wasn't
that easy. She was the type that wouldn't take the pills. She hid 'em
and pretended she had. You had to say, 'No, you take it right now,'
and even then she'd try not to swallow 'em."
She had begun wandering, disoriented, in the streets. "She would
go out and leave the door open, forget where she went," recalled Jed
Johnson. "We were afraid she'd get lost. John Warhola's wife. "

Marge, remembered being called in Pittsburgh on one such occasion


by the New York City police: "They found her wandering on the
street and knew who she was by the pills in her purse. It was getting
to be hard for Andy. We suggested he maybe get a full-time nurse
for her, but he didn't like having anybody in the house all the time,
and she was fussy, too. She didn't like the maid Andy had, saying
'She's not doing this right!' And then there were all those kids climb-
ing over that high fence in the backyard trying to get in to see Andy.
It was really a difficult time."
Marge: "If Andy ever wants you to take me to Pitts-
Julia told
burgh, don't do it, because I want to stay here and someday Andy's
going to come home and he'll find me and I'll just fall asleep and die
in my sleep. That is the way I want to die."
In February 1971, Julia suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in
New York. When she was released, a semi-invalid, Andv decided she
had to go home to Pittsburgh to be looked after bv his brother Paul.
John Warhola felt that this was a terrible thing to do: "Andv thought
he was doing her good because Paul had the place out in the coun-
try. Well, the worst thing to do is take an older person like that from
the environment she knew. She stayed with Paul for about a month.
By then she was in a state of confusion where she didn't know where
she was at.

At Paul's, Julia suffered a second stroke and was hospitalized for


about a month. When she was released, Paul and his wife, Ann, put

261
VICTOR BOCKRIS

her in a nursing home. Paul Warhola recalled the family discussion


over their decision: "Well, John called up Andy and says Andy was
mad because we put her in a home. But we couldn't keep her. She
was wandering too much and her mind was gone."
For the next year and a half, from New York or wherever he was
in his travels, Andy called his mother regularly. But he never came
to visit her, and he never saw her again.

Andy was now constantly on the move. In June 197 he and Morris- 1

sey made several trips to Los Angeles to film Heat, a takeoff on Billy
Wilder's Sunset Boulevard, with Sylvia Miles sending up Gloria Swan-
son as the aging screen goddess and Joe Dallesandro as a "former
child star." The film also included a vivid performance by Andrea
Feldman as a disturbed young mother who kept her baby quiet with
sleeping pills and couldn't decide if she were a sadist or a masochist.
August was spent in a rented house in the Hamptons on eastern
Long Island, where Paul and Jed edited Heat. In another farsighted
real-estate move, Andy and Paul bought an estate, consisting of an
old, high-ceilinged "lodge" and several smaller houses, at the east-
ernmost end of the island in Montauk. Andy's attitude toward his
new status as gentry permitted no illusions. "Montauk," he later
wrote with Bob Colacello in Exposures,

is a little town at the end of Long Island. The next stop is Lisbon,
Portugal. Montauk is about one hour past Southampton, where I
should have bought a house. At least there are people to go to lunch
with. There's nothing in Montauk but a bunch of motels where the
locals play pool all night long. Between Montauk Village and Mon-
tauk Point is Ditch Plains, Long Island's leading trailer park. All the
people there look like they've taken too many hamburgers. ... I never
go [to the house] except as a guest. I rent it to friends every summer
and wait to be invited. Actually I hope I'm never invited. I dread
going there. I hate the sun. I hate the sea. I hate slipping between
those damp wet sticky sheets.

"Everyone's back to beautiful clothes," Andy told Truman Ca-


pote."The hippie look is really gone." And Andy, as always, was in
vogue. His black leather had been replaced by velvet jackets, under

262
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

which he wore European-designed shirts and even a tie. He had


bought a miniatine dachshund, Archie, which he carried around as
part ot the "look" —
Hke Oscar Wildes lily. He had "fallen in love"
with Archie, he said, and was convinced the dog could talk.
Andy was also, that summer and tall, in the forefront of another
trend: the fusion between fashion and rock. He designed the notori-
ous "zipper cover" for the Rolling Stones' classic Sticky Fingers album,
adding gay prurience to the steamy aura around rock's favorite bad
boys. He joined the celebrities at the concert for Mick Jagger's
twenty-ninth birthday at Madison Square Garden in the company of
his new best friend, Bianca Jagger. And he was part of the vanguard
at David Bowie's sold-out Carnegie Hall concert in September with


another new best friend ^Jackie Onassis's sister, Lee Radziwill.
In Bowie, he had inspired his first famous clone. Bowie, long a fan
of Andy's for his mvth-making abilities, had seen Aiidy Warhol's Pork
in London that fall and been impressed by the trashy glitter of its
costimies and gender-bending. Put together out of taped conversa-
tions between Andy and Brigid Polk by Anthony Ingrassia of the
Theater of the Ridiculous, Pork centered on the curious character of
one "B. Marlowe (Andv) as he taped the scatological comments and
"

snapped the obscene poses of "Amanda Pork" (Brigid), "Vulva"


(Viva, played by a transvestite), and the "Pepsodent Twins," two
nude boys with pastel-powdered genitals (based on Jay and Jed
Johnson). Its "explicit" sexual content and "offensive" language (as
the ad cautioned) had made it as scandalous a hit in London as it
had been at its original venue. Cafe La Mama in New York. Bowie
immediately befriended Anthony Zanetta, the young actor who had
played B. Marlowe, who arranged for him to visit the Factory.
The meeting was tense. Bowie had brought along a recording of
his new song, "Andy Warhol, which he insisted on playing for his
"

idol. Andy responded, "That was great, thank you verv inuch," but
he was upset. 'He thought it was horrible, recalled an observer.
"

"Particularly the line aboiu him looking a scream' — because he was


very sensitive about what he looked like."
That evening Bowie had dinner with Lou Reed at Max's. The
Velvet Underground singer was amused by Bowie's account of how
"fascinating" the meeting had been because Andv had "nothing to
say atall, absolutely nothing." Reed told the English rocker that the

Velvets had once considered producing an Andy Warhol doll: You

263

VICTOR BOCKRIS

wound it up and it did nothing at all. But his encounter with Andy

left its mark: By the autumn of 1972, Bowies Warholian persona as


"Ziggy Stardust" had become the focus of his show.
Led by Bowie, "glitter rock" (or "cock rock," as it was also called)
became an enormously popular trend in the early seventies. One
rock critic called 1972 "the year of the transsexual tramp," when
"all of a sudden almost everyone in rock 'n' roll wanted to be — or at
least suggest the possibility of being —
a raging queen." "It was the
homosexual time," recalled Esquire's Tom Hedle\ "The faggots
.

were our new niggers. Homosexuality was chic. There was a kind of
angry gayness going on and we were very open to making faggots
and lesbians our brothers. . .They were the most stvlish people in
.

town, they ran the galleries, they had the best clubs, they had the
best dinners. Andy was very involved with all that."
And it wasn't merely a New York phenomenon. Perhaps the
clearest sign of Andy's impact on pop culture was the success of Lou
Reed's hit single "Walk on the Wild Side" (produced bv Bowie) with
its caustic verses about Holly (Woodlawn), Little Joe (Dallesandro),

the Sugar Plimi Fairy, and Jackie (Curtis). The Factory was now a
legend to be broadcast on radio stations around the world.
Once again, old Warholians were dismayed. Brigid Polk spoke for
many when she told David Bailey in his 1971 documentary on
Warhol: "I don't know a thing of what [Andy] is about, because since
Fred Hughes came along about five years ago, Andv completely
changed. Now I believe Andy to be a businessman, perhaps begin-
ning an empire, and he is a man who goes to Grenouille for lunch
every day. . . He doesn't believe in art, yet he sneaks away to
.

Switzerland to do prints, and he will say to you, 'Oh can't you find
somebody to get me a forty-thousand-dollar portrait commission?
"
I'll give you a good chimk, dear.'

Andy's habit of using and discarding people without rewarding


them financially was beginning to catch up with him. In 1971 Ron-
nie Tavel, who was broke, sued Andv for payment he believed was
owed him for his fourteen "scripts" that had been made into \Varhol
films (including his contribution to Chelsea Girls). Back in 1965 Andy
had proposed that they split any profits from the films three wavs
among himself, Tavel, and the cast. Tavel had never been paid a

264
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

dime, and his memory of trying to bring Andy to account tells much
about the psychological "glue" of the Factory: "Andy was shocked
that I would betray him as an artist — this is why he felt hurt when I
brought suit against him. He assumed that I should excuse all faults
and all shortcomings, and he plunked down $2v5,()0() to get the
lawyers of Princess Radziwill to represent him because he would
rather beat me out of this than give me what I deserved.
"One morning, he said, Ronnie, can't we settle this another way? I
can give you a painting or something. Let's go to Hollywood and

make a movie you know I like your work.' I said, 'Andy, it's too
late to talk about that.' The hurt in his face! I can't describe the sense
of betrayal that was in his face. It was like saying to me, 'I know I've
screwed you left and right, but you ought to understand this as
another artist. This is the way 1 am and this is the way it has to be.'
And I felt very guilty about it. There were so many people who
didn't understand and who attacked him, the least he could expect
from me was to understand and not say anything, be exploited, be
shit upon, be used for my talent. His face said, I was hurt because
you have gotten benefits out of this, you have been privileged to
move in a charmed circle and rub shoulders, plus you got fourteen
of your scripts done and learned enormously from it. It was one
artist saying, If there is anything we can hold onto it is that another
artist will not betray us in this world! And now you are doing that.
"The legal hearings just drained me. I dropped the suit because I
couldn't take it; it was destroying my life; the hatred was making me
into a hateful person. I also saw that it wasn't going to work. Some-
time afterward I was walking up Park Avenue in the snow, a bitter
cold night,and something told me to stop and just let the snow come
down. There he was just standing in a doorway absolutely alone. I
moved a few steps toward him. He must have been waiting for some
people but there wasn't another person around, and we stood for a
while and said nothing. Then I went on. That was the last time I
ever saw him."

In November 1971 Edie Sedgwick on her vomit after


died, choking
a night of drinking and drug-taking Santa Barbara, California,
in
where she was living with her husband, Michael Post. Brigid phoned
Andy to tell him the news. Andy asked: "How could she do a thing

265
VICTOR BOCKRIS

like that?" Then he asked whether he would inherit Edie's money.


When Brigid said that Edie didn't have any money, Andy changed
the subject.

With the success of the traveling retrospective and the enormous


surge in his prices (the early works now averaged thirty thousand
dollars), it was time to make a major — —
and well-publicized return
to painting. Richard Nixon had just made his world-opening trip to
China. What better image for 1972 than the revolutionary chic of
Chairman Mao? Working from a frontispiece of the famous "Little
Red Book," The Qiiotations of Chairman Mao, Andy executed enough
— —
Mao paintings more than two thousand to fill a small museum.
They ranged in size from seventeen by thirteen feet to six by six
inches and included a number of rolls of purple-and-white Mao
wallpaper. He completed the Mao paintings in three months.
As always, the color combinations of the silk-screened images
were striking, transforming the chairman's inscrutable mask into an
attractive, at times comic caricature. To give the paintings more
"style," Andy was now adding hand-painted squiggles and free-
form brushstrokes reminiscent of the mock action painting of his
earliest cartoon and advertising canvases. Quickly and seemingly
haphazardly adding these touches to rows of Mao portraits on the
floor at the Factory, he explained to visitors that "it's easier to be
sloppy than to be neat." The "hand-painted look," he declared, was
now "in fashion."
Henry Geldzahler, for one, was delighted by the Mao paintings:
"The irony that is obvious and front-row center in these images is
the fact that they are produced cheaply to be sold dearly by an artist
of the world."
in the capitalistic capital
Fred Hughes had played a key role as a middleman between
Warhol and Bruno Bischofberger, a Zurich-based art dealer and
Warhol collector who had commissioned the Maos and who ar-
ranged for the exhibition of the new paintings in Basel, Switzer-
first

land, that At Hughes's instigation, Andy's return to painting


fall.

would be characterized by two important changes: From this point


on, all new Warhol artworks would also be reproduced as prints to
be sold in signed portfolios; moreover, he would work mostly on
commission.

266
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

About charges that Andy had begun to prostitute himself,


Hughes said: "Andy did of making money, but he had a
like the idea
rather sweet, childish idea of how that's done. I was about the only
person who could say, 'Andy, you're full of shit on this one!' But
then you had to be careful, because some of his craziest ideas when
they first hit you were the best ideas."

Although he was now a major player in the New York art scene,
Fred Hughes was seemingly content to remain in the shadow of his
famous boss and friend, which is one of the reasons he lasted longer
than just about anyone else around Andy. At one point he appeared
on the best-dressed list and was squiring some of the most fashion-
able women around town. But soon he ducked back into his hole,
where he labored, invisible to the public, as chief architect of
Warhol's career. The kind of subtle humiliation he had to endure
over those years was bound to take its toll on anyone, perhaps ac-
counting for Hughes's tendency to easy inebriation. Under the in-
fluence of a few drinks, his impeccable mask would dissolve to reveal
the soul of an English public-school boy boasting of his lineage in —
his case fictitious.
Brigid Polk, the only person from the "right" background at the
Factory, was particularly contemptuous of Hughes's phony bearing
and So was Suzi Frankfurt: "Fred sounded like such a jerk
accent.
most of the time with the art dealers, but Andy must have liked it
because there was never any criticisin. He used to say how cute Fred
was: 'Oh, Fred gets so drunk!' Maybe Andy thought that was the
aristocratic thing to do. It was real convenient for Andy to believe
that Fred was such an aristocrat and was so rich because then Andy
didn't have to pay him very much."
And, as everyone around Andy realized, if Fred exaggerated the

importance of his role, well, that was his role to exaggerate the
importance of his role.
Simultaneously with the Mao images, Andy finished another
one commissioned by supporters of the Democratic presi-
series, this
dential hopeful, Senator George McGovern. "Vote McGovern," as
the set was called, was a portrait of his Republican opponent,
Richard Nixon, painted in pointedlv repellent colors — yellow
mouth, blue jowls, green upper face. Henry Geldzahler declared the
work "a latter-day disaster painting. The anger and horror Warhol
feels for Richard Nixon is sharp and unrelenting. Over the sum- "

267

VICTOR BOCKRIS

mer of 1972, the poster raised forty thousand dollars for the
McGovern campaign (but, as one writer noted, it may have pro-
moted both candidates).
After Nixon's landslide victory that fall, —
Warhol like Norman
Mailer, Terry Southern, Robert Rauschenberg, and other writers
and artists who in one way or another had criticized the president
was audited by the Internal Revenue Service. As Rauschenberg re-
membered, "Andy Warhol and I were on the IRS list because we
were politically involved. It nearly made me bankrupt. The guy
from the IRS said that if I didn't just sign the agreement, he would
go and do the same thing to all the artists and friends that I had ever
paid or known."
Andy, recalled Factory manager Vincent Fremont, was "hit with a
gift tax. Although he gave the poster as a gift to the McGovern
campaign, we ended up having to pay money on top of it. After that
we looked into the legal ramifications of whatever contributions
we made and made much tighter contracts. Whether Andy was on
Nixon's hit list or not we didn't know, but he was audited up until
the time he died."
To keep a better account of his deductible expenses, Andy began
dictating a daily diary to his secretary, Pat Hackett. She had been
with him since 1969 and would stay until he died. Pat was not a
glamorous Warhol superstar but a trusted and reliable friend. She
was also a good writer. She would record his diary every morning
for the next fifteen years, and came to know more about his per-
sonal life and opinions than anyone else. In addition to docu-
menting all his tax deductions, she was keeping an oral history of his
increasingly glamorous life.

Women in Revolt finally opened February 1972, getting some of


in
the best reviews ever received by a film. The Time's Vincent
Warhol
Canby wrote: "Probably no man, not even Norman Mailer, will ever
have the last word on women's liberation, but until one does, per-
haps the Andy Warhol- Paul Morrissey Women in Revolt will do."
Because of a bad distribution deal, the film achieved none of the
success of Trash, but the Warhol-Morrissey team's "auteurship" was
now widely recognized, and both the Venice and New York film
festivals accepted their newest collaboration, Heat, for fall pre-

268
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

mieres. Andy, Paul, Fred, Joe Dallesandro, and Sylvia Miles at-
tended the celebrity-studded affair on the Lido in September, and
prepared themselves for the even splashier showing of the him in
New York in October. Between the two events, however, Andrea
Feldman, one of the hlm's stars, committed suicide.
She had been showing signs of being disturbed thioughout the
summer, calling herself "Andrea Warhola," apparently in the hope
that Andy would marry her. The success of Trash had gone to her
head. She would screech, "They come to see meeee! Not you, Andy
Warhoool!" On another occasion, she exploded with "You fag! You
asshole! You Warhole!" until finally Andy, in one of his rare rages,
screamed back, "Get out of here! Get out of here! And never come
back!" One day she had come to the Factory, her face covered with
scabsand small sores. Someone said to Andy, "She's very sick.

Andrea should go to a hospital. Did you see her face?" Andy replied
matter-of-factly: "Well, she's putting cigarettes outon her face. She
always does that, adding (his stock response to such situations) that
"

Andrea was "just going through a phase."


One night in September, after writing letters to people with whom
she had been fighting ("Fm going for the big time —
Heaven," she
wrote her mother), she made a date with several friends, including
Jim Carroll, to whom she promised: "You'll see something special."
By the time Carroll arrived to meet her at her apartment on Fifth
Avenue at Twelfth Street, police cars and an ambulance had already
converged: Andrea had jimiped out of a top-story window, clutch-
ing a can of Coca-Cola and a rosary.
The media would make much of Feldman's suicide, with Andy
cast as Satan disguised as the Pied Piper. Dotson Rader wrote in
Esquire: "It is appropriate that Andrea died clinging to two symbols
of Western Culture, and leaving behind letters addressed to a third.
Because Andy Warhol is nothing if not a symbol to the young. He
represents limitless tolerance, deliverance from loneliness and alien-
ation.He is a parental figure, a father to the young, to this present
generation which cannot connect with its parents or with the world
in which it grew up." Clouded by Feldman's suicide. Heat was seen
by some as the rankest form of exploitation. Said Peter Schjeldahl in
the Neu' York Times: "Miss Feldman, with her twisted little face and
frightening laugh, was clearly in a bad way, and the pitiless exposure
of her suicidal mood makes Heat a repellent document."

269
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Most of the Factory people refused to blame Andy. Vincent Fre-


mont said: "Andy was always concerned about people. He'd give
them advice and was very kind, but they don't listen. I don't think
people realize he had that compassion; they just thought he was a
cold stone. But withsomeone like Andrea, I don't think you could
do anything."
Andrea's best friend, Geraldine Smith, agreed: "I don't think
Andy ever destroyed anybody. That's such a crock of shit. Andrea
was fucked up in her childhood. Her mother left her alone when she
was two years old and she never got over that. She was obsessed
about getting her mother's love. She was hospitalized a couple of
times. She always planned to commit suicide. But she would blame
Andy and say terrible things about him."
As for Andy himself. Smith recalled that he "didn't say much
about Andrea's death." But he later told Truman Capote: "She
seemed so strong and if I'd thought she was really going to do
something like that I would have really tried to help."

Andy was in Los Angeles for the opening of Heat when his mother
died on November 22. "Promise me you'll take care of Andy," she
said to Paul Warhola, her last words to her eldest son. "I want you to
look after him because sometimes I wonder if he don't have a child-
ish mind."
John Warhola had been unable to find Andy to give him the news,
and he didn't hear about his mother's death until he was back in
New York. "I talked to him on the phone," recalled John. "I told
him, 'I have some bad news.' I was broken up, but he took the death
pretty good. He says, 'Uh .aaahh
. . well, don't cry.' He didn't
. . .

want to let me know how bad he felt."

Julia left nine thousand dollars, to be divided equally among her


three sons,and a five-hundred-dollar life insurance policy. She was
buried under the same tombstone as her husband in Saint John the
Divine Cemetery in a suburb of Pittsburgh, on a grassy sloping hill
overlooking a highway. Andy paid for but did not attend the fu-
neral. Paul Warhola remembered: "I covered up for him. 1 told
relatives he happened to be out of the country. Andy didn't want to
see nobody dead. He was deathly afraid. He says to me one time.

270
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

'You know what, Paul, I don't want you to feel bad that I didn't
"
come, but, uh, you know, I want to remember Mother as she was.'
To his associates at the Factory, Andy was close-mouthed about
his mother's death. It was many weeks before Jed Johnson heard
that Julia had died, and "a couple of years" before Vincent Fremont
found out. "I knew Andy for twelve years," said Johnson, "and he
never talked about anything personal to me, ei>er." Fred Hughes
recalled being "aware" of Julia's death. "But it was a big thing and
Andy was very private about that. One suspected it had a particularly
strong effect on him, but Andy couldn't or wouldn't show it."
To his family, however, Andy seems to have been more open
about his feelings. George Warhola, one of his nephews, came to
stay with his uncle in New York for a month after Julia's death. "He
almost had a nervous breakdown," he recalled of Andy. "He had a
handkerchief of [Julia's], and he didn't want anybody to see him,
but he'd take off his wig and put the handkerchief on his head.
Someone sent him a picture of my grandmother in her coffin and he
was very upset about that. When Uncle Andy was by himself, he was
very unhappy. He was like lost —
he always had to be around people
to him up."
lift

Marge Warhola, George's mother, recalled Andy's telling her that


Julia's death was "always on my mind" and adding: "I should never
have sent her to Pittsburgh. I feel so guilty."
Two years later, Andy painted several portraits of Julia smiling, —
wise-looking, bespectacled, and surrounded by agitated brushstrokes.
One critic called it "a haunting memory, at once closed and distant."
To others it looked strikingly like Andy himself, dressed as an old
woman. Andy's brothers were unaware of the picture until Paul
spotted it on the cover of Art in America in January 1975. Andy
made several copies of the painting but didn't give one to Paul even
though he knew he would have liked one.

In the winter of 1972, Andy cultivated the friendship of two of New-


York's most glamorous older women —
Paulette Goddard and Diana

Vreeland in an attempt, perhaps, to replace his mother with more
dazzling stand-ins. Goddard he admired for being "one of the
smartest of all the Hollywood stars because she didn't end up

271
VICTOR BOCKRIS

broke." Vreeland, the fashion guru, he described as "the most cop-


ied woman in the world like a Campbell's soup can." Both
. . .

women responded warmly to Andy's attentions, propelling him into


social echelons he had only dreamed about. He was now moving in
the worlds of high gossip and high fashion, and surrounding him-
self with a new breed of acolyte, young men who were well scrubbed
and socially, if not artistically, ambitious.
Chief among them was Bob
Colacello, who had studied interna-
Georgetown University and had now become Andy's
tional affairs at
diplomat. Old Warhol admirers deplored the new clique: "I saw
Colacello as a symbol of the social butterflies who were about to take
over the culture," said Tom Hedley of Esquire. "He also struck me as
the kind of guy who was sucking Andy dry. There was a moment
when Andy created interesting reflections of his own vanity and
confusion and moral ambiguity. But then he began creating para-
sites on his own energy, which is very deadening and boring for an
artist to do."
"Itwas the end of the underground," one Warhol associate noted.
"The people at the Factory were becoming yuppies, but nobody
knew what a yuppie was yet." Indeed, the Factory itself now looked
like a hip advertising agency on Madison Avenue: Art Deco desks, a
receptionist's nook, and Dutch doors near the elevator. The installa-
tion of a receptionist and the new doors was as much a matter of
security as of corporate image: Andy had been lax about access to
the Factory after the shooting, but in the spring of 1972, there had
been a robbery in which personal effects were stolen. One of John
Chamberlain's crushed-car sculptures was brought down from
Andy's house to block the way "in case girls came in and wanted to
shoot Andy," Morrissey said, although another factory worker saw it
as "a marvelous place to stash drugs."
That winter Andy took a holiday with Suzi Frankfurt, Jed John-
son, Fred Hughes, and the Brants at the ski resort of Saint Moritz
in Switzerland. They stayed at the grand Palace Hotel, where Andy
spent most of his days in the lobby. They hobnobbed with the Gianni
Agnellis and the Stavros Niarchoses and other European pluto-
crats

"the sort of people [who] generate more portraits," Hughes
noted.
"Switzerland," Andy declared, "is my favorite place now because
it's so nothing. And everybody's rich."

272
21

N THE SUMMER of 1973, Andy was in Rome working at the


Cinecitta film studio on Flesh for Frankenstein and Blood for
Dracula. As a filmmaker, he was now big-time: His co-producer
on both was the Italian movie mogul, and husband of Sophia
films
Loren, Carlo Ponti. Andrew Braunsberg, the London producer who
had set up the deal, had raised $700,000 from Ponti, Cinerama in
Germany, and Jean-Pierre Rassam in France. Roman Polanski was a
silent partner.
Ponti had welcomed the hard-working, efficient team to his fold.
When Morrissey had met with Braunsberg and Ponti earlier that
year to discuss making a 3-D version of Frankenstein, they quickly
reached an agreement for Morrissey to make the film on a $300,000
budget. He and Warhol would receive a fee in advance and have a
share in the profits, but Ponti would control all distribution. Ponti
then asked Paul how long the film would take to shoot. "Three
weeks," said Morrissey. Sensing an easy mark, Ponti said, "Why
don't you take six weeks and make two films? What could the second
one be?"
"Draciilal" suggested Braunsberg.

273
VICTOR BOCKRIS

Besides Morrissey, the Warhol entourage included Joe Dallesan-


dro, who was to star in both films, Jed Johnson, who had already
been in Rome for several months doing the complex pre-production
work, and Fred Hughes, who was to be the art director of both
movies (which may have accounted for the casting of the German
actor Udo Kier, who was the spitting image of Fred, as Count
Dracula). They moved into Roman Polanski's house, the Villa Man-
dorli, on the Via Appia Attica, where they were soon joined by Bob
Colaceilo. Polanski was so repulsed by their taste in friends, which,
he wrote, "was snobbishly confined to the ultrachic and aristocratic
upper crust of Rome society," that he got himself another place and
abandoned the Villa Mandorli to the Roman Factory.
The acting troupe was an international hodgepodge, including
Dallesandro and Kier, the distinguished Italian director Vittorio de
Sica, the actressMonique Van Vooren, the English socialite Maxine
McKendry, and Polanski in a cameo appearance. Because English
was a second language for many, improvised dialogue wouldn't
work, and Morrissey, in addition to coping with the technical prob-
lems of directing his first 35-mm film in 3-D, found himself typing
scripts into the early hours of the morning until Andy sent Pat
Hackett over as a script collaborator. She wrote a good deal of dia-
logue for Dracula, which was much the wittier of the two films.
Andy's international life style crystalized that summer. He jetted
back and forth from Rome to New York, where he was doing a
number of commissioned portraits. He talked like a star-struck kid
about the publicity shots his actors made with Sophia Loren, about
the excitement over Jed's sixteen-year-old sister Susan's having been
with Paul Getty, grandson of the oil billionaire, the night he was
kidnapped. Paulette Goddard, Anita Loos, Franco Rossellini, Gina
LoUobrigida, the French actress Anna Karina, the fashion designer
Valentino, and other high-flyers came by the big house on the old
Roman way. Bob Colaceilo roped in the socialites; no party was
complete without the presence of Andy and friends.
"In Rome I discovered a new Andy, the Factory's Italian connec-
"

tion Daniela Morera, recalled: "He was social, he was glamorous.


He said, 'This is the real Hollywood, Cinecitta in Rome, La Dolce
Vita, everybody fantastic!' Andy's photograph was in all the gossip
magazines. And he also had the respect of the intellectuals. I always

274
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

heard very high level people in Europe, especially in Italy, talking


about Andy in a way I never heard in America."
Frankenstein was shot first. With its scenes of 3-D gore popping out
at the audience, it was not just a parody of blood-guts-and-vomit
movies such as the popular Exorcist; it was also, in its scenes of Udo
Kier caressing human spare parts, a kind of acting-out of Andy's
death demons. "Andy once told me that he felt as if he would pop
open someday," Morrissey recalled. "When I finished Frankenstein, I
thought it might be a kind of exorcism for Andy and all the people
who are crippled and haunted by some nut case. And then I added
laughter, because that's the only way we survive." One of Dr. Frank-
enstein's memorable lines in the film touched directly on a personal
problem of Andy's: "To appreciate life, you must first learn to fuck
death in the gallbladder!" For just like his father before him, Andy
had earlier that year developed a problem with his gallbladder. His
doctor had strongly advised him to have it taken out, but Andy's
fear of hospitals was as strong as his mother's had been, and he
refused. In Dracula, there were unavoidable suggestions of Andy as
well: This was no lusty Transylvanian aristocrat but a pale, passive
ascetic, embarrassed by his roots, lost in the modern world. While
Paul and Jed stayed to edit Frankenstein and Dracula at Cinecitta,
Andy flew back to New York.
In early August he returned to Rome to film a cameo appearance
as himself in amovie called The Driver's Seat, which starred Elizabeth
Taylor, who had just broken up with Richard Burton. Andy cele-
brated his forty-fifth birthday on August 6 practicing his lines for
his first scene with Liz the next day. "Let's go. Let's go. I fear I am
already dangerously late" sounded nothing like him, but the scene
went smoothly enough after a few takes, and the star invited him for
a drink in her trailer. Assured that he wasn't carrying his tape
recorder, she latched onto Andy as a confidant. They met again for
lunch a few days later. "The whole time Liz was talking, she was
pulling leaves off a bush next to the table," Bob Colacello recalled.
"One by one she plucked every leaf off that tree and then stacked
them all in the middle of the glass table. It was such bizarre behav-
ior. She kept telling Andy how much Richard meant to her and how

important it was to her to be married to him and how destroved she


was by the breakup. When she started getting really agitated, Andy

275
VICTOR BOCKRIS

looked nervous. So I went over to him, but Liz screamed at me, 'Get
"
out of here! Just get the hell out of here!"

Back in the fall of 1969, Andy had casually started an under-


ground movie magazine called Inteniew, edited by Gerard Malanga.
During its first few years the monthly publication had crept along,
acquiring a small, loyal audience, but it had yet to establish a distinc-
tive style and voice. By 1973, the magazine had gone through twelve
editors, caused a lot of friction among its staff, and was losing
enough money to make Andy consider dropping it. Hughes sug-
gested: "Let's get rid of the idea of doing an underground film
magazine written bv poets and artists and make a whole different
magazine. Lets make it a magazine for people like usi" By that
Hughes meant people dedicated to the pmsuit of conspicuous con-

sumption and fashion fashion in clothes, in the new "hot" faces of
the entertainment industry, in clubs and hangouts, in expensive
decoration. He rounded up investors, including Bruno Bischof-
berger, Andy's Swiss art dealer; Peter Brant, who now owned Art
in America and Antiques magazines; and Joe Allen, Brant's partner
in the company that sold Interview its paper. Rosemary Kent, who
had been with Women's Wear Daily, was brought in to edit the new
Intennew, but she and Andy did not get along, and she was soon
replaced by Bob Colacello. "We're trying to reach high-spending
people." announced Colacello. "The trend in our societv is toward
self-indulgence and we encourage that. We're not interested in jour-
nalism so much as taste-setting. We're the Vogue of entertainment."
Produced an outsize forinat, Inteti'iew pioneered the "stvle"
in
magazines that would proliferate in the eighties: elaboratelv lit,
studio-shot photographv of celebrities on the newsprint of a tabloid:
ads pushing the latest in personal adornment: close-up views of the
newly rich and famous going about their lives. Chief among its
innovative features were Fran Lebowitz's column "I Cover the
Waterfront," which became the basis of her best-selling Metropolitan
Life, and the totally unstructured celebrity interview, whose best
practitioner was Andy himself.
Arriving at the subject's hotel suite or home without any agenda
of questions to be asked, turning on his tape recorder and just
letting it run, then printing a virtually unedited transcript, he

276
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

achieved a Warhol voice-portrait, as in this exchange with the


singer-comedienne Bette Midler:

BETTE MIDLER: Have you ever been to Hawaii?


ANDY WARHOL: Ycs. As sooH as you get off the plane it smells like sex.
BETTE MIDLER: Is that what your sex life smells like? Gee Where've. . .

you been hanging out?


ANDY WARHOL: No, but it does smell like sex, doesn't it? And every-
body goes there for sex because it smells that way. Don't they? I think
they do.
BETTE MIDLER: Well, Hawaii doesn't smell like sex to me. It's the only
place in the world that smells like that to me, but it's not sex, it's

freedom.

And Midler conversation shows, the magazine was a vehicle


as the
for Andynot only to meet the most interesting people of the day but
also to advertise himself. In Bob Colacello's diary column "Out,"
readers were treated to a monthly chronicle of Andy and the gang's
every social appearance, complete with reports of their conspicuous
consumption. For example, the November 9, 1973, issue ran a de-
scription of them all having dinner at Pearl's, the fashionable Chi-
nese restaurant, with the following information: "Bob Colacello in
his emerald green corduroy suit by Polidori of Rome, Yves Saint
Laurent silk shirt, Givenchy cologne; Vincent Fremont in his dark
brown custom tailored gabardine jacket, tan pants, white Brooks
Brothers shirt; Jed Johnson in blue Yves Saint Laurent blazer, light
blue Brooks Brothers shirt, striped tie from Tripler's, New Man
pants; Andy Warhol in his chestnut DeNoyer velveteen jacket,
Levis, boots by Berlutti di Priigi, Brooks Brothers shirt, red and gray
Brooks Brothers tie, brown wool V-neck Yves Saint Laurent pull-
over."
The Hughes-Colacello approach soon began to pay off: hitet-inew's
circulation rosefrom thirty-one thousand to seventy-four thousand
in six months, and its ad revenues increased from $1,800 to $7,000
an issue in the same period. Daniela Morera, who commuted be-
tween Milan and New York as the magazine's European corre-
spondent, saw Intemiew as Andy's way of bringing "the life he
discovered in Europe back to New York." To earlier toilers around

277
VICTOR BOCKRIS

the Factory, it marked a new, unattractive snobbishness in Andy. As


Ronnie Tavel observed, "There was an underbelly to Andy that was
very ugly — bigotry, racism, class."

As a painter, Andy continued to shine more brightly in Europe than


in America. In Paris at the Musee Galliera in February 1974, he
showed the Mao paintings in a spectacular installation, lining up the
painted variations in horizontal rows and mounting them on "Mao

wallpaper" a sea of Mao images larger in scale than the painted
ones. As the critic Charles Stuckey wrote: "Altogether, 1,951 images
of Mao loomed and receded as painting and decoration in tandem
orchestrated the gallery space."
Arriving to inspect the show, Andy commented to Fred: "Gee,
these paintings are great."
"Now, don't forget you painted them," Hughes advised.
The
critical reaction was, once again, positive —
most eloquently a
month later in a London Times review of an exhibition at the Mayor
Gallery of eight preparatory drawings for the Mao series that hailed
Andy as "themost serious artist to have emerged anywhere since the
war, and the most important American artist. Warhol is in some
. . .

ways like Oscar Wilde. He hides a deep seriousness and commitment


behind a front of frivolity."
The Mao paintings also showed, as Carter Ratcliff noted, the art-
ist's uncanny sense of irony about himself: "Having arrived at the

upper levels of the consumer worlds Warhol opened his art to an


. . .

icon from China, a nation dedicated to eradicating whatever vestiges


of bourgeois consumerism might linger in its citizenry. .Warhol . .

showed uncanny acuteness in introducing the Mao image into his art
at a time when the artist himself was just coming to enjoy, full-scale,
"
the benefits of Western 'decadence.'

Andy Warhol's Frankenstein had proved a hard sell to American film


distributors, but eventually a deal was cut with the leading distrib-
utors of pornographic films in the United States known to the —
Factory only as "the Purino brothers" —
who had recently made a
killing with Deep Throat. On May 19 Frankenstein was given a lavish
champagne and caviar premiere at the Trans Lux East Theater

278
"

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

in New York. Among the notables who watched the flying gore
through 3-D glasses were the sociahtes Patricia Kennedy Lawfbrd,
Mrs. WiUiam F. Buckley, Jr., Diane and Egon von Furstenberg, and
Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, the daughter of Rita Hayworth and
Prince Aly Khan. It did not go unnoticed in the press that two days
later, fitting neady into the Warhol saga, Candy Darling died at
twenty-five of leukemia.
The film was a box-office hit, grossing over $1 million during its
firsttwo months, despite generally unflattering reviews. By the sum-
mer, with bookings scheduled at an additional 150 theaters, Frank-
enstein was projected to earn a minimum of |I0 million in the
months ahead. "Audiences are laughing at Frankenstein, his sexually
repressed bug-eyed assistant, and the doctor's sister wife who makes
the fatal mistake of seducing a zombie," noted Paul Gardner in the
New York Times. "When asked what he does, since Morrissey receives
credit as writer-director on their films, Warhol says, 'I go to the
"
parties.'
Andy's euphoria over the fruits of their Roman summer was
short-lived. Since Carlo Ponti controlled the film's distribution,
Andy looked to him for an accounting of sums due Andy Warhol
Enterprises, and it soon became clear that none would be forthcoin-
ing. "First," Vincent Fremont recalled, "Ponti claimed that Franken-
stein did not make any money in North America." The astonished
Factory team could not believe the Italian producer's gall. Accord-
ing to the movie trade's bible. Variety, Frankenstein had grossed $4
million (on an investment of $300,000). Furthermore, the Purino
brothers informed Morrissey that they had collected rentals of $20
million on the film. Over the next four years, the mystery of Frank-
enstein's profits was to strain Morrissey's relationship with Warhol
beyond the breaking point, teach Andy a hard lesson about the
realities of the movie industry —
and yield no money for them at all.
Another upshot of this debacle was that Andy Warhol's Dracula, a
far superior film to Frankenstein, was unceremoniously dumped; it
was released with little fanfare and quickly disappeared. When
Hughes and Fremont tried to collect from Ponti the money they
believed was rightfully theirs, they discovered what anybody who
has ever tried to sue internationally for collection of royalties learns:
that it is a fool's game conducted around evaporating lawyers who
"cannot be reached.

279
VICTOR BOCKRIS

"Andv," recalled Fremont, "was verv irritated. He was not a


person to lose money. He didn't understand subtraction, he only
understood addition."
Finally, Andy Warhol Enterprises managed to get an injunction
preyenting both films from doing any business in America, where-
upon Pontis son appeared out of the blue with a deal to return the
rights to Warhol. No sooner had Andy regained the rights, how-
ever, than the Factory resold the American distribution rights to
Landmark Films for "next to peanuts in a deal that still had Fre-
"

mont shaking his head years later; Landmark made another million
dollars on the picture, none of which went to Andy.

Andy boldh decided to expand


Typically, in the face of this fiasco,
his business. For some time now he had been bursting out of his
Union Square offices, renting other rooms in the building to house
Intennew and eyen an extra space on the tenth floor in which to
paint. At one point he considered buying the whole building. When
this didn't pan out, he decided the time had come to moye again.
One day. gazing across Union Square, Fremont and Hughes
noticed a large for rent sign on the corner building at 860 Broad-
way. At first the building's agent put them off. He had no interest in
renting the space to a freak like Andy Warhol. But when Hughes
and Fremont showed up at the office of the owner, Edward Gordon,
they discovered that he was married to the sister of the painter Larry
Rivers. The broke and a deal was made.
ice
The 860 Broadway consisted of a suite of offices that
third floor of
had been renovated bv S&:H Green Stamps in the 1920s. It featured
a corporate wood-paneled boardroom or dining room equipped
with a small kitchen, a large kidnev-shaped reception room, and two
broad galleries running through to the back, where there were a
number of smaller rooms that could be used as offices, storage
space, or painting studios. The 12,500-square-foot rental was a per-
fect fit expanding Andy Warhol Enterprises, and in August
for the
1974, the move began. Ever economical, Andv made it a condition
that visitors had to carry at least one item across the street to the new
Factory.
Fremont recalled: "We sweated through the move to get the bills
paid. Fred and I were on the phone constantly trying to make deals.

280
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

Andy rose to the occasion, doing more prints and appearing in a


series of advertisements for Pioneer stereo equipment." Still, it was a
stretch. His overhead had more than doubled; as ever, he seethed
with inner conflicts about the direction he was going in.
The new were empty and bleak when the first crates were
offices
unpacked September. "It was cold, and we were all shiv-
in early
ering," Warhol's new silk-screen assistant, Ronnie Cutrone, re-
called. "We unrolled a giant old flower canvas — a big bright yellow
flower — and we all sat around it as though it was a campfire. Andy
said,'What whu
. .whatever happened to the sixties?' In other
. . . .

words: Whatever happened to bright yellow flowers?"

281
22

s THE SEVENTIES shifted into high gear, Andy Warhol Enter-


prises developed into the best team Andy had ever had. Fred
Hughes worked out of a large screened-off space to the right
of the reception room. Bob Colacello ruled over Interview in a small,
elegantly furnished office at the end of a long gallery. Andy had two
rooms beyond Bob's. The small one he turned into a trash dump,
the other was his painting space. In a cubbyhole between the recep-
tion room and the dining room Vincent Fremont, the office man-
ager, kept watch.
Ronnie Cutrone would be Andy's full-time painting assistant for
the next ten years. He was another of the angelic-looking hustler
types, like Malanga and Giorno, that Andy favored. Swarthy, short,
and muscular, with a dancer's balance, he resembled the Silver Fac-
tory pioneers more than the middle-class kids who were taking over.
His experimental spirit would be a vital arrow in Andy's quiver
throughout the seventies. Andy also hired Rupert Smith as his silk-
screen printer and art director. Smith would become another lifer.
As personal secretary and diarist he still had steady, enthusiastic
Pat Hackett, just the sort of empathic woman, like Ellie Simon and
Gretchen Schmertz, in whom Andy had always been able to confide.

282
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

And he still commanded the loyalty of Jed Johnson, who was tryhig
to find a new house Andy. Now, for the first time in his career,
for
every aspect of Andy's needs was in the hands of a competent per-
son. All the Warhol activities were now under Andy Warhol Enter-
prises and at the "office," as the new generation called the Factory,
Warhol was no longer "Drella." He was "the boss."
Andy would usually arrive around noon. After rifling through
the telephone messages and mail, he would check in with Hughes,
Colacello, and Fremont. Most often, their conversation, laced with
bitchy gossip, would begin with a review of the previous night's
social rounds and then move on to the central concern of the day:
Who was coming to lunch? Arranging the ritual lunches was one of
Colacello's responsibilities, and, under his supervision, the midday
gatherings took on a stylized format consisting, he recalled, of "two
socialites, one Hollywood starlet, one European title, and the vic-
tim" — a prospective portrait commission or advertiser in Intennew.
(Andy still paid his staff fairly low salaries but did give them the
incentive of commissions if they brought in an ad for the magazine
or a portrait-sitter.) Colacello had the special talent (which Andy did
not) of remembering who was in town, arranging compatible table-
mates, and making the seemingly endless calls to get people to come.
The setting was the wood-paneled dining room gone slightly
berserk: a large oval French Art Deco table, over which loomed an
enormous nineteenth-century painting. The Wind, by David Forres-
ter Wilson, a stuffed moosehead, and several Swahili ancestor-
worship poles.
It was decided that watercress, smoked salmon, and caviar sand-

wiches (like those Diana Vreeland served at the Metropolitan


Museum of Art) were too expensive, and the menus became for-
malized: pasta salads from the Greenwich Village specialty store
Balducci's for portrait clients, and quiche and pates from the Three
Little Pigs for advertisers. The bar was stocked with Stolichnaya
vodka, Cuervo Gold tequila, and the other fashionable drinks adver-
tised in Interview. Throughout lunch, Andy poured wine for his
guests while remaining abstemious himself. He had become careful
about what he ate, but would often go on eccentric eating jags for—
example, having a bean sandwich every day for two weeks, then
suddenly switching to something else, like the Filet o' Fish from the
McDonald's across the street.

283
VICTOR BOCKRIS

If the banquet did not produce immediate results, clients were


invited back for an even more celebrity-packed lunch or flattered by
a tape-recorded story on them in Interview.
For all the glamour of the guest list and the swagger of the setting,
these lunches were usually anxious affairs. Before the guests ar-
rived, Andy, adjusting his wig and putting on makeup, would some-
times start to shake all over. Once everyone was seated, he sat,
mostly speechless, while Colacello and Hughes tried to keep the
chatter going. Ronnie Cutrone recalled the occasions as "awkward,
brittle, and stiff. Most of the people genuinely bored me to tears,
and they were so nervous. I would sit there drinking Bloody Marys,
watching two sets of people being nervous."
After lunch, Andy would usually spend the afternoon painting,
assisted by Cutrone, a talented artist in his own right, who had first
joined the Warhol circle as a dancer with the Exploding Plastic
Inevitable. The demand for Warhol portraits was booming now that
Andy had scored with the likes of Gianni and Marella Agnelli, Saint
Laurent, Brigitte Bardot, Bianca Jagger, Brooke Hopper, and the
hottest fashion designer of the moment, Halston. By the fall of
1974, the portrait business was well on its way to becoming a million-

dollar-a-year operation. Anyone could have a portrait painted by


Warhol for twenty-five thousand dollars, the price of a forty-by-
forty-inch canvas. A nonrefundable ten-thousand-dollar deposit
was all that was required in most cases. Andy usually painted more
than one canvas of his clients if he thought there was a chance he
could sell them more than one. The second canvas cost fifteen
thousand, the third ten thousand, the fourth five thousand. Addi-
tional panels held a special incentive for art collectors —
where else
could you get a comparable Warhol for the price? and lolas, Ir-—
ving Blum, Ivan Karp, Ileana Sonnabend, Lita Hornick, and Yoyo
Bischofberger, the wife of Warhol's Swiss art dealer, all commis-
sioned portraits.
The process began with an afternoon photo session in which
Andy snapped off Polaroids as Fred or one of his other aides leaped
about, advising the client on hair and makeup, saying how "great"
the client looked —a style borrowed, in part, from Halston's reassur-
ing fitting-room manner. Additional photo sessions were often re-

quired before Andy got what he wanted generally a three-quarter

284
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

He was not interested


profile in the style of a television talking head.
in a "warts and approach, preferring images with strong graphic
all"

contrast. The chosen snapshot would then be sent to Alexander


Heintici at Chroinacomp, a fine-arts printer in Manhattan's flower
district, to be converted into positive proofs the size of the final
painting. "We wanted the middle tones to drop out and wanted to
keep the very dark and light ones," Heintici recalled. "Andy got very
upset if it was not what he wanted. You had to listen not only to what
he said, but be sensitive enough to understand what he really
wanted." Andy used the positive proofs to trace the image on can-
vas. He then painted in the background color, the eyes, lips, and
other features, and returned the painted canvases to Heintici, who
silk-screened the black-and-white image of the subject on top of
each. Finally, Andy embellished the silk-screened canvas with more
brushwork.
The impression Andy liked to give of knocking off the portraits
"automatically" was entirely misleading. The whole process took at
least as much time as a traditional portrait painting. Moreover,
Andy gave a great deal of thought to his choice of appropriate
colors for the subject —
for example, the mock-royal gold and laven-
der for Mick Jagger. And he used his illustrator's instincts to exag-
gerate the features he considered important, as in the 1940s Joan
Crawford, whose smear of lipstick almost reached her ears.
The results were an embalmed expressionism. As David Bourdon
wrote: "Warhol transforms his 'sitters' into glamorous apparitions,
presenting their faces as he thinks they should be seen and remem-
bered. His portraits are not so much documents of the present as
they are icons awaiting a future."
Andy's energy was prodigious. "His seven-days-a-week work ethic
was part of his working-class Eastern European background, and it

was contagious everyone around him adapted to it," said Chris-
topher Makos, a staff photographer for Inteiinew. "For years," re-
called Rupert Smith, one of Andy's assistants, "we painted on
Saturdays and Sundays but would tell people that we were out of
town."
Andy was getting rich. And so was Fred Hughes, who was getting
twenty percent of every Warhol he sold. It was rumored that much
of the profits were put into a Swiss bank. "I was bringing in rolls of

285
VICTOR BOCKRIS

portraits of the Italian fashion people under my arm on the plane to


Milano and going through customs without paying any duty," said
Daniela Morera. "They say, 'What are these?' 'Posters!' I say. And I
know that the clients were paying the money in Switzerland. All the
paintings that Bruno Bischofberger and his partner Thomas Am-
manu sold in Zurich, I'm sure that money stays in Switzerland. If
you go to Paris and sell paintings you don't ask the Rothschilds to
send you the money in America. It goes to Switzerland. You don't
pay any taxes and nobody knows anything. Every good American
businessman was doing that."
Vincent Fremont denied this account: "Whatever Andy earned in
Europe he brought back to the States because we needed it here. We
were expanding all the time. I was never aware of a Swiss bank
account."
In any case, getting rich did not alleviate Andy's fear of the
poorhouse. "Andy was always afraid he would lose his money or that
his checkbook would be overdrawn," Rupert Smith said. He did not
have credit cards, preferring to carry his wad of crisp one-hundred-
dollar bills in a brown envelope. Rarely ostentatious in his show of
wealth, he did, however, feel secure enough that year to buy a new
green Rolls-Royce.
Andy usually remained at work until seven while Colacello and
Fremont waited for him, a process often prolonged by Andy's habit
of getting involved in a long telephone conversation at the end of
the day, or deciding to reread all his mail. If Andy wanted to be
particularly irritating, he might assign whomever he was picking on
that week such last-minute tasks as double-checking to see that there
were no burning cigarettes in the ashtrays. He had a profound fear
of fire, and anyone who had left a burner on in the kitchen or a
lighted cigarette lying around risked his red-faced ire. Most of his
assistants were impatient to get home, largely because they would be
expected to reappear shortly at the dinners and parties where they
were expected to continue working, pushing Andy and his product.
Andy would take a taxi home, where he would eat his "first"
dinner of the evening. The gallbladder problems kept him on a
restricted diet, but since the shooting he had also continued to worry
about food away from home or the office not being "clean." His
favorite foods were the simplest — such as turkey and mashed

286
THE LIFE AND DEATH OF ANDY WARHOL

potatoes. And he still loved to rush into a pastry store and buy a
birthday cake just because it made him feel good.

From 1974 to 1979, the Fact