The Philosophy of Andy Warhol

 

 

 

 

THE Philosophy of
Andy
Warhol

(From A to B and Back Again)

DEDICATION

To Pat Hackett, for extracting and redacting my thoughts so intelligently;

To beautiful Brigid Polk, for being on the other end; To Bob Colacello, for getting it all together; and To Steven M. L. Aronson, for being a great editor.

CONTENTS

B and I

How Andy Puts His Warhol On

You Can't Argue with Your Scrapbook.

1 Love (Puberty)

Growing Up Czechoslovak. Summer Jobs. Feeling Left Out. Sharing Problems. Catching Problems. My Own Problem. Roommates. The Psychiatrist Never Called Back. My First Television. My First Scene. My First Superstar. My First Tape.

2 Love (Prime)

The Fall and Rise of My Favorite Sixties Girl.

3 Love (Senility)

Learning the Facts of Life at Forty. My Ideal Wife. My Telephone Dream Girl. Jealousy. Low Lights and Trick Mirrors. Sex and Nostalgia. Drag Queens. Romance Is Hard but Sex Is Harder. Frigidity.

4 Beauty

My Self-Portrait. Permanent Beauty Problems, Temporary Beauty Problems: What to Do About Them. Clean Beauty. The Good Plain Look. Keeping Your Looks. Beautiful Monotony.

5 Fame

My Aura. Television Magic. The Wrong Person for the Right Part. Fans and Fanatics. Elizabeth Taylor.

6
Work

Art Business vs. Business Art. My Early Films. Why I Love Leftovers. Living Is Work. Sex Is Work. How to Look a Maid in the Eye. A Roomful of Candy.

7
Time

Time on My Hands. The Times Between the Times. Waiting in Line. Street Time. Plane Time. Missing Chemicals. Why I Try to Look So Bad. Keeping Appointments. Elizabeth Taylor.

8 Death

All About It.

9 Economics

The Rothschild Story. All-Night Pharmacies. Buying Friends. The Desk-Model Checkbook. Pennies, Pennies, Pennies. Gina Lollobrigida's Pennies.

10 Atmosphere

Empty Spaces. Art as Junk. Picasso's Four Thousand Masterpieces. My Coloring Technique. The End of My Art. The Rebirth of My Art. Perfume Space. The Good Life in the Country and Why I Can't Take It. A Tree Tries to Grow in Manhattan. The Good Plain American Lunchroom. The Andymat.

11
Success

The Stars on the Stairs. Why Everyone Needs at Least One Hairdresser. Poptarts. Ursula Andress. Elizabeth Taylor.

12 Art

The Grand Prix. New Art. Slicing a Salami. Glamorous Risks.
Noli Me Tangere.
Cold Fish.

13 Titles

Continental Intermarriage. Ladies-in-Waiting. Who's Hustling Who. Champagne Chins and Beer Bellies.

14 The Tingle

How to Clean Up American Style.

15 Underwear Power

What I Do on Saturday When My Philosophy Runs Out.

 

A:
Just a little piece...... smaller.....smaller

B and I: How
Andy Puts His Warhol On

A:
I
have never called my answering service.

I wake up and call B.

B is anybody who helps me kill time.

B is anybody and I'm nobody. B and I.

I need B because I can't be alone. Except when I sleep. Then I can't be with anybody.

I wake up and call B.

"Hello."

"A? Wait and I'll turn off the TV. And pee. I took a dehydration pill and they make me pee every fifteen minutes." I waited for B to pee.

"Go on," she said finally. "I just woke up. My mouth is dry."

"I wake up every morning. I open my eyes and think: here we go again."

"I get up because I have to pee."

"I never fall back to sleep," I said. "It seems like a dangerous thing to do. A whole day of life is like a whole day of television. TV never goes off the air once it starts for the day, and I don't either. At the end of the day the whole day will be a movie. A movie made for TV."

"I watch television from the minute I get up," B said. "I look at NBC blue, then I turn to another channel and look at the background in a different color and see which way it looks better with the skin tones on the faces. I memorize some of Barbara Walters' lines so I can use them on your TV show when you get it."

B was referring to the great unfulfilled ambition of my life: my own regular TV show. I'm going to call it
Nothing Special.

"I wake up in the morning," she said, "and look at the patterns of the wallpaper. There's gray and there's a flower and there're black dots around the flower, and I'm thinking: is it Bill Blass wallpaper? It's just as famous as a painting. You know what you should do today, A? You should find the best drawer-liner paper in New York and make a portfolio out of it. Or have it made into material and go to an upholsterer and have a chair covered with it. Have the flowers tufted. And you could put accent pillows. You can do so much more with a chair than you can with a painting."

"That forty-pound shopping bag full of rice that I bought in a panic is still sitting next to my bed," I said.

"So is mine, except it's eighty pounds and it's driving me crazy because the shopping bag doesn't match the curtains."

"My pillow is stained."

"Maybe you turned upside down in the middle of the night and got your period," B said.

"I have to take off my wings." I use five wings: one under each eye, one on either side of my mouth, and one on my forehead.

"Say that again."

"I said I have to take off my wings."

Was B making fun of my wings? "Every day is a new day," I said. "Because I can't remember the day before. So I'm grateful to my wings."

"Oh, Jesus," she sighed. "Every day
is
a new day. Tomorrow isn't that important, yesterday wasn't that important. I really am thinking about today. And the first thing I think about today is how am I going to save a buck. I wait in bed for whoever I want to call to call me. That way I save at least a dime."

"I pop right out of bed. I shuffle, I shuttle, I tippy-toe, I Cakewalk, anything to avoid the chocolate-covered cherries that are spread all over the floor like land-mines. But I always step in one. I feel the chocolate . . ."

"I CANT HEAR YOU. I CANT UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU'RE SAYING!"

"I said I realize it's a feeling I like." "I get up and I tip-toe. I'm afraid I'm going to wake up my houseguests it's so early, and then when I slip on a chocolate-covered cherry I really hate it, because it reminds me of putting honey on something, and then, God, the knife is dirty, and I get it on the carpet, you know how honey always drips. Honey should come out of something that squirts—like ketchup in a drive-in."

"I crawl to the bathroom because I can't shuffle, shuttle, tippy-toe or cakewalk, with a chocolate-covered cherry caught between my toes. I approach the sink. I raise my body slowly and brace my arms against the stand."

"I don't do that," B said. "I get the chocolate-covered cherry caught between my toes and then I sit in a yoga position and try to get my foot into my mouth so i can lick off the rest of the chocolate-covered cherry. Then I hop to the bathroom so I don't get any more chocolate-covered cherry on the rest of the floor. Once I get there I have to lift my leg up to the sink and take a foot-bath."

"I'm sure I'm going to look in the mirror and see nothing. People are always calling me a mirror and if a mirror looks into a mirror, what is there to see?"

"When I look in the mirror I only know that I don't see myself as others see me." "Why is that, B?"

"Because I'm looking at myself the way I want to see myself. I make expressions just for myself. I don't make the expressions other people see me make. I'm not twisting my lips and saying 'Money?'"

"Oh, not money, B, come on." This B is rich so of course she has a one-track mind.

"Some critic called me the Nothingness Himself and that didn't help my sense of existence any. Then I realized that existence itself is nothing and I felt better. But I'm still obsessed with the idea of looking into the mirror and seeing no one, nothing."

"I'm obsessed," B said, "with the idea of looking into the mirror and saying 'I don't believe it. How can I get the publicity I get? How can I be one of the most famous persons in the world? Just look at me!'"

"Day after day I look in the mirror and I still see something—a new pimple. If the pimple on my upper right cheek is gone, a new one turns up on my lower left cheek, on my jawline, near my ear, in the middle of my nose, under the hair on my eyebrows, right between my eyes. I think it's the same pimple, moving from place to place." I was telling the truth. If someone asked me, "What's your problem?" I'd have to say, "Skin."

"I dunk a Johnson and Johnson cotton ball into Johnson and Johnson rubbing alcohol and rub the cotton ball against the pimple. It smells so good. So clean. So cold. And while the alcohol is drying I think about nothing. How it's always in style. Always in good taste. Nothing is perfect— after all, B, it's the opposite of nothing."

"For me to think about nothing is just about impossible," said B. "I can't even think about it when I'm asleep. I had the worst dream of my life last night. The worst nightmare, I mean. I dreamt that I was at a meeting someplace and I had a plane reservation to come home and nobody would take me. They kept taking me to this house instead, to look at an art work for charity. I had to go up the stairs and look at all the paintings. And there was a man ahead of me and he kept saying 'Turn around! You haven't seen that!' I said, 'Yes, sir!' It was a curved wall going up a curved staircase, it was painted yellow, from the bottom to the top, and he said, 'Well, that's the painting.' I said, 'Oh.' Then I left with a man in a gray suit and a briefcase who went down to put another fifteen cents in the parking meter, but his car wasn't a car, it was a couch, so I knew
he
couldn't get me anyplace. That's when I tried to stop an ambulance. I wound up having to go to the party another time. Another man dragged me back to see the painting and he said, 'You haven't seen everything yet.' I said, 'I've seen everything.' He said, 'But you haven't seen the man downstairs putting the fifteen cents in his car.' I said, 'Ha. That's not his car, it's his couch. How am I going to get to the airport on a couch?' He said, 'Didn't you see him take a black notebook out of his pocket and write fifteen cents in it? He said it was the longest meeting he'd ever been to. It's a tax deduction. That's a work of art. That's his piece, putting the fifteen cents into the parking for his couch.' Then I realized I didn't have any money to pay for my plane reservation—I had made and canceled it four times. So I went to a shingled house near the beach and picked up sea-shells. I wanted to see if I could get inside this broken sea-shell, and I tried, A, I really tried. I got the top of my head in it and my barrette, through the hole. One strand of my hair and my barrette. I went back to the meeting and I said, 'Could you please put a propeller on this man's couch, so I can get to the airport.'"

This B had something on her mind. Why else would she dream like that?

"I had an awful nightmare last night too," I said. "I was taken to a Clinic. I was sort of involved in a charity to cheer up monsters—people who were horribly disfigured, people born without noses, people who had to wear plastic across their faces because underneath there was nothing. There was a person at the Clinic who was in charge who was trying to explain the problems these people had and their personal habits and I was just standing there and I had to listen and I just wanted it to stop. Then I woke up and I thought, 'Please, please let me think about anything else. I'm just going to roll over and think about anything else that I can,' and I rolled over and I dozed off and the nightmare was back! It was awful.

"The thing is to think of nothing, B. Look, nothing is exciting, nothing is sexy, nothing is not embarrassing. The only time I ever want to be something is outside a party so I can get in."

"Three out of five parties are going to be a drag, A. I always have my car there early so I can leave if they're disappointing."

I could have told her that if something is disappointing I know it's not nothing because nothing is not disappointing.

"When the alcohol is dry," I said, "I'm ready to apply the flesh-colored acne-pimple medication that doesn't resemble any human flesh I've ever seen, though it does come pretty close to mine."

"I use a Q-tip for that," B said. "You know, one of the things that gets me hot is having a Q-tlp in my ear. I love to clean my ears. I really find it exciting if I find a little piece of wax."

"Okay, B, okay. So now the pimple's covered. But am I covered? I have to look into the mirror for some more clues. Nothing is missing. It's all there. The affectless gaze. The diffracted grace . . ."

"What?"

"The bored languor, the wasted pallor . . ." "The what?"

"The chic freakiness, the basically passive astonishment, the enthralling secret knowledge . . ." "WHAT??"

"The chintzy joy, the revelatory tropisms, the chalky, puckish mask, the slightly Slavic look . . ." "Slightly . . ."

"The childlike, gum-chewing naivete, the glamour rooted in despair, the self-admiring carelessness, the perfected otherness, the wispiness, the shadowy, voyeuristic, vaguely sinister aura, the pale, soft-spoken magical presence, the skin and bones . . ."

"Hold it, wait a minute. I have to take a pee."

"The albino-chalk skin. Parchmentlike. Reptilian. Almost blue . . ."

"Stop it! I have to pee!!"

"The knobby knees. The roadmap of scars. The long bony arms, so white they look bleached. The arresting hands. The pinhead eyes. The banana ears . . ."

"The banana ears? Oh, A!!!"

"The graying lips. The shaggy silver-white hair, soft and metallic. The cords of the neck standing out around the big Adam's apple. It's all there, B. Nothing is missing. I'm everything my scrapbook says I am."

"Now
can I go pee, A? I'll only be a second."

"First tell me, is my Adam's apple that big, B?"

"It's a lump in your throat. Take a lozenge."

When B got back from peeing, we compared makeup techniques. I don't really use makeup but I buy it and I think about it a lot. Makeup is so well-advertised you can't ignore it completely. B went on for such a long time about all her "creams" that I asked her "Don't you like to have people come in your face?" "Does it rejuvenate?"

"Haven't you heard about these ladies who take young guys to the theater and jerk them off so they can put it all over their face?"

"They rub it in like face cream?" "Yes. It sort of pulls it tighter and makes them younger for the evening."

"It does? Well, I use my own. It's better that way. That way I can do it at home before I go out for the evening. I shave my underarms, spray them, cream my face, and I'm all set for an evening."

"I don't shave. I don't sweat. I don't even shit," I said. I wondered what B would say to that.

"You must be full of shit, then," she said. "Ha ha ha." "After I check myself out in the mirror, I slip into my BVDs. Nudity is a threat to my existence."

"It's not a threat to mine," B said. "I'm standing here now completely naked, looking at the stretch marks on my tits. Right now I'm looking at the scar on my side from my abscessed breastbone. And now I'm looking at the scar on my leg from where I fell in the garden when I was six." "What about
my
scars?"

"What about
your
scars?" B said. "I'll tell you about
your
scars. I think you produced
Frankenstein
just so you could put your scars in the ad. You put your scars to work for you. I mean, why not? They're the best things you have because they're proof of something. I always think it's nice to have the proof."

"What are they proof of?"

"You got shot. You had the biggest orgasm of your life." "What happened?"

"It happened so quickly it was like a flash."
"What
happened?"

"Remember how embarrassed you were in the hospital when the nuns saw you without your wings? And you started to collect things again. The nuns got you interested in collecting stamps, like you did when you were a kid or something. They got you interested in coins again too."

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