The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, Andy Warhol
Harcourt Trade Publishers, 1975
Hang up the phone. Hang out the trash. Hang yourself with a silver soup spoon. Because here comes Andy, Bruno, and you’d better have a good pee first before he comes because he’s got something big to say. This time he’s been thinking, too. Thinking real hard.
My favorite thing is to buy underwear. I think buying underwear is the most personal thing you can do, and if you could watch a person buying underwear you would really get to know them. I mean, I would rather watch somebody buy their underwear than read a book they wrote.
It’s hard to believe that the man who single-handedly started Pop art; who discovered the Velvet Underground; who made a household name out of underground icons such as Nico, Edie Sedgwick, Candy Darling, Billy Name, Ondine, Joe Dallesandro, to name a few—it’s hard to believe that this favorite silkscreen god of the sticky sixties actually bought his jockey shorts at Woolworths.
I read the label on the plastic bag they came in, just to make sure they hadn’t changed any of their famous “comfort features” —“Exclusive Tailoring for Proper Fit to support a Man’s Needs; Countered Designed Arch Gives Added Comfort No Gaps; Support Waistband is Smoother Fitted Heat Resistant; Stronger, Longer Lasting ‘V’ No Chafe Leg Openings; Soft Rubber at Either Thigh Only. Highly Absorbent 100 Percent Highly Combed Cotton.” So far so good I thought. I checked the “washing instructions”—“Machine Wash Tumble Dry” Everything was fine the same as always.
Like one of his long unedited films, say Sleep, or a shot of the Empire State Building unmoving for almost 7 hours, nothing in this book ever really seems to happen. It’s just there. Pop! But that seems to be the point. A Brillo box is a Brillo box is a Brillo box. Jackie and Elvis are just who they are but only after being mass-produced, like a canvas stamp. It’s a fabulous factory, darling. And even the whitest of underwear is just that: underwear. Most everyone wasn’t wearing any anyway after 1963. Except Andy of course. So these are all his underclothes. His closet philosophies. Quips and jibes. At times insightful and wise, but often pretty damn funny, too.
I wake up and call B. B is anybody who helps me kill time. B is anybody and I am nobody. B and I. I need B because I can’t be alone. Except when I sleep. Then I can’t be with anybody.
Just what we’d expect from Andy. The bitchy dialogue runs its course throughout the entire book. A & B just can’t get enough of each other. Can’t seem to shut up. Not even when Liz Taylor’s hairdresser makes a cameo in Italy. Liz, too! A simply needs B. We all need a nice shot of B. And lots and lots of mindless TV.
When I got my first TV set, I stopped caring so much about having close relationships with other people. I’d been hurt a lot to the degree you can only be hurt if you care a lot. So I guess I did care a lot, in the days before anyone ever heard of “pop art” or “underground movies” or “superstars.” So in the late ’50s I started an affair with my television which has continued to the present.
Perhaps TV was a way to escape the memories of walking to school through a dismal Czech ghetto growing up in Pittsburgh, or sharing a dirty basement with cockroaches and 17 roommates when he first moved to New York. Andy fought his way up the ladder the hard way drawing shoes for commercial advertisements. He ate lunch at department store countertops. Bought his underwear at Woolworths just like the rest of us. The reason for his success was just plain hard work. And he met a lot of interesting and fucked up people along the way.
During the ’60s, 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 has happened to me. I don’t really know if I was ever capable of love, but after the ’60s I never though in terms of “love” again.
Drama queen? Certainly!. But aren’t we all? When he first started painting in the ’60s, Andy was shunned by the established artists living in New York. They almost threw him out of a party once. He was deemed too “swish”, not macho or intellectual enough—this, a statement by the abstract expressionists and poets who hung out at the Cedar bar in Greenwich Village. His work was too different. To stark and straightforward. Many just didn’t get what he was trying to say about popular culture, about the media, about consumerism. The every day and off-the-rack, the mundane and mute that surrounds us all. Even the artists who broke all the rules refused to understand. The emperor had no clothes on. But Andy had his underwear.
Sometimes something can look beautiful just because it’s different in some way form the other things around it. One red petunia in a window box will look very beautiful if all the rest of them are white, and vice-versa.
It must not be easy being alone. So you cover everything in silver and invite everyone in to the party to have a look at the pretty things you’ve made. Supernovas and superstars. You turn on the television. You call up a B, or two. You’re just another kid from somewhere else trying to make it in the big city. All you need is a friend. And a good one at that.
A: I like Your Apartment.
B: It’s Nice, but it’s only big enough for one person – or two people who are very close.
A: You know two people who are very close?