The holiday season is full of good times and cheer; As the calendar creeps towards the new year, now is a great excuse to let go of some stress and ring in some good cheer. So let’s talk about our favorite artist Andy Warhol and one especially funky holiday season.
I doubt it will surprise any of you, dear readers, to hear that Andy Warhol attended a party or two in his lifetime. This 2018 holiday season marks the 40th anniversary of one specifically wild Warholiday week. The year coming to a close was 1978, and the average cost of a new home was $54,000. The first successful In Vitro fertilization was performed in the UK and the first ever Garfield comic was published in June of the same year.
This particular holiday season it all started with talking to Tinkerbelle, real name Jeri Lee Veronica Visser. She was a journalist for Warhol’s Interview magazine, who on the night of December 23rd, 1978 told Warhol “she makes out with everyone she interviews, that she was making out with Christopher Walken and that his wife was getting upset.” Scandalous. There was a deep cut on Tinkerbelle’s arm, an injury she acquired the previous night. She’d said it happened when she fell from a skylight trying to break into a friend’s place. The motive? Tinkerbelle thought there were drugs in there. “I guess Tinkerbelle’s really wild,” journaled Warhol.
The next day was Christmas Eve and Warhol was up bright and early that Sunday morning of 1978. Warhol writes in his journal that on this day he decides to do some prints of Muhammed Ali. In the crazy serendipity that Warhol called his life it happened to be that this morning he called David Whitney, of the eponymous Museum fame, only to have legendary architect Philip Johnson answer the phone. Johnson was at his Glass House in Connecticut, cleaning up debris and trash because “the big winds had blown in a sheet of glass…and it could have cut him in two. Isn’t that scary?”
Next “Truman called,” that’s Truman Capote mind you, “and said he was alone because Bob MacBride had to spend Christmas with his kids.” Ah, to be a fly on the wall by Warhol’s phone. Don’t feel alarmed at not knowing this MacBride character, he was “a physicist and engineer who wanted to be a sculptor.” You may be wondering, “what’s interesting about this MacBride fella?” Well according to Bob Colacello, author of HOLY TERROR: Andy Warhol Close Up, “Truman had a history of falling in love with married men…” Licentious. Impassioned. What a world Warhol inhabited. The web of drama is only woven deeper as Andy reveals that he felt there was something unnatural about Truman and MacBride’s relationship. Andy was immediately highly suspicious that Truman was using Warhol and Colacello to break MacBride into the art world, claiming an unnatural kindness had tipped Warhol off to some sort of underhandedness.
According to Colacello however “Andy always saw ulterior motives in everyone–perhaps because those were the only kind he knew himself.” Perhaps, as well, that Truman Capote was not as well intentioned as one would like to believe or, perhaps, it is simply a case of staring into the abyss too long.
This Warholiday is only just getting started. After talking to all these renowned titans of their respective fields, Warhol worked till 5. Christmas Eve(ning) Warhol went to acclaimed designer Diane Von Furstenberg’s party. Warhol hated this party, journaling that “Now everybody’s saying that they only like me when Bob and Fred aren’t around with me, that’s the new thing.” True to his belief that everyone only gets their 15 minutes of fame, Andy goes on to write in his journal that “They’ll be turning on me soon, too, probably.” A certainly inauspicious and unpleasant thought to have in the middle of a Christmas Eve party. Unhappy with his soiree, Andy bounced out of Diane Von Furstenberg’s party and went to Halston the clothing designer’s party. But not before remarking that Diane’s party was “a horrible Christmas party with horrible people.”
Upon arrival Warhol did something quite shocking, Warhol logs in his journal that “Catherine was there and I gave her a painting with some of my come on it…” Dear reader hold on to your hat because “then Victor said it was his come, and then we had a fight about that, but now that I think about it, it could have been Victor’s.” I mean, it was the seventies after all?
Finally, it was Christmas. Warhol went to church, and a friend called to wish him a Merry Christmas. Warhol went back to Halston’s for a Christmas turkey dinner at 9pm, and seemingly around this window of time the IRS seized a room full of cash at Studio 54, the most famous famous New York disco club in the 70s. Steve Rubell was the owner and upon seeing how much money he actually had Warhol had thought that Steve “could have been so generous and spending so much, and he just wasn’t.” Apparently a turkey dinner at Halston’s led to gossip and the gossip soon became about Mick and Bianca Jagger’s divorce. Steve thought Bianca “should hire Roy Cohn and sue Mick for everything…” Roy Cohn is of course the lawyer who represented Senator McCarthy during the Red Scare of the 1950’s. Thankfully Warhol reveals the interesting tidbit himself “but the thing’s so complicated—Bianca wants to get the divorce in London and Mick wants it in France because France is where she signed the paper saying she wouldn’t get anything in a divorce settlement.”
Now it’s New Years Eve! What a wild holiday season and the wildest night still has not happened. The day started for Warhol, like many do, at his studio. “It was nice working on New Years Eve, I painted backgrounds,” he writes. Later, Warhol went back to Halston’s place for another party. Funny enough, Warhol must’ve been little underdressed for the event as he writes “I did not know the evening at Halston’s was going to be so chic, my dear.” While enjoying the party at Halston’s they heard on the
radio an announcer say “Live from Studio 54!” which immediately piqued all of their interest. What grabbed their attention even stronger was when that same announcer said that “Halston! Bianca! Andy Warhol! They’re coming through the door right now!” all the while the three were sitting in Halston’s apartment. But being socialites of the time, they went to Studio 54 after having been said to be there. Studio 54 looked great, it had “silver glitter on the floor, and they had someone on a trapeze, and white balloons. And they were saying that Bobby De Niro had been there since 10:00.” It was a wild wild time, a mutual friend of Andy’s had a crush on Bianca and Andy, Bianca, and the man with the crush spent the night getting split apart, looking for one another, and then getting split apart ad nauseum. Andy was famously sober at this party, “I had lots of Perrier” wrote Warhol.
On New Year’s Day of 1979 Warhol was forced into having a dinner party which he did not want. He invited Bianca, some of the usual cast and crew and porn star Allen Brooks. The actress Gloria Swanson was there, and was in quite a tizzy over a potential gas leak at Warhol’s home: “I smell terrible fumes. I have to go to the window to get away from them. Where are they coming from? Check your stove. I have a very good nose and I know there are fumes escaping.” However, seemingly Gloria did not have the nose for a gas leak as Warhol journals right after this entry that “I just knew it was the perfume I had on that she was smelling.”
How’s that for a wild holiday season? Dear Andy certainly let it all hang out during this most magical time of year. Happy celebrations to all and enjoy gallivanting around this holiday season.