Andy Warhol looks a scream
Hang him on my wall
Andy Warhol, Silver Screen
Can’t tell them apart at all
– David Bowie, “Andy Warhol”
Fred Wilson shared on his blog today a video of Lou Reed being interviewed by Charlie Rose. In the segment that Wilson shared, Reed is talking about Andy Warhol’s influence on him. In the comments, I stated that Warhol changed my life.
The first and second seasons of “Sesame Street” made me who I am (more on that in a future post). But Andy Warhol changed my life.
It was 1982 or 83, or so, and I was a stir-crazy kid growing up in The Middle Of Freaking Nowhere, Wyoming. My lifeline to the outside world was “Vogue” magazine. One afternoon while spending quality time with the latest issue, I came upon a feature article about a new biography by George Plimpton titled, “Edie.” “Edie” was all about some glamorous skinny socialite girl who hung out with that soup can guy, Andy Warhol.
Like so many young women my age that year, I read that article 15 times. Then I bought my own copy of “Edie” and carried it around the way a missionary carries around “The Book of Mormon.” I read it over, and over, and over. “Edie” struck some kind of chord with a generation of youngsters. They became captivated, mesmerized, obsessed with Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol. And I was the most obsessed of them all.
I took my obsession with Warhol to new extremes when I got to college. Instead of hanging out with friends and partying, I went to the library and absorbed every book on Warhol they had, photocopying all the pictures. I covered the walls in my dorm room with tin foil in an attempt to recreate Warhol’s “Factory.” I checked out every Warhol documentary video from the library and used the footage to teach myself to dance like Edie.
I stole the library’s copy of “A, A Novel by Andy Warhol” by throwing it out a window and retrieving it from the bushes below. I still have it and the hours of audio recordings and transcripts that I made of my friends that were inspired by it.
Being a Warhol freak was literally my identity at college.
I decided to move to New York City because of Andy Warhol. The instant I graduated from college I got in a “drive away” car (who remembers those?) with a friend and headed for the Big Apple. And the rest of my life since then has been a result of that move.
Warhol taught me that it was wonderful to be different and that hard work was the most important part of great art. His weird view of the world resonated so strongly with me that I felt empowered. And all these years later, he still inspires me.
Is it a coincidence that he and I share the same birthday? I think not.
When I see young people in New York City today, I think, someone like Warhol inspired them to leave where they were and come to the magic city to make their dreams come true. And I remember that article in “Vogue,” and thank my lucky stars that I read it.
Who or what inspired you at an early age?
I’m sticking with you
Cause I’m made out of glue
Anything that you might do
I’m gonna do, too
– The Velvet Underground, “I’m Sticking With You”