BY Richard Flood in Frieze | 06 MAY 94
Featured in
Issue 16

The Andy Warhol Diaries

When the Warhol Diaries were published in 1989, I was mad to have at them.

BY Richard Flood in Frieze | 06 MAY 94

Bianca and Halston seem like they're a couple now, they really do. It's like a romance. But Bianca is so upset about Mick, and I'm surprised that she is, because she could get somebody rich in a minute. Somebody said to Halston, 'Why don't you marry Bianca?' and he put his hands on his hips and said, 'Because I'm the hostess here.'

And then we all went over to a place called the Ice Palace on 57th and Sixth. It's lesbians and hustlers. Bianca was dancing around, but she's so unhappy, and she and Halston were trying to get Jed to go home with them, and they were asking me if this was okay. She said, 'Nobody likes me.' Everybody was wet from drinks getting spilled on them.

--excerpt from Monday, January 2, 1978

When the Warhol Diaries were published in 1989, I was mad to have at them. Clutching my copy in the bookstore, I remember thinking this is how a bulimic feels somnambulating to the refrigerator for the mother of all binges. Beset by waves of hedonistic anticipation and battling tsunamis of self-loathing, I finally got the damned thing home and plunged in headlong. I didn't stop mucking about in it until I quite literally made myself sick.

The Diaries run from November 1976 to Warhol's last week in February 1987, and chart the artist's gruesome descent into the blasted terrain of Truman Capote's Answered Prayers. By '76, those years that will rightfully hold Warhol's (and Capote's) place in our cultural history are long over. What's left is a decade-long nose dive into the abyss. Relentlessly, alcohol and drugs and AIDS and hubris (the Four Horsemen of the 80s)ride out and snatch yet another fist full of victims. Through it all, Warhol, like Prince Prospero in The Masque of The Red Death, stumbles passively through a world where there is 'much of the beautiful, much of the wanton, much of the bizarre, something of the terrible, and not a little of that which has excited disgust.' His days are essentially a succession of pathetic, shuddering enactments of impotence - emotional, aesthetic, moral and physical. Sure, money gets made, things get bought, lives and talents are trashed, curiosity withers, but nothing, absolutely nothing, happens.

My guess is that Warhol actually died after he was gunned down in 1968. After that he was sent to purgatory and forced to turn out (or forced someone else to turn out) diary entries on Halston and Victor Hugo and Liza Minnelli and Bianca Jagger and Calvin Klein and Paulette Goddard. Finally, in 1987, he was set free to join his cherished dachshunds, Archie and Amos, in heaven.