The Andy Warhol Diaries
Edited by Pat Hackett
Warner Books, 808 pages, 1989
I’ve never been especially celebrity-obsessed, but that never stopped me from being a huge fan of someone who was. As a teenager, Andy Warhol topped the people-to-meet-one-day I had in my mind. When he died, suddenly, after gall bladder surgery in 1987, I was affected in a way I had never been before by the passing of someone I hadn’t even known. Sure, I was sad for his family and his friends, but in typical teenage fashion I was mostly sad for myself — I would never have the chance to meet him.
Two years later, my interest in Warhol hadn’t waned. If anything, it had grown. I read every book and article about him I could find, and when it was announced that The Andy Warhol Diaries would be published, I couldn’t wait.
I bought it as soon as it was released and it was the only book I hauled across the country late in the fall of 1989, when I moved across the country to Montreal. I had just turned 19 and living a bohemian lifestyle in the French-speaking, European-style city was most appealing. I lived in a share-house with a fashion designer friend, his boyfriend, his brother, a straight couple and for a short time, a girl called Angelina who was a university student majoring in women’s studies who worked nights as a stripper.
Everyone we knew was pursuing some sort of artistic dream (I wrote and worked as a fashion stylist for music videos), and The Andy Warhol Diaries was the perfect accompaniment for this period of my life.
It was not at all how I thought it would be the first time I read it. There was so much day-to-day, so much minutiae. It wasn’t all glamour and parties, though there was plenty of name-dropping and gossip. And then there was Warhol’s compulsive shopping, which seemed at odds with his notorious thriftiness. His diaries were both fantastic and somehow ordinary, and made me realize that Warhol, perhaps more than any other artist of his time, was as quirky, gossipy and celebrity-obsessed as anyone. Being famous and wealthy didn’t make him any more (or less) than a regular person, complete with neuroses and foibles.
When things got tough or depressing that deeply cold winter in Montreal, I’d often snuggle up in my bedroom or the room I’d converted into an office — this house was huge and had 17 rooms — and open The Andy Warhol Diaries to a random page and read, reminding myself that even the life of a world-renowned artist could be common, mundane, and that there is a certain charm in everyone’s everyday.