Saturday, July 17, 2010

Andy Warhol: "No Poetry!"

At one time Andy Warhol seemed the pinnacle of mysterious fame and glamour -- beyond comprehension. He certainly seemed that way to me -- and I published interviews with him in three different magazines. But when Andy died ten years later, it turned out he was secretly a practicing Roman Catholic. I was surprised. So were people like Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs. I was raised Catholic. The Banal Catholic Church I call it; it’s as real as sparrows. Allen and William were not raised Catholic; now they understood why they hated Andy.

Over five years of welcome at the Union Square north Factory, Andy asked me to interview anybody for his magazine, Interview. I decided to interview Daniel Berrigan, S.J., a poet and activist. Bob Colacello was Interview’s right-wing editor and he was skeptical. Nor did Dan understand Andy. Andy to Dan symbolized wealth and decadence. Colacello rejected the interview.

Interview was originally Inter-View. Gerard Malanga was the first editor of Inter-View. He viewed Andy’s magazine as an update of Charles Henri Ford’s avant-garde magazine View. And consequently in his first issue Gerard published poetry by Kenward Elmslie. Andy was annoyed. “No Poetry!” Andy ruled.

Poetry is not Pop Art. Catholicism however is always art.


My interviews with Andy were in the old print Unmuzzled OX, Art NEWS and Small Press Review. The Small Press Book Fair at the time was offered a free billboard. Suzanne Ostro, the Book Fair organizer, suggested I trade Andy a free table for Interview if he would do the billboard. After approximately ninety seconds consideration, Andy agreed. When the other exhibitors got wind, however, they were outraged. They didn’t understand Andy either but they knew they disliked him. The billboard was never done.

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