Village Voice and Interview magazine co-founder John Wilcock was first drawn into the milieu of Andy Warhol through filmmaker Jonas Mekas, assisting on some of Warhol's early films, hanging out at his parties and quickly becoming a regular at the Factory. "About six months after I started hanging out at the old, silvery Factory on West 47th Street," he recalls, "[Gerard] Malanga came up to me and asked, 'When are you going to write something about us?'"
Already fascinated by Warhol's persona, Wilcock went to work, interviewing the artist's closest associates, supporters and superstars. Among these were Malanga, Paul Morrissey, Naomi Levine, Taylor Mead, Ultra Violet and Viva, all of whom had been in the earliest films; scriptwriter Ronnie Tavel, and photographer Gretchen Berg; art dealers Sam Green, Ivan Karp, Eleanor Ward and Leo Castelli, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Henry Geldzahler; the poets Charles Henri Ford and Taylor Mead, and the artist Marisol; and the musicians Lou Reed and Nico. The book Wilcock created became the first critical look at Warhol and a primary document of the Factory period.
Pitched against the colorful backdrop of the 1960s, it assembles a prismatic portrait of one of modern art's least knowable artists during the early years of his fame. The Autobiography and Sex Life is the first oral biography of the artist and likely the most revealing portrait of Warhol, being composite instead of singular; each of its interviewees offers a piece of the puzzle that was Andy Warhol.
Out of print for nearly 40 years, this new edition corrects the many errors of the first, and is beautifully redesigned in a bright, Warholian palette. It features more than 120 images (including original portraits of numerous Factory superstars by Shunk-Kender), plus illustrations, and film stills—including many never seen before.
Hardcover with jacket, 256 pages, 120 full color images
Published by Trela Media and distributed by D.A.P.
ISBN: 978-0-97061-261-8 | $45.00
began writing as a teenager and by age 19 was one of the youngest staffers for The Daily Mirror of London. After moving to the United States in the 1950’s, he worked as a travel reporter for The New York Times and was a founding editor of the Village Voice. In the 1960’s he edited New York’s first underground newspaper. The East Village Other, was an early editor of the Los Angeles Free Press, and published his own influential alternative tabloid, Other Scenes. Wilcock also founded and co-published Interview magazine with Andy Warhol. He has written more than thirty travel books and lives in Ojai, California.
formally partnered with János (Jean) Kender in 1950s Paris and until the early 1970s, every image produced by either man is credited as Shunk-Kender. In their early days, the two were described as the house photographers of the Nouveau Réaliste movement, Europe’s version of Pop Art. In 1960, Shunk teamed with Yves Klein to produce the famous work Le saut dans le vide (Leap into the Void). Shunk captured artwork and performances by many other major figures of his time. When Shunk moved to New York City in the late 1960s, it was natural for him to find himself immersed in Andy Warhol’s Factory.
Editor and Publisher
After first coming across John Wilcock's self-published collection of interviews at a New York City book fair on 5th Avenue in 1991, Trela immediately decided the book needed republishing. The story reads like one of those romantic, legendarily perfect literary tales where a book lay undiscovered on a dust-covered shelf for nearly 40 years. After finally locating the author in California and meeting with the elusive photographer Harry Shunk, he gained their enthusiastic support for the project and worked closely with them to create the new edition of this sensational book.
An Art Book
June 23, 2010, 6 PM, Free
Cultural historian Dr. Steven Watson will moderate a book presentation and panel discussion focused on the new publication, The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol, a collection of intimate interviews with Warhol's closest associates, friends and his superstars. John Wilcock the author of the book, Gretchen Berg, a photojournalist, Brigid Berlin, artist and former Warhol superstar, Gerard Malanga, Andy Warhol's assistant and Taylor Mead, actor and poet will join Dr. Watson for a revealing conversation about Andy Warhol's life.
The program series An Art Book is a celebration of the essential importance and beauty of art books. The events showcase book presentations by world renowned artists, critics, historians, curators and writers.
Click here for more information.
June 24, 2010, 6-8 PM
Gagosian invites you to a book signing by John Wilcock, Gretchen Berg, and Christopher Trela of The Autobiography and Sex Life of Andy Warhol.
Click here for more information.
The book POP AS ART, written in 1965, is credited with being one of the most important works to push the movement into the mainstream. Amaya served as the chief curator of the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto, from 1969 to 1972 and remained an arbiter of taste throughout.
"It seemed like he wanted to have his finger in every pie that was being baked at the moment."
was a photojournalist working in the underground press during the 1960’s. Her meditations were widely syndicated in-depth interviews complete with intimate photographs of the subjects.
"I have a feeling that he's very tough, and he may outlast all of us."
was a celebrated art critic and a close friend and confidant of Warhol throughout the 1960’s. In 1964 he even appeared in the unfinished Warhol film BATMAN/DRACULA. He wrote for many important art magazines and held the position of assistant editor at LIFE magazine from 1966 to 1971.
"Andy said his mother was an alcoholic, and he kept her locked in the basement and provided her with a case of scotch."
There is no debate that Castelli was one of the most influential art dealers of all time. He is often credited with guiding the art world away from Abstract Expressionism and to the work of artists such as Jasper Johns, Frank Stella, and Robert Rauschenberg. Later, he championed other stars of the Pop movement, including Warhol.
"He was always incredibly restrained. He never overdid it. Everything that he does is immensely carefully thought out."
was a prolific writer, poet and artist, and was well-known in avant-garde circles as early as the 1930’s. He befriended many of the serious artists of the century, from Gertrude Stein to Andy Warhol.
"His influence hasn't been that great. He takes influences much more than he influences."
As a young curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Geldzahler brought a stuffy museum into the 20th Century, and a stamp of legitimacy to Pop Art. In 1966, he was the United States’ commissioner for the Venice Biennale and became the first visual arts director for the National Endowment for the Arts.
"Andy doesn't take that many drugs, and he doesn't have that perverted a sex life . . . you know, and Andy goes to church almost every sunday."
A curator and friend to artists, Sam Green organized Warhol’s first museum exhibition, a 1965 show at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Philadelphia. Green was also instrumental in helping Warhol secure his first solo exhibition in New York City at Eleanor Ward’s Stable Gallery.
"I'm sure Andy has a private life somewhere, but I don't know what it is and nobody else knows what it is, either."
Warhol and Hughes met in 1967 at a benefit for Merce Cunningham’s dance company at architect Philip Johnson’s Glass House in New Canaan, CT. Hughes quickly became installed at the Factory, eventually becoming its manager.
"He thinks that department stores are like museums, so he likes to go to department stores."
A magazine profile in 1964 called Karp the “Father of Pop Art.”As Leo Castelli’s assistant, he discovered many of the towering figures of the time, including Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Later he struck out on his own as the director of Soho’s OK Harris Gallery.
"Andy's very much dedicated, in a very wholesome way, to his own fame. He loves it, he believes in it, he wants it, and it seemed as though he knew it had to come."
A filmmaker and artist in her own right, Levine is known as the first female Warhol “superstar.” She was put to use in many of Warhol’s films after their meeting in 1963, but perhaps most famously in KISS, where she spends some 30 minutes kissing Rufus Collins, Gerard Malanga and Ed Sanders.
"I knew from the beginning that he wore a wig. I tried to pull it off in California, and it made him very mad."
became the first “employee” of the Factory when Warhol hired him in 1963 at minimum wage because he had experience in silkscreening neckties. Malanga went on to become a close associate and collaborator.
"Although he's basically a voyeur and wants everybody to expose themselves completely, he won't expose himself. He likes to keep a lot of mystery going."
had been important in the New York art scene since the 1950’s. A mixed-media sculptor, she became friends with fellow Stable Gallery artist Andy Warhol and participated in several of his films.
"If the world dislikes him, it means that the world is no good."
Mead had been part of the Beat scene in San Francisco and had serious avant-garde credentials, and even acting experience when he began working with Warhol in the early 1960’s (which was a rarity at the Factory).
"You shouldn't have to sit through something if it's boring. Even Andy doesn't sit though his films."
Already an experimental filmmaker by the time he came to the Factory in the mid 1960’s, Morrissey also displayed a flair for business. He was a significant collaborator, and later became the central creative figure behind Warhol-produced films such as HEAT, FLESH and TRASH.
"Andy doesn't really talk about anything too much. He absorbs information better than he dispenses it."
Christa Päffgen began as a European model, and appeared in Fellini’s LA DOLCE VITA when she was seventeen. After moving to New York, she met Warhol, who installed her for a short time as the lead singer for the Velvet Underground much to the objection of the other members.
"Andy's not very easy to talk to. Neither am I. We just somehow . . . We just got along, that's all."
was the daughter of the chairman of the Hearst Empire and his socialite wife, Honey. Brigid met Warhol in 1965 and became one of his closest friends. Their long telephone conversations became the basis for several Warhol projects.
"Andy is an F.A.O. Schwartz's toy store that never closes."
A major figure in the history of rock and roll, Reed led the band, The Velvet Underground, until he abruptly struck out on his own in 1970. Warhol had managed the group, and financed its first album.
"He deserves every bit that he gets, including all the animosity and being shot, all the really horrible, awful things."
A poet and a playwright, Tavel was asked to provide scripts for Warhol’s films starting in 1965. Though the actors were still encouraged to improvise—and they did to a great extent—the new structure provided by the screenplays is often credited with taking Warhol’s work to a new level of cinema.
"After he was shot, everyone said, 'There's not going to be any change. You can't kill him. He's always been dead.'"
Isabelle Collin Dufresne moved to New York in 1953 and was befriended by many of the day’s renowned artists, including Salvador Dali. Dali introduced her to Warhol in 1963, and she became one of the best-known “superstars.” She took the name Ultra Violet after seeing the words in TIME magazine.
"He's a great listener, which is a very clever thing to be because one knows exactly what people are thinking about."
Susan Hoffmann became a regular feature in Warhol films starting in 1967. In 1969, she became one of the only “superstars” to break through to mainstream film when she appeared in MIDNIGHT COWBOY.
"I don't think he has any sex life."
Ward’s Stable Gallery became an epicenter of the art world in 1953 when she gave Robert Rauschenberg an opportunity to exhibit, opening up a new era in art. She also gave Cy Twombly, Robert Indiana and a commercial artist named Andy Warhol their first one-man shows.
"He was thrilled and he was happy and he was gay. He was almost in a perpetual state of euphoria."
A prolific columnist, author, travel writer and ex-New Yorker, Wilcock was a co-founder of the VILLAGE VOICE, the WITCHES ALMANAC and INTERVIEW. He published the underground newspaper OTHER SCENES, and by 1971 had written more than a dozen books.
"I think Andy is going to be appreciated more and more as what he no longer is, which is an artist."
As Warhol’s first cameraman, Wirtschafter was a familiar character at the Factory and around the art scene all through the 1960’s, rarely missing an opening or a party.
"He has created or surrounded himself with people who in every way, shape, or form are consistently improvisers. Just try to keep them quiet!"