Memories from Warhol's Factory

Pegged on the massive new Andy Warhol retrospective opening today at the Whitney Museum of American Art, the New York Times asked the likes of Fran Lebowitz, Mary Woronov, Joe Dallesandro, Viva, and many other of his friends, collaborators, and party guests to reminisce about their experiences of The Factory, in all three of its incarnations. A few bits from the New York Times feature:

André Leon Talley, 69, fashion journalist. Receptionist at the Union Square Factory, 1975.

The Factory was very much a creative playpen, but there were still rules. You had to show up every day, or you would be fired. Andy was always walking around being very vague about everything. But you had to be enthusiastic. There was a seriousness about the place, a decorum and deportment.

Mary Woronov (star of "Chelsea Girls")

One day a drug dealer came up. He shot up this girl, and she for some reason passed out. It was in the bathtub. She went under water. We thought she was dead. We panicked because she was not waking up. Finally someone said, "We should send her down the mail chute." We wrote little notes on her body and puts stamps on her forehead. Then we realized she wasn't dead. I don't think she would have fit in the mail chute. But we would have tried.

In those days the Factory was like a medieval court of lunatics. You pledged allegiance to the king — King Warhol. Yet there was oddly no hierarchy. Warhol was also one of us. He accepted the responsibility. He accepted the insanity.

Joe Dallesandro, 69, actor. Factory years: 1960s.

My friend said, "Let's go over and meet the Campbell's soup guy." I thought it was the Campbell's soup you eat. Warhol was an artist, but I was too young to know any of that. I was 18. When I first met him, he was sitting behind the camera reading the newspaper. When somebody laughed or did something interesting, you'd see this hand come out from behind the newspaper and turn the camera on.

Fran Lebowitz (68, writer. Factory years: 1970s.)

He didn't talk, Andy. What he wanted to do was get you to talk. He was a vampire. He wanted to take things from people. I could talk. That's what he could take from me.

"Tales from the Warhol Factory" by Guy Trebay and Ruth La Ferla (NYT)