One of the primary reasons I moved to New York City decades ago was because of Andy Warhol. Just reading about him made me realize I had to live here, so I braved life during the 1970s—despite strenuous protests by my bourgeois family. Back in the day, I occasionally ran into the ubiquitous silver-maned artist on the street, in movie theaters and even, on one occasion, shared a couch with him, Liza Minnelli and Truman Capote at Studio 54. Despite this familiarity, I don’t know all of the 80 Warhol sites cited in Andy Warhol’s New York City, a brand new guide by Thomas Kiedrowski divided into four distinct walks that traverse Manhattan, following the footsteps of the famed artist.
The fringe of Times Square, where Warhol bought his wigs and frequented the coin-operated photo booth machines in the 42nd Street arcades for some of his fabulous portraits, was the location of the official book release party. If you haven’t seen the recently opened Yotel Hotel, a bright purple beacon that’s surely annoying its nearby neighbors, last week it also housed unusual denizens to complement the exterior light pollution.
"You’ve got to come to the book party," Columbia University sociologist Victor Corona cajoled me prior to the event, which he helped organize. "Everyone is going to be there!" Well, he wasn’t far wrong, and certainly Warhol was all about the social setting. But no, I didn’t see Holly Woodlawn, Joe Dallesandro, Jackie Curtis or Candy Darling (the latter two are of course deceased). But yes, Darian Darling was there and, while her hair is a shade darker than her namesake, she looked very Candy-like.
The night also included a preview of artist Conrad Ventur’s new series Warhol’s 13 Most Beautiful/Screen Tests Revisited, in which he featured 14 of the new breed of New York superstar, including performers and personalities such as Breedlove, Anna Copa Cabanna, Kelle Calco, Becka Diamond, Tommy Hottpants, Veronica Ibarra, Richard Kennedy, Ladyfag, Niki M’nray, Brian Newman, Jocelyn Saldana, Tyler Stone and Kayvon Zand. Does the new crew of cool match up to the Warhol superstars of yore? Both are mixed bags of superfreaks and party animals, so let’s see where they wind up. But the new kids on the block are heavily weighted toward the "filthy glamour" set and nary a socialite or poet in the bunch. Maybe that’s the now generation.
The Yotel is a starkly nouveautrying-to-be-retro elegant space with free computers everywhere, so it was the perfect setting for the new brand of underground—although the party took place in the fourth-floor lounge area. The screen test victims were there along with the crazy costumed club kids and a sprinkling of Warholite blasts from the past: Bebe Buell, Penelope Palmer and Miestorm Serpent, the latter who used to go-go dance at Studio 54. Surrounded by a bevy of dancers and nightlife glitterati, Breedlove took the mike and gave a rousing performance of his songs "I’m Doing OK By Me" and "Love on the Telephone."
Sadly, I missed the Talero organic open tequila bar, but it was just as well since the last one I went to resulted in an altercation with a security guard—and bumps on my head. As I was leaving, I bumped into the author, Kiedrowski. "Andy is everywhere," he said. Yes, years after his demise, Warhol has become like God, hovering over bars, churches, restaurants and street corners all around his beloved New York City. His fame was not instant—but infinite.