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  • Writer's picturePhilip Bryer

I’m Reading Andy Warhol’s Diaries — so you don’t have to.

It’s my own fault, really. If I’d bothered to check the page count before I’d bought it, no doubt the hefty 1,190 would have put me off, rather like my refusal these days to watch any film that’s more than two hours long. (Please see photo with CD for scale.)

Research tells me that I bought it a little over a year ago, although it seems to have been on the shelf — looking at me askance, urging me to get on with it — for much longer.

My alternative subtitle to this piece was, “Who the hell are all these ghastly people?” Because, and I actually think this is a blessing, there are no footnotes. So, faceless characters like Jed and Bunty and Bobby et al. come and go and I don’t have to bother looking up anything about them.

As it’s a book that I only pick up occasionally — generally, while I’m taking my ease, if you must know — I’ve only got to page 495. Anyway, I thought I’d share with you some of the most interesting bits I’ve seen so far:

· Warhol was on a foreign trip when he discovered he had a nasty case of crabs. (I can’t recall exactly which country and haven’t been visited by the inclination to look for the relevant section because, y’know, 500 pages, but have a feeling it was somewhere in the Middle East.)

· Heading to lunch, Warhol’s crowd bumped into Patti Smith. “I invited her thinking she’d say no,” Warhol says, but she accepted. “Patti didn’t want to eat too much, so she ate half my lunch.” Then he squirms, “All I could think about was her BO — she wouldn’t be so bad-looking if she would wash up and glue herself together a little better.” Now, I didn’t say it was all bad, did I?

· Plenty of people give Quaaludes to Warhol at the New York nightclub Studio 54 and similar joints. But he doesn’t partake of them as a rule. He sells them.

· The Mick Jagger/Bianca Jagger/Jerry Hall saga runs through the early pages. And the actions of one of them would have had them tagged as ‘the local bike’ back in my day.

· Jerry Hall cooked a superb Christmas lunch in 1980. AW also reports that Jerry wore a novelty apron from which, when it was unzipped, a huge cock sprang out. “So, I porked it up,” says Warhol (talking about the excellent food). Warhol went out that night and ate another turkey dinner but it was terrible. Still, to even attempt such a thing; to a man without a gall bladder it sounds like scaling Annapurna.

· Flushed with the success of Blondie, Debbie Harry and Chris Stein get a penthouse apartment at 200 West 58th Street. Warhol then divulges, “Chris wants to rent an apartment on the Lower East Side to give interviews in because they don’t want to spoil their low-life image.” He goes on to whisper that he doesn't think they live 'well' at all, describing the penthouse as 'junky'.

There you are, six takeaways from over an inch’s worth of paper printed on both sides. There are other good bits in it and some tremendous bitchiness, you just have to wonder at the shallow pointlessness of it all. The lifestyle, I mean. Not this piece.

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