I remember vividly when this cover story from New York magazine originally appeared just three weeks after Andy Warhol died. As a New Yorker myself at the time, it truly felt like it was the end of an era and this article really brought the point home for me. I kept it for years and for all I know, it may still be sitting out in the garage.
After Warhol died, New York’s fabled nightlife took a nosedive (there were other factors, too, of course, like AIDS). It wasn’t like you’d be able to see Warhol at a party, a fashion show, a night club or a restaurant ever again and think to yourself “Oh, Andy’s here. I must be in the very best party in the world tonight.” That was what Warhol’s stamp of approval meant to New Yorkers. His presence made you feel cool. I met Warhol several times. When I’d tell people I was going to move to New York City, they’d ask me what my plans were and I’d say “Oh, you know, meet Andy Warhol, hang out at the Factory and something cool is bound to happen.” I actually believed this as an 18-year old!
And as fate would have it, on the very first night I spent in New York, at an opening party at the Area nightclub, the infamous homicidal club kid king, Michael Alig asked me if I’d like to meet Warhol. “Sure!” I replied and Michael proceeded to shove me—HARD—into the artist, nearly knocking him down. Warhol just shrugged it off and blamed Michael anyway as he’d seen the whole thing go down. After that incident, I’d run into Warhol every few weeks and I’d see him (usually with Cornelia Guest) often at Limelight, the nightclub where I was working. But when he died so suddenly, I can’t stress this enough, it was like a pall had come over the city. It was a real turning point, for me anyway and New York would just never be quite the same ever again.
The first sign that there was something wrong with Andy Warhol, that he might be a mortal being after all, came three weeks ago. It was a Friday night, and after dinner with friends at Nippon, he was planning to see Outrageous Fortune, eat exactly three bites of a hot-fudge sundae at Serendipity, buy the newspapers, and go to bed. At dinner, though, he felt a pain. It was a sharp, bad pain, and rather than let anyone see him suffer, he excused himself. And as soon as he got home, the pain went away.
“I’m sorry I said I had to go home,” Warhol told Pat Hackett a few days later as he narrated his daily diary entry to her over the phone. “I should have gone to the movie, and no one would ever have known.”
In fact, no one remembered. And if anyone suspected trouble, it was dispelled the next week by Warhol’s ebullient spirits at the Valentine’s dinner for 30 friends that he held at Texarkana with Paige Powell, the young woman who was advertising director of Interview magazine by day and Warhol’s favorite date by night. Calvin Klein had sent him a dozen or so bottles of Obsession, and before Warhol set them out as party favors for the women, he drew hearts on them and signed his name. On one for ballerina Heather Watts he went further, inscribing the word the public never associates with Andy Warhol: “Love.”
The World of Warhol by Jesse Kornbluth, from the March 9, 1987 issue of New York Magazine.