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Ho ho ho! Here’s Andy Warhol as Santa and Truman Capote with a lollipop on the cover of High Times


 
It won’t surprise anyone to learn that the December 1978 issue of High Times went with a holiday theme. More surprising might be the identity of the two models masquerading as Santa Claus and one of his elves, those being, respectively, Andy Warhol, the most dominant artist of the postwar period, and Truman Capote, one of greatest literary writers the U.S. produced in the same timeframe.

Especially in 1978, Tru and Andy were more or less synonymous with the fabulous goings-on at Studio 54 and elsewhere. Both men were known to hang with an illustrious and sparkly group of personages, and both were public figures at a moment when TV had deepened its clutches on the middlebrow slice of America—hence, more creative and bizarre media opportunities for everyone.

The cover was supposed to feature Capote wearing a “little girl outfit,” but he was drunk and not in the mood to go drag that day. In The Andy Warhol Diaries, for the date of September 26, 1978, we find this:
 

Truman was coming to the Factory at 3:00 for the High Times Christmas cover photograph of him and me. Truman was early, 2:30.

...

Paul Morrissey was down, and he and Truman talked all afternoon about scripts and things. Then Toni arrived four hours late, she had a Santa costume for me and a little girl outfit for Truman. But Truman wasn’t in the mood to go into drag, he said that he was already dressed like a little boy. Truman was really drunk, hugging around.


 
Toni Brown is the “Toni” mentioned in the diary that day; she was the art director for High Times, whom Warhol had met in the spring of 1978. According to Victor Bockris’ biography of Warhol, Brown and Warhol fell into cahoots for a stretch in 1978:
 

[Warhol] had also become friendly with the art director of High Times magazine, a powerful woman named Toni Brown whose overt, humorous personality fitted his needs. Soon a lot of people at the Factory were throwing up their hands in dismay over the amount of time Andy was spending with Toni.


 
In Warhol’s diary, Brown pops up in just a handful of entries, and her appearances are entirely limited to 1978. The folks at the Factory needn’t have worried so much—Warhol’s diary entry from late September documenting the cover shoot is actually the last time her name appears in the book.

By the way, here is the final cover:
 

 
Warhol shows surprising equanimity after being made to wait for four hours—I’d've been arranging a contract hit, myself—although that may have factored into their not being as close after that; either Brown paid a price for being cavalier about Warhol’s time or else Warhol’s usefulness to Brown evaporated the moment that she had secured the desired cover photo. Or both!

Four years ago the Warhol Museum ran a note about that day on its website, in which the possible identity of the pooch is discussed:
 

An artist as prolific as Andy Warhol was bound to have their share of bizarre media coverage. In December of 1978, he and his good friend and collaborator Truman Capote appeared on the cover of an issue of High Times. Warhol is wearing a Santa suit, and is holding a dog, possibly one of his dachshunds Amos or Archie.

 
More pics from this bizarre and merry photo shoot after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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12.14.2017
11:06 am
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A visit with Truman Capote
02.06.2014
12:01 pm
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Truman Capote said he started writing In Cold Blood to test out his theory that a writer could produce a work of art out of factual material.

“This new adventure of mine, the experiment, is what I call ‘the non-fiction novel.’

“A non-fiction novel being a genre brought about by the synthesis of journalism with fictional technique. In other words, the end result of it being this new book of mine, In Cold Blood.

In Cold Blood is the story about the murder of a family, in a small town in western Kansas. A Mr. Herbert W. Clutter, and his wife, Bonnie Clutter, and their two teenage children. This was an especially strange and brutal murder in 1959, in which the family were shot to death for no apparent cause or motive whatever.”

His experiment was a success, and made Capote perhaps the best known novelist in the world. But it came at very high price, for Capote was never to equal the quality of the writing he achieved with In Cold Blood ever again.

Produced, filmed and edited by Davis Maysles, Albert Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin, this brief film A Visit With Truman Capote (aka With Love From Truman) captures the author at his Long Island hideaway, during an interview with Karen Gundersen from Newsweek magazine.
 

 
Part 2 after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.06.2014
12:01 pm
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Flirting with Death: Truman Capote’s SUPER WEIRD interview with Manson murderer Bobby Beausoleil
06.30.2013
04:44 pm
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The transcript of Truman Capote’s interview with Manson murderer Bobby Beausoleil, conducted in the latter’s cell at San Quentin Prison in 1972, is fascinating for a number of reasons, ranging from the two men’s sheer, exotic incongruity, to its exposure of Capote’s flirtatious/confrontational approach to interviewing killers. Most intriguing of all, however, is its revelation that, while Beausoleil may have been quite singularly star-crossed and known many notorious criminals himself, he didn’t have nothin’ on Capote

Capote begins the conversation by bringing up a mutual acquaintance, Sirhan Sirhan, whom he has just visited at the same prison earlier that day.

Bobby Beausoleil (laughs): Sirhan B. Sirhan. I knew him when they had me up on the Row. He’s a sick guy. He don’t belong here. He ought to be in Atascadero. Want some gum? Yeah, well, you seem to know your way around here pretty good. I was watching you out on the yard. I was surprised the warden lets you walk around the yard by yourself. Somebody might cut you. 

Truman Capote: Why? 

Beausoleil: For the hell of it. But you’ve been here a lot, huh? Some of the guys were telling me. 

Capote: Maybe half a dozen times on different research projects.

The two talk execution chambers for a while, and then Capote mentions that his knowing Sirhan Sirhan must make him the only person alive to have been acquainted with Jack Kennedy, Bobby Kennedy—and their respective assassins!

Beausoleil: Oswald? You knew Oswald? Really? 

Capote: I met him in Moscow just after he defected. One night I was having dinner with a friend, an Italian newspaper respondent, and when he came by to pick me up he asked me if I’d mind going with him first to talk to a young American defector, one Lee Harvey Oswald. Oswald was staying at the Metropole, an old Czarist hotel just off Kremlin Square. The Metropole has a big gloomy lobby full of shadows and dead palm trees. And there he was, sitting in the dark under a dead palm tree. Thin and pale, thin-lipped, starved-looking. He was wearing chinos and tennis shoes and a lumberjack shirt. And right away he was angry—he was grinding his teeth, and his eyes were jumping every which way. He was boiling over about everything: the American ambassador; the Russians—he was mad at them because they wouldn’t let him stay in Moscow. We talked to him for about half an hour, and my Italian friend didn’t think the guy was worth filing a story about. Just another paranoid hysteric; the Moscow woods were rampant with those. I never thought about him again, not until many years later. Not until after the assassination when I saw his picture flashed on television. 

Beausoleil: Does that make you the only one that knew both of them, Oswald and Kennedy? 

Capote: No. There was an American girl, Priscilla Johnson. She worked for U.P. in Moscow. She knew Kennedy, and she met Oswald around the same time I did. But I can tell you something else almost as curious. About some of those people your friends murdered. 

Beausoleil: (Silence) 

Capote: I knew them. At least, out of the five people killed in the Tate house that night, I knew four of them. I’d met Sharon Tate at the Cannes Film Festival. Jay Sebring cut my hair a couple of times. I’d had lunch once in San Francisco with Abigail Folger and her boyfriend, Frykowski. In other words, I’d known them independently of each other. And yet one night there they were, all gathered together in the same house waiting for your friends to arrive. Quite a coincidence.

Beausoleil (lights a cigarette; smiles): Know what I’d say? I’d say you’re not such a lucky guy to know.

Consider yourself told, Truman Capote!

Stranger still is the shadow of another coincidence, seemingly unbeknownst to both interlocutors, that knits these remarkable coincidence clusters together. Who was it that Bobby Kennedy dined with before being driven to his notorious date with Sirhan Sirhan at the Ambassador Hotel? Why, none other than Roman Polanski and Sharon Tate.

It’s a small world—smaller still if you’re Truman Capote and Bobby Beausoleil.

Read the full, fascinating transcript here

Below, Truman Capote razzes Johnny Carson on The Dean Martin Roast:
 

Posted by Thomas McGrath
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06.30.2013
04:44 pm
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Sex is like sneezing: Truman Capote explains his views on love, 1969
06.26.2013
09:10 am
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Photograph of Truman Capote, 1948, by Carl Van Vechten.

Truman Capote is quite adorable in this interview with David Frost from 1969, although the great writer becomes slightly unstuck by his inquisitor’s questioning.

When asked, Capote says love and friendship are the same thing, but that sex doesn’t have anything to do with friendship.

“I think it is very difficult to have a sexual relationship with somebody who is actually a friend, because there is a kind of tension and antagonism that goes on in a sexual relationship that is the antithesis of friendship.”

Though he may have once written that sex was like sneezing, Capote reveals he has had more “love relationships” than “sex relationships.” Which puzzles Frost, as Capote only admits to having been in love twice.
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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06.26.2013
09:10 am
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William Burroughs’ cold-blooded letter to Truman Capote
08.02.2012
05:44 pm
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Ouch!
 
William Burroughs was no fan of Truman Capote as is made clear in this verbal beat down in the form of a letter written by Burroughs upon the publication of Capote’s In Cold Blood.

July 23, 1970

My Dear Mr. Truman Capote

This is not a fan letter in the usual sense — unless you refer to ceiling fans in Panama. Rather call this a letter from “the reader” — vital statistics are not in capital letters — a selection from marginal notes on material submitted as all “writing” is submitted to this department. I have followed your literary development from its inception, conducting on behalf of the department I represent a series of inquiries as exhaustive as your own recent investigations in the sun flower state. I have interviewed all your characters beginning with Miriam — in her case withholding sugar over a period of several days proved sufficient inducement to render her quite communicative — I prefer to have all the facts at my disposal before taking action. Needless to say, I have read the recent exchange of genialities between Mr Kenneth Tynan and yourself. I feel that he was much too lenient. Your recent appearance before a senatorial committee on which occasion you spoke in favor of continuing the present police practice of extracting confessions by denying the accused the right of consulting consul prior to making a statement also came to my attention. In effect you were speaking in approval of standard police procedure: obtaining statements through brutality and duress, whereas an intelligent police force would rely on evidence rather than enforced confessions. You further cheapened yourself by reiterating the banal argument that echoes through letters to the editor whenever the issue of capital punishment is raised: “Why all this sympathy for the murderer and none for his innocent victims?” I have in line of duty read all your published work. The early work was in some respects promising — I refer particularly to the short stories. You were granted an area for psychic development. It seemed for a while as if you would make good use of this grant. You choose instead to sell out a talent that is not yours to sell. You have written a dull unreadable book which could have been written by any staff writer on the New Yorker — (an undercover reactionary periodical dedicated to the interests of vested American wealth). You have placed your services at the disposal of interests who are turning America into a police state by the simple device of deliberately fostering the conditions that give rise to criminality and then demanding increased police powers and the retention of capital punishment to deal with the situation they have created. You have betrayed and sold out the talent that was granted you by this department. That talent is now officially withdrawn. Enjoy your dirty money. You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished. Over and out. Are you tracking me? Know who I am? You know me, Truman. You have known me for a long time. This is my last visit.

 
Via Letters Of Note

Posted by Marc Campbell
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08.02.2012
05:44 pm
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William Burroughs’ curse on Truman Capote
07.19.2011
03:54 pm
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Polaroid portraits of Truman Capote and William s. Burrooughs shot by Andy Warhol

There is a fascinating, well-researched article by Thom Robinson over at the might Reality Studio blog devoted to all things William S. Burroughs. Robinson is a British PhD candidate who has extensively researched Burroughs.

After setting up the backstory with anecdotes involving the mutual distaste that Burroughs (who apparently disliked effeminate homosexuals) felt for Capote (who might have snubbed Burroughs with Tennessee Williams and Paul Bowles in Tangier), Robinson relates the tale of a “curse” Burroughs placed on Capote’s literary talents in the form of an extraordinarily spiteful two-page “Open Letter to Truman Capote,” a copy of which now resides in the Burroughs Archive of the New York Public Library’s Berg Collection:

Burroughs’ “letter” begins with an explanation to Capote that his “is not a fan letter in the usual sense.” Acting as spokesman for a “department” with apparent responsibility for determining writers’ fates, Burroughs announces that he has followed Capote’s “literary development from its inception” and, in the line of duty, has conducted exhaustive inquiries comparable to those undertaken by Capote in his research for In Cold Blood. An engagingly surreal touch finds Burroughs reporting that these inquiries have included interviewing all of Capote’s fictional characters “beginning with Miriam” (the title character of Capote’s breakthrough story of 1945). Referring to “the recent exchange of genialities” between Capote and Kenneth Tynan, Burroughs concludes that Tynan “was much too lenient.” Going one step further than Tynan and accusing Capote of acting as an apologist for hard-line methods of police interrogation (and thus supporting those “who are turning America into a police state”), Burroughs next turns to the question of Capote’s writing abilities. Avowing that Capote’s early short stories were “in some respects promising,” Burroughs suggests Capote could have made positive use of his talents, presumably by applying them to the expansion of human consciousness (“You were granted an area for psychic development”). Instead, Burroughs finds that Capote has sold out a talent “that is not yours to sell.” In retribution for having misused “the talent that was granted you by this department”, Burroughs starkly warns “That talent is now officially withdrawn,” signing off with the sinister admonition, “You will never have anything else. You will never write another sentence above the level of In Cold Blood. As a writer you are finished.”

It should be noted that, at the time of writing, Burroughs was a credulous believer in the efficacy of curses (famously believing he had successfully used tape recorders to close down a London restaurant where he had received bad service). Regardless of how seriously Burroughs intended his prediction for Capote’s future, his words proved eerily prescient. After the publication of In Cold Blood, Capote announced work on an epic novel entitled Answered Prayers, intended as a Proustian summation of the high society world to which he had enjoyed privileged access over the previous decades. The slim existing contents were eventually published posthumously while one of the few extracts which saw publication within Capote’s lifetime notoriously employed Capote’s habit of indiscretion to disastrous effect. When “La Côte Basque, 1965″ was published by Esquire in 1975, Capote’s betrayal of the confidences of friends (who recognized the identities lurking beneath the veneer of fictionalized characters) resulted in swift exile from the celebrity world which Capote had courted for much of his career.

Given Burroughs’ curse on Capote, it is interesting to note that, in the years before his death, Capote’s dismissive views on Burroughs’ work became even more damning: “Norman Mailer thinks William Burroughs is a genius, which I think is ludicrous beyond words. I don’t think William Burroughs has an ounce of talent.” By the time these remarks were recorded by Lawrence Grobel in Conversations with Capote, successful canvassing by Mailer among others had resulted in Burroughs’ admission to the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters in 1983. After a long decline, wrought by the inability to break a harrowing cycle of alcohol and barbiturate abuse, Capote died the following year at the age of 59.

In Cold Blood: William Burroughs’ Curse on Truman Capote (Reality Studio)

Thank you Celia Rimell

Posted by Richard Metzger
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07.19.2011
03:54 pm
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