11 gossipy things Andy Warhol said about the writers of the 1970s

A self-portrait by Andy Warhol at MOCA. Warhol's diaries have been reissued in a 25th anniversary edition.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Artist Andy Warhol was an enigmatic figure, so when his diaries were published after his death they caused a sensation. Sometimes gossipy, other times insightful, and often mundane (he constantly notes the cost of taxi rides), they showed that the man who was at the center of the social and art worlds in New York was keenly observant through it all.

A new 25th anniversary edition of “The Andy Warhol Diaries” hit shelves last week. We took a look inside to see what Warhol had to say about the writers who crossed his path. Here are 11 favorite tidbits, featuring a lot of Truman Capote.

On seeing writer Truman Capote at La Grenouille, Dec. 14, 1976: “On the other side of the room was the new skinny Truman Capote. He looks now almost like he did when I first knew him. Truman didn’t answer my hello but then halfway through lunch he put on his glasses and waved, and later gave me his personal phone number.


Nov. 24, 1982, on Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the journalism duo who broke the Watergate story: “This weekend Bianca [Jagger] accused me of telling People Magazine about her and Senator Dodd, she said the only people who knew were me, Steve Rubell, and Halston. So I guess Steve told them. And Page Six of the Post had a thing saying she was now seeing Woodward in addition to Bernstein, and she actually picked up the phone and called the Post and made them correct it the next day, that she’s only seeing Bernstein.”

On author, teacher and LSD-guru Timothy Leary, Oct. 4, 1977: “Tim Leary was really sweet.... I can’t believe it, he remembers each time he ever saw me in the sixties and then in St. Moritz -- what I was wearing, everything -- and I didn’t even know at the time that he would be noticing. Like when we went to his lecture and light-show things in the East Village. He said that if he had it to do all over again he wished he were with the Velvet Underground because they did so much and were really creative.”

Warhol continues, “I just think he’s so intelligent. He probably really was with the CIA, because he was THE one at Harvard, and now they’re showing that the government was using LSD so far back, and Tim was the master, and when you’re a master they do approach you.”

On Fran Lebowitz, a regular contributor to Warhol’s Interview Magazine on March 21, 1978: “Bob showed me a review than Fran Lebowitz’ book got in the New York Times by John Leonard and I can’t understand it. Is her writing funny? Some girl we know gave her a long rave in the Sunday Times, and now John Leonard and I mean, her stuff -- all the put-downs and complaining - -it’s just not my sense of humor. I don’t know what’s the point. So Bob wanted to prove that other people don’t feel like I do about it, that she’s an asset to Interview.”

April 10, 1979, at a blues concert at Carnegie Hall, “Allen Ginsberg gave me a big kiss.”

Aug. 28, 1978, on Truman Capote, who would soon be coming back from rehab in Minnesota: “Brigid and I are thinking all the time that maybe Truman never did write any of his own stuff, that maybe he always had some butch guy there to do it. To do rewrites. Because I mean, Truman showed me a script he did, and it was just awful, and when he shows you these things you can’t imagine that he could ever THINK they’re any good, they’re so bad.... the things Truman SAYS are interesting so somebody else could find clever ways to make them good on paper.”

Sept. 8, 1978, on Truman Capote: “Had lunch with Truman.

They left for Capote’s bank. “As we were walking together, someone said, ‘Look! Living Legends!’ and at the bank Truman was getting $5,000 in case in fifty-dollar bills and the bank guy asked him was he sure he wanted it like that since he’d taken out $25,000 eight months ago in hundreds and lost it.... So he does have money, the money does come in.”


Oct. 15, 1978, on Truman Capote: “Truman was getting more and more loaded....He told us he went one night to Flamingo with Lisa and Stevie and there were all these sex acts wth boys in cages and they went into the owner’s office and it was a really straight-looking guy about thirty-five and Truman asked him, ‘Why did you start this place?’ And before he told us the guy’s answer, Truman looked at us and really built it up, he said, ‘This has got to be the greatest line in history.’ Then he said, ‘The guy looks at me and says, ‘Sometimes I get horny.’’ And Truman kept repeating that all afternoon.”

On Gore Vidal, Dec. 15, 1981, asking for him to do something for Interview Magazine. “Bob is trying to find out who to have interview Farrah Fawcett. Gore Vidal wouldn’t do it, he said, ‘I don’t DO interviews, I GIVE them.’”

Feb. 1, 1980, on Truman Capote: “He’s like a different person now, he’s very distant, not friendly. He said he’d have something for Interview’s April issue.... it’s strange, he’s like one of those people from outer space -- the body snatchers -- because it’s the same person, but it’s not the same person.”

On April 11, 1980, on his frustrations with publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanocich over his book “Popism.” “I called Harcourt Brace and screamed at them for not delivering the eighty books that I paid for. Jackie Curtis came up to get one and heard me screaming on the phone at them and got the message and backed right out. And I screamed at a few people, and finally the girl said, ‘Well, you paid with a personal check and we had to wait to see if it cleared.’ Can you believe it! .... that screaming took all afternoon.”

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