B: Hospitals are unbelievable.
A: When I was dying I had to write my name on a check.
Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there—I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in the movies is unreal, but actually it's the way things happen to you in life that's unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it's like watching television—you don't feel anything.
Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it's all television. When you're really really involved with something, you're usually thinking about something else. When something's happening, you fantasize about other things. When I woke up somewhere—I didn't know it was at the hospital and that Bobby Kennedy had been shot the day after I was— I heard fantasy words about thousands of people being in St. Patrick's Cathedral praying and carrying on, and then I heard the word "Kennedy" and that brought me back to the television world again because then I realized, well, here I was, in pain.
So I was shot at my place of business: Andy Warhol Enterprises. At that point, in 1968, Andy Warhol Enterprises consisted of a few people who worked for me on a fairly regular basis, a lot of what you might call free-lancers who worked on specific projects, and a lot of "superstars" or "hyperstars" or whatever you can call all the people who are very talented, but whose talents are hard to define and almost impossible to market. That was the "staff" of Andy Warhol Enterprises in those days. An interviewer asked me a lot of questions about how I ran my office and I tried to explain to him that I don't really run it, it runs me. I used a lot of phrases like "bring home the bacon" so he didn't really understand what I was talking about.
The whole time I was in the hospital, the "staff" kept on doing things, so I realized I really did have a kinetic business, because it was going on without me. I liked realizing that, because I had by that time decided that "business" was the best art.
Business art is the step that comes after Art. I started as a commercial artist, and I want to finish as a business artist. After I did the thing called "art" or whatever it's called, I went into business art. I wanted to be an Art Businessman or a Business Artist. Being good in business is the most fascinating kind of art. During the hippie era people put down the idea of business—they'd say, "Money is bad," and "Working is bad," but making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.
In the beginning not everything in Andy Warhol Enterprises was organized too well. We went from art right into business when we made an agreement to provide a certain theater with one movie a week. This made our movie-making commercial, and led us from short movies into long movies into feature movies. We learned a little bit about distribution and soon we started trying to distribute the movies ourselves, but we found out that that was just too hard. I didn't expect the movies we were doing to be commercial. It was enough that the art had gone into the stream of commerce, out into the real world. It was very heady to be able to look and see our movie out there in the real world en a marquee instead of in there in the art world. Business art. Art business. The Business Art Business.
I always like to work on leftovers, doing the leftover things. Things that were discarded, that everybody knew were no good, I always thought had a great potential to be funny. It was like recycling work. I always thought there was a lot of humor in leftovers. When I see an old Esther Williams movie and a hundred girls are jumping off their swings, I think of what the auditions must have been like and about all the takes where maybe one girl didn't have the nerve to jump when she was supposed to, and I think about her left over on the swing. So that take of the scene was a leftover on the editing-room floor—an out-take—and the girl was probably a leftover at that point—she was probably fired— so the whole scene is much funnier than the real scene where everything went right, and the girl who didn't jump is the star of the out-take.
I'm not saying that popular taste is bad so that what's left over from the bad taste is good: I'm saying that what's left over is probably bad, but if you can take it and make it good or at least interesting, then you're not wasting as much as you would otherwise. You're recycling work and you're recycling people, and you're running your business as a byproduct of other businesses. Of other directly competitive businesses, as a matter of fact. So that's a very economical operating procedure. It's also the funniest operating procedure because, as I said, leftovers are inherently funny.
Living in New York City gives people real incentives to want things that nobody else wants—to want all the leftover things. There are so many people here to compete with that changing your tastes to what other people don't want is your only hope of getting anything. For instance, on beautiful, sunny days in New York, it gets so crowded outside you can't even see Central Park through all the bodies. But very early on Sunday mornings in horrible rainy weather, when no one wants to get up and no one wants to get out even if they are up, you can go out and walk all over and have the streets to yourself and it's wonderful.
When we didn't have the money to do feature movies with thousands of cuts and retakes, etc., I tried to simplify the movie-making procedure, so I made movies where we used every foot of film that we shot, because it was cheaper, and easier and funnier. Also so we wouldn't have any leftovers ourselves. Then in 1969 we started editing our movies, but even with our own movies, I still love the leftovers best. The out-takes are all great. I'm scrupulously saving them.
I deviate from my philosophy of using leftovers in two areas: (1) my pet, and (2) my food.
I know I should have gone to the pound for a pet, but instead I bought one. It just happened. I saw him and I fell in love with him and I bought him, so there my emotions made me abandon my style.
I also have to admit that I can't tolerate eating leftovers. Food is my great extravagance. I really spoil myself, but then I try to compensate by scrupulously saving all of my food leftovers and bringing them into the office or leaving them in the street and recycling them there. My conscience won't let me throw anything out, even when I don't want it for myself. As I said, I really spoil myself in the food area, so my leftovers are often grand—my hairdresser's cat eats pate at least twice a week. The leftovers usually turn out to be meat because I'll buy a huge piece of meat, cook it up for dinner, and then right before it's done I'll break down and have what I wanted for dinner in the first place—bread and jam. I'm only kidding myself when I go through the motions of cooking protein: all I ever really want is sugar. The rest is strictly for appearances, i.e., you can't take a princess to dinner and order a cookie for starters, no matter how much you crave one. People expect you to eat protein and you do so they won't talk. (If you decided to be stubborn and ordered the cookie, you'd wind up having to talk about why you want it and your philosophy of eating a cookie for dinner. And that would be too much trouble, so you order lamb and forget about what you really want.)
I did my first tape recording in 1964. I'm trying right now to remember the exact circumstances of what I made my first tape recording of. i remember who it was of, but I can't remember why I was carrying a tape recorder around with me that day or even why I had gone out and bought one. I think it all started because I was trying to do a book. A friend had written me a note saying that everybody we knew was writing a book, so that made me want to keep up and do one too. So I bought that tape recorder and I taped the most interesting person I knew at the time, Ondine, for a whole day. I was curious about all these new people I was meeting who could stay up for weeks at a time without ever going to sleep. I thought, "These people are so imaginative. I just want to know what they do, why they're so imaginative and creative, talking all the time, always busy, full of energy . . . how come they can stay up so late and not be tired," and pretty soon it would be four days later. I was determined to stay up all day and all night and tape Ondine, the most talkative and energetic of them all. But somewhere along the line I got tired, so I had to finish taping the rest of the twenty-four hours on a couple of other days. So actually, A, my novel, was a fraud, since it was billed as a consecutive twenty-four-hour tape-recorded "novel," but it was actually taped on a few separate occasions. I used twenty tapes for it because I was using the small cassettes. And right at that point some kids came by the studio and asked if they could do some work, so I asked them to transcribe and type my novel, and it took them a year and a half to type up one day! That seems incredible to me now because I know that if they'd been any good they could have finished it in a week. I would glance over at them sometimes with admiration because they had me convinced that typing was one of the slowest, most painstaking jobs in the world. Now I realize that what I had were leftover typists, but I didn't know it then. Maybe they just liked being around all the people who hung around at the studio.
Another thing I couldn't understand was all those people who never slept who were always announcing, "Oh I'm hitting my ninth day and it's glorious!" So I thought, "Maybe it's time to do a movie about somebody who sleeps all night. But I only had a camera that had three minutes on it, so I had to change the camera every three minutes to shoot three minutes. I slowed down the movie to make up for all the three minutes I lost changing the film, and we ran it at a slower speed to make up for the film I didn't shoot.
I suppose I have a realty loose interpretation of "work," because I think that just being alive is so much work at something you don't always want to do. Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery. People are working every minute. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.
The hardest work I ever had to do mentally was go to court and get insulted by a lawyer. You're really on your own when you're up there on the witness stand and your friends can't stand up for you and everything's quiet except for you and the lawyer, and the lawyer's insulting you and you have to let him.
I loved working when I worked at commercial art and they told you what to do and how to do it and all you had to do was correct it and they'd say yes or no. The hard thing is when you have to dream up the tasteless things to do on your own. When I think about what sort of person I would most like to have on a retainer, I think it would be a boss. A boss who could tell me what to do, because that makes everything easy when you're working.
Unless you have a job where you have to do what somebody else tells you to do, then the only "person" qualified to be your boss would be a computer that was programmed especially for you, that would take into consideration all of your finances, prejudices, quirks, idea potential, temper tantrums, talents, personality conflicts, growth rate desired, amount and nature of competition, what you'll eat for breakfast on the day you have to fulfill a contract, who you're jealous of, etc. A lot of people could help me with parts and segments of the business, but only a computer would be totally useful to me.
If I had a good computer I could catch up with my thoughts over the weekend if I ever got behind myself. A computer would be a very qualified boss.
Something I'm not doing these days that I should be doing is meeting more science people. I think that the best dinner party would be where each guest was required to bring a new piece of science news to the dinner table with him. Afterwards, you wouldn't feel you'd wasted any time feeding your machinery with just pieces of food. Nothing about diseases, though. Just pure science news.
People send me so many presents in the mail, but I wish that instead of all the presents and art mailers I would get science mailers in language I could understand. That would make me want to open my mail again.
When I'm working on a business project, I expect bad things to happen all the time. I always expect deals to fail through in the biggest, worst way possible. I guess I shouldn't worry, though. If something's going to happen for you, it will, you can't make it happen. And it never does happen until you're past the point where you care whether it happens or not. An actress friend told me that after she didn't want money any more and after she didn't want jewels any more, that's when she got money and jewels. I guess it's for our own good that it always happens that way, because after you stop wanting things is when having them won't make you go crazy. After you stop wanting them is when you can handle having them. Or before. But never during. If you get things when you really want them, you go crazy. Everything becomes distorted when something you really want is sitting in your lap.
After being alive, the next hardest work is having sex. Of course, for some people it isn't work because they need the exercise and they've got the energy for the sex and the sex gives them even more energy. Some people get energy from sex and some people lose energy from sex. I have found that it's too much work. But if you have the time for it, and if you need that exercise—then you should do it. But you could really save yourself a lot of trouble either way by first figuring out whether you're an energy-getter or an energy-loser. As I said, I'm an energy-loser. But I can understand it when I see people running around trying to get some.
It's just as much work for an attractive person not to have sex as for an unattractive person to have sex, so it's helpful if the attractive people happen to get energy from sex and if the unattractive people happen to lose energy from sex, because then their wants will fit in with the direction that people are pushing them in.
Along with having sex, being sexed is also hard work. I wonder whether it's harder for (1) a man to be a man, (2) a man to be a woman, (3) a woman to be a woman, or (4) a woman to be a man. I don't really know the answer, but from watching all the different types, I know that the people who think they're working the hardest are the men who are trying to be women. They do double-time. They do all the double things: they think about shaving and not shaving, of primping and not primping, of buying men's clothes and women's clothes. I guess it's interesting to try to be another sex, but it can be exciting to just be your own sex.
A friend really hit it when he said, "Frigid people really make it." Frigid people don't have the standard emotional problems that hold so many people back and keep them from making it. When I was in my early twenties and had just gotten out of school, I could see that I wasn't frigid enough to not let problems keep me from working.
I thought that young people had more problems than old people, and I hoped I could last until I was older so I wouldn't have all those problems. Then I looked around and saw that everybody who looked young had young problems and that everybody who looked old had old problems. The "old" problems to me looked easier to take than the "young" problems. So I decided to go gray so nobody would know now old I was and I would look younger to them than how old they thought I was. I would gain a lot by going gray: (1) I would have old problems, which were easier to take than young problems, (2) everyone would be impressed by how young I looked, and (3) I would be relieved of the responsibility of acting young—I could occasionally lapse into eccentricity or senility and no one would think anything of it because of my gray hair. When you've got gray hair, every move you make seems "young" and "spry," instead of just being normally active. It's like you're getting a new talent. So I dyed my hair gray when I was about twenty-three or twenty-four.
Something that I look for in an associate is a certain amount of misunderstanding of what I'm trying to do. Not a fundamental misunderstanding; just minor misunderstandings here and there. When someone doesn't quite completely understand what you want from them, or when they didn't quite hear what you told them to do, or when the tape is bad, or when their own fantasies start coming through, I often wind up liking what comes out of it all better than I liked my original idea. Then if you take what the first person who misunderstood you did, and you give that to someone else and tell them to make it more like how they know you would want it, that's good, too. If people never misunderstand you, and if they do everything exactly the way you tell them to, they're just transmitters of your ideas, and you get bored with that. But when you work with people who misunderstand you, instead of getting transmissions you get transmutations, and that's much more interesting in the long run.
I like the people who work for me to have their own ideas about things so they don't bore me, but then I like them to be enough like me to keep me company. I like to be tucked in, but I don't like to be tucked away.
They should have a college course now for maids and call it something glamorous, I think. People don't want to work at something unless there's a glamorous name tagged to it. The idea of America is theoretically so great because we've gotten rid of maids and janitors, but then, somebody still has to do it. I always think that even very intelligent people could get a lot out of being maids because they'd see so many interesting people and be working in the most beautiful houses. I mean, everybody does something for everybody else—your shoemaker does your shoes for you, and you do entertainment for him—it's always an exchange, and if it weren't for the stigma we give certain jobs, the exchange would always be equal. A mother is always doing things for her child, so what's wrong with a person off the street doing things for you? But there'll always be people who don't clean who think they're better than the people who do clean.
I've always thought that the President could do so much here to help change images. If the President would go into a public bathroom in the Capitol, and have the TV cameras film him cleaning the toilets and saying "Why not? Somebody's got to do it!" then that would do so much for the morale of the people who do the wonderful job of keeping the toilets clean. I mean, it is a wonderful thing that they're doing.
The President has so much good publicity potential that hasn't been exploited. He should just sit down one day and make a list of all the things that people are embarrassed to do that they shouldn't be embarrassed to do, and then do them all on television.
Sometimes B and I fantasize about what I would do if I were President—how I would use my TV time.
Airline stewardesses have the best public image—hostesses in the air. Their work is actually what the waitresses in Bickford's do, plus a few additional duties. I don't want to put down the airline stewardesses, i just want to put up the Bickford ladies. The difference is that airline stewardessing is a New World job that never had to contend with any class stigmas left over from the Old World peasant-aristocracy syndrome.
What's great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you can know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. AM the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.
In Europe the royalty and the aristocracy used to eat a lot better than the peasants—they weren't eating the same things at all. It was either partridge or porridge, and each class stuck to its own food. But when Queen Elizabeth came here and President Eisenhower bought her a hot dog I'm sure he felt confident that she couldn't have had delivered to Buckingham Palace a better hot dog than that one he bought her for maybe twenty cents at the ballpark. Because there is no better hot dog than a ballpark hot dog. Not for a dollar, not for ten dollars, not for a hundred thousand dollars could she get a better hot dog. She could get one for twenty cents and so could anybody else.
Sometimes you fantasize that people who are really up-there and rich and living it up have something you don't have, that their things must be better than your things because they have more money than you. But they drink the same Cokes and eat the same hot dogs and wear the same ILGWU clothes and see the same TV shows and the same movies. Rich people can't see a sillier version of Truth or Consequences, or a scarier version of The Exorcist. You can get just as revolted as they can—you can have the same nightmares. All of this is really American.
The idea of America is so wonderful because the more equal something is, the more American it is. For instance, a lot of places give you special treatment when you're famous, but that's not really American. The other day something very American happened to me. I was going into an auction at Parke-Bernet and they wouldn't let me in because I had my dog with me, so I had to wait in the lobby for the friend I was meeting there to tell him I'd been turned away. And while I was waiting in the lobby I signed autographs. It was a really American situation to be in.
(Also, by the way, the "special treatment" sometimes works in reverse when you're famous. Sometimes people are mean to me because I'm Andy Warhol.)
Wherever it's possible, you should try to pay people in measurements that are the most suitable for their talent or job. A writer may want to get paid by the word, by the page, by the number of times the reader breaks down crying or bursts out laughing, by the chapter, by the number of new ideas introduced, by the book, or by the year, just to name a few possible categories. A director may want to get paid by the movie or by the foot or by the number of times a Chevrolet appears in the frames.
I'm still thinking about maids. It really has to do with how you're raised. Some people just aren't embarrassed by the idea of somebody else cleaning up after them, and, even though I talk about being a maid not being any different from any other job—because I know it shouldn't be considered any different from any other job—still, somehow, deep down, I'm truly embarrassed at the idea of somebody cleaning up after me. If I were really able to think about being a maid the same way I think about, say, being a dentist, I wouldn't be any more embarrassed to let a maid clean up after me than I would be to let a dentist fix my teeth. (Actually, "dentist" is a bad example, because I am embarrassed to let a dentist fix my teeth, especially if my skin is broken out and I'm sitting under those green lights. But I'll stick with that example because the embarrassment I feel about letting someone clean my teeth is nowhere near the embarrassment I feel when someone is around cleaning up after me.)
I confront the problem of how to look at a maid only when I'm staying at a European hotel or when I'm a guest at somebody else's house. It's so awkward when you come face to face with a maid. I've never been able to pull it off. Some people I know are very comfortable looking at maids and even telling them what they'd like done, but I can't handle it. When I go to a hotel, I find myself trying to stay there all day so the maid can't come in. I make a point of it. Because I just don't know where to put my eyes, where to look, what to be doing while they're cleaning. It's actually a lot of work, avoiding the maid, when I think about it.
When I was a child I never had a fantasy about having a maid, what I had a fantasy about having was candy. As I matured that fantasy translated itself into "make money to have candy," because as you get older, of course, you get more realistic. Then, after my third nervous breakdown and I still didn't have that extra candy, my career started to pick up, and I started getting more and more candy, and now I have a roomful of candy all in shopping bags. So, as I'm thinking about it now, my success got me a candy room instead of a maid's room. As I said, it all depends on what your fantasies as a kid were, whether you're able to look at a maid or not. Because of what my fantasies were, I'm now a lot more comfortable looking at a Hershey Bar.
It's strange the way having money isn't much. You take three people to a restaurant and you pay three hundred dollars. Okay. Then you take those same three people to a corner shop—shoppe—and get everything there. You got just as filled at the corner shoppe as at the grand restaurant—more, actually—and it cost you only fifteen or twenty dollars, and you had basically the same food.
I was trying to think the other day about what you do now in America if you want to be successful. Before, you were dependable and wore a good suit. Looking around, I guess that today you have to do all the same things but not wear a good suit. I guess that's all it is. Think rich. Look poor.