The Andy Warhol Diaries

Andy Warhol, The Andy Warhol Diaries
edited by Pat Hackett (London: Penguin Classics, 2010)
First published: 1989

Wednesday, December 14, 1983

Bruno came and drove us crazy. He didn’t bring Jean Michel’s rent payment, so later I called Jean Michel about his rent being due and then I had a fight with Jay because he gave Jean Michel my home phone number. He said, ‘Oh, I didn’t know you didn’t want…’ I yelled at him, ‘Are your brains still with you?’ I mean, he knew I wouldn’t have Jean Michel coming up to my house—I mean he’s a drug addict so he’s not dependable. You can’t have—I mean, so then why would I want him to have my home phone? Jay should have known better.

Everyone is constantly on the phone in Warhol’s New York. Each day starts with a call or phoning around to see who’s in town; at studios, offices, and apartments, hosts and guests alike are making or failing to make or waiting for calls; the phones at Warhol’s own Factory are always ringing, though his receptionists rarely answer them (or speak English). Phones are fraught with danger – especially phone numbers, as in the extract above, or on July 19, 1985 when Warhol visited Dr. Li ‘and she took everything out of my pockets and tested the phone numbers that I had there for black magic.’ Not getting a call is even worse. Warhol himself decides, ‘As long as I have a phone, that’s all I need.’

Warhol didn’t ‘write’ his Diaries; he phoned Pat Hackett and she took notes as he described his day, mostly to note expenses for tax audits. Hackett deliberately edited the diary to retain the ‘casual and intimate spirit […] so that the reader would always be the “you” on the other end on the phone.’ Entries break down during moments of stress and tension, however, as Warhol repeats himself or trails off; they are just as alienating as they are welcoming. The telephone is the pen; as a result, the Diaries are a document like no other.

by Oscar Nearly