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Andy Warhol’s Book Party: Put-On, Pop-Out, Blow-Up


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December 21, 1967, Vol. XIII, No. 10

Andy Warhol’s Book Party: Put-On, Pop-Out, Blow-Up
by Sally Kempton and Ross Wetzsteon

“Do you think pop art is…” “No.” “What?” “No.” “Do you think pop art is…” “No…No, I don’t.” Andy Warhol has a way without words.

Last Thursday evening Random House hung aluminum foil over its doors and gave a make-believe Andy Warhol party. They piped in rock ‘n’ roll music and some of Warhol’s superstars, and all those people who go to publishers’ parties came to stand around and stare at the superstars.

What do you call a group of superstars? A tinfoil of superstars? A decadence of superstars? A gabble of superstars? Does this mean we are on the verge of creating life in a test-tube?

Bennett Cerf wandered around, waiting for O’Hara, but undaunted by the superstar sitting at his Mussolini desk, a huge desk, as vast and as empty as a television grin.

The superstars sat in a corner and talked to one another, and Warhol stood in another corner while people talked to him.

Ah, excuse me, Andy, I have a few questions…Is persona the same as self? Is “being yourself” being yourself? Should art become more lifelike or should life become theatrical? What’s the difference between calculated and spontaneity?

Everyone drank liquor and ate little sandwiches, and several young Random House editors sat on the desk in Bennett Cerf’s office, looking defiantly around to see if Cerf would notice them.

Is pop art the aesthetic justification for retaining childhood tastes? What’s the difference between parody and acquiescence? Is worship of the surface a fear of what might be underneath?

Those who were not staring at the superstars hovered by the entrance looking for Beautiful People, of whom there were few in evidence. A young lady in a knitted see-through mini-dress was mistaken for a Beautiful Person and had her picture taken by several photographers.

Is Andy Warhol the Hemingway of our generation? Defining our sexuality, refining our vocabulary? “And finally there were some words one could not bear to hear any more, and the only words that had any meaning or dignity were words like ‘yeah’ and ‘no’ and ‘I like it.'”

George Plimpton had his picture taken by several photographers. People said that William Styron was around somewhere, but no-one could find him.

Does Andy Warhol chew more than he bites off? What is he going to do when this circuit learns his job?

The superstars lay about on a large couch, dressed in various shades of excess and exuding languor, and had their pictures taken by several photographers.

Is Viva the Camille of the ’60s? Is over-ripeness all?

The book has a balloon, a record, a disappearing signature, an interview with a German reporter (Guttenberg was a German), and it was Made in Japan. It’s the book McLuhan tried to do in “The Medium is the Message.” Put-on, pop-out, blow-up. But I really can’t describe it — you had to BE there.

It was a very large party.

[Each weekday morning, we post an excerpt from another issue of the Voice, going in order from our oldest archives. Visit our Clip Job archive page to see excerpts back to 1956.]


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