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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 70s Warhol in Intimate Portrait, 24 Oct. 2007
This is a tremendous book, a biography of Warhol which primarily focuses on the time Colacello worked with him, from about 1968 to 1981, as a reviewer in and then editor of Warlhol's magazine "Interview" (originally "inter/VIEW" - how 60s!). As well as that it's a memoir of Colacello's time with him (and these were plentiful, for Colacello often was as much Warhol's room-worker in their incredibly hectic and ambitious social life), and a portrait of the disco era, as well as the coming of the Reaganite 1980, not to mention a frank portrait of many celebrities, from Elizabeth Taylor to Jean-Michel Basquiat via Bianca Jagger and Imelda Marcos. It's ambitious in scope, then.

Fortunately Colacello does not get bogged down in all this, dividing the book episodically, and with great detail and amounts of dialogue (he kept a daily diary, and like Warhol recorded his telephone calls). But this means that Warhol's early life, and in particular the period of the "Silver Factory", are covered somewhat cursorily, when this is what Warhol is best known for - the underground films like "Empire" and "Sleep", the Exploding Plastic Inevitable with the Velvet Underground, and his shooting by Valerie Salonis. This is covered in detail elsewhere, so it was more enlightening to read of Warhol's 50s period as a successful commercial artist and social misfit, as his trajectory and tactics seem to never have changed - always further in, wanting more and more.

The book really acts as a memoir of Colacello's time with Warhol, and so is a portrait of his 1970s factory - Fred Hughes, Jed Johnston, Pat Hackett - and businesses, where "Interview", Warhol's art and his commissioned portraits combine, sometimes unfortunately but more often successfully. For this period was when Warhol, having conquered the art world, conquered the social elite that he lusted to join. The world of New York's fashion elite, with their Parisian and Roman counterparts, are drawn with a satirical eye. Colacello, like Warhol, was an outsider entering this world, much like the reader, and he guides us deftly through a veritable torrent of names. (This is not a book to read at one sitting, for the plethora of passing characters can be slightly confusing over too long a period - a minor fault with the episodic narrative).

Colacello shows us how Warhol was driven to reach the top in the artistic, social, financial and political worlds of the time, while maintaining an indifferent facade. But the cost of this was large. Warhol was a huge control freak and he could never reciprocate in his affairs with people - he could only take, never give anyone any real affection, and consequently was unable to have sex or have any real relationship. This soured and poisoned him inside, which only compounded the problem. So, like a tragedy, just when everything seems to reach a peak, it all starts to fall apart. Not only with Warhol - the price of the drug-fuelled disco era shows, with drug busts, AIDS and other illnesses taking their grim toll. The last few chapters, on Warhol's life in the 1980s, have a kind of ghostliness to them, as though Warhol were waiting to die, or perhaps as though Colacello feels that.

This is a wonderful book, elegantly written, with just the right amount of irony to let the name-dropping pass (like when his date was Estee Lauder), politically and culturally sharp, and funny with it too. Anyone with an interest in Warhol, New York in the 1970s, the fashion elites of the time, or in sexuality pre-AIDS, would enjoy it immensely.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down, 29 Jan. 2009
This review is from: Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close up (Hardcover)
This is one of the most entertaining books I've read. Ever. Bob Colacello knows when to topple Warhol off his pedestal, but also has a very tender and deep understanding and appreciation of Warhol that really comes through to the reader. You follow Colacello from his early doe-eyed name-dropping days at Interview magazine through to everything you've ever heard about the post-Solanas shooting Factory, Studio 54 etc up to his disillusionment and departure from the magazine and the Factory. It's hilarious, moving, historical and offers a highly personal account of Andy Warhol's later years, an insight you don't get from any other book on Warhol. Some unforgettable anecdotes in here too.
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Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close up
Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close up by Bob Colacello (Hardcover - 31 Dec. 1990)
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