2 FEBRUARY 2002, Page 50

Warhol's indiscretions


I,Rougemont got to like Andy Warhol a lot, but only after his death. Reading about him in the Sunday Telegraph in connection with the Tate Modern upcoming exhibition brought back a lot of memories. Mostly of Studio54, the ghastly smell of poppers and the 'toilet' man. The 't' man was an unfortunate soul who approached Andy one day and asked him if he could spend the rest of his life in the Factory's loo. 'Please, Andy, I'd like to make a statement . ' or words to that effect. I happened to be around and heard about it. `You mean there's a guy who lives in the toilet?' I asked my buddy Bob Colacello, Warhol's Boswell. 'Oh, sure, in fact he never comes out, although he's looking awfully pale lately,' said Bob. Alas, I have to admit I never got to see the 't' man, despite the fact that I spent a hell of a lot of time in loos back then. It was simply too awful to contemplate, no less to look at the poor bastard. Apparently one day he simply keeled over and died, although very few people took any notice. I guess the toilet man was one reason I used to dislike Andy. Mind you, the whole story could have been made up.

Warhol's parents were from the Carpathian mountains, but when I once asked him how they (the mountains) compared to, say, Gstaad, he said, 'Wow, that's amazing!' Bob Colacello aside, the one Warhol associate I really liked and got along with was the film-maker Paul Morrissey. Paul was talented and knew his way around, yet Andy managed to get him to film a man sleeping. For 30 hours. Fred Hughes, Warhol's chief-of-staff, was from Texas and pretended to be a cousin of Howard Hughes. (Actually he was trailer park who had developed an English accent while still back in the Lone Star State.) Fred was a dandy, although the mauvaises tangoes used to say he looked like a maitre d'. On a trip to Houston, Andy put a lot of pressure on Fred to produce members of his family. Colacello told me never in his life did he see a man squirm like poor Fred. And then there was Bianca Jagger. She was always around the Warhol crowd, sporting the dyspeptic demeanour of a duchess who has mistakenly found herself in a brothel. She fooled most of the press, but Andy had her measure. A caddy for the rich and famous. She's now an expert on American foreign policy, and a cheerleader for the Clinton gang.

I met the Warhol family when Andy decided to run a profile of me in his Interview magazine. Bruce Weber, the photographer, took a pie that made me look a cross between Paris of Troy and Gary Cooper. A famous actress saw it, and asked Andy about me. 'But he's totally gay,' said Andy. At a dinner to celebrate that month's issue, Andy had the actress next to him when I confronted him, 'Why you so and so, how dare you . ' He looked at me with those dead eyes and only said, 'Gee.'

In his posthumous diaries he could not have been more complimentary about me, although very, very indiscreet. In fact so indiscreet, he almost ruined a wedding. I once broke down a door thinking a girlfriend was cheating on me. But once inside — as Warhol wrote in his diary — I found the-bride-to-be in bed with 'Mr Quaalude', Well, the bridegroom read it and rang me one day before the wedding. 'It's just Andy making trouble from the grave,' said I. He chose to believe me. Or pretended to, rather.

The only proper conversation I ever had with Andy was when I quoted a sonnet by Harry Crosby, the infamous drug-taking nephew of J.P. Morgan who shot and killed Josephine Bigelow and himself at Stanley Mortimer's studio in New York while his wife and mother and Hart Crane were waiting for him at Morgan's house for dinner. 'I think I understand you, Baudelaire./ With all your strangeness and perverted ways,/You whose fierce hatred of dull working days,/Led you to seek your vision elsewhere Gee whizz,' said Andy, 'some statement. I wonder what the banks thought of it; Why do I like Andy now? Dunno. I guess his lack of humbug, his cartoonish pursuit of publicity for his art, that twilight feel he carried around him like a cloak. Compared to shit like Damien Hirst, Andy was Matisse.