Andy Warhol in Self-Isolation

Andy Warhol in self-isolation is having the time of his fucking life. Gabbing on the phone as usual, wanking to Polaroids without worry that some rando might traipse into the Silver Factory unannounced, demanding to be a star (or at least finagling the promise of having a good time to be fulfilled). Andy Warhol in self-isolation is just fine. His penchant–a polite euphemism for fetish–for voyeurism is allowed to fly high and freely without being checked by the pressures of social decorum. Even among a den of derelicts (here’s looking at you, Ultra Violet–who would, incidentally, become a Mormon after the 60s). The derelicts of which have been forced back into their own ramshackle abodes or back out onto the streets hustling for money or drugs. Tragically (as Andy lives for the tragic), many of them have likely found that the streets are empty. There’s no one to beg from, except the other truly homeless people, who never had anyone to leech from even when social distancing rules weren’t in effect. Gerard was likely struggling. Andy felt bad for shunning his right-hand man, and it was at times like these that he wished all of his friends were rich, like Edie. Because God or whoever knows that he didn’t “pay” those in his employ in much other than photo opportunities at highly publicized events and benzos (in fact, Andy had toyed with the notion of making a screen print of Leo Sternbach, but then realized he only favored beautiful people for his signature method).

But the benzos had only backfired, making his subjects too docile–otherwise known as boring–and he decided to change tack by recalibrating the Factory crew to amphetamines. Edie, alas, couldn’t handle this addendum to the “mother’s little helper” pantheon. Preferring to mix them into a cocktail with an injection of heroin. Edie was “Speedy,” and it was getting annoying to Andy. Just another reason he couldn’t have asked for a better time for a plague to give him a get out of jail free card (should I do some kind of screen print with Monopoly? he wondered) from all social obligations.

When news rang out of the disease, he almost momentarily believed that all those years of his mother forcing him to go to church during his youth must have paid off. Amazed he still had a direct line to God with his unasked prayers that still somehow went answered. As for Edie, “her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls,” as Dylan phrased it, were no longer something Andy needed to feign feeling guilty about. Not that he was very good at projecting an image of much concern. Detachment was the name of the game–and always had been–for success. It was why he was in the position he was in. He didn’t get there by being maudlin or sentimental–and certainly none of his work expressed any propensity for emotion. It was clinical–the very nature of mass production. 

Plus, he technically remained accommodating as her friend during this mandated cut-off from one another. For she still called him obsessively, always in varying degrees of inebriation, despite how obvious he had made it that he was no longer interested in her mindless rich girl complaints. Had grown weary of them as he focused his ambitions on another, less waifish–more mercurial–glamazon (Nico). But Edie couldn’t take the hint. Just as she never could seem to from her own father, whose affections she still secretly vied for (only not in the way that “Fuzzy” wanted to give them–that is to say: incestuously). This, too, was a subject Andy had grown tired of hearing about (though that didn’t stop him from recording these conversations for “posterity”–a.k.a. more fodder for another potential art project). Somewhere around the time he decided more than somewhat cruelly to make a movie about her called Poor Little Rich Girl (yes, named in honor of the Shirley Temple “picture,” as films were called in Golden Age Hollywood). Andy supposed she didn’t really think much about what it would do to her reputation, to showcase the fact that she had spent her grandmother’s sizable inheritance in the span of six months (after all, spending frivolously is in the genetic code of the socialite–how could she really be blamed?). He supposed he didn’t really think about what it would do to her, either… in terms of making her something of a laughing stock throughout Manhattan. 

This sort of wrongdoing was the type of thing others might force themselves to reflect upon while in self-isolation. To “take stock” of the karmic injustices they might have wrought on others. Not Andy. What the fuck was he, a Hare Krishna? Absolutely not. He was a wanker, as proved by his constant wanking to close-up shots of dicks (some of the photos taken with the participant’s knowledge, some not) while affixed languidly to his (very cum-stained) couch. He couldn’t remember the last time he had felt so free. Forget Librium, this was true liberation. He hoped they never found a cure, for that would mean a “return to normal.” Which meant he would be expected to throw parties again, to be the pied piper of the social scene in New York when all he wanted to do was fuck himself. Having started a new artistic trajectory of creating Pollock-esque paintings with his splooge.

That the very word “self-isolation” melded his two favorite concepts together was enough to convert him to the enforced lifestyle change. And because stating something like this out loud to the rest of his acolytes would result in them laughing in his face (“You? Hate people? Darling, you thrive on their attention!”), he found himself actually praying each night–after his all-day religious practice of onanism–that the outbreak would persist. It was giving him so much more time not only to be, for the first time in his life, sexual in the way he wanted to be (for constant masturbation doesn’t compute with being full-stop asexual), but also to explore creativity in a manner less cold and calculated. He had been in the midst of experimenting with collage about six months into the quarantine, feeling that he was composing some of the best work he’d ever done through this medium. 

Alas, the ban on socialization would be lifted in time to not shift the trajectory of Andy’s eventual fate: getting shot by Valerie Solanas. When he got out of the hospital, Andy burned all the collages. And with them, all hope of the joys he had experienced in self-isolation. 

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