My brilliant buddy, Randy Enos writes about Andy Warhol.
I saw Andy Warhol twice. Once when he was walking on 14th St. near his studio and I was just leaving my teaching at Parson’s School of Design. The other time was at a party at the Empire State Building.
In 1962, Bantam Books published something called “The Monocle Peep Show” which was a compilation of articles and cartoons and illustrations from Monocle magazine, a political satire publication of the time. Monocle featured work by David Levine, Lou Myers, Robert Grossman, Paul Davis, Milton Glaser, Seymour Chwast, Tomi Ungerer, Charles Slackman, Rick Schreiter, Marvin Kitman, Lou Meyers, Bob Blechman and many others, including me.
In the book, they re-printed a five page feature of mine called “The Giant”. It is so politically incorrect and raw that I cannot show it to you in this venue but I include here, the first page to show the crazy, messy “cardboard-cut” style I was using sometimes in those early days before I got into the full time linocutting.
At the same time Bantam published this anthology, they were putting together a book of King Kong. In 1964, to celebrate the launch of the book, they decided to have a party at the Empire State Building. For some reason they included all of us Monocle people in the invite. We were all going to see a screening of the original 1933 King Kong movie at the Empire State Building. And, to top it all off, we were also going to see a few minutes of Andy Warhol’s movie “Empire” along with it. Warhol had evidently just finished this famous movie.
“Empire” is a silent, black and white, slow motion movie which consisted of a camera being trained on the building and never moving for 8 hours and 5 minutes. At the grand opening of the movie, audience members reputedly assaulted the filmmakers demanding their money back.
My wife and I had a lovely time at the party full of celebrities and artists and then the moment came to view the original King Kong. Folding chairs had been set up in a long room in one of the top floors of the building. Of course, we all noticed the white-haired Andy Warhol with a coterie of strange-looking girls from his gang standing in the back with his own projector prepared to show his film afterwards.
So, at the end of King Kong, after those famous last words were intoned, “It was beauty killed the beast,” we all had a little rest and a few drinks while Warhol and crew set up their projector.
Then … we watched about 8 minutes of his 8 hour movie. It was certainly good fun to watch both King Kong and Empire at the famous building that starred in both features. The camera stayed riveted on the building. Warhol, or rather his cinematographer Jonas Mekas, had shot it from the 41st floor of the Time-Life Building. I sensed that the audience at the Bantam party started getting restless through those silent monotonous eight long minutes of grayish inactivity. It was certainly a sudden contrast to the action we had just been witness to of Kong’s battle with the airplanes. THEN, miraculously, a pigeon flew across the screen. The audience erupted in applause.
Well, my very, very favorite moment of the entire evening was when, after a monotonous 5 minutes or so had passed in the Warhol movie, a gentleman seated up front said, loudly, “I liked it better with the monkey hangin’ offa it!”
Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories: