“I was David Hockney’s assistant in the 80s,” said Charlie Scheips, the freelance curator and New York social diarist. “And I knew Andy through that venue and, uh, I said, “This is a time capsule about a time in life when I was a young man and I wanted to…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” snapped a man approaching the table at which Mr. Scheips was seated. He was speaking to a woman spewing endless instructions into his ear. What about?
“This is for Charlotte,” the man said, thrusting a book Mr. Scheips’ way. “Like, you know…” He thought for a second or more. “Like, ‘Gone With the Wind,'” he said with triumph.
Mr. Scheips was confused, not only by the proposed cultural reference. “Wait, what am I doing?” he said. Close at hand was a full glass of red wine. “Oh, alright,” he murmured and inked best wishes, “To Charlotte,” on the inside front cover.
This was Tuesday evening at a party for Mr. Scheips’ new book, “Andy Warhol: The Day the Factory Died,” with the photographer Christophe von Hohenberg, who had snapped shots of people entering Warhol’s funeral at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on April 1, 1987.
With the 20th anniversary of that event approaching, it seems you can’t turn around these days without encountering another Warholian moment with an attendant booze fest.
Last month, to the day, MoMa topped off an advance screening of the recent PBS-run Warhol documentary with dinner and drinks for a few hundred. The Museum of the City of New York featured in its “Black Style Now” show a Warhol screen test of a forgotten starlet, Donyale Luna. Guests at that opening gathered around the monitor to remark on the uncanny resemblance between she and a youthful Diahann Carroll.
Amazon.com lists no fewer than six new Warhol-themed books hitting the shelves since March 2006.
“This book–I never thought I’d–this is a labor of love,” Mr. Scheips said. “It was not about making money or anything like that. I said, ‘Let’s make it like a Bible,’ because that’s glamorous. Some of the people that didn’t get photographed by Andy” – he meant Christophe – “said, ‘I was at Andy’s funeral, why am I not in your book?’ Very New York kind of thing. And I said, you know what, it’s very Warholian that you didn’t get photographed by him because he didn’t know everybody then, twenty years ago. I mean, I’m 47; Christophe’s probably about 50 or something. That was the world. The New York art world and creative world was Andy Warhol when I came of age.”
“October 13th, last Friday, was my 39th birthday,” said the book’s publisher, Anthony Petrillose, CEO of the freshly minted publishing outfit Empire Editions. He winced. “It’s not horrible, but I wanted to stay 30!”
He and Mr. Scheips know each other from Conde Nast Books, where Mr. Scheips was the archivist and Mr. Petrillose ran the division. “We’ve been working on it for a year, a little over a year,” he said about the Warhol book. “This is really our first event for Empire. I don’t think every event is going to be like this.” He laughed and looked out over the sleek apartment in Union Square Lofts + Flats, a residential newcomer to 14th Street. The place was packed with guests elbowing each other to get to the cocktail samosas. “I’m glad to start out this way,” he said.