FAMOUS FOR FIFTEEN MINUTES: My Years with Andy Warhol by Isabelle with Jean Libman Block Dufresne


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With a shudder, Dufresne--once better known as Ultra Violet--offers a mature appraisal of her life within Andy Warhol's Pop freak show. From page one, Dufresne displays the good manners instilled in her by bloodline (of an old and wealthy French family) and by a convent-school upbringing: she abjures self-aggrandizement, using her life's story as a mirror to reflect the jaded horrors of the famed with whom she once ran. Thus her story begins at Warhol's funeral--""the final burial of the dark side of the sixties""--and then flashes back to the December 1963 day when she, a 17-year-old beauty, walked into Warhol's Factory and its drug-and-ego propelled whirlwind. There she meets speed-gobbling Billy Name; speed-gobbling, gold-painted, nude Eric Emerson; speed-shooting, nonstop-talking Ondine; breast-exposing Ingrid Superstar, and the other nether creatures who clustered around the gnome king of Pop. Only after this quick zoo tour does Dufresne flash back again, to her storied childhood, and nubile affair with Salvador Dali. Dali persuades her to meet Warhol; the next decade swirls by in a haze of drugs, parties, money, celebrities--Howard Hughes shuffling around in Kleenex boxes instead of slippers; Norman Mailer, at a birthday party, demanding of her, ""Show me your behind""; and more drugs, all sorted out here by Dufresne into short, sharp snapshot chapters on Warhol's shooting by crazed militant feminist Valerie Solanis; Warhol's films; the transvestites who surrounded him; his mother; his sex life (young boys and Truman Capote, mostly); his death. Of the spider at the web's center, she writes: ""Andy was and will always be the first plastic man."" Updates on Warhol's crowd (most of them dead from drugs) and on herself (in A.A., embracing the New Age, rueful but relieved) close the account. A technical nightmare remembered in the strong, healing white light of day: second only to Edie as a worthy chronicle of Warholia.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1988
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich