Happy Birthday, Andy Warhol*
*This has since been published by Flux Magazine, and you can find that article here: http://www.fluxmagazine.com/party-for-andy-warhol/
Today is Andy Warhol’s 87th birthday. Many know Warhol as a cultivator of Pop-Art, an acutely observant artistic genius. However, it is perhaps less widely known that he was also shot by feminist Valerie Solanas. Speaking of the experience, he said:
“Before I was shot, I always thought that I was more half-there than all-there — I always suspected that I was watching TV instead of living life. People sometimes say that the way things happen in movies is unreal, but actually it’s the way things happen in life that’s unreal. The movies make emotions look so strong and real, whereas when things really do happen to you, it’s like watching television — you don’t feel anything. Right when I was being shot and ever since, I knew that I was watching television. The channels switch, but it’s all television.”
In light of this, I have constructed a description of Warhol’s 87th birthday party. It goes as follows:
Warhol sits alone in his high rise flat watching ‘Come Dine With Me’. It is a particularly boring episode but Warhol doesn’t notice because he has been dead inside for the last 28 years. He chuckles at the narrator mentioning that ‘the competition is as stiff as Pam’s focaccia’, yet stops when he becomes self aware and immediately cuts his pinky toenail too short as a punishment for feeling emotion. He has arranged a house party to celebrate his birthday, and the guests are due to arrive at 7pm. Anxiously, he glances at his wall clock, which is actually just a flattened soup can with the word ‘future’ written on it in felt tip. He remembers that time doesn’t actually exist and continues to wait for his guests whilst eating his fourth consecutive packet of Jaffa Cakes to the white noise of Hollyoaks Omnibus.
“Ding dong!” Leslie Phillips cries as he stands outside Warhol’s door. Warhol asks him to press the doorbell next time. Leslie Phillips apologises and they exchange phatic, meaningless words until the other guests arrive.
8pm sees the arrival of Heston Blumenthal and the guests are seated to find no food. Warhol explains they are instead to be having ‘food for thought’, and he puts ‘March of the Penguins’ into the DVD Player. After the guests sit in stunned silence for 12 minutes Warhol removes the DVD and mumbles something about ‘cheeky banter’. Heston Blumenthal brings out an array of dishes and intends to explain and gesticulate about every one. The guests are hungry and disinterested but he proceeds anyway.
“This,” he cries, “is my sweet Peacasso soup! Haha!”
The guests are disdained and appalled. They eat it, but only because Heston is holding a cleaver. To lighten the mood, Warhol turns ‘March of the Penguins’ on once again.
The second course is something Heston has called ‘Sheep’s Pollocks’, so nobody really knows what it is, but some fear the worst. The drone of the television becomes louder and louder as the batteries for the remote control run out. They are now watching 4Music’s UK Top 40, and at number 1 is ‘Drum and Bass Father’. In an act of madness Leslie Phillips claims he cannot take it anymore and, after failing to turn it off manually, chews through the wires to disconnect the TV from the wall, electrocuting himself in the process. Warhol films the whole thing and afterwards adds it to his collection of tapes in his ‘modern suicide’ room.
Midnight has come and gone and Warhol distributes party bags to his remaining guests: they all contain a dismembered pinky toenail, a stale loaf of focaccia, and a T shirt with ‘Lads on Tour!’ written on it.
After the guests leave, Warhol thanks Heston for his catering. It is at this point that he comes to, realising he was in fact in a trance whilst watching ‘Heston’s Fishy Feast’ the whole time.