John Vaccaro Clashes with Andy Warhol

John Vaccaro Clashes with Andy Warhol

For the Play-House of the Ridiculous crowd, Max’s Kansas City was a second home. “We’d hang out in the back room,” John Vaccaro said. “It was fabulous just being back there because not just anybody was allowed back there, and it was fabulous back in the days of LSD. Everybody was taking acid.” He staged the show Monkeys of the Organ Grinder in Max’s upstairs room, as well as The Moke Eater (Jack Smith was a collaborator and early Velvets member Tony Conrad provided taped sounds for the latter show). Although the Vaccaro and Warhol people sometimes overlapped, the director had little time for the famous artist. “Warhol was in one corner,” Vaccaro said, “and I had my group in the other corner. My friends stayed with me and Andy had his group. Andy and I knew each other, but I didn’t take him very seriously, because, well . . . [makes yawning sound].” Tony Zanetta recalled, “Andy and John didn’t get along, or, at least, John didn’t get along with Andy, even though they had common immigrant backgrounds. When John came to New York, it was about the Cedar Tavern—where the Abstract Expressionists were—who were a bunch of macho guys who thought Andy Warhol was a little fairy illustrator. Which he was. Basically, I think John didn’t like Andy because he was fruity, and he was a very successful illustrator. So number one, that wasn’t real art. Second, he had money. Third, Andy was very calculating.”

From Chapter 18 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


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