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Interview with Mark Sink

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7. How did you come to work for Interview magazine?

That night at the opening Andy was in a crush of fans. I got a paperback book of his portraits and took cuts in the long line and handed it to him. He went through every page in the book and signed his favorite portraits to the dismay of the waiting crowd. He also drew penises and money symbols on the inside of the cover and on pages of the Philosophy of Andy Warhol book. Then he wrote down his phone number on a piece of brown paper bag he tore off sitting next to him. Then he told me I should work for Interview magazine “representing Colorado.” Stunned, I was on the masthead the next month.

I have several black and white Campbell Soup Can t-shirts from the exhibition. Andy told me secretly that those were made from the original Soup Can screens made in 1967-8. He said he did it because it was shockingly expensive to have a commercial company do it for the CSU show so he had his assistants do it at the Factory for much less and they threw out the screen after.

8. What was it like working for Interview magazine?

It was a very exciting time. I opened accounts with some businesses to carry the magazine and I also, at that point, sold advertising and found leads for portrait commissions. A great experience was when I got to shoot and submit images with Christopher Makos for a page in Interview – “New Faces in the Rockies.” They sent me a small budget for “Interview parties” which Andy attended on one of his then annual visits to Aspen.

9. You also spent some time at Warhol’s office at 860 Broadway in New York…

I took lots of portraits of him there and he liked me hanging around. Vincent [Fremont] seemed to like me too. Fred [Hughes] had a crush on me. But the Factory boys despised me. They would play mean tricks on me. Like telling me never to accept any gifts from Andy because that was how he tested you to see if you were a gold digger or a trustworthy friend. So I turned down many random gift offers while out walking, shopping with Andy. On my birthday I turned down an offer of a small painting from “the gift closet” which I later found out was a tradition and a regular event. Andy would give out presents from “the gift closet” for his friends.

The other day I found the recordings of my phone conversations with Andy. They are sort of meaningless because Andy taped everything with his mother – but they are mine – the phone ringing at the factory, Brigid answering and Andy taking the call, long talks of our projects. He was always very, very excited with lines like "oh that is soooo greeeat."

Jean Michel Basquiat by Mark Sink

Jean-Michel Basquiat
(Photo: Mark Sink)

Once Andy was painting with Jean-Michel [Basquiat] and I interviewed him. Dumb questions like what was Edie really like. He changed the subject and in jest started telling me a wild tale of fantasy of our relationship. We were flirting. He said to tell the story of dinner with Mick Jagger and how we crossed swords in the urinal at the Odeon and how Mick gave me his number to go bicycle riding. It reminded me of the party where the host could care less that Warhol and Mick were there and, in fact, felt that it displaced the energy of the event. At the party Mick gave me a big piece of hash in exchange for a joint that Peter and Chris had given me earlier. Someday I’ll print pictures of that evening.

10. You were also in Aspen with Warhol weren’t you? Your photograph of him during a snowmobile accident is well known.

Andy Warhol in snowmobile accident

Andy Warhol during the snowmobile accident in Aspen
(Photo: Mark Sink)

Yeah, it was in December 1983 below the Maroon Bells in Aspen. Andy said in the diaries that Jon [Gould] tried to kill him on the snow mobile. My account of the accident is much different. I had zoomed past Andy and Jon, dragging my hand in the snow. This caused snow to cover Jon’s goggles. He lost control, crashing off a cliff with Andy falling off the back with his wig out in the air. Stunned, thinking I had just killed the “Prince of Pop Art,” I ran to the edge and down in the power snow to help but ended up instead taking pictures of Andy laughing in glee. We all went back to Jane Holzer’s pad for a meal of Mexican TV dinners and ice cream on heated glazed donuts. I have all this on film.

We took Andy to the over-crowded Aspen Airport early. I then went back to Jane’s pad and had it all to myself for three days. I filled my car with hundreds of pounds of food they had left and lived off it for months back at my studio in Denver. I was crushed later in the week when Andy called me and asked if I had “borrowed” an Indian blanket while there. Andy believed me, but I could hear Rupert [Jasen Smith] saying in the background, "I know it’s him, I know it’s him." That saddened me greatly, being a suspect.

11. Were you with Andy on any trips outside of New York and Colorado?

Yeah, in L.A. in 1981. I missed my first plane but then caught a second one. Christopher, Peter Wise and Craig Scott met me at the airport. Somewhere at the point is when I found out that Craig was gay. Chris said “Oh yes, Craig is a real tiger.” I was shocked that Craig, one of my best friends was keeping such a big secret.

We stayed at the Tropicana Hotel. We had a luncheon with Andy, Fred, Bob and Chris at Christopher Isherwood’s home. We were all sitting at a long dining room table. Andy was taking lots of pictures and making notes. Then Fred and I went to find Craig where he was working. Then we went out and met Andy and we went to a cheap Mexican restaurant for dinner. Craig was talking about the Spaghetti Factory [restaurant] and the good clean food and Andy was saying, “How greeeeattt. Let’s go.” We were driving stuffed into a little yellow Toyota econo rental with an Olivia Newton John song on the radio and we were singing, screaming, and laughing and bouncing the little car back and forth in traffic. I was very happy and it was very surreal.

12. What was Andy in Los Angeles for?

Andy was in L.A. for a show and among other things taking pictures for a European magazine of the cool L.A. nightspots. So we went to Danny’s Dogs and I took pictures of Andy and the street kids there who didn’t know who he was.

We went to the China Club and I met Tommy Lasorda’s son, Tommy Jr. Fred was there and he joined us and we went to a few small clubs. By this time I was pretty liquored up and we were driving at that point in Hugh Heffner’s limo and the driver was driving around like a mad man. We asked why he was driving that way and he said it was because his kid was hurt or sick or something. Somewhere in the spin, Tommy Lasorda drove Fred and I back to where Andy and Fred were staying in the Hollywood Hills. That was a intimate night with Fred. He soon passed out very drunk. I woke up next to him and Tommy – sort of shocked I was there. Everyone was rushing to catch a plane.

They left and Fred left a beautiful scarf for me. So I slept in until the maids kicked me out and I had a horrible hangover. Back at the Tropicana Peter and Chris were worried as to where I was and were mad, but relieved, when I told them I was with Fred.

13. Tell me more about your friendship with Fred Hughes.

Fred Hughes was enamored by my 12th generation NY family line. It’s a heady crew that starts with Reverend Breese buried at Trinity Church in 1710. Notables are Samuel Finley Breese Morse. the father of American Photography and inventor of the telegraph and Morse code and NY General Potter, a civil war hero. Fred was super crazy for all this so I hung out with him and did things around town more then with Andy. Fred was my hero and mentor. He always wanted to do a movie about my great-grandfather. My great-grandfather was a notorious photographer James Lawrence Breese. Fred paid me and book binders handsomely to replicate my great-grandfather’s 1880s leather bound albums of his photography. My relatives were early NY bohemian art society that Fred was nutty for.

Once Fred picked up the phone and dialed up Diana Vreeland. "I have a young man here that has pictures of your mother dancing." She was thrilled and used them for a invitation for the Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute that she was a consultant and patron for. Though I will say she directly told me on the phone what I have been learning in research - that Breese had a bad falling out with NY society when his buddy Stanford White was murdered and all the stories of their late night parties and womanizing came to light. And he was pretty much considered the one that led White down the path of "lascivious intrigue." With that and the market crash, JLB was living in his servant house on the South Hampton Breese estate the last days of his life.

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