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Andy Warhol: From Nowhere to Up There

an oral history of Andy Warhol's early years

by Gary Comenas

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page one

Bob Colacello: "In the sixties, 'up there' had been Andy's code for being high on speed, and later Brigid Berlin would tell me that Andy took one or two Obetrols, a mild amphetamine, every day until he died. In the seventies, he applied the phrase to anything or anyone he saw as important, glamorous, famous, or rich." (BC50)

1. Nowhere

The Warhol museum: Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola on August 6, 1928, in a two-room row house apartment at 73 Orr Street in Pittsburgh. (WB)

Sally Beauman (Journalist): Andy Warhol was born Andrew Warhola, the second of three sons of two Polish immigrants in Chicago - Ondrej and Julia Warhola. (SBE424)

Gene Swenson (1962): Andy Warhol was born in Philadelphia in 1931... (GR37)

Rainer Crone (1976): Andy Warhol was born in October 1930... (RCA38)

F.B.I. (1968): ... Andy Warhol [is] identified in Who's Who in America (1971-1973) as born August 8, 1931, Cleveland (Ohio)... (MKR52)

Ruth Hirschman to Andy Warhol (KPFK radio interview 1963): Where are you from Andy?

Andy Warhol (to Ruth Hirschman): Youngstown, Ohio

Ruth Hirschman: Ohio. Were you brought up there?

Andy Warhol: Yes.

Ruth Hirschman: Most of your life in Ohio?

Andy Warhol: No.

Ruth Hirschman: Where was it?

Andy Warhol: Philadelphia. (KP)

Gerard Malanga (Andy Warhol’s art assistant during the '60s): Andy would always lie to people in his interviews. He’d always say he was out of McKeesport or Pittsburgh. It was never the same place in different interviews. He’d also lie about his age. (JS184)

Nathan Gluck (Warhol's commercial art assistant c.1955-early 60s):  Andy used to lie about his age. During the last year I was working for him, somebody from Europe was doing a biographical thing on him, and Andy handed me a form. And I asked Andy: 'what should I put down?' And he said, 'Just put down anything.' And I said, 'Well, what about the year you were born?' And he said, 'Oh, I don't know, just put down anything: any month, any day, or any place practically.' So all of this, you know, has led to an ultimate of confusion. . (PS319)

Ultra Violet (Superstar): He wanted to create his own image, he had to invent one for himself and then he had to lie. Later I had to play the detective to find out which of his dates of birth was the true one. I wrote to Pennsylvania several times. They kept answering that it was already too long ago and the materials were in storage, and finally they sent me a certificate that said - which is strange - that the confusion arose because his mother hadn't registered the birth and only did so ten years later. For that she needed a witness. That was the reason - apart from the fact that it was a long time back, why it was so hard to get this information. But I wouldn't give up and it's thanks to me that today all the biographers finally state his correct date of birth: September 6, 1928. (RU253)

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