The Ritz – formerly the old Webster Hall, which became Webster Hall again after The Ritz was shuttered a dog’s age ago. We saw tons of bands there over the years as well and depending on who was there, it pretty much operated the same way. Show up, pay at the door, go in and have a great time listening to some good music. Again, however, nothing was happening so we went on our merry way, deciding to give up our search for music and just find a place to eat instead.
So up East 11th Street we walked, turning onto 4th Avenue, wandering aimlessly around looking for a bite to eat. We stopped a while to watch a group of four homosexuals, arm in arm, skipping down the avenue singing “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” on the top of their lungs, then continued on our quest for some good food.
We turned the next corner. Up ahead stood a man in a black suit and a shock of bright white hair. An African-American woman stood beside him and the two of them were looking in a store window.
“Hey, isn’t that Andy Warhol?” I asked.
“No, that isn’t him,” said my bandmate.
“Yeah, it’s probably just some guy who wants you to think it’s him,” said my other bandmate.
“Hold on,” I said. “I’ll go see.”
My bandmates waited as I walked up the street and approached the two unsuspecting citizens. I stepped up to them and looked right into the man’s face. Sure enough, it was Andy Warhol.
“Yep!” I yelled to my bandmates, who were still waiting a half block away. “It’s him!”
Andy’s face twisted into a grimace, wondering who this kid was who just stuck his face into his. He took a few steps back, both his hands up, as if he were waiting for something to happen to him.
“How are you doing?” I said.
“Hi!” my bandmate said.
Andy took a further step back, raised his hand weakly to wave hello, looking at us like we had just stepped off a space ship. Yes, that’s right. Andy Warhol looked at us as if we were the strangest thing he ever saw.
He then continued on with his companion and we went our way, thrilled that we actually ran into this world famous artist.
“Holy shit, I can’t believe that it was really him!” my bandmate said.
“See the way he looked at us?” I said, amused.
Now I was figuring that he hadn’t expected someone to just walk up to him while he was minding his own business, enjoying the summer evening with his friend, not expecting to be bothered by these starstruck kids from Queens. I hadn’t known Warhol’s story at that time. I just knew who he was, admired some of his paintings, but as far as his biography went, I hadn’t a clue. In other words, at that time, I hadn’t known he had once been shot and very nearly killed.
When I found out this little tidbit of information about his life story, it dawned on me why he reacted the way he did. It occurred to me that we probably scared the living shit out of him, hence the hesitation, the backing off, the strange look on his face.
In the words of Governor Rick Perry of Texas – Oops.
Still, when I think back about it, I can’t help but laugh. This celebrity artist, this major figure in American culture who built his whole reputation on – as well as base his whole persona on – being “strange” and “weird” would look at us as if we were strange and weird. Although I’m not such a fan of his work these days (just some of it) I won’t lie and say it wasn’t a thrill to have this run in with him, no matter how awkward – and hilarious – it may have been.
All these years later, I always wondered who the woman with him was. I guess I’ll never know.
About the Author: Julian Gallo
Born and raised in New York City. I am a musician/writer/painter who has poems and short stories published in about 40 magazines and journals throughout the United States, Canada and Europe and also has 12 books under his belt:
"Standing On Lorimer Street Awaiting Crucifixion" (Alpha Beat Press, 1996), "The Terror of Your Cunt is The Beauty of Your Face" (Black Spring Press, 1999), "Street Gospel Mystical Intellectual Survival Codes" (Budget Press, 2000), "Scrape That Violin More Darkly Then Hover Like Smoke In The Air" (Black Spring Press, 2001), "Existential Labyrinths" (Black Spring Press, 2003), "Window Shopping For A New Crown of Thorns" (Lulu Press, 2007), "November Rust" (Lulu Press, 2007), "My Arrival Is Marked By Illuminating Stains" (Lulu Press 2007), "A Symphony of Olives" (Propaganda Press, 2009) and "Divertimiento" (Propaganda Press, 2009). His second novel "Naderia" was released in January 2011 and his third, "Be Still and Know That I Am" (Beat Corrida) was released in September 2011. br> He is also currently playing guitar and bass for NYC singer/songwriter Linda La Porte. br> View My Profile