OUT With Bob Colacello

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Published November 6, 2009

“I really had no intention of doing a book,” said Bob Colacello, former editor of Interview, author of the magazine’s infamous party column, “OUT,” and right-hand man to Andy Warhol during the 70s and early 80s. A box of forgotten photographs changed his intentions.

Long ago in the Disco Era, Colacello was given a tiny tool by art dealer Thomas Ammann that would come to serve as the public’s lens into uptown galas, the downtown art scene and Studio 54. The Minox 35EL camera, which Colacello admits to concealing in his jacket pocket, allowed him to snap everyone from Yves St. Laurent to Liza Minnelli, Diana Vreeland to the Kennedys–and Warhol himself, dressed up, undressed and misbehaving.For the last 26 years a special correspondent for Vanity Fair, on Wednesday night Colacello sat at a table in Gagosian’s new Madison Avenue shop, across from a framed cover of Interview from January 1979 and a cluster of Warhol’s self-portrait Polaroids. Colacello is busy signing his book, OUT, a collection of black-and-white photographs he took during his time at Interview. First published by 7L in 2007, the book’s third edition still caused quite a stir (Larry stopped by for a quick hello) and Colacello reminisced about its characters and origin.

 “I had very little to do with it,” said Colacello of his book. Artist and friend Eric Freeman stumbled upon a box of old photographs and, after gushing over candids of Mick Jagger and Salvador Dali, rushed the time capsule over to art director Sam Shahid. “A few weeks later he called me and said, ‘I made a book!'” recalls Colacello.

“I never even had a Kodak as a kid. But once I got this camera it was fun. It gave another dimension to parties. It made me more visually aware,” says Colacello, who confessed to using his high-tech device to entice “cute” party guests. With his access, the parties’ dim lights, and untraditional camera angles make Colacello’s photographs intriguing and iconic. And it helped that he wasn’t just a spectator; he was always part of the party, “I wanted to have a good time too. I guess that’s always been my way of working.”

This is where he and Warhol differed. Obsessed with ad sales and publicity, Andy’s “It’s always work” attitude became exhausting, remembers Colacello. “I always think to myself, I don’t really miss working with Andy because he was always on your back about selling. But I do miss going to parties with Andy. He was like a child. He walked into a room and he saw just the one wrong thing and his comments about people were just so sharp…but I just felt all this pressure from the column. I almost forced myself a lot of nights to go to a party and once you go to the first party and u have a few drinks, you kept going and then it was another night where I’m getting home two or three in the morning and I have to at work at 11:00. But I was younger then…”

But Andy surely approves of this OUT-ing. During the signing, Colacello opened the book cover to find it already marked. “Good Luck. Andy Warhol 1982,” it read in black ink. Maybe Andy wants to be out all over again, as well.