Obvious History: The time Grace Jones was Andy Warhol’s wedding date

Published February 1, 2018

In collaboration with @velvetcoke, Obvious History is a weekly series which unearths forgotten moments in pop culture’s past, where the famous and the fascinating collided.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of the State of California and that last brawny stronghold of the male ideal, married Maria Shriver in a lavish ceremony at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, in April 1986. Andy Warhol was invited to the wedding, but instructed that he wasn’t allowed to bring a guest. He had to find a date amongst the list of guests who were already attending, or, according to The Andy Warhol Diaries, he couldn’t go.

Grace Jones was down to attend, but, as Warhol wrote, “Grace is not reliable. And if she did go she’d bring her own people, anyway.” It wasn’t until Warhol read in the newspapers that Jones said she would be taking him to the wedding in her private jet—a move he attributed to Jones’s press agent—that he decided to attend.

The day of the ceremony, Jones asked for an extra hour in bed when she was roused by Peter Wise (Warhol’s studio/archive director). They arrived an hour late to the airport. Warhol wore a black biker jacket with zippers and a backpack housing his Polaroid. Jones was wearing Norma Kamali black wool underwear and a Kenzo fur hat. Her bag contained a skin-tight, forest green Azzedine Alaïa dress. Due to their tardiness, Jones had to apply her makeup on the plane and perform a day-to-night quick change in the ladies’ room.

“I got ready in the bathroom at the airport when we landed,” recalled Jones in her autobiography I’ll Never Write My Memoirs. “Because of the weather, and the traffic, we were late for Arnie’s wedding. I swear it wasn’t my fault … Andy and I got into this jeep that had come to get us, no limo, and we arrived at the church, a charming little white wooden building, and everyone is cheering and screaming outside and we enter the church. Late. At the exact moment that Arnold and Maria are on their knees finishing off their special, intimate ceremony, we arrive. The doors noisily crack open and they turn around to see what the commotion is, and it is, guess who, Grace and Andy. Late. They didn’t say anything, but you could see from the looks on their faces that they were not at all impressed.”

The ceremony went off without a hitch, but Warhol remembers that “Jackie [Kennedy] never smiled at anyone, she was a sourpuss.” His most prophetic statement, however, was his prediction of the couple’s eventual split in 2011. “And watching this storybook wedding,” he said, “you just wonder what it’ll be like when the divorce comes.”