Picks and Pans Review: Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up

updated 10/01/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 10/01/1990 AT 01:00 AM EDT

By Bob Colacello

Never-ending nights blurred by booze and cocaine...to countless conversations with bored aristocrats...petty office squabbles elevated to advanced emotional warfare: At times, reading Colacello's book seems as exhausting as living it. Yet for 12 years, as a reviewer for and an editor of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine—and a flunky for Warhol himself—the author did live it. His anecdotal account offers a chilling portrait of a man whose primary skill was manipulation. Yet, Warhol's penny-pinching, paranoia and whining self-involvement begin to wear on the reader.

Colacello is best at capturing the decadent circle that surrounds his sphinxlike employer. Admiring how Jacqueline Onassis "dealt with her almost oppressive fame," Colacello likens her to "a thoroughbred in blinders." Paulette Goddard, the luminous star of Modern Times and wife of early-20th-century geniuses Charlie Chaplin and Erich Maria Remarque, willingly reveals the source of her extraordinary diamond necklace: "They're all my old engagement rings. I always sent back the setting and kept the rock." Imelda Marcos tries to impress the princesses Lee Radziwill and Diane von Furstenberg with a lament about landing her DC-10. ("Oh, get off it," snipes Radziwill. "Who's she trying to impress? My brother-in-law owns an airline.")

Warhol's relentless pursuit of portrait clients, with Colacello as negotiator, leads the pair from Tehran's royal palaces to Halston's town house to Elizabeth Taylor's dressing room.

Colacello, a current Vanity Fair contributor, also reveals how he and others became their boss's uncredited collaborators in a host of projects. Such revelations will neither surprise—nor disturb—those familiar with the artist's work and scene.

Indeed, for all its gossip and psychodramas, Holy Terror is less satisfying than Warhol's own hokey diaries. Colacello's complaints of artistic thievery simply seem to validate his tormentor's talent. (Harper-Collins, $22.95)

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