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Factory Boys

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Richard: In November 1978, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis threw a party for John Jr.’s 18th birthday and Caroline’s 21st at Le Club on East 55th Street. Patrick Shields, the manager, had introduced John Jr. to Robert and me at Studio 54.

John asked me if I was having a good time, and I said it was a great party.

“Has Andy introduced you to Mick Jagger?”

“Yeah,” I said, “I had lunch with him at the Factory last week.”

Then John asked if I had ever been to Winterthur, the du Pont mansion in Delaware. I said that we don’t speak to our family (which was true!) and changed the subject.

When I talked to Mrs. Onassis, she asked, “How is Andy?”

I said he was fine, and she asked, “Who are your parents? Are they here in New York?”

I said no.

She asked where I was going to college. Every time I saw her, she was full of questions like that: Do you have a job? Where are you going to school? Martha always asked us that, too. I never knew how to answer. I told Mrs. Onassis I was trying to decide what to do with my life and I would probably study the arts.

She said, “Well, you should learn a lot from Andy and the Warhol crowd.”

When Mrs. Onassis left Le Club, everyone got wild on the dance floor and started necking on the sofas. As we were leaving, one of John’s friends tried to push the paparazzi away, and there was a scuffle. John ended up lying flat on his back in the gutter while all the photographers snapped away.

Andy was upset that John hadn’t invited him to the birthday bash. The next day, he showed us the newspapers with John on the front page in the gutter. “How awful,” Andy said, and then the questions just spilled out of him. “Who was there? Did you talk to Jackie?”

Robert: Whenever he left Studio early, Andy would bombard us the next day with questions about who came later and what happened.

Richard: The questions would go on and on. Who did I see? What went on at Halston’s and Fred’s? Who was sitting with who?

Robert: Then he would get on the phone and start gossiping about the night, saying things like, “The twins know a little bit about everyone. They’re like Hedda and Louella. They’re like Elsa Maxwell.”

Richard: When you think about it, it was all bullshit. There was no meaning at all in anything that was ever said. Andy never wondered what was going to happen to us. Once, when I thought I should be an artist, Andy suggested I get a book together. He said, “I’ll give you some of my little drawings to put in your portfolio and submit them to school. You could get in.”

There are things I regret. But at the same time, a lot of the things that make me angry to remember are the things that I enjoyed too. I went along with it all, playing the game and having fun. I was not chewed up and spit out by any of these people—if I didn’t like them, I always could have left.

And besides, New York isn’t the same without Andy. A party wasn’t a party unless he was at the party. You felt great being with him. At least most of the time.

Richard: One day near Christmas, I called Martha and asked if I could go back to work for her. I needed money to buy presents and pay bills. So she let me work this party for Giorgio Armani at the men’s department at Barneys.

Martha liked to have us in the kitchen to keep her company and tell her stories and jokes. She also didn’t want us on the floor passing out hors d’oeuvre because she said we were too familiar with the guests. But she let us out of the kitchen this time, and when I went out, I saw Andy.

“We’re going to Studio afterwards,” he said. “You want to come?”

And I said, “Martha—we’re leaving!”

I can’t remember what happened later that night. Martha got mad that we were leaving. I remember that.


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