I Fucked Andy Warhol: Origin Story

Posted: November 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

A few years ago I was having dinner with some people who were kind of boring and my mind wandered.  I’m not sure how or why but I was struck with a title, the best damn title in the world:  “I Fucked Andy Warhol.”

 

One does not ignore such gifts from the gods.  So the next day I spent most of the time at my day job researching Andy Warhol; his life, his art, who might have fucked him and why.  And not long after, I wrote a short erotic story, told from the point of view of a nameless young starfucker who’d bagged Andy Warhol.  Sex, to me, is never “just sex.”  Even the most casual encounter can tell the participants worlds about themselves and their partners.  People aren’t trained to lie with their bodies.  The experience of sex is so visceral, we cannot help but expose some essential part of ourselves, often one that we try to hide with words.  In this case fucking manages to break, however briefly, through this fictional Andy Warhol’s facade to give us a glimpse of why that facade was there in the first place.

Possibly because of the title, this became the story that wouldn’t die.  I read it at Forbidden Kiss, I posted it on Sexlexia, I made it into a 15 minute performance piece for a queer theatre festival.  And finally, when I thought I’d laid it to rest, Sean Miner made a joke about illustrating it.  I figured he was kidding but then he started posting the drawings on facebook.  And they were really really good.  I mean *really* really good!  They looked so good, in fact, I thought “This could be a book.  Actually, this *should* be a book.”

Around that time, my friend David Henry Sterry was hosting an event called pitchapalooza; it’s kind of a book pitch open mic night.  People are pulled out of a hat, they have one minute to pitch their book and a panel of editors and agents give feedback on the pitch.  Whoever has the best pitch gets introduced to an agent or editor who might be interested in their book.  It’s totally awesome, you should go.  David encouraged me to pitch my novel but I wasn’t quite ready for that.  The novel is my baby and largely based on my life and I haven’t been able to boil it down to something as simple and punchy as a pitch.  BUT, I thought, I can pitch that I Fucked Andy Warhol book!  It’s short, it’s relatively simple, it’s weird enough to stand out from the crowd.  Why the hell not?

So I wrote my pitch, gathered up Sean’s illustrations (with his permission, of course) and signed up.  This was probably the most scared I’ve ever been, with a few exceptions where I was in immediate physical danger.  I was nauseous. I was shaking.  Every muscle in my body was tensed to fight or flee as if the audience and panel were a pack of wild tigers (though I don’t think they run in packs but whatever)  There were children in the audience.  There were old people.  There were old people pitching books about and for their children.  There were, I assumed, a large number of people who didn’t come to this thing to hear the word “Fuck” much less see whimsical illustrations of gay sex.  “I should say something.”  I thought.  “I should warn them.  I should have some kind of disclaimer where I apologize to the sensitive ears of the audience…”  and then another voice, a stronger voice, a voice with an edge of steel in my head said “No.  No apologies.  You wrote a book called I Fucked Andy Warhol and if you don’t butch up and own that 100%  You.  Will.  Fail.”  And I listened to that voice, and the voice of my performance art teacher, who’s back tattoo said Fear Eats The Soul in german, who wrote on one of my papers “Never Apologize.”  And I didn’t.  I summoned up all my acting training.  I stood on my feet.  I relaxed what I could.  I breathed into my diaphragm and I said in a loud, clear, voice

“I Fucked Andy Warhol is a children’s book for adults.”

And the room exploded.  There was this roar of shocked, incredulous, laughter from the crowd, from the panel, from random people who happened to be there buying books.  Imagine 50 different ways people can say the word “What?” then lay them all on top of each other and you’ve got an idea of what it sounded like.  One of the editors, laughing, said “You can stop there.  That’s really all you need.”

But I had more.  And I had illustrations.  And I shared them.  And I got some great feedback including the phrase “That was, pretty much, a perfect pitch.”  And everyone was laughing too hard to notice just how much my hands were shaking.

We didn’t win.  BUT!  David thought it was a great idea and a great pitch and he suggested that I make a you tube video of the pitch and send out query letters to three publishers that he thought would be interested.  So that’s what I’m doing.  Video is ready (thanks to the amazing Amy Grumbling.)  Research is done (thanks mostly to Sean.)  I just need to write up and send out these query letters, which will take way longer than it sounds.

BUT if you would like to help me, please go to the video.  Like it, if you can.  Send it out to others who you think will like it.  The more viewed and liked this pitch is, the easier I can convince editors that people will want to buy this book and the more likely it is to actually get published.

Also, I think it’s pretty cute.

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