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Bringing icons back to life

Cover of WARHOLCAPOTE: A Non-Fictio
A review of WARHOLCAPOTE: A Non-Fiction Invention by Rob Roth

Andy Warhol and Truman Capote planned to write a smash Broadway play together in 1978. The two friends recorded approximately 80 hours of their conversations as an artistic experiment. The project was never completed and the tapes were filed away and inaccessible to the public at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. After Andy Warhol's death in 1987, over 3,000 cassettes recorded on Andy's Sony Walkman were discovered. The tapes were undated and had little or no notations and had been recorded by somewhat stealthy means so were not "legal" to listen to until 2037 under New York law.

Playwright Rob Roth read about the tapes in The Andy Warhol Diaries by Pat Hackett and came up with the idea to recreate the play that Warhol and Truman planned. Truman knew he was being recorded, so Roth asked for permission to find the tapes featuring only Warhol and Capote. After several requests and the help of an archivist, they found 59 cassettes labeled "Truman" in Andy's handwriting. 

Roth constructed what he calls a "nonfiction invention" based on actual words spoken written in conversations imagined by the playwright. The result tells the story of two eccentric artists and shares a glimpse into their relationship with each other and their relationships with a select few close to them. I have a real fondness for Truman Capote's mother after reading this. I can't imagine what it was like living with Truman, a difficult personality at best, who was essentially stalked by a young Andy Warhol for years and years. It's really wild and I had no idea.

Both Warhol and Capote were so truly odd and unique in their own ways. Their talents were vastly different, yet they were strangely competitive with each other. I laughed out loud at the sniping and bitter, yet spot-on dialogue, and was near tears knowing that the end was so close for them both as the recordings tapered off. It's an intoxicating look at the toxic nature of fame, celebrity and the need for recognition and affirmation.  

Jun 21, 2023