When erect, Andy Warhol’s penis would grow to the approximate size and shape of Elizabeth Taylor’s ring finger, minus the ring, minus the nail. It smelled good, too, according to Dennis Hopper: redolent of unlit cigarettes, peppermint, and primo cocaine, “just like the inside of your mother’s purse,” he said. “That is what heaven must smell like,” he added. “Man.”
Andy Warhol’s penis was pink and white and sometimes yellow, and red all over, and it was powdery, and it was clean, and it was cold to the touch. Needle tracks marred the inside of its foreskin, the blue-gray color of blood clots and boogers. Andy put them there on purpose, to make his junkie friends feel less insecure about shooting up into their genitalia at late-night Factory parties. He never touched any drugs himself, except for his back pills. “People don’t appreciate how socially generous he was,” Debbie Harry has said of him, in a completely different context.
After the funeral, where it delivered a soul-stirring eulogy, I didn’t see Andy Warhol’s Penis in person for several years. From time to time it popped up on the television, on Charlie Fucking Rose or something, with some of the Great Man’s other body parts, head and hands and feet, talking about what it was like to have once been a part of Him, a part of History. I finally caught up with it in the early nineties, when it was working at a Starbuck’s in Park Slope.
“We all believed that that the glory and the fame would last forever,” it said to me, stirring espresso into my steamed milk. “Half the time he never even saw the stuff until it went out the door, and we needed his signature at the last second, you know. He was just the name brand. We didn’t really need him to make the Art, to keep it going.”
“Or so you thought,” I corrected.
“Or so we thought,” it allowed.
I didn’t know at the time what it was capable of: the violence.
“Andy Warhol’s penis was always an asshole,” Lou Reed tweeted yesterday, when the news broke.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” responded @AndyWarholsAsshole, an unverified account.