In 1973 David Bailey got into bed with Andy Warhol. One was making a film about the other, but not the way around you’d expect. The film was due to be screened on TV but was pulled hours before broadcast, declared “offensive and indecent”. Well naturally.
Filmed as part of a triptych of fly-on-the-wall documentaries, the iconic photographer David Bailey interviewed Warhol, the film director Luchino Visconti (The Leopard) and the photographer Cecil Beaton. Bailey met Warhol before he was famous, even had tea with his mother. The bed scenario? “It was sort of a joke. Andy being camp.” Screened at Hamptons International Film Festival on Friday, the documentary reveals more about the artist than most attempts – there’s no secrets between the sheets. Working hard to project his art as nothing much in particular, nothing beyond its surface, and himself in the same way, Warhol is one of the most intriguing, beguiling characters in art history. But here he is in bed, with Bailey.
Last week, i-D Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Terry Jones met Bailey at Frieze and got talking about the documentary. Given the subject matter, Interview-style seemed fitting…
TJ: Look at the camera.
Bailey: I can see this blowing in the wind.
TJ: Have you heard that whole story about your dad sleeping with Andy?
Sacha Bailey: Warhol? Yeah sort of…
Bailey: It was for my art.
TJ: Art. Do people know the whole story?
Bailey: I doubt it. You want me to tell it now? I love the way he [Terry] thinks he’s getting around. It was sinful, Andy said I won’t do a film with you unless you go to bed with me so I said great, we can do the interview in bed together.
TJ: Did you keep your pants on?
Bailey: Oh I don’t remember. He wouldn’t show his scars, his Dior stitches. He always said, “I’m never naked because I look like a Dior dress, too many stitches.”
TJ: But that was the one where you were getting close in conversation with him?
Bailey: I think in all modesty, it’s the film where Warhol speaks the most out of all the films he’s ever done. He never really said anything. I had a bit of an advantage because I knew him ten years before he made the film, I knew him ten years before he got famous. It’s always easier if you know them before.
TJ: Was his mother around?
Bailey: Yeah, I had tea with her.
TJ: Why did he only want to do the interview in bed?
Bailey: It was sort of a joke, Andy being camp.
TJ: How long is the film?
Bailey: A television hour, 52 minutes, might have been an hour then. The film they’ve got left now is not a complete film, it has been cut about and chopped about, it’s still alright, in a way it gives it more of a history when it’s not the original, things have been taken out for censors and put back in the wrong place. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge but I quite like that.
TJ: What did you film it on?
TJ: Did he ever film you?
Bailey: I was going to be in one…
TJ: Was it a sleeping one?
Bailey: No, it was in something in the mirror with Baby Jane. He was having a little story with Baby Jane in those days.
TJ: What was your story?
Bailey: Just a story. Just a little story. Or as they use to say in the 1800s, we were walking out for a moment, it was that expression we were walking out. Are you hot? I’m really hot!
TJ: I’m thinking cool. Where will the film be shown?
Bailey: New York upstate, what’s it called, Hampton’s Hilton Film festival.
TJ: Are they putting it out on DVD?
Bailey: It’s out already. The next thing I’m doing is a thing with Bruce Webber, sort of question and answers.
TJ: Are you talking about Bruce’s films?
Bailey: I don’t know, whatever comes up I guess.
TJ: How long have you known Bruce?
Bailey: Since Grace was at Vogue, I met him round about then I think. I always loved that trip to Australia he did for Grace, that’s when I first noticed him, this guy’s got his own point of view.
TJ: Which film is he showing?
Bailey: I don’t think he’s showing a film. And the other film he did, the film about me, the French one, was at The Sundance Festival, in fact it’s on the channel, what’s it called, the Sundance channel.
TJ: Is that a French documentary on your life? From what age? When you started?
Bailey: I think it’s everything, there’s some women missing, all my commercial film directing missing. With all that missing there is still 90 minutes, to show it in England, I think they’ll have to cut it down to 60.
TJ: What do you call it?
Bailey: Four beats to the bar and no cheating. Because once I heard Basie in an interview and someone said to him Count Basie what’s jazz? And it’s a bit like saying what’s art? And he said “four beats to the bar and no cheating,” and I thought, that’s the meaning of art, “four beats to the bar and no cheating.” I found out what Duchamp didn’t know, because Duchamp didn’t know what art was and count Basie told him.