PW: What was the gestation period of creating the seven-volume Andy Warhol's Interview: The Best of the First Decade, 1969—1979?
Ingrid Sischy: Publishers have been telling us for 10 years that we were sitting on a gold mine of material that offered a thorough history of certain worlds like film, fashion and music. Karl Lagerfeld suggested doing a single book for the magazine's 35th anniversary this year. We assumed we'd be plucking from three decades of history. Nine of our editors decided to take a weekend to sit down and look through all our old issues. People were spellbound. There was a wonderful, peaceful sound of people absorbed in reading the material. By the end of the weekend, we realized there was so much great, timely material that it would be insane to put out one book on 35 years of history. We decided to do a series, starting with the first decade.
How did you decide to divide the content into volumes?
There was so much material, it was difficult to trim down a decade worth of material to just seven volumes. We could have had one whole volume of just the incredible series of interviews Truman Capote did for us, or a whole book of party pictures, or a collection of [former Interview editor] Bob Colacello's "Out" columns. Once we came up with the division of interviews, it was very important that we stay true to the roots of the magazine's underground consciousness. As we chose which interviews to reprint, we kept in mind that in that decade, people like Candy Darling weren't anointed by us, they anointed themselves.
One volume is devoted to interviews conducted by Andy Warhol himself. What was his interviewing style?
Often Andy's interviews were like happenings. Half the world drops by and becomes a part of the interview. Andy often brought along a gang of friends to these interviews, and they taped everything everyone said. These massive, sprawling sessions were brought back, and Pat Hackett [editor of The Andy Warhol Diaries, 1989] would redact them for publication. Andy was a guy who was interested in a zillion things and everyone. He was shy, but reading his interviews you see how good he was at drawing people out. Nothing was off topic.
What is the hallmark of an Interview interview?
People relaxed around Andy. The people being interviewed were as entertained as Andy was. It was fun for all involved. Interviews are dishy but serious. Interruptions were allowed and often could take conversations in different directions. Another hallmark was getting product names in for future free meals or free clothes. As many plugs as possible. The beauty of doing interviews for this magazine is the joy of discovery. We try to get full portraits of people.
How would you describe the decade of the '70s through the eyes of Interview?
The world was full of potential. There was active cross-pollination in the arts. Real barriers were being broken down. It was a great time for movies, art, fashion and culture. There were great breakthroughs on the gay front. It was a great moment of possibility. It was the moment when people began choosing their own circle of friends who would become their surrogate families. Everything was opening up at that moment.