Dylan Jones: Young is better than old, pretty is better than ugly, movies are better than music, and anything is better than politics

Talk Of The Town

If there is one book that sums up the maelstrom of superficiality, white-hot ambition and old-world/new-wave glamour of Andy Warhol's New York years it is former Interview editor Bob Colacello's awesome Holy Terror:

Andy Warhol Close Up, first published nearly 20 years ago in 1990. An immediately addictive litany of after-dark extravagance, Bob's book is full of all the transvestites, transsexuals, art dealers, drug dealers and glamorosi you could hope to meet in a lifetime, let alone in 504 pages. Park Avenue ladies in designer frocks, mindless merriment and the cruelty of a world where beauty and style and money were all?

Oh yes, they were all included, on every page! And, as Colacello explains, Andy captured it all on his beloved Polaroid: George Plimpton POP! Bianca Jagger POP! Baby Jane Holzer POP! Ossie Clark POP! Liza Minnelli POP! Tennessee Williams et al POP! Warhol even captured himself, in words as well as pictures: "The affectless gaze, the wasted pallor, the childlike gum-chewing naiveté, the slightly sinister aura, the long bony arms, so white they looked bleached."

Colacello's tome is instructive in other ways, too – not least about the hierachies of magazine covers. People magazine's Richard Stolley had very particular rules about what covers sell best: young is better than old, pretty is better than ugly, movies are better than music, music is better than TV, and anything is better than politics. The Interview rules were different: only young, only pretty, movies are best, but music, fashion and society were also good, and anything, even politics, was better than TV.

As well as having an abundance of gossip and insider knowledge, Holy Terror also contains some of the best put-downs ever documented. Try this one for size: "If only Candy [Darling] were here," Maxine said, "to put this one [Gina Lollobrigida] in her place."

"Oh, I know," said Andy. "What's that great line, Bob, that Candy always says to the other girls, you know, when they're going to the bathroom?"

"Mention my name and you'll get a good seat..."

Dylan Jones is the editor of 'GQ'