Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and Lynn Wyatt share remembrances of Andy Warhol
Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni and Andy Warhol at Regine's , 1980
Natash Fraser-Cavassoni's book cover
Dominique Rizzo, Christabel McEwen, Mick Jagger, Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, St. Tropez 1980
We were swiftly transported to the 1980s as we sat on the sofa in Lynn and Oscar Wyatt’s River Oaks living room chatting with author Natasha Fraser-Cavassoni, whose latest tome recalls her time in the heady swirl of Andy Warhol’s world. Her memoire After Andy: Adventures in Warhol Land hit the bookshelves last summer and has been receiving glowing reviews from literary insiders, many of whom might have lived the rocking ’80s as well.
She was in Houston for a round of parties in honor of her book and for the requisite tour of The Menil Collection, which won high praise from the British fashion journalist and biographer.
Lynn Wyatt, of course, was a steadfast friend of Warhol, and friends with Fraser-Cavassoni, who was the fifth and last “English Muffin”(to the manor born, attractive English girls) hired to work in the artist’s Factory. Sadly, he died less than a week after she joined that art world fray. Though the professional interaction was short-lived, the author had encounters with Warhol off and on through her young years, beginning at age 16.
With best-selling author Lady Antonio Fraser as her mother; her late father a Conservative MP, Sir Hugh Fraser; and her stepfather Nobel Prize-winning Harold Pinter, the young Brit partied in the rarified orbit of Hollywood, music and art world stars.
Perched on the Wyatt sofa beneath two of the four famed Lynn Wyatt Warhol portraits, Fraser-Cavassoni recalled one of Wyatt’s storied birthday parties in the South of France. She was invited to many. But on this first night attending Wyatt’s celebratory soiree, she was seated between famed photographers Slim Aarons and Helmut Newton, with Aarons encouraging her second dinner helpings and Newton scolding her at the prospect of gaining weight. She is still amazed by the evening. “It was the best seat in the house,” Wyatt cooed.
“I love Lynn. You know everyone says they’re a hostess. An amazing hostess is someone who makes everyone feel like a star,” Fraser-Cavassoni said, as she recalled “whatever the casting (at Lynn’s parties) whether it was Jack Nicholson, Roger Moore, Elton John, Prince Albert or Liza Minelli, we all felt we were part of it.”
The duo shared memories of The Factory, the Manhattan aerie that was the hotbed of Warhol world. Fraser-Cavassoni, echoing her book, recalled that Warhol kept his artwork under the bed and in his closet while the walls of his apartment were decked in works by Jasper Johns, Lichtenstein and Basquiat.
Both women agreed that, contrary to the conception of many, Warhol was a shy, even somewhat insecure man.
Elegantly dressed in one of her signature embroidered silk jackets and red silk evening pants and sipping a steaming cup of green tea , Fraser-Cavassoni gamely ventured through the high points of her very personal memoire. Of course, she dallied with cocaine, who didn’t in that era? And, yes, at the tender age of 17 she was bedded by Mick Jagger. “I wasn’t going to do this (the book) if I was holding back. I have no regrets,” she explained.
So the book merrily romps through a world of celebrity at which Warhol was the epicenter, offering anecdotes and insider viewpoints and addressing her special relationship with the artist.
Fraser-Cavassoni allowed that she hit it off instantly with Warhol. “We had an immediate connection,” she recalled. “I think because I didn’t want anything from him. I’m motivated by curiosity and he was certainly motivated by curiosity.
“It was all very jolly. He tried to set me up with this smarmy model whose father was a collector . . . He was so accessible. I felt this ease around him, very benign.”
Of her book, Fraser-Cavassoni shared, “I wanted it to be very readable, but I also wanted it to have content yet not get bogged down. There was something about the ’80s that was so innocent that was so inclusive . . . If you were attractive, or chatty or had something to bring to the table, you were included. Now, it’s all about money.”
One of the most telling Warhol wisdoms that Fraser-Cavassoni quotes in the book is “I’ve got to keep the lights on.” It reveals a work ethic, the author maintains, that all successful people share.