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Andy Warhol's Strangest Sober Moments

Pop Art icon Andy Warhol -- who was born 88 years ago today -- was an unlikely marijuana advocate. He supported legalization even though he didn't care for having a puff of it. But there was something about the plant he loved.

"I think pot should be legal," Warhol allegedly said once. "I don’t smoke it, but I like the smell of it."

Ironically, residents of states like Colorado often complain about the smell of legal marijuana growing in neighborhoods. But Warhol probably would've flocked to Denver to walk around and catch a whiff of legalization -- even if he passed on a free hit at a pot party.

His claim that he didn't smoke marijuana didn't stop him from being wonderfully strange. To celebrate his birthday, here are 6 moments from Warhol's life and work that can't be blamed on smoking too much pot.

1. Crashing Hulk Hogan's locker room

In 1985, one of the biggest World Wrestling Federation events was The War to Settle the Score, which was held at Madison Square Garden in New York. And Andy Warhol was in attendance. In fact, he wandered backstage where Hulk Hogan, Cyndi Lauper and others were getting into an altercation with rival wrestlers.

But instead of asking security to usher the artist away from the set, commentator "Mean Gene" Okerlund called Warhol over to comment on the events.

“It’s the best thing I’ve ever seen in my whole life -- the most exciting thing,” he said in a very subdued tone. 


2. Andy Eats a Whopper

Warhol was equally enthused when he sat down to eat a Burger King Whopper for the art film 66 Scenes from America (1982). Warhol barely talks through the long, awkward meal.

The most eventful thing happens when he reveals his approach to condiments. Most of us drizzle ketchup directly onto our burgers. But not Andy Warhol. He shook the Heinz bottle until a dollop plopped on the Whopper's wrapper. Then he occasionally tipped the burger into the condiment. How avant garde.  


3. This Batman/Dracula Movie


A fan of the Batman series, In 1964 Andy Warhol made an unauthorized, black and white video movie based on Batman and Dracula. The movie doesn't have what you'd call a traditional narrative, to put it politely, but does have some notoriety as the first film to feature a campy Batman.

Perhaps to promote the work, Warhol dressed as Robin and German model/singer Nico dressed as Batman for a 1960s Esquire photoshoot

4. Interviewing Steven Spielberg

Given his notorious shyness, it's surprising that Warhol took a crack at video journalism in his heyday. In the 1970s, sat down with Steven Spielberg to discuss the young director's work. The interview was about as awkward as you'd expect. After Spielberg claimed that his dental filling once picked up a radio signal, Warhol asked the question that was on everyone's mind.

"Well how come you didn't become an inventor then?"

Spielberg's answer? "I can't invent. I'm terrible. I can't invent anything."


5. Interviewing Frank Zappa

Somehow, Warhol's sit down with Frank Zappa was even worse than the chat with Spielberg. Andy served more as installation art than interviewer in this clip, in which he just stares at the freaky rock singer as though he's never seen a human before and wonders if it can be domesticated. 


6. Cooking with William S. Burroughs

Warhol was much chattier during a 1980 meeting with William S. Burroughs in New York's Chelsea Hotel, where the Beat writer penned Naked Lunch (1959) and Andy worked on an early film. Naturally when these cultural icons got together, the conversation turned to chicken fried steak. Burroughs explained how it was made and Warhol was captivated.


Banner Image: Another strange Andy Warhol moment as the artist greets playwright Tennessee Williams aboard the SS France. Paul Morrisey is in the background. (Wikimedia Commons)


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