Wednesday, September 21, 1977
On the plane Richard Weisman said that Vitas Gerulaitis had just been to Columbus and staked out the best motel and the best girls to call…As soon as we checked in there, we went to another motel, the one that Jack Nicklaus owned, to meet him. We waited while he talked on the phone. He looked fat, but Richard said that he was once 280 and was now down to 180. He was very suntanned, but his eyes, around them, were white where his sunglasses were, and his hands were tiny and white, he wears gloves on the course. His hair was blond, and he said something about needing a haircut, but I had the feeling that his hair was just the way it always looked, puffed just‑so over the ears, like it was “coifed.” I started taking pictures but none of them were coming out good. It’s so hard taking pictures of suntanned people because they come out so red. He was being friendly and Richard was trying to be friendly but somehow the situation was strained, he didn’t understand what was going on. And I had my tape recorder with me and was taping, but when I sort of realized that he wouldn’t understand that, I just quietly shut it off. Richard’s secretary Claudia showed him pictures I’d done of Tom Seaver, Muhammad Ali, and Pelé, but he still didn’t really understand why we were there taking pictures of him. Richard had sent him a book showing my paintings but he didn’t understand the style. And then he got another phone call, and we were getting nervous and I took some more pictures and he didn’t like any and we didn’t like any. Not getting good pictures made things more and more awkward and finally he said, “Well, you know what you want—you don’t tell me how to tee off on the green,” and I felt more uncomfortable and everyone just wished we could leave. Then finally he liked one but it was just nothing, a front shot, and I didn’t see any difference between the rest of them and that one, but he said he didn’t want to be looking— what’s the word? It’s like cocky, but it’s a short word—he didn’t want to look like that, and he thought this one made him look like a nice person. He talked about his wife and his kids. Forgot to say that when I was taking the pictures, there wasn’t a golf club around, they were all down on the course. He went around to some of the offices asking if anyone had clubs and finally came back with some that he said were just like his, and I didn’t know that golf clubs have hats on them with drawstrings. We ran out and dished the whole thing in the car and that’s when it suddenly occurred to me that he actually had looked like he might be lonely and maybe we should have invited him out with us, but he hadn’t suggested anything himself, and nobody just knew what to do, so nothing happened. We looked around for a place to have dinner. Fred and I wanted to go back to New York right after taking the pictures but the only flight out went to Atlanta first.
Excerpt from The Andy Warhol Diaries © The Andy Warhol Foundation. Used with permission.