the column of lasting insignificance: October 11, 2014
by John Wilcock
“If you do not change direction,
“I asked the Zebra,
“I suppose I have a really loose interpretation of 'work,' because I think that just being alive is so much work at something you don't always want to do. The machinery is always going. Even when you sleep.”
Read my blog at Crowdsourcing survival.
The Following is an interview John did in 2009 with Zachery Hooker from Bidoun magazine about starting Interview magazine.
The Quarterly Magazine Bidoun contains 18 interviews on the subject of interviewing in its current issue. The interview with me by Zachary Hooker will occupy two columns.
There were four editors on the masthead of tile first issue of the original Interview magazine: Gerard Malanga, Paul Morrissey,John Wilcock, and Andy Warhol. Bob Colacello, who would edit the magazine some years later, would refer to Wilcock in particular, a journalist of British extraction who had dropped out of school at sixteen to work in the newspaper business, as an "aging hippie publisher".
A lifelong reporter, Wilcock worked for papers in London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. In 1955, he cofounded the alternative weekly the Village Voice, where be wrote a column called "The Village Square" and was known to spar with a young, overly self-confident Norman Mailer. He left the Voice after ten years to edit a rival publication, the East Village Other, and eventually went on to publish his underground tabloid, Other Scenes.
[Bidoun, 195 Chrystie Street, New York 10002-1296]
ZACH HOOKER: First off, could you tell me about starting Interview with Andy Warhol?
JOHN WILCOCK: Well, I was spending a lot of time around the Warhol place. Literally, at least three or four full days a week. And one day, I had got back home, and Andy called me up—Andy only called maybe six times, ever—and on this occasion he called up and said... well, he was bitching about how they couldn't get this million dollars from Hollywood to go out and make this movie, this professional movie. And I've a1ways had a hand in the alternative press, so I said, "Oh, Andy, you know all my friends do underground papers. why don't you focus on doing a paper instead?" So he paused for a bit and then just hung up, but he called back about two minutes later and says, "What kind of paper?" And of course, being Andy, he wanted to do a flim paper of some kind. So he decided he wanted to so a paper called Inter-VIEW, "view" in all caps , "Inter" in upper/lower case. And I told him, "Well, I can get you a printer for real cheap, the cheapest printer in town, and I can do the typesetting for you, We'll split it fifty-fifty, and I'll take care of the all the typesetting." And we got it up and running.
ZH: Was Andy doing a lot of interviewing then?
ZH: Just whatever made its way onto Andy's tape recorder...
ZH: Did you ever interview Andy?
The book I made is called The Aubiography & Sex Life of Andy Warhol but there isn't any sex, and there certainly isn't any autobiography. I was talking to Charles Henri Ford, and tried subtly to bring up sex, and all he would say, enigmatically, is that Andy was a receiver. And far, far from any sexual connotation, he was exactly right. Andy just absorbed—you had to feed him things without expectation of any reaction. He loved input..
ZH: The Autobiography is really difficult to get a hold of these days.
ZH: So all the interviews, or conversations, in that book, were they just something you had sitting around, or was it a preconceived project?
ZH: What made you start carrying a tape recorder around the Warhol scene in the first place?
[the second half of this interview will occupy next week's column]
Bakewell (part 2), its mayor, and its pudding...
National Weed (1974, issue #3)
Bakewell and Chatsworth 2013 (part 1)
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- Complete column archives: 2006 - present
— Dear Readers...
— John Wilcock ... Marijuana, the symbolic center of the underground society
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: Cuba Diary—Havana, April 2011
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Nineteen (continued)--Travels
— John Wilcock ... From the Archives: When you vote, don’t forget the Republican Paradox
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eighteen--The Quest for Magic: Around Europe by VW bus;
Regarding armchair travelers;
Pisa's Leaning Tower;
The magical Alhambra
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen (continued)--London's Magical library;
In the Cannes
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Seventeen--The Sorcerer's Apprentice
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary (continued)
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Sixteen--JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen (Part Two--Manhattan phone book, JW'S Secret Diary
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Fourteen--Party Circuit
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part two, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Thirteen--Figaro Diary, part one, Soho Saturday
— John Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Twelve (continued)--Traveling with Nomad; SoHo Confidential
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine (continued)--Rip Torn on stardom… Robert Mitchum's gift; London: Julian Beck’s critique; Emmett Grogan and the Diggers; Greece: The Junta, Charlotte Rampling, and art hero Daniel Spoerri
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Chapter Nine--Bob Dylan in the Village, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, Richard Neville and OZ, What Does London Need Most?, The International Times
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight (continued)--Japan: a working honeymoon;
The Shinjuku Sutra
— John-Wilcock ... Manhattan Memories: Chapter Eight--Art Kunkin's LA Free Press; In LA with Hunter Thompson, Lenny Bruce; Visit by Warhol; Hakim Jamal plays god; The San Francisco 'Be-In'; Underground papers meet
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six (continued)--Tom Forcade: smuggler supreme; That pathetic drug czar
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Six—The weed that changed the world--Confessions of a pot smoker
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Four—Into the '60s--London's underground press; Jean-Jacques Lebel burns US flag; Everybody's friend: Jim Haynes; Lenny Bruce and the kitchen tapes
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Three--The Village Voice (continued) --Lasting insignificance: the 3-dot column, ECHO and Larry Adler, Woody Allen plays classic nerd, A sample Village Square column
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter Two--Steve Allen derides TV columnist; Marlene Dietrich--glamorous grandmother
— Manhattan Memories: Chapter One--Chatting with Marilyn Monroe
— Manhattan Memories: Introduction.
- column archives: 2006 - present
Now on Boing-Boing!
JOHN WILCOCK: Writing the Book "Mexico on 5 Dollars a Day" (Part One)
June 5, 2014
It was the first handwritten letter I'd received in 5 years. Or maybe 10. Signed by John Wilcock, a man I'd never heard of, and postmarked Ojai, Calif., it was waiting for me when I returned from my São Paulo-to-New York summer trip. Mr. Wilcock wrote that he had been an assistant editor at The Times Travel section back in the 1950s, and had written the first editions of “Mexico on $5 a Day,” “Greece on $5 a Day” and “Japan on $5 a Day” for Arthur Frommer in the 1960s.
By George, I thought. This man was the original Frugal Traveler.
Forty years ago the second of my three books about magic was published, A Guide to Occult Britain (Sidgwick & Jackson) covering a wide range of sites from Stonehenge to Loch Ness and King Arthur country to the witches of Pendle Hill. It is now available as an eBook on amazon.com.
"A GOOD WAY to describe John Wilcock is to say that he is a talented bohemian counter-culture journalist who once played a major role in the emergence of America’s underground press. Born 1927 in Sheffield, England, he left school aged 16 to work on various newspapers in England, and on Toronto periodicals before moving to New York City. There in 1955 he became one of the five founders of the Village Voice in which he and co-founder Norman Mailer wrote weekly columns. Wilcock called his column “The Village Square”, an intended pun. He and young Mailer were not quite friends, although Wilcock was at times annoyed, but always amused, by Mailer’s monstrous ego."
-From the preface of Manhattan Memories, by Martin Gardner