Anthony Haden-Guest’s Craziest Art World Nightlife Story

Anthony Haden-Guest in a Studio 54–themed photo shoot for Grazia Magazine.

The current issue of New York Magazine is a tribute to the city’s legendary nightlife, of which the art world is obviously no small part (see: The 20 Hottest Art World Hangouts of 2014).

In an addendum to the list, Vulture published some tales by famous New Yorkers of life after dark, including a particularly insane yarn from artnet News contributor and noted art critic and bon vivant Anthony Haden-Guest, titled “The Dangerous Houseguest.”

Years ago, I was going to a round of art openings with a former girlfriend, Patricia. As we wandered on, we brought along a few other people, a little cluster of people formed, and we brought them back to my place. And there was a guy Horace [Harris], a big black dude, very pleasant, with kind of an English accent. He claimed to know . . . he dropped names of people I knew in London. Eventually, there was no food and everyone left, except Patricia, who stayed over, and this guy, I saw, had gone to sleep on the sofa. I thought, “Oh, well, I’ve done that a million times. So I let him sleep. And so I was in bed with Patricia, and the door opens. I was closest to the door, and I’m a very light sleeper, so I wake up, and it’s this guy, Horace.” And I said, “What are you doing? Get out of here!” But suddenly he’s hitting me! And then Patricia wakes up, finally, and Horace dashes out. I put the light on, and I’m drenched with blood. He’d actually been stabbing me! And Patricia! We discovered that Horace had gone in a drawer, and he had laid out on the table about ten knives. The knife he’d chosen, though, was a little flick knife I’d gotten for self-defense. It only had a five-inch blade. Of course, five inches could kill you, but he wasn’t a very good shot.

Haden-Guest’s cautionary tale was hardly the only art-related anecdote recounted by New York night owls. In the issue proper, street artist Lee Quinones recalled easing Keith Haring‘s nerves before he tagged the wall at Bowery and Houston: “You paint in the middle of the night by moonlight. All you need is a ladder … and some cojones,” Quinones said encouraging his fellow graffiti artist. (See: Keith Haring’s NSFW Bathroom Mural to Reopen in 2015.)

Andy Warhol was also revealed as a foot fetishist by novelist Edmund White, who claimed the Pop artist frequented gay sex club Mineshaft during foot club night: “Andy liked to lick guys’ feet.”

Even crime photographer Weegee was profiled, as New York revisited one of his most iconic images, 1939’s Balcony Seats at a Murder, investigating the circumstances of the still-unsolved crime, describing the outdated-yet-effective flash powder Weegee used to illuminate half the block for the photo, and speaking to one of the child eye witnesses, now 82. (See: Weegee Fever! Tabloid Photog Gets Four Shows.)

Other notably arty stories that didn’t make the cut for the original article include John Cale’s recollection of a stranger teaching him and Lou Reed to fight, and actress and performance artist Ann Magnuson’s tale of a late-night fire at Club 57 that culminated in an impromptu party on the fire truck—”Everyone ran like banshees out the front door. Jean-Michel Basquiat was there, leaning against the bar, playing Mr. Super Cool, laughing at everyone running.”

For Anthony Haden-Guest’s stories for artnet News see:

Are Mid-Size Galleries Disappearing, And Who’s To Blame?

New York Dealers Discuss the Future of Galleries, Part One

The Future of Commercial Art Galleries, Part Two

Follow Artnet News on Facebook:

Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.
Article topics