Longtime Vanity Fair contributor Bob Colacello has said he was the Andy Warhol biographer who knew Warhol for more than 15 minutes. He was editor of Warhol's Interview magazine from 1971 to 1983, and became actively involved in all aspects of life—business and social—at The Factory, Warhol’s studio, including procuring celebrity clients for Warhol's famous silkscreened portraits. Colacello's book, Holy Terror: Andy Warhol Close Up, came out in 1990. Not one to be pigeonholed, Colacello also published an expansive biography of Ron and Nancy Reagan in 2004.
In 1976, Colacello traveled to Iran with Warhol. He now lives on New York's Upper East Side and gave this interview by phone:
First, can you describe what brought about your trip to Iran with Andy?
Well, it happened because we had gotten to know the Iranian ambassador to the United Nations, Fereydoon Hoveyda, and he actually arranged for Andy to do a portrait of the Shabanu, or the Empress, Farah Pahlavi. So the purpose of the trip was basically for Andy to take polaroids of her, which then would be made into portraits.
What was your general impression of Iran at that time before you went?
I think my impression of Iran was different than the general impression of Iran. I was criticized for running an interview with the Empress in Interview magazine. Andy's politics were, you know, he was a democrat, but he also was fascinated by world leaders. He had already done the portraits of Golda Meir and Willy Brandt of Germany. We were trying very hard to get Imelda Marcos to commission portraits because we thought she would get thousands done for every post office in the Philippines.