POP GOES THE EASEL
The man who turned the tomato can into an art form would have been 70 this month. Pop art superstar Andy Warhol may be dead, but his impostor-Allen Midgette-lives on.
Midgette's 15 minutes of fame came when he impersonated the man who coined the phrase "15 minutes of fame" on the college lecture circuit in 1967. For more than six months, Midgette traveled the country, passing himself off as Warhol at lectures, faculty dinners and cocktail parties.
"It was all Andy's idea-just the sort of joke he loved," says Midgette, who had acted in a few of Andy's movies, including Lonesome Cowboys and Nude Restaurant. "I think Andy chose me because he thought I was better-looking than he was."
On one day's notice, Midgette jetted to the University of Rochester. Students and teachers simply assumed Midget's make-up and cheap silver wig were the accoutrements of an eccentric artist.
Barely knowing anything about Warhol actually helped Midgette pull off the scam. "Andy was always evasive in interviews," Midgette says. "I just did the same thing."
Midgette spoke throughout the Midwest, earning about $1,200. for five lectures. The charade came to an end when one of Warhol's friends revealed the hoax.
Now a 59-year-old painter and leather designer in Manhattan's Greenwich Village, Midgette recalls his brush with fame fondly. "There were lots of offers for drugs and sex," he says. "It was the sixties and I was a part of it. But I played it cool when I was playing Andy."
P.S.: After Warhol died of heart failure in 1987, Sotheby's auctioned a Warhol android prototype that Warhol was developing to appear in his place on TV talk shows.
By buck wolf