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Interview with Mark Sink
by Gary Comenas (2012)

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Mark Sink is a photographer who was also the subject of a number of photographs by Andy Warhol and is mentioned in Warhol’s diaries. One of Warhol’s photographs of Mark can be found at: http://chronicle.com/blogs/arts/warhol-in-colorado-memories-and-memorabilia/28196.

Some of Mark’s images of Warhol can be found on his website at: http://gallerysink.com/marksink/index.html.

Andy Warhol and Liza Minnelli by Mark Sink

Liza Minnelli and Andy Warhol
(Photo: Mark Sink)

1. When did you meet Andy Warhol?

We met on in September 1981 in Fort Collins, Colorado. I was an art student and bicycle racer. Andy was my hero. He was in Fort Collins for an exhibition called “Warhol at Colorado State University” and he took some pictures of me.

As you might know the Warhol museum and Foundation gave out tens of thousands of Andy photographs to university gallery collections across the country. Three of our universities received hundreds of silver print and Polaroid images. Somebody knew me in the selection process as many images of me taken by Andy in Colorado were in the donations. The humorous part is that many of the photos are of me with my pants down. I find it even funnier to see how the academic university curators and writers dealt with this, for instance in The Chronicle. (http://chronicle.com/blogs/arts/warhol-in-colorado-memories-and-memorabilia/ 28196)

But there is even an earlier connection than that. My great-aunt was Frances Breese Miller. She lived on the beach in Bridgehampton in a 1920s modernist home called The Sand Box.

The Sand Box

The Sand Box

At Frances’ funeral I was looking through her guest book and in the summer 1967 Andy and Edie Sedgwick and the whole crew signed the book thanking her for a wonderful weekend.

The Sand Box guest book

Pages from the guest book of The Sand Box

What was wild for me was just below the crew was my note and signature! We had visited Great Aunt Frances that summer while on a family road trip to Expo 67 in Canada. I was very, very excited by this news but when I told Andy about it he said, “No, we were never there." When pressed he said “Please stop, we weren’t there, you have it wrong."

That stuck with me. Why would he deny it and forcefully so? For awhile I thought it was because of the Danny Williams story but the dates don’t match up right. So now I would love just to find out what movie they shot there. Recently I even found a South Hampton newspaper article with pictures documenting the film they shot there.

South Hampton newspaper article

Andy Warhol in The Hamptons Voice, July 14, 1967
(click to enlarge)

[Note: the description of the filming corresponds to Warhol's film, The Loves of Ondine. You Tube footage of The Sand Box during the filming can be found at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRhr_aWMRr0 (about 50 seconds in). gc.]

2. Can you tell me more about me about meeting Warhol in 1981? Who actually introduced you to him?

In 1981 Andy was summoned to Colorado State University by John and Kimiko Powers. A friend of mine, Craig Scott, had met Andy previously that summer in New York through Christopher Makos when he [Craig] was out there on his racing bike and in lycra shorts for the National bike races. Chris picked Craig up at Uncle Charlie’s in the [Greenwich] Village and later that afternoon introduced him to Andy. They went to lunch at the River Café under the Brooklyn Bridge.

Craig and I were working at the Spoke bicycle shop in Denver. I had followed him there after a job in a restaurant kitchen. Craig encouraged me to quit smoking and to start racing bicycles. I was going to college in downtown Denver and had recently taken art history classes learning about the Factory, viewing several of Warhol’s films. I was enamored with Interview magazine and dreamt of making portraits like those in the pages. When Craig returned from NYC I was very jealous when he told me of his adventures with Andy. I didn’t know Craig was gay then. I didn’t know Andy was gay then. I didn’t know much then.

When Andy came to Fort Collins Craig declined to come. He said he had to work. Later I realized that he didn’t come because he was still in the closet. But he told me to go right up to Andy and tell him I sent him to say hello and to get a poster. I did just that. I went early and found Andy before anything was happening. He was sitting in a classroom and was getting ready to sign posters of the show. I sat down next to him and told him Craig had sent me and says hello. Andy then said something like how wonderful that Craig had sent me. He told me to stay if I could. So, there I was – Andy’s date. He paraded me all over the campus.

3. Whatever happened to Craig?

He died of AIDS.

4. Did you take many images of Warhol?

I took a lot of images. Andy had to have pictures taken with a Cow and his Soup Can. I met Bob Colacello and Fred Hughes at that point. We all smoked a joint right out on the lawn on the campus – all but Andy. We talked a lot. They invited me back to the hotel. I raced back and was stopped by the police and in a panic explained I needed to get to Andy Warhol immediately!! And I was let go.

5. So you arrived at Warhol’s hotel…

Yeah, at the cheap Motel 6 they were staying at Andy was preparing for a nap before the opening. We talked a little and then I showed him my recent bicycle scrape. It was a big one. I had fallen hard during the finals of a state championship – in fact on the final sprint. I was pushed off a turn with ten others and popped a tire and slid on the pavement on my side.

6. Did he think it strange that you showed him your bicycle wound?

No, he loved it. He was working a book called America. I guess the photos were going to go in but were edited out at the last second. Christopher was getting jealous of Andy’s attention to me.

I was star struck. I would have done anything for Andy. Jokingly when Andy went up to his room to nap I jumped on the bed with him, thanking him and bouncing around like a puppy dog. He was a little shocked but pleasantly told me he was very tired. I realized he didn’t have the same adrenaline running that I had going. I mean, like, Bob, Fred and Chris were in the next room licking their chops like hungry wolves. I was a prime fresh find.

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