In Martin Scorsese‘s latest documentary, Public Speaking, Fran Lebowitz contends that she knows everything. After watching her in the film, one is liable to believe she is completely correct in making such a presumably arrogant statement. The documentary features clips of Lebowitz’s extensive and recurring tour of different colleges and institutions throughout the United States, but, more importantly, explores the rapid deterioration of intelligence in modern society.
One of many additional fixtures to enter the orbit of Andy Warhol’s 1970s agenda, Lebowitz secured a job as a writer for Interview Magazine when it first started. Referencing the story of her first meeting with Warhol at the “new” Factory on 33 Union Square West, Lebowitz recounts that there was a sign outside of the door requesting guests to announce who they were before entering. Using the quintessential Lebowitz wit, she announced herself as Valerie Solanas (the woman who shot Andy Warhol in 1968). As the 1970s progressed, Lebowitz battled her desire to simply waste time when she published a collection of essays called Metropolitan Life (featuring titles like “Children: Pro or Con?” and “Success Without College”) in 1978. The only subsequent prose Lebowitz has released are Social Studies in 1981 and Mr. Chas and Lisa Sue Meet the Pandas in 1995.
Since what some deem her golden era (the 70s and early 80s), Lebowitz has focused largely on TV appearances, writing a novel twenty plus years in the making called Exterior Signs of Wealth, and, naturally, public speaking. Her satirical view of the world around her has only augmented as the media has become the sole source of news, entertainment, and overall cultural value. Incidentally, Lebowitz blames Andy Warhol for creating the innate societal “ambition” to be famous. In Public Speaking, she states that Warhol jokingly coined the term “superstar” to encourage the grandiose behavior of Factory regulars like Candy Darling and Ultra Violet. It was, she notes, one of numerous inside jokes that should have stayed inside.