Growing up in New Jersey, lifelong bookworm Fran Lebowitz has always done things on her own terms. After getting expelled from high school, she answered the call and moved to New York City to pursue her dream of becoming a writer. She quickly became part of the legendary New York club scene of the 1970s, hanging out at Max’s Kansas City and writing for Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine. Her best-selling memoirs Metropolitan Life and Social Studies are brilliant chronicles of these times. Since then, she’s been watching as the world evolves and changes: and whether it’s sexuality, AIDS, activism, feminism, technology or presidents, she will most definitely have an opinion on it.
The delights of childhood
“I don't know anyone else who enjoyed their childhood as much as I did. Partially I think that's because I'm so suited to being a child, you know, I am really suited to a lack of adult responsibility. And so you know there were childish responsibilities that I found somewhat onerous because I don't like any responsibility. But the main responsibility I hate is supporting myself and since no one was expecting me to earn a living when I was six I found it delightful. But it's true that, I mean I lived in a little town, it was a very pretty town, a very nice town, and it was an era like I was born in 1950. I didn't know any women that worked you know. Mothers – which is what we called women and we called men fathers – didn't work. And so they didn't really want you in the house all the time. Now mothers or women, want to be with their children a lot because a lot of time they're not. But we weren't allowed to stay in the house, I mean I'm talking about on a weekend you know unless it was pouring with rain.”
"The bad part of being a girl is that no one takes you seriously. The good part is because they don't take you seriously they didn't mind if you announced that you wanted to be a writer. Because if I had been a boy and said that my father would've come down on me, he would've said don't be ridiculous do you think you could earn a living being a writer. If I had been a boy I would had to have been an upholsterer. They didn't discourage me, they didn't encourage, they didn't care. In fact, they never talked about my future other than going to Radcliffe, they never talked about it. And sometimes you know when people ask me did your parents want you to be a writer: no my parents wanted me to be a wife.”
The AIDS Crisis and how it changed New York
“The most important thing was the human tragedy. But the cultural tragedy was at least equally important because of the people. There was a photographer named Peter Hujar, he was one of my best friends, and he died a long time ago. They made a movie that used his 5,700 contact sheets ... all these still images. And so I saw all these people that hadn't seen in a million years because they've been dead for 25 years.
“And when this movie was over I said to the curator who was too young to remember any of these people, I said 'one of the stunning things to me about these pictures is the amount of talent that is in those pictures of people that you never heard of, you're never going to hear of' ... did the culture becomes so much more accepting because of AIDS, you know, or if there had not been AIDS, would these kind of artists have gotten into the mainstream culture?”
"This never would've happened to Harvey 10 years ago, not in a million years okay, not in a million years ... it seems like it was happening one a day, one a day, another one of these guys. I started guessing, I would say to people like 'tick tock who's next!' ... I said well you know there's a lot of great jobs open, it's like a roulette. This is a really good time to be looking for one of these great jobs. If you give all these jobs to women, give all big jobs to women and here's what you're going to get: you're going to get some bad bosses but you're not going to get this. This is something absolutely peculiar to men.”