The Nude Photos That Nearly Destroyed New York

Google somehow contrived to include full digital images of old New York magazines in its new magazine search service on Google Books. Sadly, the archive is missing key issues, containing such classics as "Radical Chic: That Party At Lenny's" and "Tribal Rights of the New Saturday Night." But both of those are available, albeit ripped from their original context, on nymag.com, and Google has one classic that isn't: Barbara Goldsmith's "La Dolce Viva," which revealed the seedy side of Andy Warhol's entourage through Viva, a shriveled one-name actress. "I had never seen anything like it," Tom Wolfe wrote of accompanying nude photos from Diane Arbus. But the article's appearance in the fourth debut standalone New York nearly ended Clay Felker's magazine.

As Wolfe later remembered,

New York lost every high-end retailer on Madison Avenue and beyond. This precipitated a crisis. The board, made up of the big investors, summoned Clay to a meeting... They were hopping mad over this “Viva” business. They could see their investment sinking without a bubble after only four issues. They were ready to can Clay then and there and probably would have, had not the elder statesman and maximum art collector, [Armand ] Erpf, exercised moral suasion.

Later New York owners could not be talked down from this sort of intervention. The present one at least gets credit for voluntarily sharing (as indicated by a sidebar credit) its library trove with the rest of the world. (The Warhol article, "La Dolce Viva," is here.)