Fun-loving veteran fashion show and events producer Benjamin Liu came to New York City in 1979 at the invitation of Victor Hugo, a Venezuelan artist with a larger-than-life personality well known throughout the ’70s and ’80s in gay, arts and fashion circles as fashion designer Halston’s lover, muse and window display designer. Hugo was Liu’s tour guide on a rollercoaster ride through the heart of New York City’s most legendary creative period. The trip changed the course of Liu’s life and eventually led to him working for artist Andy Warhol from 1983 to 1986. Warhol passed away a year later and Hugo died in 1993, but Liu still remembers his mentors fondly and remains eternally grateful for the experiences that have shaped him. I met up with him to reminisce about his formative years.
Michael: How did you come to New York?
Benjamin: I came to New York through one friend, Victor Hugo, and I always continually thank him. He signified a whole era. He was a Venezuelan hustler and makeup artist who became a muse to Halston, Andy Warhol and Elsa Peretti. He was Halston’s lover–boyfriend and also a great display person, an artist in his own right and a coke addict. He was famously photographed at Studio 54 in a jock strap, in a celluloid stripped top carrying a women’s purse. At the same time, so manly. He was really like a porn star.
He was sexy to you?
He was sexy to everyone. This was a person who lived at St. Mark’s Baths. More…