Glenn O'Brien

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Glenn O'Brien
O'Brien in 2015
O'Brien in 2015
BornMarch 2, 1947
Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
DiedApril 7, 2017 (aged 70)
Manhattan, New York, U.S.
Alma materGeorgetown University and Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences
Notable awardsnamed one of Top 10 Most Stylish Men in America by GQ Magazine
SpouseGina Nanni (until his death)

Glenn O'Brien (March 2, 1947 – April 7, 2017) was an American writer who focused largely on the subjects of art, music and fashion. He was featured for many years as "The Style Guy" in GQ magazine, and published a book with that title.

He worked as an editor at a number of publications, and published the arts and literature magazine Bald Ego from 2003 to 2005.

Early life and education[edit]

O'Brien was born in Cleveland, Ohio, where he attended the Jesuit St. Ignatius High School. O'Brien went to Georgetown University and edited the Georgetown Journal, which was founded by Condé Nast.[1] O'Brien later studied film at the Columbia Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.[2]


In his early years, he was a member of Andy Warhol's Factory. He was the first editor of Interview from 1971 to 1974.[3] After his departure, he continued to write for the magazine and returned as editor several times, with a nearly 20-year association with the title. He was a music critic for the publication in the punk era for which he penned the influential column "Glenn O'Brien's Beat".[4]

In 1980–1981, he wrote the screenplay (which he also co-produced with Patrick Montgomery) for a film to be called New York Beat, starring Jean-Michel Basquiat[5] (The film was not released until 2000, as "Downtown 81"), with post-production managed by O'Brien and Maripol.[6]

From 1978 to 1982, O'Brien hosted a New York city Public-access television cable TV show called TV Party.[7][8] During this period, O'Brien edited several iconic downtown novels, including Kathy Acker's Blood and Guts in High School [9] and The Correct Sadist by Terence Sellers.[10]

After leaving TV Party in addition to continuing his writing career, he attempted a stint as a stand up comedian, and was a contributing editor of Allure, Harper's Bazaar, and Creative Director of advertising at Barneys New York.[11] For 10 years, he wrote a monthly column for ArtForum Magazine. O'Brien edited Madonna's 1992 book, Sex.[11] He had been introduced to Madonna a decade prior through her relationship with Basquiat.[12] He also worked with her on The Girlie Show World Tour book in 1993.[13]

In January 2008, he was named Editorial Director of Brant Publications, which includes Interview Magazine as well as Art in America and Antiques.[14] In June 2009 it was announced that he had left his position with Brant Publications.[3]

He lent his collection of early Basquiat works to various exhibitions, including Deitch Projects,[15] and is a co-author of a major volume on the artist.[16]


O'Brien died of complications from pneumonia in Manhattan on April 7, 2017 at the age of 70.[11][17] Madonna called O'Brien "an amazing soul and a creative genius" after releasing a statement on Twitter.[18]

Awards and honours[edit]

On February 17, 2009, O'Brien was named one of Top 10 Most Stylish Men in America by GQ.[19]

Published works[edit]

  • Edo Bertoglio (director), Glenn O'Brien (author), Saul Williams (author) (1981). Downtown 81 (video tape recording) |format= requires |url= (help). Music Box Films. OCLC 904384382. [20]
  • Edo Bertoglio (director); Glenn O'Brien (author) (2002). Downtown 81 (1.66:1; visual material, computer file) |format= requires |url= (help). New York, NY: Zeitgeist Films. OCLC 916421310.[21]
  • New York Beat: Jean-Michael Basquiat Downtown 81. Edo Bertoglio (Photographer). Tokyo: Petit Grand. December 1, 2001. ISBN 978-4-93910222-6.CS1 maint: others (link) Bilingual: English and Japanese.


  1. ^ Kreps, Daniel, "Glenn O'Brien, Writer and Punk Renaissance Man, Dead at 70", Rolling Stone, April 7, 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b Williams, Alex (April 7, 2017). "Glenn O'Brien, Writer and Editor Who Gained Fame With Warhol, Dies at 70". The New York Times. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  4. ^ "The Greatest Hits from the Legendary Closet of the Style Guy, Glenn O'Brien". GQ. April 8, 2017. Retrieved April 9, 2017. With link to Welch, Will, "Rest In Peace: One Last Riff with Glenn O’Brien, the King of New York Cool", GQ, April 8, 2017.
  5. ^ New York Beat Movie (1981),
  6. ^ Lockwood, Lisa (April 8, 2017). "Glenn O'Brien, who once wrote GQ's Style Guy column, dies at 70". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 9, 2017.
  7. ^ "TV Party". Archived from the original on May 10, 2009. Retrieved May 1, 2009.
  8. ^ Curley, Mallory, A Cookie Mueller Encyclopedia (Randy Press, 2010), p. 352.
  9. ^ [1] Archived April 2, 2016, at the Wayback Machine, interview with Kathy Acker, p. 28
  10. ^ [2] Glenn O'Brien on Twitter
  11. ^ a b c Strauss, Matthew (April 7, 2017). "Glenn O'Brien, Writer and "TV Party" Host, Dead at 70". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  12. ^ "Interview with Glenn O'Brien – also starring Madonna, Basquiat, Viva and Warhol". Flux magazine. November 26, 2013. Retrieved August 9, 2020.
  13. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (August 4, 2003). The Sound and the Fury: 40 Years of Classic Rock Journalism: A Rock's Backpages Reader. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. p. 111. ISBN 978-1-58234-282-5.
  14. ^ Anthony Haden-Guest Interviews Glenn O’Brien, the New Editor of Andy Warhol’s Legendary Interview Magazine.[dead link] Saatchi Online.
  15. ^ "Jean-Michel Basquiat, 1981: The Studio of the Street" Archived November 6, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Deitch Projects, NY, May 2006.
  16. ^ Deitch J, Cortez D, and O’Brien, G. Jean-Michel Basquiat 1981: the Studio of the Street, Milan: Charta, 2007.
  17. ^ "Writer, Warhol associate and TV Party host Glenn O'Brien dies aged 70". The Guardian. April 7, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  18. ^ "Madonna on Twitter". Twitter. April 7, 2017. Retrieved April 7, 2017.
  19. ^ "The 10 Most Stylish Men in America". New York Daily News. February 17, 2009. Retrieved February 17, 2009.
  20. ^ Made available through hoopla in 2014. Performers included Jean-Michel Basquiat, Deborah Harry, Kid Creole, Tuxedomoon, James White, Saul Williams, Walter Steding, Anna Schroeder, John Lurie, DNA, and The Plastics. Editions/formats include: Restored edition (2000) by Music Box Films OCLC 1000284100, Widescreen DVD video (2000) by Beat Films/Zeitgeist Video OCLC 123296770
  21. ^ Participated performers are Jean Michel Basquiat, James Chance, Vincent Gallo, Debbie Harry, John McNulty, Amos Poe, Walter Steding and Kid Creole et the Coconuts.
  22. ^ The Style Guy
  23. ^ How To Be a Man
  24. ^ "The Cool School"
  25. ^ Berluti: At Their Feet
  26. ^ A toast to the world's preeminent spirit

External links[edit]