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Gary Comenas, author of the much-cited website warholstars.org, came close to dying of heart failure in July 2013. His memoir “The Real World” chronicles his vivid, totemic life. During the four months he spent in a succession of London hospitals, visitors to his bedside included English models and celebrity stylists he had befriended in New York in the mid-‘80s, bringing back a “magical time” of ecstasy and nights out clubbing. His sister’s visit from Philadelphia recalls him to his boyhood in a “suburb of a suburb” an hour’s drive from Hollywood—his loss of innocence at age twelve, his deep dive into the punk scene in San Francisco, heroin, love, and his move to New York. Meeting the fun-loving Brits changed his life, and he followed them back to London. Working in the press office at Island Records, he continued his up-and-down “life of excess” through London’s gay breakout and the transformation of AIDS from a death sentence to a manageable disease.

In 2001, creating his website devoted to the “superstars” of Andy Warhol’s films, Comenas withdrew into the virtual world of the 1960s. The website became a nexus of information for the Warhol people, some of whom became personally important to him, including actor Joe Dallesandro, photographer Billy Name, screenwriter Ronald Tavel, archivist Callie Angell, and most importantly, art critic Bill Wilson, who had known Warhol in the early years and was a leading authority on the collage artist Ray Johnson. Email was the principal medium of exchange—and then they started dying. Death haunts the book as it haunts this stage of the author’s amazing life. After a second heart attack and the implantation of a cardioverter-defibrillator (illustrated on the cover), he decided to write it all down.

Generously illustrated with photographs.

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