Andy Warhol’s preferred term for “orgasm” was “organza.” Wayne
Koestenbaum is so in love with this detail he tells it to us twice, once in
his biography, Andy Warhol, but more expansively in the Sixth Canto of
his Model Homes:
It took me twenty minutes to write that stanza.
Revising it will take me forty more.
Although they sound tossed oﬀ, like an “organza”
(Warhol’s code for orgasm), the gore
They spill is aria—Mario Lanza.1
Koestenbaum’s rhyme scheme here arrives like an explanation- in- action
of Warhol’s preference for pretty, frothy, dress- up “organza” over
lumpen, spasmodic, medical “orgasm.” But the twinning of “orgasm”
and “organza” reminds me, too, that during the years of reading for this
book my eye has grown skittish, accustomed to being snagged not only
on the word “orgasm” but also by any of its typographical near- misses:
organism, organic, once even Claus Ogerman, potentially but never in
actuality organza. Evincing more than the usual allegiance of the scholar
for her object, my momentarily suckering attraction to those words that
have even some passing morphological resemblance—as when, picking
up a familiar at the airport, I ﬁrst recognize her in error several times in
1. Koestenbaum, Andy Warhol, 44, and Koestenbaum, Model Homes, 36.