Don't Call Me Home
“Don’t Call Me Home is about madness and love. Alexandra tells the best stories about her extraordinary childhood as she travels the world with her mother Viva. Wit and wisdom wrapped and bound with love.” --Debbie Harry
“Alexandra Auder’s Don’t Call Me Home is thrumming with life, in all its absurdity, vividness, and gunk. I literally laughed and cried, and cheered hard throughout for our intrepid narrator, who has gifted us an incomparable tale.”--Maggie Nelson author of The Argonauts and On Freedom
A moving and wickedly funny memoir about one woman’s life as the daughter of a Warhol superstar and the intimate bonds of mother-daughter relationships
Alexandra Auder’s life began at the Chelsea Hotel—New York City’s infamous bohemian hangout—when her mother, Viva, a longtime resident of the hotel and one of Andy Warhol’s superstars, went into labor in the lobby. These first moments of Alexandra’s life, documented by her filmmaker father, Michel Auder, portended the whirlwind childhood and teen years that she would go on to have.
At the center of it all is Viva: a glamorous, larger-than-life woman with mercurial moods, who brings Alexandra with her on the road from gig to gig, splitting time between a home in Connecticut and Alexandra’s father’s loft in 1980s Tribeca, then moving back again to the Chelsea Hotel and spending summers with Viva’s upper-middle-class, conservative, hyperpatriarchal family of origin.
In Don’t Call Me Home, Alexandra meditates on the seedy glory of being raised by two counterculture icons, from walking a pet goat around Chelsea and joining the Squat Theatre company to coparenting her younger sister, Gaby, with her mother and partying in East Village nightclubs. Flitting between this world and her present-day life as a yoga instructor, actress, mother, wife, and much-loved Instagram provocateur, Alexandra weaves a stunning, moving, and hilarious portrait of a family and what it means to move away from being your mother’s daughter into being a person of your own.
Actor and performance artist Auder debuts with an enthralling account of her childhood and adolescence living in the Chelsea Hotel with her mother, Andy Warhol superstar Viva, and sister, actor Gaby Hoffman. Auder's narrative features cameos from downtown New York artists including her father, filmmaker Michel Auder, and stepmother, photographer Cindy Sherman, but the core is Auder's messy, chaotic relationship with Viva. As a child, Auder fended off the hotel management's demands for late rent, served as Hoffman's caretaker, and acted as her mother's confidante and adviser on everything from cosmetic surgery to romance. At times, the author's love for her mother "burned the inside of my chest," and at others, she longed to "hit her over the head with a cast-iron frying pan." Auder braids these recollections with a present-day Christmas celebration shared with an 80-year-old Viva, after Auder has had children of her own, ultimately agreeing with her mother that "raising a daughter does feel like a crucifixion." Funny, bracing, and compulsively readable, Auder's memoir resists juicy gossip in favor of hard-won truths. This story of fraught but unbreakable bonds between mothers and daughters is a gem.