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Lou Reed’s 1974 Australian Press Conference

By 1974, Lou Reed had firmly established himself as a solo artist. Sure, he had not disconnected completely from the past. The live record, Rock and Roll Animal, featured mostly Velvet Underground songs. Yet, the subsequent studio effort, Sally Can’t Dance, held the distinction of being the first Reed album not to feature a Velvet Underground track. The success of Transformer and brilliance of Berlin proved Reed could escape the shadow of his past. Still, wherever he traveled, his reputation preceded him.

Lou Reed’s Australian press conference is nothing short of hilarious. Reed confidently navigates questions about his drug use, sexuality and established disdain of the press. A series of bold-faced lies, contradictions and brilliant one-liners are interspersed with simple one-word answers. “Sometimes” and “no” manage to both evade questions and mock the journalists. Occasionally Reed combats a loaded question by asking for clarification that requires uncomfortable distinctions (what’s the difference between a homosexual and a transvestite?). Reed expertly turns intrusive questions back on the reporters who sit speechless.

Lou Reed

The entire press conference plays out as an antagonistic game between natural adversaries. Ultimately Reed arises the victor. After denying that he had attacked British fans and was arrested for obscenity, a reporter asks who writes these things if they’re not true. Reed utters a single word. “Journalists.” The conference ends with one final zinger as Reed declares his love for journalists. It’s all a highly entertaining exchange that confirms Reed’s reputation an intelligent, quick-witted entertainer of substance.

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