Lou Reed

Inside the wild, debauched world of Lou Reed

He sang about scoring heroin in Harlem, hung out with Andy Warhol at the Factory and inspired generations of punk bands that went on to rage at CBGB.

Lou Reed was as New York as Yankee Stadium, and his best songs continue to inspire. But, as revealed in the new book “Lou Reed: A Life” (Little, Brown, out now) by Anthony DeCurtis, the day-to-day of Reed, who died in 2013 at age 71, was gritty, unpredictable and sometimes tragic or beautiful — just like the narratives of his best songs.

“Lou became identified as a figure who did whatever he wanted,” DeCurtis, who will celebrate the life of Reed at the 92nd Street Y on Sunday with Suzanne Vega and others, tells The Post. “He wasn’t dictated to. The easiest way to lose Lou was to set expectations.”

Reed was born in Brooklyn, grew up on Long Island and received electroshock therapy as a teenager. He never forgave his parents for putting him through it. On the upside, the treatment allowed Reed to claim mental illness, which got him out of living in the dorms at Syracuse University, where he was an English major. Sharing a pig-sty apartment littered with the shells of pistachios that Reed ate obsessively, he could freely bring home sexual conquests and indulge in drugs.

After graduating, Reed moved to New York where, in 1964, he helped found the Velvet Underground, a band whose early shows included a gymnasium-emptying gig at Summit High School in New Jersey and another for a Manhattan convention for psychiatrists. After six years, four albums and one engineer who abandoned a recording session, saying, “You can’t pay me enough to listen to this crap,” Reed, then 28, left the band. He moved home to Long Island and worked at his dad’s accounting firm. Yes, briefly, Reed was on track to become a boring bean counter from the ’burbs.

Remembering Lou Reed - A Rock 'n' Roll Hero

But he was saved by David Bowie, a die-hard Velvets fan who produced Reed’s biggest hit, “Walk on the Wild Side,” and the 1972 album “Transformer.” Reed paid Bowie back by blatantly planting a kiss on the British rocker’s lips during a press conference.

Reed was never shy about his sexual proclivities — which included a yearslong relationship in the mid-1970s with a transgender woman named Rachel. Reed met her while in the midst of a three-day methamphetamine bender, and she was sometimes spotted with a bruised face and blackened eyes. A friend likens their troubled relationship to “a marriage made in the emergency room” in the book.

No stranger to New York’s sexual demimonde, Reed enjoyed picking up cross-dressing hookers in the pre-gentrified Meatpacking District and interviewing them about unprintable sex acts. According to the book, an all-male S&M club called the Anvil ranked among the rocker’s personal favorites.

By the time Reed hit his 40s, nights of drinking, drugging and carousing had gotten the better of him — and his liver. He sobered up, bought a house in rural Blairstown, NJ, and shot a Honda scooter commercial. Reed and avant-garde musician Laurie Anderson became an unlikely husband and wife. They met in 1992, at a performance by saxophonist John Zorn, and Reed lived out his last two decades as a somewhat tamed elder statesman complete with tai chi and a rigorous diet.

Despite of all his success and notoriety, however, Reed’s most outrageous moments — including racist and rude proclamations that stick around in print and online — dogged him. “He remembered every interview he had done, how high he was, how out of control he was,” says DeCurtis.

His dying peacefully, with a deep archive that would go to the New York Public Library, may be the biggest shocker of all. But it’s probably fitting: The man who once released “Metal Machine Music,” a double-album comprised of amplifier feedback, would find it appealing to confound expectations to the end.

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