I have always adored Candy Darling, one of Andy Warhol's "superstars" of the sixties. While she was enjoying her 15 minutes of fame, I was in middle school, too young to see her movies, but I recall her face on the movie posters and in the Vogue spreads, and thought she was the absolute pinnacle of feminine glamor. I don't think I realized she was transsexual at the time; I don't think I knew what a transsexual was back then.
What really impresses me now is how a chronically broke, homeless transsexual (back in the days when cross-dressing was a crime), who slept on couches and subsisted on party leftovers and speed, could always look so... perfect? What also really impresses me now is what a dry wit she had. She is the funniest (and best) element of any of those old Warhol movies, especially Women in Revolt, which was meant to be satire of the burgeoning women's liberation movement (but which doesn't seem so satirical to me now).
Candy Darling was born and raised a beautiful "boy" on Long Island, and she turned herself into Kim Novak. In fact, she outdid Kim Novak. She was the inspiration for two Lou Reed songs, and her iconic death bed photo (she died of lymphoma, age 29) has adorned many a wall and record cover.
|That wasn't just role playing: She really was dying.|
A documentary about her life, Beautiful Darling, made by her best friend Jeremiah Newton in 2010, is now available on DVD. Obviously a labor of love, it left me with a lot of unanswered questions, and a hunger to know (and see) more. Sadly, it is likely to be the last word on the unfulfilled promise of her brief life.