By: Timm Carney
Los Angeles’ Downtown Independent screened the LA premier of “Beautiful Darling” a documentary biopic about Candy Darling. It was a night of super stars. A dead one on screen and the last real living Warhol super star, Holly Woodlawn was in the audience.
The film is a story of obsession and impression; a study of illusion and delusion. Candy Darling nee James Slattery was one of Andy Warhol’s “superstars” along with Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn they were the gender bending triumvirate. Candy was the blonde channeling Kim Novak and Marilyn Monroe. Could she act? It is hard to say yes and hard to say no. Candy’s biggest role was Candy. Through archival photos, film footage and interviews with contemporaries a picture of who Candy was emerges. She lived a life of glamour in a ghetto accepting handouts from Warhol who made money off of her while eventually throwing her and all the superstars away. In Beautiful Darling it is said “Warhol threw people away the way one tosses out tissues, use them and then they’re done”. Candy lived a marginal existence crashing on sofas in borrowed clothes while Warhol lived in lavish style. All this same time Candy was a warrior of sorts. She was part of a new generation of gender benders that took it further than anyone had so far. They were superstars. Candy, Holly and Jackie thanks to Lou Reed will forever be enshrined in popular culture through “Walk on the Wild Side”. Her life was filled with self obsession as well as sycophants. She was used by another group of people riding on her coat tails. One of them is Jeremiah Newton. He was her friend and lived with her until her untimely death at 29. Mr. Newton seems genuinely love and admire her yet she is still his link to fame. At the end of the film Jeremiah Newton talks about going to Candy’s mother’s home on Long Island. He went to see “the mother” as he calls her and to retrieve Candy’s personal papers he left with as much as he could. Candy’s mother later burned the remains out of shame.
Candy, Jackie and Holly were well ahead of their time yet made by their time while living a fantasy of another time. They came from a time when men were men and if you weren’t you lived in the shadows. They left the shadows and became luminaries. Candy like Marilyn died young, Jackie died of an almost predictable/inevitable drug over dose yet Holly survived. There she was here in the theater looking just as one think Holly Woodlawn should look; made up. Helped to her VIP seats Holly entered the theater declaring she wasn’t drunk but in pain. Settled into her seat Holly was asked if she’d like a glass of wine she said “Yes or maybe some heroin.” Forty-one years later she is still the superstar. Holly stayed for a Q & A with the audience after the screening. Sometimes she made sense but always she was funny. Holly rambled and reminisced reminding everyone who spoke with her she was/is a superstar. Where is the film of her life? “A Low Life in High Heels” her autobiography is a perfect source and just waiting to be made into her movie!
This was Candy’s night but it was also Holly’s. They were pioneers! They shaved their legs and never gave it away. The Downtown Independent was the perfect venue for “Beautiful Darling” it’s on the edge but very elegant. I left the film knowing more about Candy than I had saddened by her death but assured it was how she’d want it.