last tuesday evening, jim and i went to the tattered covered theatre on colfax. there was a denver film society screening of “beautiful darling” which is a documentary about candy darling. i believe this is a companion to the warhol in colorado exhibit which is currently running at du. candy was a tranny with quite remarkable beauty who starred in several andy warhol films during the early 70’s. she was part of a small enclave of chicks with dicks that hung out at the factory, and included holly woodlawn, jackie curtis, and candy darling- candy being the most “passable” of them.
one thing that was highlighted for me by the film, was the incredibly hazardous lifestyle that transvestites and transsexuals experience, especially during those times. barriers like verbal abuse, police harassment, arrests, discrimination, blackmail, and much more horror. the very idea that individuals can and do endure such humiliating and hurtful lives to follow their intention to be “themselves” is humbling at least. this choosing to live as a gender other than the one deemed from nature is hard fought and even harder won. there is a staggering bravery in the boldness of their choices. it is painfully evident that their is much pain in following the heart or just as much in choosing to not follow the heart. candy died in 1973 of lymphoma which is believed to have been caused by injecting estrogen.
candy darling inspired so many of those around her. she had an adoring companion named jeremiah who fell in love with her at a young age and still cares for her ashes and memory all these years later. she caught the attention of warhol who captured the imagination of his generation, and she inspired many of those around her. the lou reed song “walk on the wild side” contains a stanza completely about her.
Candy came from out on the Island
In the backroom she was everybody’s darlin’
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She says, Hey babe….. lyrics by lou reed
this documentary is not ground breaking, although i believe that in some ways candy darling was. and this film will not be discussed in many circles. but its subject and the time and place it was born have penetrated my soul. the factory, the village of the 70’s, the velvet underground, bohemian chic, max’s kansas city have all come to represent atlantis to me. the germination of the idea imperfection is glamorous. and i know that the wave of change that candy rode was much bigger than just her life. that wave still glistens in my eyes, and sometimes i think i can even hear her giggle
i love this version of “candy says” by antony and the johnsons.