Thursday, April 30, 2009

Crossdresser.com, The Crossdressing Superstore Presents: Taking a Walk with Wild Side Girls ~By CiCi Kitten

It’s probably the most well-known tg-themed song of all time. Lou Reed’s “Take A Walk on the Wild Side” is one of the most enduring songs of its era. The song reached #16 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and #10 in the UK. Its bass line is infectious. The sax work is legendary. And then there are the girls. The tgirls described in the lyrics. I assumed they were based on someone real, but I thought they’d been fictionalized. After all, the song does play as a kind of 60’s Bohemian fairy tale. So I never realized just how real these characters were.

So here’s a glimpse into the lives of Holly, Candy, and Jackie. They were all members of Andy Warhol’s FACTORY. They starred in many of his films and, for a brief time, they hung out with some of the coolest people on the planet. No, wait. Check that. They were some of the coolest people on the planet!

(NOTE: This is just some brief info, but you can find more about any of these girls, Andy Warhol, the Factory, or Lou Reed on the internet!)

As the song says, Holly Woodlawn came from Miami, F-L-A. And hitchhiked her way across the USA. She was born Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl in Puerto Rico in 1946. (She adopted the name Holly as a tribute to the lead role in “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.”) She started out in stage plays – some of them written by fellow Wild Sider, Jackie Curtis. But she later went on to star in several Warhol films including “Trash” and “Women in Revolt” – a spoof of the women’s lib movement.

Holly had some trouble with the law in the ‘70’s including an arrest for impersonating the wife of the French Ambassador to the United States. But most of her later years have been spent performing in cabaret shows or in cameo screen appearances, as in “Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss.” Her autobiography, “A Low Life in High Heels” was published in 1991, and, always up on the latest trends, Holly has her own MySpace page!

Candy did indeed come from out on the Island (Long Island). In the backroom she was everybody's darlin' – in fact, that was her name, Candy Darling. Candy was born James Lawrence Slattery in Forest Hills, NY in ’46 or ’48 depending on which source you trust. She grew up a fan of old movies on television and learned to imitate stars like Joan Bennett and Kim Novak. She met Andy Warhol through Jackie Curtis, and he soon cast her in such films as “Flesh” and then the lead role in, “Women in Revolt.” Other non-Warhol associated films included working opposite Jane Fonda in “Klute” and opposite Sophia Loren in “Lady Liberty.” Candy campaigned hard for the lead role in “Myra Breckinridge,” but that role ultimately went to Raquel Welch.

On stage, Candy performed in the Tennessee Williams’ play, “Small Craft Warnings” at the invitation of Williams himself!

Sadly, Candy died of leukemia in 1974 at about age 29. In addition to her “role” in “Take a Walk on the Wild Side,” she is also the subject of the Velvet Underground’s song, “Candy Says.” Her biography, “My Face for the World to See,” was published in 1992.

Perhaps Jackie Curtis thought she was James Dean for a day (she did sometimes perform as a man in a James Dean persona), but it appears she had a pretty full life just being herself. Born John Holder Jr. in New York City in 1947, Jackie went on to become a noted poet, playwright, and film star. “Jackie Curtis is not a drag queen,” said Andy Warhol. “Jackie is an artist. A pioneer without a frontier.”

Jackie began her life in theatre as an actor at age 17 but quickly began writing her own plays – often with transgendered themes. Her plays often featured famous transsexuals including sister Wild Siders, Candy Darling and Holly Woodlawn. She appeared alongside these girls in Warhol’s films, “Flesh” and “Women in Revolt.” Her play “Glamour, Glory, and Gold” featured a young Robert DeNiro in his first stage appearance!

Sadly, the drug addiction hinted at in “Wild Side” took its toll on Jackie over the years – eventually leading to her death in 1985. But she left behind a legacy of stagework, filmwork and style. Jackie’s use of glitter in her makeup predated the glam movement. And her penchant for ripped dresses and torn stockings predated the punks – and still turns heads on street corners and fashion runways today. A film based on Jackie’s life, “Superstar in a Housedress” was released in 2004.

Others mentioned in the song include, “Sugar Plum Fairy” – an actor named Joe Campbell. And "Little Joe" Dallesandro who “never once gave it away.” Little Joe was a bi actor/model who posed for many famous photographers. That's his crotch on the cover of The Rolling Stones' album Sticky Fingers!

I guess I’ve always been fascinated by the 60’s and the Warhol factory, and, particularly by the openness of the gay and transgendered artists, models, musicians, and actors who collaborated on so many cutting-edge and innovative artistic endeavors. Of course, they were just having fun. Pushing people’s buttons. Challenging social and political conventions.

But without them, where would we be now?

Take care out there.
Be safe. Be smart. Be sexy.
xoxo,
CiCi

Click The Picture Below See the Video of the Characters!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen, Sister! Someone should make Holly Woodlawn a household name again!