Is Sweet As Candy
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
My old friend Paul Morrissey – Andy Warhol’s manager and filmmaker – likes to tell the story of actress Holly Woodlawn going out to the Woodlawn Cemetery on the edge of New York and telling visitors that it’s the site of her family estate.
It’s not. And Woodlawn wasn’t even the real name of transvestite underground star Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl.
Woodlawn starred in Morrissey’s “Women In Revolt,” along with another Warhol Superstar, Candy Darling. A gender-bender performer like Woodlawn, Candy was born as James Lawrence Slattery.
Paul Morrissey gets angry that his old compatriot Andy Warhol gets credit for the films that Morrissey wrote and directed – titles like “Trash,” “Flesh,” “Heat,” and the aforementioned “Women In Revolt.” He often rants, “Andy was an idiot, he never had an original idea. He just did what people told him. I directed those movies, I discovered Holly and Candy and Joe Dallesandro.”
I remind him that he’s victim of his own genius. He attached Warhol’s names to those films back on the ’70s. Now he has to live with the results of his marketing ploy, sharing credit with the white-fright-wig pop artist Andy Warhol.
These so-called Warhol Superstars were a clique of New York personalities that Warhol (and Morrissey) promoted during the 1960s and early 1970s. After using them in movies and art, Warhol would declare them to be superstars and give them their “fifteen minutes of fame.”
“Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar” is a 2010 feature-length documentary about one of Warhol’s more popular peeps. Playing this week at the Tropic Cinema – as part of Key West’s Gay Pride celebration – it’s pulling back the curtains of Warhol’s Factory, telling all.
Jimmy Slattery grew up on Long Island where he watched old Hollywood movies and pretended to be his favorite stars, Joan Bennett and Kim Novak. After attending the DeVern School of Cosmetology, Candy emerged as he gave into his fascination with cross-dressing. Taking the train into Manhattan, Candy broke into the underground scene and started appearing in small plays. In one, she performed opposite a young unknown actor named Robert DeNiro.
The name went through several variations before sticking as Candy Darling. Holly Woodlawn recalled that the “name evolved from Hope Dahl to Candy Dahl and then to Candy Cane.” According to Woodlawn, “Darling adopted the name because a friend of hers affectionately called her ‘darling’ so often that it finally stuck.”
Warhol (along with Paul Morrissey) cast Candy Darling in “Women In Revolt.” The film was at first titled “Warhol’s Women,” but that would have been an affront to Morrissey’s ego. When Morrissey organized a band for Warhol called The Velvet Underground, one of its hits was the song “Candy Says.” Former band member Lou Reed featured Candy in his hit “Walk on the Wild Side.” And she’s mentioned in the Rolling Stones song “Citadel.”
Always dreaming of a Hollywood career, Candy went on to appear in “Klute” with Jane Fonda, “Lady Liberty” with Sophia Loren, and “Silent Night, Bloody Night.”
Written and directed by James Rasin, “Beautiful Darling” pays tribute to the blonde actress, tracing her career from off-off Broadway to the Warhol movies to being selected by Tennessee Williams to appear in his play “Small Craft Warnings.” Darling died of lymphoma at 29.
Actress Chloe Sevigny (TV’s “Big Love,” “The Brown Bunny”) provides the voice of Candy Darling in the documentary, reading from her letters and private diary. Vocal talent Patton Oswalt (“Ratatouille,” “Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa”) does the voices of Warhol and Truman Capote.
Sevigny is a good choice to lend her voice to this film. After appearing in “The Brown Bunny,” where she performed fellatio on screen, she defended her controversial performance, saying, “It’s a shame people write so many things when they haven’t seen it. When you see the film, it makes more sense. It’s an art film. It should be playing in museums. It’s like an Andy Warhol movie.”
Candy Darling would have approved.
[from Solares Hill]