Transgender titillation: Warhol’s he/she chronicled in “Candy Darling”

Poor Candy. She got more than 15 minutes of fame, but died at age 29 . . . four years before he became as she. Her fame was fleeting. Chronicling the short but influential life of transgender pioneer Candy Darling, a major part of Andy Warhol’s entourage, Beautiful Darling delivers audiences to a bygone era, recapturing the excitement of a long lost New York City to recount the story of Darling, a star in the constellation of Warhol’s Factory.
Candy Darling on her death bed
By the mid-’60s Jimmy Slattery, born in the Long Island suburb of Massapequa in ’44, had become Candy, a gorgeous blond actress and throwback to Hollywood’s golden age. This persona won her starring roles in two Warhol movies, parts in mainstream films and a lead role in Tennessee Williams’ play. Her ethereal beauty attracted such taste-making photographers as Robert Mapplethorpe, Cecil Beaton, Richard Avedon and Peter Beard. She was the inspiration behind two of Lou Reed’s best known songs, Candy Says and Walk on the Wild Side, and was one of the most unusual and charismatic fixtures in the explosive downtown, underground scene of late ’60s/early ’70s New York.

Candy’s journey of self-discovery and transformation becomes, for director James Rasin, a tragic allegory for our fame and media obsessed times. But it is also a gripping story with a simple, universal theme: One person’s pursuit of their own American Dream. The film interweaves rare archival footage and both historical and contemporary interviews (Tennessee Williams, Paul Morrissey,  Fran Lebowitz, Holly Woodlawn among many others) with excerpts from Candy’s own diaries and letters, which are voiced, to devastating effect, by Oscar nominee and Golden Globe Award-winning actress Chloë Sevigny.

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