Thursday, 27 March 2014

Beautiful Darling

It seems as if all my friends, whether "normal" or transsexual are having a tough time of it lately. I blame the economy, geopolitical tensions or perhaps it is just the weather, a miserable arctic winter that refuses to release its death grip on Canada and much of the northern States.

Hope springs eternal and the weather forecast promises double digit temperatures by the weekend albeit accompanied by rain. As long as I don't have to shovel it, bring it on!

Being transsexual is no easy road, despite the advances our tribe have made over the last few years. It was much harder before.

Any regular reader of this blog will know of my interest in transsexual history, I hold the pioneers such as Coccinelle, Bambi and April Ashley in high regard (not to mention all those who were brave enough to make the same journey and to live successful lives out of the spotlight).

I recently had the opportunity to re-watch the 2010 documentary Beautiful Darling, the story of Candy Darling. A student of the outre I always had a basic knowledge of Andy Warhol's Factory and his female stars, Holly Woodlawn, Jackie Curtis and Candy.

The story is told by her friend and biggest fan Jeremiah Newton. There is nothing drag queen about Candy, clearly she was a transsexual. Excerpts from her diaries speak of her desire to start hormones and electrolysis. The photos from her youth in Forest Hills are even more telling, few could fail to see the girl staring back at them. Her school book sketches of fashions offer more proof.

By the mid-sixties she was already venturing into NYC, first as Holley Slattery (her family name) and then as her movie star self, Candy Darling. Risking arrest I might add violating the masquerade law.

I will leave it to you dear constant readers to explore the rest of her story from the Warhol films to  Tennessee Williams and her untimely death from lymphoma at age 29.

Candy was truly a beautiful woman but her desire for fame meant she was little more than an oddity to most people, as  a result both love and financial success eluded her.

Two things stuck with me from the documentary, first her incredible force of will to reinvent herself as a woman and as a movie star in a time when dreams of even simple transition were nearly impossible.

The second was a quote by Candy's contemporary and fellow Warhol alumnus, writer Fran Lebowitz. In her words “a 25 year old man who becomes a 25 year old woman is not a woman at all because a woman first has to be a little girl… Candy was never a girl, Candy was a fantasy she created for herself.”

Yes she created herself but it is obvious from her photos, movies, writings and sketches that Candy was female. If I can be bitchy for a moment, it is Ms Lebowitz who should take a long hard look in the mirror. 

“I will not cease to be myself for foolish people. For foolish people make harsh judgements on me. You must always be yourself, no matter what the price. It is the highest form of morality.”