One man has devoted his life to the legacy of "self-styled transgender glamour girl" Candy Darling. Odd, but as a NY Times profile shows, compelling.
Perhaps you know Candy Darling as the inspiration for the Velvet Underground's "Candy Says" or "everybody's darling" of "Walk on the Wild Side," but to Jeremiah Newton, who met the Andy Warhol superstar as a teenager in the 1960s, she was a mentor. Newton, who teaches at NYU's Tisch school, has written a book, My Face for the World to See, collaborated on a documentary, Beautiful Darling: The Life and Times of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar, and assembled an archive of Candy Darling materials which include "diaries, letters, photographs and her cremated remains."
Candy, born James Lawrence Slattery, did indeed come from "out on the Island," and quickly established herself as a major downtown scenester and muse. She took Newton under her wing, guiding him around the demimonde and making him a VIP at the Factory and the fabled back room of hang Max's Kansas City. The two were roommates, and lived together until Candy's death at 29 of Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Says Newton, "She was so beautiful and so feminine that people treated her with respect and some awe...The idea of living a day without her in my life was horrible."
In the Times piece, Newton acknowledges that his quest is bittersweet - "I'm looking at the past, and I can't change anything that happened" - but to the modern reader, however monomaniacal it might seem, it also resonates. As the currency of celebrity and fame has shifted, there is an increased yearning for the perceived lawlessness and larger-than-life personalities of the haute bohemia that both ushered in modern celebrity and doesn't exist in the same way now. The fixation with Warhol of the last ten years is in a way a strange one, given that he's someone who defined himself by style rather than substance;the nostalgia the era provokes in those who were a part of it is infectious; however glamorous the life must have been, transgression was still just that - and by no means easy - and it's this juxtaposition that probably captures our imaginations.