Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Candy Darling: Memoirs of an Andy Warhol Superstar

Although she passed away the same year that I was born, denying me the chance to really get to experience her life, Candy Darling was one of the very first transgender icons to whom I aspired. Not only was she stunningly beautiful, but she was accepted, validated, and celebrated as a muse of both the infamous Andy Warhol and punk pioneers The Velvet Underground. Never mind that I didn't get Warhol's art, and was never a fan of Lou Reed's music - Candy, for me, eclipsed them all.

Given that she died far too young to pen her own memoir, I was excited by the idea of Candy Darling: Memoirs of an Andy Warhol Superstar. As a book, it's deeply flawed and painfully opportunistic, but it still provides some wonderful insights into the mind and the personality behind the icon.

Comprised primarily of journal entries and personal letters, interspersed with contemporary reflections on her life and influence, it's a very odd book to read. There's no narrative flow, no logical structure, and it doesn't follow any timeline of events. What's more, the material is presented precisely as Candy wrote it, awkwardly formatted, sometimes hastily scribbled, and in need of a good editor. Surprisingly, for such a short book, there's a lot of fluff and a lot of filler included, but it's all worth it for the deeply personal pieces, including letters addressed to her closest friend.

It's there that we find a fascinating look at what it was like to be a transgender woman at a time when the gay rights movement was just starting to make waves, but when the idea of being transgender was still very far from any sort of open acceptance. She talks of her dreams, coming across as an exceptionally passionate woman, full appreciative of her successes, but also desperately longing for acceptance and validation. There's a voyeuristic feel to reading it, knowing that we're seeing her through papers she never intended to be public, but it's also a fitting way to celebrate one of the very first transgender superstars.

No comments:

Post a Comment