Candy Darling

Warhol Superstar, Actress, Train commuter.

It was on the late night train from suburban Long Island to Manhattan where the young James Slattery transformed into the lipstick wearing, flamboyantly dressed Candy Darling, the Warhol “It” girl who appeared in Warhol’s films and who was immortalized by The Velvet Underground in the songs, ‘Candy Says’ and ‘Walk on the Wild Side’.

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Candy came from out on the island,

In the backroom she was everybody’s darling,

But she never lost her head

Even when she was giving head – she said

Hey Babe, take a walk on the wild side,

Said hey honey, take a walk on the wild side.

And the coloured girls go, doo dodo…

The lyrics pretty much capture Candy Darling’s short life. Too poor to live in Manhattan, she would catch the late-night train each night from Long Island, using the hour-long journey to put on makeup and add the final touches to her glamorous look. Once in NYC, she’d hang out in the ‘backroom’ of Max’s Kansas City Nightclub with all the cool kids, who included the likes of Lou Reed, Debra Harry and, occasional cross-dresser, David Bowie.

Warhol may have brought Candy Darling plenty of fame, but he never paid her much money. Hence Candy “never lost her head,” even when she was doop-doo-doing stuff for cash on the side. Mostly though, she would jump back on the Long Island train each night to what she called her “country house”.

Despite being poor (and quite possibly, a poor actress), Candy Darling never gave up her dream of becoming a Hollywood superstar. She landed either big roles in small films or small roles in big films, but never quite got the break she needed. The highlight of her career may have been her 17-second cameo role with Jane Fonda in the 1971 film, Klute.

On March 26, 1974, Candy’s extraordinary walk on the wild side was cut short. She died of leukemia, with hundreds of loyal friends and fans around her in her final hours. Warhol, who was weird about a lot of things, especially death and mortality, did not visit her in hospital, nor did he attend her funeral.

Text by Howard Collinge- The Unique Creatures 


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