A look into what moved Andy Warhol’s greatest muse
Located at 33 Union Square West in the heart of New York City’s pulsing downtown scene, Andy Warhol’s Factory was an artistic anomaly. Not simply a painter’s studio, it was the centre of Warhol’s assembly-line production of films, books, art, and the groundbreaking Interview magazine. Although Warhol’s first Factory on East 47th Street was known for its space-age silver interior, the Union Square Factory became the heart, brain, eyes, and soul of all things Warhol – and was, famously, the site of the assassination attempt that nearly took his life. It also produced a subculture of Factory denizens known as superstars, a collection of talented and ambitious misfits, the most glamorous and provocative of whom was the transgender pioneer Candy Darling.
Born James Slattery in Queens in 1944 and raised on Long Island, the author began developing a female identity as a young child. Carefully imitating the sirens of Hollywood’s golden age, young Jimmy had, by his early twenties, transformed into Candy, embodying the essence of silver-screen femininity, and in the process became her true self.
Warhol, who found the whole dizzying package irresistible, cast Candy in his films Flesh and Women in Revolt and turned her into the superstar she was born to be. In her writing, Darling provides an illuminating look at what it was like to be transgender at a time when the gay rights movement was coming into its own. Blessed with a candor, wit, and style that inspired not only Warhol, but Tennessee Williams, Lou Reed, and Robert Mapplethorpe, Darling made an indelible mark on American culture during one of its most revolutionary eras. These memoirs depict a talented and tragic heroine who was taken away from us far too soon.
Candy Darling is an interesting memoir of a pioneer in the rights of transgendered people. What is fascinating about this story though is not that Candy Darling was once a man but more so the life that she lived in the time period that she lived.
However, as much as that was an interesting aspect of her life it seems to have been somewhat ignored in this book. There is very little reference to Andy Warhol’s Factory and to the life that one of the Warholian Darlings would live. Personally, I feel that the narrative would have been a lot more interesting with these details included.
Furthermore, we are really only seeing things from the perspective of Candy Darling. The book would be a lot more interesting if we had the thoughts and feelings of her contemporaries included.
Overall, Candy Darling is an interesting read, however, if you want to know the explicit details of ‘Factory Life’ then you will be wasting your time reading this book.
Candy Darling by Candy Darling will be available on the 17th of February 2015.