by Gary Comenas (2020)
Candy Darling at the rehearsal
for Vain Victory in 1971
(photo: Bob Gruen)
Although former Interview magazine editor Bob Colacello gave Candy's birth year as 1946 in his book Holy Terror - Andy Warhol Close Up, her actual birthdate was November 24, 1944. (BC79/CD10) Her parents were Theresa Phelan, a bookkeeper at the prestigious Jockey Club in Manhattan and Jim Slattery described in My Face for the World to See: The Diaries, Letters, and Drawings of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar as "a violent alcoholic who spent a lot of time at the racetrack." Candy also had a half brother, Warren from her mother's first marriage. (CD10)
Candy's birth name was James ("Jimmy") Lawrence Slattery. He grew up in a small bungalow in Massapequa Park, Long Island, New York where he and his mother had moved after she divorced her husband. (BC79) In Long Island Candy's mother worked for the telephone company. Warren left home for the service, leaving Jimmy as the only child, later denying Candy/Jimmy's existence to his own children. (CD11)
Jimmy spent much of his childhood glued to the television absorbing old Hollywood movies and impersonating his favorite actresses - his favorite show being the Million Dollar Movie. He "learned about the mysteries of sex from a salesman in a local children's shoe store." (Ibid) He finally told his mother he was gay when she confronted him. A neighbor had told Jimmy's mother that Jimmy had been seen dressed as a girl going into a local gay bar called The Hayloft. When his mother told this to Jimmy at home, he told her to sit at the kitchen table and wait while he left the room. When he reappeared, he was in drag. His mother later told a friend of Candy's that "I knew then... that I couldn't stop Jimmy. Candy was just too beautiful and talented." (CD12)
While living with her mother, Candy would often take the Long Island Railroad late at night to Manhattan to avoid the prying glances of neighbors. Once in Manhattan, she would refer to her home in Long Island where she lived with her mother as her "country house". She hung out in Greenwich Village meeting people through the "salon" of Seymour Levy on Bleecker Street. (Ibid)
Candy's first "drag" name was Hope Slattery. According to Bob Collacello, Candy adopted this name sometime in 1963/64 after she started going to gay bars in Manhattan as well as making visits to a doctor on Fifth Avenue for hormone injections. (BC79) Jackie Curtis had told Andy that Candy had got the name Hope from a girl named Hope Stansbury who Candy lived with for a few months in an apartment behind the Caffe Cino so that Candy could "study" her. (POP244) According to Holly Woodlawn in The Holly Woodlawn Story: A Low Life in High Heels, Candy was first Hope Dahl, then Candy Dahl, and then Candy Cane. In her autobiography, Holly Woodlawn recalled that Candy had adopted the last name of Darling because a transvestite friend of hers named Taffy Tits Sarcastic "used to drag Candy all over the West Village and say, 'Come on, let's go, Candy, darling.' And Taffy called Candy 'darling' so often that it finally stuck." (HW68) According Candy's friend Jeremiah Newton, she adopted the first name of Candy because of her "love for sweets". (CD12)
According to POPism: The Warhol Sixties Andy Warhol first met Candy in 1967 when he (Warhol) and Fred Hughes were on their way to pick up some leather pants that Andy was having made at the Leather Man in Greenwich Village (see 1967). In account of their meeting in Popism, Candy was with Jackie Curtis who invited Andy to the play she had written and directed called Glamour, Glory and Gold. (POP225) Jackie Curtis had written the play at the age of fifteen in one hour while riding the Long Island Railroad. It was being performed at Bastiano's Cellar Studio on Waverly Place. Taylor Mead brought Andy to see it. (CD12) After the play, Andy went to the club Salvation in Sheridan Square. Candy and Jackie walked in and joined him at his table. At the time, Brian Jones, Keith Richards and Mick Jagger were talking to him. (POP243)
The first "Warhol" film that Candy appeared in was Flesh (filmed in 1968) in a short scene with Jackie Curtis. Athough billed as a Warhol film, it was actually directed by Paul Morrissey.
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in POPism):
"As late as '67 drag queens still weren't accepted in the mainstream freak circles. They were still hanging around where they'd always hung around - on the fringes... sticking to their own circles - outcasts with bad teeth and body odor and cheap make-up and creepy clothes. But then, just like drugs had come into the average person's life, sexual burs did, too, and people began identifying a little more with drag queens, seeing them more as 'sexual radicals' than as depressing losers... That's how in '68... people started accepting drag queens - even courting them, inviting them everywhere... 'Does she tuck?' the other queens would ask Jackie about Candy, and Jackie would say something oblique like 'Listen, even Garbo has to rearrange her jewels.' Candy herself referred to his penis as 'my flaw'." (POP224)
The inspiration for Flesh was the film, Midnight Cowboy, which was being shot while Andy was still in the hospital recovering from the gunshot wound inflicted by Valerie Solanas (see 1968). Some of the Factory regulars appeared in Midnight Cowboy during the party scene.
Andy Warhol (via Pat Hackett in POPism):
"I was so jealous: I thought 'Why didn't they give us the money to do, say, Midnight Cowboy? We would have done it so real for them." (POP280) Although Warhol had made a film about a hustler several years previously, in 1965, he decided they should do another one. Paul Morrissey filmed Flesh without Andy who was recuperating from his gunshot wound.
Warhol thought Candy was a "big hit in Flesh... in her one scene where she sits, very ladylike on the couch with Jackie and reads old movie magazines out loud while Geri the topless go-go dancer gives Joe a blow job." (POP292)
WOMEN IN REVOLT
After her success in Flesh, Candy was cast in a leading role in Women In Revolt, another film financed by Warhol but directed by Paul Morrissey. It was filmed sporadically in late 1970 and early 1971. (BC77) Candy played a Long Island socialite drawn into a woman's liberation group called PIGS (Politically Involved Girls) by Jackie Curtis. Most of Candy's scenes were filmed in costume jeweler Kenny Jay Lane's swank Murray Hill townhouse. (BC78)
Candy's co-star, Jackie Curtis, insisted that Warhol operate the camera during her scenes instead of Paul Morrissey. Andy obliged by personally turning it off and on. It was the last Andy Warhol film in which Andy actually filmed at least some of the scenes. (BC83) Jackie thought, "It would have been better if Paul Morrissey left his two fucking cents out..." (SG272)
During the filming, there were often rifts between the cast members. Candy looked down on Holly for being out of it all the time. Jackie continued to be uncooperative with Paul. Warhol liked an element of friction among his cast members and went out of his way to encourage it. Bob Colacello remembered one fight at the time between Jackie and Paul Morrissey where Andy left the filming and went back to the Factory, calling Candy and telling her that Jackie was "being terrible to Paul. This is your big chance to get a big scene for yourself, Candy. But you better be nice to Paul and do what he tells you and not complain and not wear too much lipstick because you're supposed to be a rich girl and, uh, rich girls don't do that anymore... And you've got to think up some new lines, Candy. You can't keep using that same old Kim Novak stuff... This could be your big break, Candy." (BC84) Because of Jackie's outbursts, demands for money, and erratic drug influenced behavior, she was persona non grata at the factory by December 1971. (Ibid)
There were several ideas for the film's title. Paul wanted to call it Andy Warhol's PIGS so that he could use the ad line, "Only PIGS could follow Trash". Another possible title was Andy Warhol's Sex. Candy wanted the title to be Blonde on a Bum Trip since she was the blonde, while Jackie and Holly told her it was more like Bum on a Blonde Trip - titles which were both used in the film during Candy's interview scene. (BC77)
Women in Revolt was first shown at the first Los Angeles Filmex as Sex, an homage to Mae West. At a small cinema in Westwood it was shown as Andy Warhol's Women, an homage to George Cukor. (BC77) Unable to get a distributor for the film, Andy rented out the Cine Malibu, "a small sexploitation movie house" on East 59th Street in New York and launched the film with a celebrity preview on February 16, 1972.
After the screening there was a dinner in Candy's honor at the restaurant, Le Parc Perigord on Park Avenue at 63rd Street, and after that there was a party at Scavullo's townhouse around the corner, where they watched the TV reviews of the movie. Channel 4 called it "a rip-off", Channel 2 said it "looked as if it were filmed underwater," and Channel 7 said "It proves once again that Andy Warhol has no talent. But we knew that since the Campbell's Soup cans."
Among the guests at Candy's party were D.D. Ryan, Sylvia Miles, George Plimpton, Halston, Giorgio di Sant 'Angelo and Diane and Egon von Furstenberg. Jackie Curtis stood out in the cold "along with hundreds of other gate crashers." When a security guard asked "My God, what are they giving away in there" in reference to all the party-goers, one of the guests responded, "Would you believe a transvestite?" (BC85)
The day after the celebrity preview a group of women wearing army jackets, pea coats, jeans and boots and carrying protest signs demonstrated outside the cinema against the film which they thought was anti-woman's liberation. When Candy heard about this, she said, "Who do these dykes think they are anyway?... Well, I just hope they all read Vincent Canby's review in today's Times. He said I look like a cross between Kim Novak and Pat Nixon. It's true - I do have Pat Nixon's nose." (BC86)
Jane Fonda & Candy Darling
In addition to the two films that Candy Darling made for Warhol, she also appeared in other independent films, including Brand X, Silent Night, Bloody Night, as well as a co-starring role as a victim of gay bashing in Some of My Best Friends Are... She also appeared in Klute (as an extra in the disco scene) with Jane Fonda and Lady Liberty with Sophia Loren. In 1971 she went to Vienna to do two films for director Werner Shroeter - The Death of Maria Malibran and another one that was never released. (CD14)
She also appeared in other Jackie Cutis plays - Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit (1969) and Vain Victory: The Vicissitudes of the Damned (1971). (BC80) She was also in Tennessee William's play Small Craft Warnings after impressing Tennessee at his birthday party (BC111).
Lou Reed also based his song Candy Says on her. (CD13)
To whom it may concern
By the time you read this I will be gone. Unfortunately before my death I had no desire left for life. Even with all my friends and my career on the upswing I felt too empty to go on in this unreal existence. I am just so bored by everything. You might say bored to death. It may sound ridiculous but is true. I have arranged my own funeral arrangements with a guest list and it is paid for. I would like to say goodbye to Jackie Curtis, I think you're fabulous. Holly, Sam Green a true friend and noble person, Ron Link I'll never forget you, Andy Warhol what can I say, Paul Morrissey, Lennie you know I loved you, Andy you too, Jeremiah don't take it too badly just remember what a bitch I was, Geraldine I guess you saw it coming. Richard Turley & Richard Golub I know I could've been a star but I decided I didn't want it. Manuel, I'm better off now. Terry I love you. Susan I am sorry, did you know I couldn't last I always knew it. I wish I could meet you all again.
Goodbye for Now
[Tinkerbell was a writer for Interview magazine who, on January 22, 1986, committed suicide by jumping out of a window. (UV251)]