Candy Darling

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Candy by Gerard Malanga

From the first time I heard the words ‘I’ve come to hate my body – And all that it requires in this world’ from the song Candy Says by the Velvet Underground I loved this mysterious sugar lady. I’ve always thought it beautifully sensitive, I thought Candy was a metaphor for hating to feel mortal and that a body can be limiting. But today I coincidentally heard what this song was really about on the radio and was so excited to hear it was about the gorgeous Candy Darling.

Candy was born as James Lawrence Slattery around ’44-’48 (her actual birth year is a mystery, how fabulous!) in a troublesome family with an alcoholic father. At an early age she had come to adore US television and old Hollywood movies and began to impersonate beauties such as Joan Bennet and Kim Novak. When her mother confronted her about the rumours regarding her being seen in a gay club, dressed as a woman, James left the room and came back fully dressed up as Candy. Her mother said, “I knew then… that I couldn’t stop Jimmy. Candy was just too beautiful and talented.”

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Andy and Candy

Through Jackie Curtis, a personal friend of Candy, she met Andy Warhol. Candy being an aspiring actress, Andy offered her roles in films such as Flesh and Women in Revolt and soon became a muse to various artists. The most famous end product of all is the song Candy Says by The Velvet Underground, she was also mentioned in Take A Walk On The Wild Side. Greer Lankton (my new discovery! I love her so expect a post about her too) made a bust of her and she had been portrayed several times by photographers such as Peter Hujar, Fred McDarrah and Robert Mapplethorpe. Later on Morrisey used her image on a Smith’s cover and he also wrote a song called ‘You know I couldn’t last’, in which he quotes Candy on her deathbed. Today she is also a muse to Anthony Heggarty, who used the photograph of Candy on her deathbed by Peter Hujar for his wonderful album I Am A Bird Now.

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Candy By Peter Hujar

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Candy by Fred McDarrah

She was so inspiring, I think, because she lived in glamour and believed in one day becoming something that surpasses humanity. Because, life is boring. The note she left on her deathbed says it all:

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
Love Always
Candy Darling

Candy died of leukaemia On March 21, 1974. Reportedly the hormones (which had not been sufficiently tested) she had been taking to become a woman caused this cancer.

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Candy by Robert Mapplethorpe