Beautiful Darling


I’m not a massive fan of Andy Warhol as an artist but am intrigued and fascinated with the people he surrounded himself with. Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn and Mary Woronov are some of my favorites but my absolute favourites are the gorgeous Joe Dallesandro (he’s got a documentary too called Little Joe) and Candy Darling. I’ve been desperately trying to find a second hand copy of her out of print book My Face for the World to See: The Diaries of Candy Darling, so when I heard about this documentary I was really psyched to see it and hoped to find out more about her early life.

Candy Darling was born James L. Slattery on November 24th 1944 and grew up in a household with a violent alcoholic father. As a child James was obsessed with Hollywood movies, glamour and starlets such as Kim Novak. As a teen he started to wear makeup and dresses and in an anonymous interview with an old childhood friend she tells of seeing James on the train in a dress and how she no longer accepted him as a person or friend. James wanted to be a movie-star from the get go and although Candy Darling did achieve some fame – more notorious than rich and famous – she achieved this goal, although it seems that life was still a struggle and she wasn’t living as glamorous a life as she wanted.

The documentary benefits greatly from Candy’s friend Jeremiah Newton who produced the film. After her death he conducted audio interviews with those who new including Tenessee Williams and her mother. Jeremiah also received most of Candy’s belongings from her mother and has kept her legacy going with these artifacts. His photos, archive footage and interviews offer some really great insights and information about Candy.

The film uses archive footage, interviews, photos, audio transcripts of interviews and there’s also narration from Chloe Sevigny reading excerpts out of Candy’s diary. There’s a tonne of interesting interviewees including: Jeremiah Newton, Fran Lebowitz, John Waters, Paul Morrissey, Holly Woodlawn, Gerard Malanga, Taylor Mead, Penny Arcade, Julie Newmar, Jayne County and loads more.

There’s some wonderful archive footage of Candy rehearsing, hanging out at the Chelsea with Dennis Hopper and acting out scenes from Picnic (1955). There’s also some clips of her rehearsing and performing in Broadway shows. I enjoyed seeing pictures of her as a young boy and of her not being so well manicured with her five o’clock shadow showing underneath thick layers of foundation.

An absolute must have for Candy Darling fans. This documentary shows her life warts and all, its intimate, critical yet tender and most importantly (to me) documents a time when “freaks really were freaks”. Candy and the New York drag-queens and trans-genders were not a part of some fad, they risked being arrested and being beaten up on the streets every day. If you’re not a fan of Candy Darling then it’s still worth checking out for the incredible time-period the documentary covers. Well worth the purchase price.

There’s not much in the way of extras, there’s only a theatrical trailer and inside there’s a mini poster with the chapter index on the reverse of it. The content of the documentary is well worth the price so don’t let this aspect put you off buying it.

Beautiful Darling is available on R1 DVD from Corinth Films.

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