Beautiful Darling is a new documentary about Candy Darling, the legendary Queen of Andy Warhol’s downtown New York who was born a man, James Lawrence Slattery, in 1944, and died a celebrated woman in 1974. People have used labels like drag queen or transsexual to describe Candy, but as the movie explores, she’s neither, always just that singular creation, Candy. She was one of the most glamorous figures in early 1970′s New York, so obsessed by Kim Novak and cinema luster that, even broke and destitute, she turned herself into a Hollywood swan, gracing the dirty New York streets in pearly dresses and peroxide-blonde hair. Lou Reed wrote two songs about her, one by himself and one with The Velvet Underground, and Candy acted in some Off-Broadway plays and a few Warhol films. No role was more important to her, though, than the role of Candy Darling. Even on her deathbed, she filled the room with flowers and had the scene dramatically photographed.
Catch our interview with director James Rasin about the film, which was made in conjunction with Candy’s best friend Jeremiah Newton, and see the movie yourself. It’s playing at IFC in New York, the Downtown Independent in Los Angeles and at Coolidge Corner in Boston.
It’s interesting to make a so-called truthful documentary about a woman who was more concerned with a fiction and this self-created Candy Darling than the hard facts. Well she was an act of self-creation, which is, in a way, a fiction unto itself. But I think what is interesting about her kind of performance artwork is that through a kind of fictionalizing of things or creating something new, you arrive at some kind of basic truth.
Do you think she found a truth? Well I think that she was starting to. She was getting older, she had reached, by any kind of standard, especially standards around New York in those days, a pretty good amount of fame. She was a celebrity downtown. She was in Andy Warhol films, she was on his arm, she was on Jane Fonda’s arm, she was in a Tennessee William’s play. I think that she was beginning to realize, though, that maybe some of the ultimate dreams that she had of becoming a huge movie star like Kim Novak weren’t going to happen and the things that did happen were maybe a little hollow. So I think she started thinking about what she really wanted down the road, which was a husband and children. A life in the suburbs.