From the acclaimed biographer Cynthia Carr, the first full portrait of the queer icon and Warhol superstar Candy Darling.
Warhol superstar and transgender icon Candy Darling was glamour personified, but she was without a real place in the world.
Growing up on Long Island, lonely and quiet and queer, she was enchanted by Hollywood starlets like Kim Novak. She found her turn in New York’s early Off-Off-Broadway theater scene, in Warhol’s films Flesh and Women in Revolt, and at the famed nightclub Max's Kansas City. She inspired songs by Lou Reed and the Rolling Stones. She became friends with Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin, borrowed a dress from Lauren Hutton, posed for Richard Avedon, and performed alongside Tennessee Williams in his own play.
Yet Candy lived on the edge, relying on the kindness of strangers, friends, and her quietly devoted mother, sleeping on couches and in cheap hotel rooms, keeping a part of herself hidden. She wanted to be a star, but mostly she wanted to be loved. Her last diary entry was: “I shall try to be grateful for life . . . Cannot imagine who would want me." Candy died at twenty-nine in 1974, as conversations about gender and identity were really just starting. She never knew it, but she changed the world.
Packed with tales of luminaries and gossip and meticulous research, immersive and laced with Candy’s words and her friends' recollections, Cynthia Carr's Candy Darling is Candy's long-overdue return to the spotlight.
“Deftly reported and full of fresh facts and interviews as well as glittering gossip, Cynthia Carr’s Candy Darling allows us to see—truly, for the first time—this celluloid wisp of a Warhol superstar in all her humanity and in all her doomed performance art, trying to pass 24-7 as Kim Novak or Marilyn Monroe, existing 2D in a 3D world. Updating all the camp and vamp, Carr is a trustworthy, sensitive guide to the nuances of Candy’s experience as she emerges as a historical trans pioneer, caught between gender dysphoria and her own blonder gender euphoria.”
—Brad Gooch, author of Radiant: The Life and Line of Keith Haring
“Candy Darling willed herself to be beautiful, and she succeeded: she was uniquely, spectrally beautiful. But the world made her pay for it. The prejudice against gender choice kept her poor, beholden to others, shunned, disrespected, disinvited, and locked up within herself. Cynthia Carr’s minute reconstruction of her life is brilliant and profoundly sad. As if Candy’s ghost were dictating the terms, it keeps her an enigma, a consummate life actress who never dressed down.”
—Lucy Sante, author of I Heard Her Call My Name