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Trans Trading Cards: Candy Darling (1999)

Trans Trading Cards: Candy Darling (1999)

©1999, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1999, November). Trans trading cards: Candy Darling. Two-Spirit News: The Newsletter of the Atlanta Gender Explorations Support Group (electronic version).


 Transsexual and Transgender Trading Cards?

 Candy Darling

by Dallas Denny


In the first issue of this e-zine I presented a list of potential candidates for a deck of transgender and transsexual trading cards. Each month I’ll highlight one of the selections.


Candy Darling was one of Andy Warhol’s “drag queens”—Warhol called all male-born individuals who dressed as women “drag queens.” There were three primary Warhol “drag queens”—Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn, and Candy Darling. Jackie was primarily a drag queen, a heavy methamphetamine user who, according to Holly, wore men’s underwear. Holly, who lived as a woman but decided against surgery, would be called a transgenderist, although she might not call herself that. Candy, however, was certainly transsexual.

Candy Darling's Trading Card

Candy Darling, Side 1 Candy Darling Side 2

In 1970s New York, pop artist Andy Warhol accumulated a ragtag collection of admirers, would-be artists, poseurs, drug addicts, hangers-on, and crackpots who hung out at his “Factory,” a large brownstone in which he created his prints. Warhol, in his trademark white wig, would hold court at the Factory and appear with members of his royal court at parties and other events and especially at Max’s Kansas City. He was always good for a meal or a handout, which kept the sycophants sycophanting.

Among the Factory crew were the “drag queens,” most notably Holly, Jackie, and Candy, who were immortalized in Lou Reed’s song “Walk on the Wild Side:

Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.

Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A.

Plucked her eyebrows on the way

Shaved her legs and then he was a she…


Jackie was just speeding away

Thought she was James Dean for a day

Then I guess she had to crash

Valium would have helped that bitch…

Can anyone recite the verse about Candy? Hint: In the back room she was everybody’s darling.

Warhol used the Jackie, Holly, and Candy in his—actually Paul Morrissey’s—films, most notably Trash. His hangers-on, including Jackie, Candy, and Holly, were often seen in his company in glamorous places, although in actuality their lives were anything but glamorous. Although Warhol would give them handouts, he didn’t pay them a salary, and they crashed wherever they could.

Candy was beautiful in a fragile, blonde way, quite feminized by hormones. Of the three, Candy had the most potential for stardom. But of the three, it was Holly who became best known and who is the only one left alive today. Jackie died from living too hard and fast, and Candy lost a fight with leukemia.

Candy left assorted writings, which have been published in the form of diaries. One is a tiny paperback (Candy Darling. New York: Hanuman Books, 1992). Another has a cover that looks like a diary, complete with lock (Newton, J(1997). My face for the world to see: The diaries, letters, and ravings of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar. New York: Hardy Marks/D.A.P., 1997).


For more information on Warhol’s Factory years, see:

Ultra Violet. (1988). Famous for 15 minutes: My years with Andy Warhol. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Woodlawn, H., with Copeland, J. (1992). A low life in high heels: The Holly Woodlawn Story. New York: St. Martin’s Press.