The Warhol Trannies

I’m currently reading Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk – which I highly recommend – and I’ve just gotten to the section about Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn and Candy Darling and Jayne (then Wayne) County – and from one observer’s pov, they didn’t care if people knew they were born male.

According to Leee Childers:

To me, Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn and the rest of them were the most glamourous people. They weren’t drag quens. They weren’t crazy. These were just people who lived twenty-four hours in dresses and old ladies’ shoes . . . (Holly) didn’t really care whether other people knew she was a man or a woman or a Martian.

The stove immediately became coated with zip wax from them zipping their faces, because in those days you zip-waxed your beard, and what it achieved wasn’t a feminine look.

You took hot, molten wax, put it on your face, let it dry, and then grabbed it and pulled it off. So what it did was rip out your beard by the roots, which made your face swell up all red, bloated, ugly. Then they’d put this Woolworth’s makeup on, because that was all they could afford – this Woolworth’s orange makeup all over their red faces and then go out in pubic! No one thought they were women, no one thought they were men! No one knew what they were! And they dressed in old-lady dresses. This old lady died next door to us, and Jackie walked the ledge from the window to her window and broke into her apartment to steal all her clothes. Those were the clothes that Jackie wore, the dead old lady’s dresses!

Holly just wore anything. She’d just wrap a sheet around her. In fact, Holly got in trouble with the welfare people. She was on welfare, everyone was. She would show up at the welfare office to get her welfare check in ostrich feathers and false eyelashes. One day they took her into an office and said, “Sire, this is the welfare office. You’re showing up in evening gowns and ostrich feathrs. The other welfare recipients are getting very upset about this.”

Holly said, “But me some jeans, I’ll wear them, otherwise I’ll spend my money as I please, and I please to spend it on ostrich feathers.”

Please Kill Me, p. 91

Ah, NYC in the late 70s. I’m not sure there’s anything an artsy, proto-punk junkie speedfreak sub subculture wouldn’t forgive.

5 Replies to “The Warhol Trannies”

  1. I could be wrong, but it’s been my understanding that unlike Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling *was* a transsexual; she was certainly on hormones. How “passable” she was as a woman in daily life (as opposed to her photographs), and whether she cared, I have no idea.


  2. I was lucky enough to see a Warhol Exhibit this past weekend
    in Chicago while visiting my boyfriend. Honestly, I was floored.
    I feel like I was born a decade or two too late. What is there now?
    Things have gone down hill. Art has died. Queer punk REVOLT
    culture has died. Anyhow, I sound depressing.

    Candy was one of my first inspirations. She did a lot of Marlana
    Detrick impersinations (the resemblence between her, Madonna,
    and Marlana is striking).

    As far as I know it seems pretty clear that all three spent most of
    their time in public as women.

    And.. honestly I think your father was probably wrong. I’ve seen
    tons of reel-to-reel and photos of Candy, she was drop dead
    gorgous. Unbelievably so. :le swoon:


  3. Danielle, passability is an impression, a reaction. It can’t be wrong or right; it just is. Passability in face-to-face interactions often has little to do with anything on screen. And it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with attractiveness. My dad told me clearly that he didn’t see Candy Darling as a woman.

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