Drag queens, studs, hustlers, popstars, superstars, heiresses, artists, art tits; anything went at Andy Warhol’s Factory and as today marks the day one of his fabled Time Capsules is opened at the Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, we remember the original beautiful people. Jeremiah Newton was Candy Darling’s best friend and roommate between the years of 1965-1974 and would go on to be the keeper of Candy’s estate. He released the book, My Face For The World To See: The Diaries, Letters And Drawings of Candy Darling, Andy Warhol Superstar in 98 and in 2010, finished filming Beautiful Darling, a feature length documentary celebrating the life and times of Candy with director, James Rasin.
Candy Darling dressed as a woman full-time, can you put this time in New York into context?
In those days it was illegal to dress up like a woman. You could wear one item of women’s clothing but you had to wear pants. Cops could arrest you for looking like a woman but for the most part they didn’t. At that time there were quite a few of these characters around, more so than these days and they always had amazing names, Terry Van Dyke, Electra... Candy would come into my work and talk to one of the girls who had been a secretary to Hitler. She’d get angry at some of the things Candy would say about Hitler but throughout it all she never knew that Candy wasn’t a real woman! Candy, like many artists surrounded herself with people who supported her. I remember she said to me, "I’m on the Candy Darling trip and if he’s not on the Candy Darling trip then he needs to get off at the next stop!"
What was it like when Candy was getting ready for a party?
Oh there was a whole process of getting ready. Candy had to feel good, she had to feel right, she would get very down and very frustrated mostly because of money. For example she always needed money for cabs as there’s no way she could get on the subway. She didn’t have a big wardrobe, she was rough on clothes, in those days you could buy lovely ‘50s dresses for five dollars in the thrift store. Those dresses were beautiful but they were old and they didn’t last long. Candy was a terrible housekeeper. One day I was cleaning up and found a defecated chicken under her bed, it was disgusting just like one of these chickens you buy ready-roasted but it was weeks old and dried out. Candy came home and said, ‘Where’s my chicken?’ I said, ‘I threw it out it was disgusting, it was a dead chicken!’ She said, ‘That was a magic chicken.’ Once I also found this one shoe under her bed and threw it out. Candy said it was Marilyn Monroe’s shoe, I mean it could have been, Candy did know about these things. I felt bad but the place was a mess, somebody had to clean up!
What do you remember about Candy’s time acting for Warhol?
Women In Revolt was not made consecutively over a set period of time, it was made a scene here or a scene there according to when people were available but Candy would talk about scenes. Candy had to come up with lines, she had to nail it. If you came up with interesting dialogue the camera stayed on you. Candy said that at times she would be speaking and it was as if she could feel the camera leaving her! You had to deliver and Candy knew it.
Tell us the story behind the famous photograph of Candy taken by Peter Hujar.
The beginning of Candy’s illness was horrifying, she had a lump in her stomach. Candy said, ‘Jeremiah, I’m pregnant!’ I said, ‘Dear that’s not possible!’ She went into hospital for investigative surgery but it was too late, the tumor was too far advanced. Candy was very angry, she wasn’t ready to die, she was very angry with me, very angry with many close people around her as she didn’t want to die. Months later, Candy was getting ready to be operated on the next day. She knew it was serious so she called up all the photographers that she knew. Peter came by, nothing really had to be set up, Candy had done her make-up already. If you ever see the contact sheet of that famous shot I’m sitting at the side. That image is unforgettable, Candy’s gaze. She knew, she knew it was the end.
Tell us about some of the highs and lows of making Beautiful Darling.
Editing the opening scenes was pretty difficult, it had to be right. Raising money for the project has also been tough but one of the highs was restoring three tapes of previously unseen footage of Candy. We’re together in our apartment acting out a little film we made up. Seeing our interaction, the way she looks at me is moving. There’s also footage of Candy talking to Tenessee Williams at the closing party of his play Small Craft Warnings in which Candy starred. Wonderful footage, I’d say we’re about six months away from finishing.