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Published:January 22nd, 2010 10:50 EST
Candy Darling: Resurrecting the Ingenue

Candy Darling: Resurrecting the Ingenue

By Daniel Marsche

On March 21st 1974, the strobe light flashing of the cameras ceased, the film stopped rolling and the final curtain call was made for Candy Darling: actress, model and cultural icon of New York City`s social scene. She was only 29 years old, but managed, within the span of her all-too-short life, to share the off Broadway stage with the likes of Tennessee Williams and Robert DeNiro, and appear on the silver screen with mega stars such as Sophia Loren, Susan Sarandon, Jane Fonda and Donald Sutherland. Additionally, as if the aforementioned achievements were not enough, it was the indelible impression of Ms. Darling`s muse that served as the inspiration for the now-classic tunes Candy Says by the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed`s Walk on the Wild Side.

It was a chance meeting that led to Candy`s rise into the upper echelon of New York society. It`s almost cliché, and the type of kismet-born incident that most aspiring actors and actresses dream about. The year was 1967 and Candy was performing in the Jackie Curtis play Glamour, Glory and Gold. In the audience was none other than Andy Warhol, legendary artist and avant-garde film producer. Warhol was impressed by Candy`s style and grace. She was a reflection of the classic Hollywood divas that so few contemporary actresses of the time wanted to emulate. And it was that quality that made Ms. Darling Warhol`s ingénue.

``She made an impression on everybody,`` Jeremiah Newton reflects. ``There was something about her that made you glad to be in her company.`` Mr. Newton was Candy`s longtime friend and roommate, and is one of the executive producers of the upcoming documentary Beautiful Darling, an homage to the late starlet. Directed by James Rasin and interspersed with readings of Candy`s actual diary by Oscar Nominee and Golden Globe winner, Chloe Sevigny, Beautiful Darling is the must-see documentary of 2010. ``Candy Darling was as famous as one could get in New York [City] in the 60`s and 70`s,`` Jeremiah continues, and, if one was to merely glimpse into the scope of her social sphere, that would be more than obvious.

As a member of Warhol`s select Factory superstars, Candy was not only able to pursue her lifelong dreams of celebrity, but also navigate within the networks of society`s most privileged members. From private parties to galas at the Italian Embassy, Candy possessed an inexpiable passport to rub shoulders and unleash her charm amongst the crème de la crème. Nonetheless, ``She could be a pain in the ass,`` Jeremiah advises, reminding us of her human nature, ``and she could be duplicitous.`` But is there a diva anywhere that could be described any differently? Especially when considering the mega-personalities and super egos with which they mingle.

Along with Andy Warhol and her Factory superstar peers, Candy was a regular patron of the Back Room at Max`s Kansas City, an exclusive haunt and meeting place for the art world`s elite. Candy`s cohorts and acquaintances included legendary rockers Janis Joplin and Mick Jagger; film greats the likes of Dennis Hopper and Paul Morrissey and fashion moguls such as Halston and Diane von Furstenberg. Yet, in spite of these contemporaries and the hallmark moments that Candy would achieve through her artistry and film work, this little girl from, `` "out on the island,`` remained forever on the fringes of the true success for which she longed.

``She always knew that the carrot was dangling in front of her,`` Jeremiah relates, ``but she knew she could never have what everyone else took for granted.`` And that was acceptance. Candy Darling, you see, was born James Lawrence Slattery, a little boy with a strong penchant for classic Hollywood films and an affinity with the regal women that made them; an affinity that bore with it the desire to become one of them. This afforded James little in the currency of social approval or tolerance, but through sheer determination and by the means of an indefatigable spirit Candy Darling appeared and carved the niche that would later and more fully accommodate the aspirations of gender-bending performers like Lady Bunny, Varla Jean Merman and RuPaul.

In her own words, Candy advises, ``There is one thing I must tell you because I just found it to be a truth "You must always be yourself no matter what the price. It is the highest form of morality.``

The words of this maxim are inspiring; they speak of the strength with which she created her life; they speak of the convictions by which she made her choices. And they convey a powerful message, a message that Jeremiah Newton and the Beautiful Darling production team are sharing through Candy`s documentary. The film is without a doubt a labor of love, a tribute and commemoration to a woman whose virtues exemplified the power and potential of the human spirit. Beautiful Darling is a vehicle to `` "resurrect her memory,`` Jeremiah says, but it is additionally, and on a far more personal note, his way of fulfilling his promise to preserve her life and her memory; to celebrate and share her story so that she will not be forgotten.

``Her death was like a horror film,`` Jeremiah shares reflecting upon the final six months of Candy`s life. In the fall of 1973 Candy was diagnosed with lymphoma stemming from the hormone therapy that she had been utilizing to produce and maintain her femininity. ``She was terrified of death,`` Jeremiah further confides, ``but at the end she was resigned.`` Her death was a marked tragedy to those that knew her, but it was nonetheless a tragedy brought forth by Candy`s adherence to her own convictions. On March 21st 1974, the former James Lawrence Slattery died as Candy Darling having lived and fulfilled her highest form of morality " no matter what the price.

To learn more about Candy and Jeremiah Newton`s upcoming documentary, Beautiful Darling, please visit www.beautifuldarling.com or www.candydarlingsuperstar.com

You can also become a fan of Beautiful Darling for viewing dates and venues at www.facebook.com
To learn more about the Back Room and Max`s Kansas City, please visit www.maxskansascity.com
To learn more about Daniel Tegan Marsche, please visit Marsche-Davis Enterprises at www.Marsche-Davis.com