One of the last of the great surviving Warhol Superstars Holly Woodlawn passed after a long illness on Sunday. Holly was just wonderful. She just WAS a star, and one of the most unlikely.
She just had a charisma with the camera that never stopped. And off-screen, she was pretty charismatic, too. However, she was surprisingly easy to get along with.
Of the three Warhol transvestite divas of the early ’70s Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis and Holly, she was the most uncomplicated of the three. The other two were raging divas, but not the affable, amenable Holly.
And no one was more surprised by her sudden Superstardom from the film “Trash” than she was.
Paul Morrissey filmed nearly the entire movie in one take on one day, or some unbelievable story like that. I think she barely met Andy, and he didn’t really pay much attention to her until “Trash” came out.
He had been shot at that time or around then by a crazed lesbian feminist who he had also made into a Superstar (See “I Shot Andy Warhol” by Mary Harron). He then developed an understandable disdain amounting to an aversion for the street people he had made his name as an Underground Filmmaker on. And so as Andy was turning away from film, he delegated the ambitious young filmmaker and Factory habituee Paul Morrisey to shoot whatever he liked(as long as it wasn’t him…)
And so Morrissey gave Holly some speed, presumably, or someone did, and he filmed her carrying on, one heated afternoon with the somnabulent Joe D’Allesandro, and voila a star was born. However Holly was in jail at the time, as she describes in the wonderful interview she gave me.(See above) And it wasn’t Warhol who bailed her out, as she described.
“Andy only put up with you if he needed you,” Jackie Curtis once told me. And Holly alludes to that distance she felt with Warhol in the interview. I’m so glad I asked her all those questions about her storied past.
She became a great night-club performer, too. I remember particularly enjoying her in her “Cabaret in the Sky” that she double-billed with Jackie Curtis, directed by the late Ron Link. She even took her act with piano player Paul Serrato to London where she was quite the sensation.
That she was always in drag dressed as a woman seemed the most natural thing in the world. You never questioned it. She lived in drag the entire time I knew her. And was comfortable doing so, so she made you comfortable, too.
She grew to be a very accomplished performer. Enjoy Holly in all her bubbly, transcendent glory.
R.I.P. Holly. We will never forget you.