Archive | May, 2011

Beautiful Darling: Highkixx Cinema Spotlight

25 May

In and amongst the civil rights movement, when drag queens were being arrested in Greenwich Village and the Stonewall Riots raged, was Candy Darling. Candy Darling, one of the stars of Andy Warhol’s Factory, is the subject of a new documentary, Beautiful Darling.  This art house flick has received good reviews, and for good reason. Highkixx brings you a note on this great film about a truly intoxicating person.

According to Candy,

There is one thing I must tell you because I just found it to be truth…You must always be yourself no matter what the price. It is the highest form of morality.

Words to live by.

Candy Darling was born James Lawrence Slattery on November 24, 1944. As a child, he and his mother moved to Massapequa Park, Long Island, and he moved to the City as soon as he could.

Candy’s first “drag” name was Hope Slattery. According to Holly Woodlawn in The Holly Woodlawn Story: A Low Life in High Heels, Candy was first Hope Dahl, then Candy Dahl, and then Candy Cane.  Candy had adopted the last name of Darling because a transvestite friend of hers named Taffy Tits Sarcastic (#greatdragname) “used to drag Candy all over the West Village and say, ‘Come on, let’s go, Candy, darling.’ And Taffy called Candy ‘darling’ so often that it finally stuck.”

According to POPism: The Warhol Sixties, Candy first met Andy Warhol in 1967 at a play called Glamour, Glory and Gold written and directed by future friend and collaborator Jackie Curtis. After the play, Candy and Jackie joined Warhol for a drink at nightclub Salvation in Sheridan Square.

The rest, as they say, is history as Candy soon became a part of Warhol’s Factory…

Here’s Candy and Warhol at Studio 54…

Here’s Candy with Warhol’s friend, and a supporter throughout her short career, Truman Capote…

And, here’s Candy interviewing Salvador Dali…

Here’s Candy on the cover of the Smith’s single, “Sheila Take a Bow” (Note: This was later –1987– after her death.)

Warhol often used Candy in public. Here’s Warhol (and Candy) being interviewed at a Warhol opening at the Whitney Museum in Manhattan, 1971.

The first Warhol film that Candy appeared in was Flesh, (filmed in 1968).

According to Andy Warhol, (thank you Pat Hackett and POPism):

“As late as ’67 drag queens still weren’t accepted in the mainstream freak circles. They were still hanging around where they’d always hung around – on the fringes… sticking to their own circles – outcasts with bad teeth and body odor and cheap make-up and creepy clothes. But then, just like drugs had come into the average person’s life, sexual burs did, too, and people began identifying a little more with drag queens, seeing them more as ‘sexual radicals’ than as depressing losers… That’s how in ’68… people started accepting drag queens – even courting them, inviting them everywhere… ‘Does she tuck?’ the other queens would ask Jackie about Candy, and Jackie would say something oblique like ‘Listen, even Garbo has to rearrange her jewels.’”

Here’s a great little interview with Jackie and Candy…

After her success in Flesh, Candy was cast in a leading role in Women In Revolt filmed in the early 1970’s. Candy played a Long Island socialite drawn into a woman’s liberation group called PIGS (Politically Involved Girls).

Women in Revolt was shown at the first Los Angeles Filmex as Sex, an homage to Mae West. At a small cinema in Westwood it was shown as Andy Warhol’s Women, an homage to George Cukor. Unable to get a distributor for the film, Andy Warhol rented out the Cine Malibu, “a small sexploitation movie house” on East 59th Street in New York and launched the film on February 16, 1972.

Here’s some great archive BBC footage with some of the cast members discussing Women in Revolt

In addition to the two films that Candy Darling made for Warhol, she also appeared in other independent films, including Brand X, Silent Night, Bloody Night, and Some of My Best Friends Are…As well as Klute, (as an extra in the disco scene), with Jane Fonda (below), and Lady Liberty with Sophia Loren.

In 1971, she went to Vienna to do two films for director Werner Shroeter, including The Death of Maria Malibran.

She also appeared in other Jackie Curtis plays, Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit (1969) and Vain Victory: The Vicissitudes of the Damned (1971).

Vain Victory was an especial treat and got her quite a lot of notice. Here’s some footage of the crew in rehearsal for Vain Victory.

Candy wasn’t only a muse to Warhol. Tennessee Williams wrote a play with a part for Candy in 1972 casting her in the star role as Violet in Small Craft Warnings.

Here’s Candy in her private dressing room…

Lou Reed also wrote a song about the various players in Andy’s Factory, including Candy. You may recognize it…

Like the glamorous Hollywood starlets who’s lights burned out too early, Candy Darling died of cancer on March 21, 1974 at the age of 29 in Cabrini Hospital. Below is one of the last pictures taken of Candy…

Thanks to Warhol Stars for the fabulous information. For more, go to candydarlingsuperstar.com.

Go see Beautiful Darling. If you’re in DC, go see Beautiful Darling at The West End Art House Cinema, which just opened in Foggy Bottom. It’s a new venue, and we’re happy to have them. Enjoy!

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HighkiXXX Spotlight: DIVINE and Conquer

18 May

Divine, (or the “Drag Queen of the Century” as he’s been referred to), was born Harris Glenn Milstead in October of 1945 in Baltimore, MD. When he was 17, would-be Divine attended Marinella Beauty School, where he learned hair styling and then started working at a local Baltimore salon. In December 1964, he became locally recognized when gossip spread that he was the chief suspect in the murder investigation of his friend Sally in what was publicized in Baltimore as “The Hairdressing Party Mystery.” However, he was later cleared when the real culprit, a serial killer who had already killed ten other people, was apprehended. (Thank you Jay Bernard and Not Simply Divine! for that little tidbit.)

This talk of serial killing seems an appropriate segue to Glenn Milstead’s introduction to John Waters…

It was in the mid-1960’s that Milstead became acquainted with John Waters. They were contemporaries, neighbors even. Waters was an aspiring filmmaker, intent on making “the trashiest motion pictures in cinema history” and had assembled a group of actors that called themselves The Dreamlanders — (check out http://www.dreamlandnews.com/ for everything you never knew you wanted to know about this troupe). After meeting Milstead through a mutual friend, Waters invited him to appear as the “Smoking Nun” in an early Waters film, Roman Candles, (1966).

Here’s a great 2-part interview with Divine and Waters from Andy Warhol’s TV

Waters named Milstead, “Divine” and they were soon working together again on Waters’s third film, Eat Your Makeup, in 1968. The plot you ask? Simply: Milstead in drag playing Jackie Kennedy who is kidnapping models and forcing them to model and eat their own make-up. (Model torture? OH, YES.)  Anyway, in 1969 Divine appeared in Waters’ next film, The Diane Linkletter Story, and then in Waters’ first full-length motion picture, Mondo Trasho, which starred Divine as one of the main characters, a “portly blonde bombshell” who drives around town and runs over hitchhikers. (Obvs)

This was the first in a long string of successful trash including Multiple Maniacs (1970) in which Divine played Lady Divine, the operator of an exhibit known as “The Cavalcade of Perversion” who turned to murdering visitors. At the film’s end, Divine’s character is raped by a giant lobster named Lobstora, (note photo below). Divine then totally loses it and runs around Baltimore in a craze attempting to kill anyone who passed before finally being shot by the National Guard — (almost whimsical, isn’t it?).

Then came Pink Flamingos (note fab/filthy photo below), a film Waters referred to as “an exercise in bad taste.” Indeed, this is true. The film featured Divine as Babs Johnson, who competes with Raymond and Connie Marbles for the title of “Filthiest Person Alive”. As far as the details…the Marbles kidnap young women so their butler, Channing, can impregnate them, and then give their babies to lesbians. Divine has a semi-incestuous relationship with her son, Crackers, and, in the end, executes the Marbles in front of the tabloid press before dining on poodle poo.  Connie Marbles’ motto? “I guess there’s just two kinds of people … MY kind of people, and assholes.” (Ain’t that the truth!)

As John Waters famously said, “Even if I discover a cure for cancer, the first line of my obituary is bound to mention that I once made a film where Divine eats dog s—t. Which would be OK with me.” (Thanks to Hollywood.com for the great info.)

Divine later appeared in John Waters’s next films, Female Trouble

And then Polyester, in which Divine starred as Francine Fishpaw, a figure who, unlike earlier roles, was not a strong female but a meek and victimized woman who falls in love with her dream lover, Todd Tomorrow, played by Tab Hunter. The film was released in “odorama,” accompanied by “scratch ‘n’ sniff” cards for the audience to smell at key points in the film.

Inbetwixt filming these many cult features, Divine made news working with fellow Dreamlander Mink Stole in a number of small-budget plays as part of a group known as The Cockettes. (Some of these included: Divine and Her Stimulating Studs, Divine Saves the World, Vice Palace, Journey to the Center of Uranus, and The Heartbreak of Psoriasis.) And also starred on Broadway in Women Behind Bars and The Neon Woman, (which featured Divine as Flash Storm, the owner of a Baltimore strip club).

Divine also had a bit of a music career with such songs as Born to be Cheap, Native Love (Step By Step), Shoot Your Shot, Love Reaction, and others.

Check out Walk Like a Man

And, Jungle Jezebel

Finally in 1988, Divine and John Waters came together for Hairspray (1988).

On the evening of March 7, 1988, a week after Hairspray was released, Glenn Milstead/Divine died in his sleep at age 42 in an LA hotel room. He was scheduled to film his role as Uncle Otto on the new (at that time) FOX prime-time series, Married With Children, the next day. This episode was dedicated to Divine. He was also scheduled to play an airplane passenger in the film Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare, but the film had not yet gone into production. Divine’s final resting place is in the Prospect Hill Park Cemetery in Towson, Maryland.

For more filthy/gorgeous facts about Divine, head to www.gruvworks.com and, as Divine would say, “Fuck You Very Much”

Hope you enjoyed this post.

xo,

Mandy

Never a Pal Like (Drag) Mother

8 May

As I thought about what to get my mother this week in anticipation of Mother’s Day (U.S.), I thought about the many drag mothers who have protected and encouraged each succeeding generation of drag queens. Maybe the best ‘ode to drag mother’ is Paris is Burning, which documents drag mothers and ball culture in the LGBT community in 1980’s New York.

Since Paris is Burning did such a good job of capturing what it is to be a “Drag Mother”, Highkixx will dig into ancient drag history again, (as Highkixx did with the Jewel Box Revue), to honor our Drag Grandmothers.

Inspiration came from an article this week, Mama, You Been on My Mind, in The New Yorker — do read and subscribe! This article outlined a new Dust-to-Digital compilation called “Never a Pal Like Mother” that includes a 96-page hardback book featuring 65 antique photographs and 40 vintage recordings from 1927-1956.

According to the article,

Many of the groups were popular in the twenties and thirties and have since faded from memory: the McNulty Family, the Dixieland Jug Blowers, Leo Soileau. There’s even “Mama Don’t Allow It” by the legendary Frankie (Half-Pint) Jaxon, who sang in a high, feminine voice and in fact worked as a female impersonator before retiring from music and going to work at the Pentagon, of all places

Obviously, this post is dedicated to drag mothers everywhere, and especially to Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, one of the original American Drag Mothers.

Frankie “Half Pint” – (he was a slight 5’2”) – Jaxon was a vaudeville singer, comedian and female impersonator around 1910 in the cafes, movie theatres and bars of Kansas City. He traveled relentlessly before settling down in Chicago, and from 1916 and 1921 could often be found at the Sunset Cafe and the Plantation Cafe. Meanwhile, he did staging for the lavish musical revues of Bessie Smith and Ethel Waters, and recorded as a member of several groups inlcuding the Black Hillbillies and the Quarts Of Joy. (Thanks to Red Hot Jazz for the fabulous biographical information.)

Find some great old recordings below from Frankie “Half-Pint” Jaxon, including:

Chocolate to the Bone (we’re talking only SLIGHTLY post-Civil War era folks)…

Wet it (Is he talking about the crops? Well, at first…)

and, Willie the Weeper…

As Frankie “Half Pint” Jaxon would say,

“If this song’s too hot, go out and buy yourself a five cent fan!”

Happy Mother’s Day to you and your (drag) mother,

xo

Mandy for Highkixx

 

Heathers Always Win: Raja is America’s Next Drag SuperStar

3 May

It came down to three queens

America, meet the winner, your next Drag Superstar…RAJA

Raja started out strong…

…and Raja kept werkin it, but it wasn’t all without a bit of BITCH from the Mother “Heather”…

Regardless, Raja stayed professional…

and never let her guard down…

Even on her downtime, “and you thought the hats at the Royal Wedding were good!” …

Watch Raja’s Season 3 Runway walks below, or watch/rewatch the final episode of RuPaul’s DragRace Season 3. Regardless, get a great overview, as usual, from PopWatch. Here’s a “photo recap celebration!” from BuddyTV, and don’t miss these interviews with Raja from The Faster Times and from the Dallas Voice. Finally, catch on overview from the recent Season 3 Reunion Show!

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