hollyHolly Woodlawn, who has just died at 69, was one of the accidental icons of the seventies. A glimmer of fame and a name that flickered briefly and beautifully in the lights from a  time when everything was possible in pop culture, Holly willed herself to a transient and yet lasting fame and was the perfect reflection of the delicious possibilities of that decade.

The inspiration behind Lou Reed’s Walk On The Wild Side and also Frankie Goes To Hollywood singer Holly Johnson’s name her life reads like a song lyric. Haroldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez left home and hitchhiked to New York and walked into pop history as documented in Lou’s greatest lyric…

‘Holly came from Miami FLA/ Hitchhiked her way across the USA/ Plucked her eyebrows on the way/ Shaved her legs and then he was a she …’

Now known as Holly Fernandez she come one of Andy Warhol’s ‘superstars’. Known for her role opposite Joe Dallesandro in the 1970 film Trash, her acting credits also included 1972’s Women in Revolt, 1998’s Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss , as well as various roles in cabaret. Holly was a product of the seventies – the photo celebrity culture where fame was the art form as she explained to the Guardian.

“I was very happy when I gradually became a Warhol superstar. I felt like Elizabeth Taylor!” Woodlawn told the Guardian in 2007 “Little did I realise that not only would there be no money, but that your star would flicker for two seconds and that was it. But it was worth it, the drugs, the parties, it was fabulous. You live in a hovel, walk up five flights, scraping the rent. And then at night you go to Max’s Kansas City where Mick Jagger and Fellini and everyone’s there in the back room. And when you walked in that room, you were a STAR!”


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  1. Holly Woodlawn was a marvelous entertainer. She lived fast and furiously as one can read in her book, “A Low Life in High Heels”. Alcoholism and drug use contributed to her early death. Biologically, Holly Woodlawn was a man. Why a DNA test? It is what Holly felt she was rather than DNA! She was confined to a wheelchair in her last years. She was very kind and I had photos printed up and sent them to her to autograph with an SASE and she kindly signed them for me. She can be seen in the documentaries “Beautiful Darling” about Candy Darling and also in “Superstar in a Housedress” which is about Jackie Curtis. The three who are referenced in Lou Reed’s immortal song, “Take a Walk on the Wild Side” who lived as women (Jackie Curtis would show up at the Warhol Factory as female or male depending on his mood). It was Paul Morrissey who directed the three films which Candy, Jackie and Holly Woodlawn appeared in but Andy Warhol took credit for direction. He lied. “Trash”, “Women in Revolt” and “Flesh” included the three ‘transvestites’. Joe Dallesandro continued in films for Warhol but Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis and Holly Woodlawn were on their own devices. They would perform in Jackie Curtis’ avant-garde plays and cabaret. Holly Woodlawn was a delightful person. She will be missed.


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