A Woman to Know: Holly Woodlawn

Listen, you have to have a real sense of humor to get through this life. I mean, honey, get real. — Holly

(Photo by Jack Mitchell for Getty Images)
Andy Warhol fell in love with her, and so he put her in his movies. And then everyone fell in love with her.

But unlike the Edies and the Nicos and the other silver spoon babies in Andy's movie-making menagerie, Holly had enough street smarts to know when to call the Factory life quits. At age 16, she'd left home in Florida and hitchhiked her way to New York — a trek immortalized in Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side." According to the song, she plucked her eyebrows and shaved her legs along the route, working as a call girl, a dress model and a file clerk, all before her star-making turn alongside other transgender actresses Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis in Paul Morrissey's "Women in Revolt."

But who knows Holly's real story before the Warhol days — Holly herself told multiple versions in her autobiography. After giving up the Factory life, she bounced from Florida to California back to New York, doing the occasional cabaret show but also waiting tables and making the odd film appearance. "Your star would flicker for two seconds," she said later in life. "And that was it. But it was worth it. The drugs, the parties — it was fabulous."

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** Thank you to Laney Ellisor for recommending today's woman to know! And to so many of you for loving Holly and sending me stories about her for this newsletter. <3 **

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