Happy Birthday Holly Woodlawn !
Holly Woodlawn grew up in Miami Beach and in 1962 left, heading north. She recollects that “I hocked some jewellery and … made it all the way to Georgia, where the money ran out and … had to hitchhike the rest of the way” to New York.
She met Andy Warhol in the Factory at a screening of Flesh. Through him she met Jackie Curtis, who cast Woodlawn in her play Heaven Grand in Amber Orbit in the autumn of 1969. In October she was assigned a bit role in Trash, but so impressed director Paul Morrissey that she was given a larger role. In 1970 she received word from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that George Cukor, supported by others, was petitioning the Academy to nominate her for Trash – however, nothing came of this campaign.
In May 1971, Woodlawn replaced Candy Darling at the La Mama Theatre, New York in a production of Vain Victory written and directed by Jackie Curtis. She was arrested and briefly incarcerated in Puerto Rico after being caught shoplifting. Holly created a stir when she was arrested in New York City after impersonating the wife of the French Ambassador to the United Nations. When arrested, she was taken to the Women’s House of Detention then transferred to a men’s facility when her biological sex was discovered.
In 1972 director Robert Kaplan and cinematographer Paul Glickman concocted the idea of a movie whose premise would be using a transvestite as the lead in a film that would not be about transvestitism nor would ever mention or acknowledge the lead’s bended gender. Woodlawn played a young starstruck girl hoping to make it in the big city. The film, “Scarecrow in a Garden of Cucumbers”, was a low budget, 16mm, musical feature that never really got on track. A supposedly interesting element was the song “In The Very Last Row” written by Marshall Barer and performed by Bette Midler.
By 1976 the work had dried up, and Woodlawn moved to San Francisco. She returned to New York later in the year and had a brief revival after appearing on Geraldo Rivera’s talk show, before being jailed again in 1977 for not fulfilling a previous probation obligation. She was released on the appeal of politician Ethan Geto, who helped organize a benefit for her.
By 1979, she had surrendered to a faltering career, and ended up cutting her hair and moving back to her parents’ home in Miami, getting a busboy job at Benihana of Tokyo.
Woodlawn continued to make cameo appearances in plays and films such as Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss throughout the 1980s and 1990s. After Warhol’s death, she was a frequently requested commentator on his life and influence. She currently resides in West Hollywood.
Woodlawn began performing in cabaret shows in sold-out New York and Los Angeles performances in the early 2000s. She continues to travel with her cabaret show, most recently appearing in KrakÃ³wand London in 2008.
Hollys life was highlights in the first line of Lou Reed’s classic ” Walk on the wild side”
“Holly came from Miami FLA, / hitch-hiked her way across the USA, / plucked her eyebrows on the way, / shaved her legs, and then he was a she…”
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