Notes from the Catalogue: Candy Darling

“Every woman who wants to be beautiful should be beautiful”

 

Among the many items up for auction in our June 20 Pride Sale, is an archive of personal effects of Candy Darling an enduring trans icon, American actress and Warhol superstar. Darling’s pop-culture impact still resonates: she was featured in songs by The Rolling Stones and Lou Reed before her untimely death from lymphoma in 1974 at age 29.

  

Black and white portrait photograph of Candy Darling.
Lot 164: Portrait from an archive of personal effects of Candy Darling, portait of Darling, circa 1950s-73. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

 

“I feel that someone like me has a very limited chance for happiness. I must find out whether it’s right and good for me to be a female, and can I ever be a woman? My first desire is to be right & have a husband. I will ask for no more. In that pleasant state I would be content for the rest of my earthly days. I am 26 years old. Time to think, time to do. Time to practice–all I believe is right.”


 

“If found call Andy Warhol Films”

 

Title page of Candy Darling's datebook with scribbles and writings in crayon and pen.
Lot 164: An archive of personal effects from Candy Darling, cover of Darling’s datebook, circa 1950s-73. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

 

The heart of this lot is her 1970 datebook with its title page inscribed “Candy Darling, reward if found. If found call Andy Warhol Films. . . . BIG Reward.” A well-thumbed 15-page address section features contact information for Andy Warhol, Dick Cavett, Jackie Curtis, Hedy Lamarr, Jane Fonda, Max’s Kansas City, Warhol figures such as Ultra Violet, Paul Morrissey, Gerard Malanga, Viva, who was staying at the Chelsea Hotel, and many more.

 

Details of Candy Darling's datebook.
Lot 164: An archive of personal effects from Candy Darling, Darling’s datebook, circa 1950s-73. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

 

The page-a-day entries are mostly in the form of appointments or cryptic memoranda, with occasional diary entries, dramatic drawings of makeup or self-portraits, and quotations.

Darling was a favorite of the era’s best-known photographers: appointments with Richard Avedon, Irving Penn, and Bruce Weber are noted in the diary, among many others.

 

On Her Identity:

Among the musings on her gender identity is a long reminiscence dated January 11: “At the Hayloft I was a star. These queens adored me because I was beautiful. I met a designer who asked me to model his clothes. At this time I had black (dyed) hair. He and some of the others saw how feminine I was and encouraged me to become the woman? I am today. Beauty is very important. Every woman who wants to be beautiful should be beautiful. . . . One day I realized I was not just looking like a pretty boy but a pretty girl. . . . God will make each one of us fit in our own individual way. . . . The worst experiences of my life have been not being able to express my love freely to all the men I would have loved.”

 

Black and white photograph of Candy Darling being carried
Lot 164: An archive of personal effects from Candy Darling, portait of Darling, circa 1950s-73. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

 

On August 20 Darling discusses her friend Taffy: “Tonight I cut Taffy’s hair and we went out. Taffy wore a man’s shirt and pants and sandals, no make up. She had a belt tied around her chest to strap the breasts down. Taffy now says that she is a man.”

 

On Love:

 

Candy Darling's heart-shaped sunglasses from the 1970s.
Lot 164: An archive of personal effects from Candy Darling, her heart-pattern sunglasses, circa 1950s-73. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

 

Ron Glick is mentioned several times throughout Darling’s writings and musings, on May 13, 1970 she writes, “My dream come true. Ron Glick put a diamond ring on my finger and said Candy and I are engaged.” Glick is mentioned again on March 7-8, 1971 in a memorandum which reads, “I find I am thinking of Ron Glick all the time. . . . I want to send him a beautiful picture of me on which I will write ‘Ron, I have not forgotten you, I think of you often.’ . . . I pray he will write back to me. I would marry him in an instant. I must become worthy.” Darling continues, “I feel that someone like me has a very limited chance for happiness. I must find out whether it’s right and good for me to be a female, and can I ever be a woman? My first desire is to be right & have a husband. I will ask for no more. In that pleasant state I would be content for the rest of my earthly days. I am 26 years old. Time to think, time to do. Time to practice–all I believe is right.”

 

A handwritten letter in blue ink by Candy Darling with lipstick kisses at the bottom.
Lot 164: An archive of personal effects from Candy Darling, letter signed with lipstick kisses, circa 1950s-73. Estimate $20,000 to $30,000.

 

One letter to “Dearest Lawrence” reads, “I still can’t get you out of my mind. . . . I’m not very subtle, am I? I can’t afford to be subtle, there’s too little time. . . . My thoughts of you could fill an eternity.” Darling signed the letter with five lipstick kisses.

 

Swann Galleries and participating consignors will be donating a portion of their commissions from The Pride Sale to benefit The Leslie-Lohman Museum in New York City.

 

Telling Queer Stories: The Challenges of Unearthing a History

Join editor-in-chief of Hyperallergic Hrag Vartanian in conversation with communications industry veteran Cathy Renna and Eduardo Ayala Fuentes of the Leslie-Lohman Museum on Monday, June 17 at 6 pm. RSVP here.

Can’t make it to the panel? The exhibition is on view June 15 – June 20 and is free and open to the public.

 

Fore more in our June 20 sale, browse the full catalogue or download the Swann Galleries App.