Vale Holly Woodlawn

When I was fifteen, I spent a couple of years living in the suburbs – it’s not my natural environment and I had difficulty finding like-minded people so I would listen all night to the radio, hearing music from other worlds, often calling up the DJs to chat about the tunes.

It was here that I first heard Patti Smith, Talking Heads and Lou Reed. Lou’s song “Walk on the Wild Side” called to me as it did to many, and it wasn’t long before I left home and sought my own inner-city adventures, wild and otherwise.

It would be many years before I made it to New York city, but in my mind it will always be the city of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe, of Andy Warhol and his Superstars.

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Holly, Nico, Edie Sedgwick and Warhol. Photo source Twitter.

If you know “Walk on the Wild Side” you’ve probably sung Holly’s story to yourself – she left home at fifteen and “hitchhiked across the USA” until she found her true home. You don’t have to be trans-gendered to understand the need to find your place in the world. It’s a journey many of us never complete, but wouldn’t it be lovely to find acceptance within the silver factory of Warhol and his damaged artists and performers?

I saw many Warhol films in the ’80s, and although the quality is uneven, Holly was a formidable performer and her star shone brightly.

Through my work I’ve often dressed “cross-dressers” (as we used to say) and I have nothing but love and support for anyone who relishes the opportunity to dress up and feel more like themselves.

Holly outlived her compatriots Candy Darling and Jackie Curtis, but still died too young at 69.

Vale Holly. Thank you for all that you did.

Perhaps we’ll see Holly again soon as this week the NGV opens its new exhibition “Andy Warhol Ai Wei Wei”, developed in collaboration with the Andy Warhol museum in Pittsburgh. Looking forward to it.

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Photo by Steven Arnold – source.

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Holly at the Chelsea Hotel – Photo by Gerard Malanga 1971 – source.

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