Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling Try to Crack the Glitter Ceiling

Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling Try to Crack the Glitter Ceiling

Both Jackie Curtis and Candy Darling held on to a sincere hope that they would become actual stars, but they were too far ahead of their time to crack the glitter ceiling. When Lily Tomlin was performing in the early 1970s at the popular midtown venue Upstairs at the Downstairs, she got Darling an audition for the nightclub’s musical review. “I thought Candy was really good in the audition,” Tomlin said, but the show’s producer had a more uptight midtown audience to contend with, so he passed. “My frustration is that they couldn’t break through to the mainstream culture,” Jane Wagner added, “but that was what made them unique, so that’s ironic. You wanted them to be accepted in a bigger way because they wanted it so much, but then if they had been, they wouldn’t have been who they were.” In 1974, at the age of twenty-nine, Darling died of lymphoma, perhaps caused by the questionable hormone treatments she received. “By the time you read this I will be gone,” she said in a deathbed letter written to Andy Warhol, which captured the exhaustion that saturated that era. “I am just so bored by everything. You might say bored to death.” By the mid-1970s, the Off-Off-Broadway and Factory scenes were also on life support.

From Chapter 21 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


The Factory (Union Square)
33 Union Square W, New York, NY 10003