“Everyone thinks Andy Warhol made me a superstar, but it was Paul Morrissey who put me in ‘Trash,'” Holly Woodlawn was saying by telephone from West Hollywood, Calif., in the days after Lou Reed’s death in October 2013.Holly was a war horse of the Warhol era, a rare survivor from a group whose most incandescent talents burned hard and burned out fast.
By the time that phone call took place, Woodlawn had been ill for some time with the liver cancer that this week claimed her life at age 69.
She had long since fallen on hard times, career opportunities for aged Warhol superstars being what they are.
The mordant humor, impeccable comic timing and matchless deadpan that Holly Woodlawn brought so vividly to the screen as a welfare cheat married to Joe Dallessandro’s heroin addict in “Trash,” and as man-hating nymphomaniac fashion model in “Women in Revolt,” was never really an act.
It was Holly, after all, who, as she wrote in her 1991 memoir, “A Low Life in High Heels: The Holly Woodlawn Story,” changed her name from Haroldo Danhakl, hitchhiked to New York from Miami at 16 and fell in with a group of prostitutes of any and every gender, turning tricks and buying 25-cent lipsticks from subway vending machines, living off the streets and “Wondering when my next meal was coming.”
“Honey, I told everyone I was the heiress of Woodlawn Cemetery,” she once remarked to me between takes in some mercifully long-forgotten underground movie.
“I can’t lie,” Holly Woodlawn said in 2013, between drags on a vape pen.
“You can’t take everything too heavy in life,” Holly said at the time, musing aloud about how she would attend memorial services for Mr. Reed when she hardly had bus fare.