Even if you haven’t seen Holly Woodlawn’s memorable work in seminal queer films such as Trash (legendary director George Cukor touted her work as worthy of an Oscar nomination) and Women in Revolt, you likely know her reputation from the immortal Lou Reed anthem “Walk on the Wild Side.” The late rock star singled out the pioneering trans entertainer, now 68 and forever linked to iconic pop artist Andy Warhol as one of his great self-proclaimed superstars, in the opening verse:
Holly came from Miami, F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
Woodlawn, whose epic life was vividly chronicled in the 1991 memoir A Low Life in High Heels, is now in extremely poor health and about to undergo exploratory surgery in a Los Angeles hospital and the outcome for her recovery isn’t very optimistic. A GoFundMe campaign has been set up by her friend and fellow entertainer Penny Arcade to help cover medical and (ugh) eventual funeral and burial costs for the ailing performer. Penny’s note about Holly reads:
Holly Woodlawn, the beloved, iconic Transgender LBGT pioneer and Warhol superstar is very ill. She is currently in the hospital in Los Angeles in a private room.The hospital has asked that we not give out the name because they are already fielding many phonecalls about Holly and are not set up to handle it. Holly cannot speak on the telephone now and her condition is dire. She is undergoing investigative measures to determine exactly the nature of the lesions discovered on her brain and lungs. There are also other physical conditions challenging her recovery. Holly’s has made it clear that she wants to return home, surrounded by friends and if she must die, she doesn’t want to die in a nursing home.
We who love Holly, hope to raise enough funds to continue her care and hopefully bring Holly home with 24 hour nursing care , after she recouperates in a nursing home. Currently, we have no means to achieve these goals, which also include provisions for her funeral and to secure her last resting place. Holly gave visability long before it was comfortable to do so and also gave thousands of people both hope and pleasure.
Please contribute and help us bring Holly home and please, please share this widely.
Experience a few minutes of the legend yourself with this short clip from her volatile performance in 1970’s Trash opposite Joe Dallesandro and scroll down for an amazing vintage interview.