Holly Woodlawn was a movie star back when I was in high school. She was on the cover of the Rolling Stone, an amazing picture I can’t find, but one that certainly mixed up a young person’s head about the possibilities in this world.
When I was in high school we ate up Paul Morrisey’s trashy movies, Flesh and Heat, Dracula and Frankenstein 3D, some of which starred Holly Woodlawn.
When I heard that she’d passed yesterday I recalled the long and ridiculous dialogues she and Joe Dellasandro had in Trash, Holly’s nasal insistence the opposite of glamorous, but at the same time so full of its own sense of value, so real, that it also felt brave and heartening and hugely personal.
Vincent Canby got it right in his review of Trash in the New York Times:
“Holly Woodlawn, especially, is something to behold,” Vincent Canby wrote in his review for The New York Times, “a comic book Mother Courage who fancies herself as Marlene Dietrich but sounds more often like Phil Silvers.”
Which is why her place in rock ‘n’ roll history is cemented by these lines:
Holly came from Miami F-L-A,
Hitchhiked her way across the U.S.A.,
Plucked her eyebrows on the way,
Shaved her legs and then he was a she.
She says Hey babe,
Take a walk on the wild side
Said hey honey
Take a walk on the wild side.