Friday, July 7, 2017

kinderwhore, candy darling, nancy spungen, and courtney love

Candy Darling Dancing
Photo Courtesy: Pictures of Beautiful Darling Documentary via
What if I told you that the picture above was not of Courtney Love but of Candy Darling, a transgender actress from the sixties? Would you believe me? Well, I hope you do because that is Candy Darling dancing in a VERY Courtney Love fashion.

Who was Candy Darling you ask? She was one of Andy Warhol's Superstars, like Edie Sedgwick. Candy spent a lot of time in Warhol's company both socially and at the Warhol's infamous Factory. The song Take a Walk on the Wild side by Lou Reed was partially written about Candy. The Smiths cover art for Sheila Take a Bow was an image of Candy's face. The song Candy Says by The Velvet Underground was written about her and how she felt betrayed by the gender she was born with.

She was in fact before her time and taken from this world too soon (in 1974).

Candy Darling Wearing a Baby Doll Dress
Photo Courtesy:

I like to tell people that it was Candy Darling that invented the "kinderwhore" style of fashion popularized by Courtney Love. In the sixties short dresses were already the modern style. However, Candy wanted to have a more classy and sometimes innocently girly look than what was popular with  her peers. Unfortunately (or fortunately), Candy was quiet tall giving her dresses the almost doll-like look that is synonymous with kinderwhore.

I also like to take it one step further and postulate that Courtney Love modeled a lot of her early persona after Candy Darling (and Nancy Spungen but I will get to that in a minute). In the following images you can see pictures of Candy wearing a heart shaped locket

Left: Candy Darling in Dressing Room
Right: Candy Darling with Tennessee Williams
Photos Courtesy: and

The icon of a heart was also used predominantly by Courtney Love in much of her early years. I always felt like this was another nod to Candy Darling's look. (Yes, I am aware of the connection of hearts to her surname and Nirvana's Heart Shaped Box.)

Left: Courtney Love and Hole
Middle: Courtney Love with Heart Dress
Right: Courtney Love Editoral with Heart Locket
Photos Courtesy:,, and

What is interesting is that Nancy Spungen also wore a heart shaped locket seen in these photos.
Left: Iggy Pop, Nancy Spungen (back), and Cyrinda Foxe
Middle: Nancy Spungen
Right: Sable Starr and Nancy Spungen
Nancy Spunge was dubbed, "Nauseating Nancy" by the press. She was famous for being Sid Vicious's (from the Sex Pistols) other half. She was also a prostitute and a drug dealer -- and not shy about it. Nancy was known for being blunt, loud, and out of control. Yet, somehow Sid and Nancy were in love. Unfortunately, their romance came to a tragic end.

On October 12, 1978, Nancy was found dead under sink with a stab wound in her hotel. Sid was arrested for her murder. The case never went to court because he soon thereafter overdosed and died.
I can't help seeing Sid and Nancy's demented love story, far too similar to that of Courtney Love's and Kurt Cobain's (from Nirvana). Obviously, they did not have the same narrative or ending. Courtney Love is still alive and kicking. However, their lives had similar chaos and acts of self destructive behavior to Sid and Nancy.

Courtney Love's own love-story ended in gruesome death of Kurt Cobain. But before that, the comparison of her image to the image of Nancy Spungen was lost on no one. Kurt Cobain himself said, "She looked like Nancy Spungen [when he first met Courtney] and I probably could have fucked her that night." And when Courtney Love auditioned for a part in the movie Sid and Nancy she exclaimed, "I am Nancy!"

I find that I have to agree. 

In fact, I have always seen the public image of Courtney Love (in the nineties at least) as a weird mashup of Candy Darling and Nancy Spungen. It is as if she idolized these two characters and formed a temporary identity around them. Leaving her core identity untouched. Maybe it is just a coincidence. Maybe not. I just can't help think that Courtney Love took what she needed and came out the other side.

I'll leave you with these two quotes from Courtney Love and let you decide.

"Drag queens taught me how to be a rock star." - Courtney Love
"Nancy was stupid." - Courtney Love

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