"Holly came from Miami, F-L-A
hitchiked 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'
Lou Reed - Walk on the Wild Side - Transformer(1972)
The "Holly" of Lou Reed's song is none other than Holly Woodlawn. On October 26, 1946 Holly was born as "Harold Santiago Rodriguez Franceschi Danhackl" in Juana Diaz, Puerto Rico. Her mother was Puerto Rican and her father German.
At the age of 15, while living in Miami, FL - Harold admitted to his father that he was a homosexual. His father immediately tried to send his son to a youth correctional facility. "Harold" instead ran off to New York with a male friend and $27 in stolen money. Harold became Holly (named after after Holly Golightly in Truman Capote’s story Breakfast at Tiffanys) and began to dress as a woman full time. (The last name "Woodlawn" didn't come about until she met Warhol)
Holly takes odd jobs for a few years in New York including performing as a go-go dancer in a bar in Syracuse. Then in 1968 she met Andy Warhol at a screening for his movie Flesh. A year later director Paul Morrissey casts Holly in Trash starring Joe Dallesandro. Holly was paid a total of $125 for her 5 days of work on the film. The film went on to earn over 2million dollars for Warhol and Morrissey -- however now Holly was now a part of Warhol's Factory and an official Warhol "superstar".
Holly only made one other movie for Morrissey and Warhol: Women in Revolt (1972), but as part of The Factory she was constantly making appearances at Max's Kansas City nightclub and at the various art and movie premiers with the rest of the Warholians. She spent the next 30 years perfecting a caberet act and performing in some 16 independent films and theatre productions.
Holly has a large cult following -- especially among the gay and transgendered community. She says she is contantly amazed at the hundreds of younger kids that recognize and praise her when she makes appearances across the country. She is an inspiration to many. She wrote an auto-biography in 1991: The Holly Woodlawn Story: A Low Life in High Heels. She continues to perform regularly and lives in California with her room-mate Roger.
In a 1977 Geraldo Rivera show on sexuality he asked the Holly - "Do we call you a man or a woman?" She responded, "when I'm wearing pants - call me a man - and when I'm wearing a dress - call me a cab." (The appearance on this show led to a resurgence in her career for a short while)
IMDb.com -- for a more or less complete filmography
www.hollywoodlawn.com -- Holly official page.
http://www.warholstars.org -- Lots of information on the Warhol Superstars
http://www.planetout.com/pno/popcornq/movienews/interviews/2000/holly_woodlawn.html -- a good interview of Holly