Warhol Superstar and Lou Reed Muse Holly Woodlawn Dead at 69

Woodlawn inspired the hit song "Walk on the Wild Side."

Holly Woodlawn. Photo: Twitter/@hollywoodlawn.

Warhol Superstar and transgender icon Holly Woodlawn, who appeared in the Pop artist and Paul Morrissey’s popular films Trash (1970) and Women in Revolt (1972), died on December 6 in Los Angeles at age 69, US News reports. She had been battling both brain and liver cancer.

Woodlawn ran away from home at 15, hitchhiked to New York, and quickly became a part of Warhol’s glamorous Factory scene. If this all sounds familiar, it’s because her story served as the inspiration for Lou Reed’s 1972 hit, “Walk on the Wild Side.”

Holly Woodlawn. Photo: Hollywood Reporter.

Holly Woodlawn.
Photo: Hollywood Reporter.

“I was very happy when I gradually became a Warhol superstar. I felt like Elizabeth Taylor! Little did I realize that not only would there be no money, but that your star would flicker for two seconds and that was it. But it was worth it, the drugs, the parties, it was fabulous,” Woodlawn said in a 2007 interview with the Guardian.

In 1991, Woodlawn published her memoir A Low Life in High Heels: The Holly Woodlawn Story to much acclaim from those fascinated by Warhol and the eclectic mix of regulars at the Factory. Of the infamous scene in Trash in which she masturbates using a beer bottle, Woodlawn told the Guardian: “That beer bottle scene is to my career what eating dogshit was for Divine in Pink Flamingos!”

After Warhol’s death and the dissolution of the Factory, Woodlawn continued acting, starring in several cabaret and theater productions. In 2012, she starred in Zackary Drucker and Rhys Ernst’s short film She Gone Rogue, which was featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. Most recently, she appeared as Vivian on the acclaimed Amazon TV series Transparent, starring Jeffrey Tambor, who comes out to her family as a transgender woman in the opening episode.

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