A LOW LIFE IN HIGH HEELS by Holly Woodlawn


The Holly Woodlawn Story
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 Crime, drugs, prostitution, sexual ambiguity, and the cinema take center stage in this funny but relentlessly self-indulgent memoir by the self-proclaimed ``Venus de Warhol.'' Born Harold Ajzenberg, Woodlawn geared up for a ``roller coaster ride of life'' when he discovered he was ``a shy, skinny kid with buck teeth who happened to have a passion for tight pants, mohair sweaters, and mascara.'' Pressured by a homophobic Catholic upbringing, he ran away at age 15 from Miami to New York with hopes of becoming a ``Superstar.'' The N.Y.C. underground of the late 60's and early 70's is the perfect backdrop for Woodlawn's raucous accounts of rising to fame from the welfare rolls, doing bouts in the slammer, winning the title of ``Miss Donut of Amsterdam, New York,'' and, finally, riding ``the Warhol gravy train''--all told with mirth and untiring vulgarity. During the pandemonium, he managed to hobnob with the choicest of celebrities and ``hangers- on.'' Great stories abound, such as George Cukor's petitioning for an Oscar nomination for Woodlawn's role in Paul Morrissey's Trash (the film that won Woodlawn international recognition); and Woodlawn escorting Jim Morrison to the ``Mine Shaft,'' a once- notorious New York gay sex club. He also takes delight in sneering at such drag cohorts as Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, and one-time roommate Divine. Woodlawn is most interesting when he gets serious about the craft behind being a ``star of Stage!, Screen!, And Max's Kansas City!'' Preferring a stiff martini to method acting, he developed a style that combined ugly clothes, hysterical rant, and absurd posing and that won him audiences at cabarets throughout N.Y.C. But the self-aggrandizing tone wears thin, especially when he piles on clichÇs like ``Oh, so many men, so little time'' and ``I was fit to be tied!'' An enjoyable, sometimes mind-boggling document not only of Woodlawn but of those pre-MTV days when ``the bad, beautiful and voracious New York underground'' were truly shocking. (Sixteen pages of photographs--not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 18th, 1991
ISBN: 0-312-06429-2
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1991