Sassy Sisters – Brief Article
J. V. McAULEY
FACES FRONT AND HEELS HIGH, HOLLY WOODLAWN AND COCO PERU SHARE A DRAG LEGACY ACROSS THE DECADES
Holly Woodlawn crashed onto the scene 30 years ago as one of Andy Warhol’s superstars, appearing in his films Trash (1970) and Women in Revolt (1972) at a time when being an openly gay Puerto Rican drag queen was risky business, to say the least. “You could get arrested for wearing mascara,” Woodlawn says. But in keeping with her rebellious spirit, the bombastic bombshell took Manhattan and, ultimately, the world by storm and will go down in infamy as an inspiration for Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.” In 1991 Woodlawn published her autobiography, A Low Life in High Heels, and it’s now headed for the silver screen.
Miss Coco Peru, best known for her stage show Miss Coco Peru’s Universe and the 1999 film Trick, has undeniably reaped the benefits of Woodlawn’s hard work. “Holly Woodlawn has affected me in a very big way by being political, spiritual, and creative,” Peru says. Peru’s demure and deeply personal brand of expression touches the hearts of her audiences. “A woman sent me a letter saying she knew her little boy was gay and that her husband wanted her to stop buying the child girl toys,” Peru says. “After seeing my show, she decided she was going to continue to buy him the toys he wanted. That’ll be my legacy–some little boy out there is getting the Barbie doll he’s always wanted.”
Woodlawn shares a similar story. “I was in New York recently, and some little queens told me they had read my book, adding that if it weren’t for me, they couldn’t do it,” she says. “I was flattered to the point that I felt stupid. What do you say when somebody tells you you’re Lana Turner?”
As for her legacy, Woodlawn says, “Hopefully, it will be what I consider to be my number 1 accomplishment–the fact that I have survived. Anyone can survive if you have strength and believe in yourself.”
Find more on Holly Woodlawn and Miss Coco Peru as well as links to related Internet sites at www.advocate.com
McAuley writes for L.A. Weekly and Frontiers.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Liberation Publications, Inc.
COPYRIGHT 2000 Gale Group