Friday, July 13, 2012

Departed Friends

Candy Darling on her Deathbed, photographed in 1974 by Peter Hujar (1934-1987)

I would like Peter to be recognized for what he invented, for what he did. The photograph of Candy Darling in the hospital, now that is an example of what I mean. It would be awful if someone else tried to do it. It would be empty or maudlin or immoral. Candy was dying. Peter knew she was dying when he took the pictures. He took a picture of her in the coffin when I was with him at the funeral at Frank Campbell's. I didn't know he was going to do it. When he walked past the coffin, all of a sudden, Peter took the picture. I was completely shocked.

Then he snuck back in when no one was there and he took more pictures. Peter was the only photographer that knew Candy very well. I knew Candy extremely well and think that Peter was the only person who could take the picture without it being a horrible thing to have done. It's something that Candy would have adored. She loved when Peter took a picture of her in the hospital. She got dressed up even though she was dying from bone cancer. She was very young, twenty-eight, when she died. Peter wanted me to go with him to visit Candy in the hospital. I didn't go because I was too scared. I went the first few days she was there and then I chickened out. Peter went. No one else could have taken that photograph. Peter never thought of Candy in any way as a freak. It's not that I thought of Candy as a freak, but Candy was to me ... different. I think that's why Candy responded to Peter. He thought of her in the way that my mother thinks of her best friend or anyone she would meet ... the most usual kind of person. Candy loved that.

At Candy's funeral, when I told him that Candy's parents were sitting there, this had no meaning to him at all. I remember saying to him, "What must it be like for Candy's father, a retired Irish cop, to see his son in drag lying in the coffin?" Peter couldn't understand what I meant. That world, the world of conventional domestic life was alien to him. The notion that a parent would have this feeling ... he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. That really made him different. 

 – text by Fran Lebowitz (quoted in Peter Hujar: a Retrospective, Scalo, 1994)