I'm coming very late to the Holly Woodlawn fan club, but ... here I am. J and I watched Trash last night. Why am I 46 years old and seeing this film for the first time?
When I moved to New York in 1981, I lived for a few months in the Parsons dorm, on Union Square at 16th St., just across the street from Andy Warhol's original factory building, but he had already moved by then. I went through a short Velvet Underground phase. I still love that first record, the one with Nico. I saw all the John Waters films back then, but I missed the Andy Warhol/Paul Morrissey stuff. Maybe we considered it outre already. When I look back I find that I had so many strong opinions that had no basis in anything I can remember.
So, Trash. Obviously, the secret, maybe it's not so secret, is that if you put somebody as beautiful as Joe Dallesandro on screen, people will watch it for a very long time no matter what else is going on around him, especially if he's naked. (The sequence with Jane Forth as the psycho newlywed was nauseating, not because of how long it took him to stick that needle into his vein, but because of the sound of her voice. She was like a combination of Little Edie from Grey Gardens, the blond debutante in Auntie Mame, and bleach thrown in your eyes.)
But every time Holly Woodlawn was on screen, I found it hard to pay attention to anything else. She's luminous. And so funny and affecting, and always completely committed to the scene. I don't know if it was intentional, but one of the things that made the film interesting to me was the sense that everyone is playing make-believe. Putting on a show. Except for Holly. She lived there; everyone else was pretending to live in her world.
And not just the big stuff, like when she's masturbating with the beer bottle, but the smallest gestures and facial expressions. The scene with the welfare caseworker should be shown to everyone who wants to be an actor. In a scene that could hardly be more contrived, she's hilarious and heartbreaking and totally real.