Lou Reed was a Jewish artist born in Brooklyn, and raised in Freeport, Long Island, New York. In his teens he was compelled to have electroconvulsive treatment for homosexual behavior. He sang with and wrote for the seminal underground rock band, The Velvet Underground 1965-1973, and later was a solo performer.
Reed recorded songs about transpersons, some rather questionable: ; ‘Sister Ray’, 1968, said by some to be inspired by Sylvia Ray Rivera (even though the lyrics don't match what is known of her life), and ‘Lady Godiva’s Operation’, 1968 (about a renegade doctor and death on the operating table); ‘Candy Says’, 1969, about Candy Darling; ‘Walk on the Wild Side’, 1972, with vignettes about Candy Darling, Holly Woodlawn and Jackie Curtis.
Lou described Rachel in an interview with Bambi magazine:
"It was in a late night club in Greenwich Village. I’d been up for days as usual and everything was at that super-real, glowing stage. I walked in there and there was this amazing person, this incredible head, kind of vibrating out of it all. Rachel was wearing this amazing make-up and dress and was obviously in a different world to anyone else in the place. Eventually I spoke and she came home with me. I rapped for hours and hours, while Rachel just sat there looking at me saying nothing. At the time I was living with a girl, a crazy blonde lady and I kind of wanted us all three to live together but somehow it was too heavy for her. Rachel just stayed on and the girl moved out. Rachel was completely disinterested in who I was and what I did. Nothing could impress her. He’d hardly heard my music and didn’t like it all that much when he did.
Rachel appears on the inner sleeve of Sally Can’t Dance,1974, and the title track of Coney Island Babe, 1976 is dedicated to her. The cover of Walk on the Wild Side: The Best of Lou Reed, 1977 is of photographs of the two of them. The title track of Street Hassle, 1978 is about her.
Reed completely refused to talk about her after 1978, when he decided to go straight.
There is a rumor that Rachel died in the early 1990s.
Lou died in 2013, aged 71, from liver failure.
Marc Campbell comments:
"I think Rachel deserves some recognition. She inspired some of Reed’s best songwriting and managed to keep him steady at a low-point in his life. History can do better than to kick her to the curb."
- LegsMcNeil & Gillian McCain. Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk. NY: Penguin books, 1997: 155, 206, 397, 400.
- Marc Campbell. "Rachel: Lou Reed’s transsexual muse". Dangerous Minds, 02.06.2013. http://dangerousminds.net/comments/rachel_lou_reeds_transsexual_muse.
I'm searching for my mainlineLady Godiva's Operation
'Cause, baby-baby, hit it, oh, sideways
Hey baby now, I couldn't hit it sideways
oh baby, it's like Sister Ray said
give it to me, babe
Who is that knocking
Who's knocking on my chamber door
Could it be the police
They come and take me for a ride
I haven't got the time-time
She's, ah baby, sucking on my ding-dong
she's sucking on my ding-dong
Oh, just like Sister Ray said
Life has made her that much bolder nowCandy Says
That she [has] found out how.
Dressed in silk, latin lace and envy,
Pride and joy of the latest penny-fare,
Pretty passing care.
Hair today now dipped in the water,
Making love to every poor daughter's son,
Isn't it fun?
Now today, propping grace with envy,
Lady Godiva peers to see if anyone's there
And hasn't a care.
"Doctor is coming," the nurse thinks SWEETLY,
Turning on the machines that NEATLY PUMP AIR.
The body lies bare.
Shaved and hairless, what once was SCREAMING,
Now lies silent and ALMOST SLEEPING.
The rain must have gone away.
STRAPPED SECURELY TO THE WHITE TABLE,
ETHER CAUSES THE BODY TO WITHER AND WRITHE,
Underneath the white light.
THE DOCTOR ARRIVES WITH A KNIFE AND BAGGAGE
SEES THE GROWTH, JUST SO MUCH CABBAGE
That must now be cut away.
NOW COMES THE MOMENT OF GREAT, GREAT DECISION.
THE DOCTOR IS MAKING HIS FIRST INCISION.
One goes here,
AND ONE GOES THERE.
"The ether tube's leaking," says someone who's sloppy.
THE PATIENT, IT SEEMS, IS NOT SO WELL SLEEPING.
The screams echo off the walls.
Don't panic -- someone give him pentathol instantly.
The doctor removes his blade cagily slow from the brain.
BY MY COUNT OF TEN.
THE HEAD WON'T MOVE!
Candy says, I've come to hate my bodyWalk on the Wild Side
And all that it requires in this world
Candy says, I'd like to know completely
What all they discretely talk about
I'm gonna watch the blue birds fly
over my shoulder
I'm gonna watch them pass me by
maybe when I'm older
What do you think I'd see
if I could walk away from me
Candy says, I hate the quiet places
That cause the smallest taste of what will be
Candy says, I hate the big decisions
That cause endless revisions in my mind
Holly came from miami f.l.a.Coney Island Babe
Hitch-hiked her way across the u.s.a.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her leg and then he was a she
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
Candy came from out on the island
In the backroom she was everybodys darling
But she never lost her head
Even when she was given head
She says, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
And the coloured girls go
Doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo, doo ... etc
Little joe never once gave it away
Everybody had to pay and pay
A hustle here and a hustle there
New york city is the place where they said
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said hey joe, take a walk on the wild side
Jackie is just speeding away
Thought she was james dean for a day
Then I guess she had to crash
Valium would have helped that dash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
And the coloured girls say ...
But remember the princess who lived on the hill
Who loved you even though she knew you was wrong
And right now she just might come shining through