Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side" is a song about gay prostitutes ("hustlers") in New York City in the 1970s. Note that it's common for gay men to refer to each other as "she."...
Holly came from Miami F.L.A.
Hitch-hiked her way across the U.S.A.
Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She said, 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 everybody's darling,
But she never lost her head
Even when she was giving head
She sayes, hey baby, take a walk on the wild side
Said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls go,

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo

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

Sugar Plum Fairy came and hit the streets
Lookin' for soul food and a place to eat
Went to the Apollo
You should have seen him go, go, go
They said, hey Sugar, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side, alright, huh

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 bash
She said, hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
I said, hey honey, take a walk on the wild side
And the colored girls say

Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo
Doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo doo


Lyrics submitted by magicnudiesuit

"Walk on the Wild Side" as written by Lou Reed

Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing, SPIRIT MUSIC GROUP

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Walk on the Wild Side song meanings
Add your thoughts

26 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +11
    General CommentThe characters are as follows:

    HOLLY came from Miami, FLA: Holly Woodlawn (Haraldo Santiago Franceschi Rodriguez Danhakl b.1946,Puerto Rico)The endearing transvestite recognized by her overbite and crooked teeth, is most memorable for her seriocomic performance in the film "Trash". For some reason, many mistakenly think she is no longer living, which is far from true at this writing('07)

    CANDY came from out on the Island: (James Lawrence Slattery 1944-74Long Island NY) Feminine,pretty, ex-male Candy Darling performed in several Warhol/Morrissey projects.She died of cancer in the mid 70s.

    LITTLE JOE never once gave it away:Superhot and 'straight' Joe D'allessandro (1948 Pensacola, Fla) was the star of several full-length cinema projects by Paul Morrissey in Andy Warhol's Factory studio. A butch brooklyn streetkid who turned to gayhustling before his discovery by Warhol/Morrissey who exploited Joes universal sexappeal.He's now an icon of underground cinema and gay subculture.

    SUGARPLUM FAIRY came and hit the streets: Joe Campbell's nickname. He appeared in Andy Warhol's Nude Restaurant(1967) and very briefly in two others but is not seen in later projects.

    JACKIE is just speeding away: Multi-talented Jackie Curtis (John Holder Jr.1947-85 NYNY)performed both in and out of drag in films and onstage as well as being a prolific writer.He died of accidental H overdose.

    These characters along with many others made up the unique group of subculture speedfreaks, wannabees, and genderbenders known as Andy Warhol's Superstars. They contributed their various talents to multiple Warhol-related projects during the late-60's thru early 70's pop art/trash/underground cinema, art and social scene. You can enter thier names on youtube to find lots of videos of these people, but if you are really interested,seek and watch the films of Paul Morrissey under the heading "andy warhol's" or "AW presents" Candy, Holly, and Jackie are Hilarious in the trash classic - Women in Revolt.
    Mike
    InYourMindon November 11, 2007   Link
  • +4
    General CommentThis is about transvestites who come to New York City and become prostitutes. "Take a walk on the wild side" is what they say to potential customers.

    Each verse introduces a new character. There is Holly, Candy, Little Joe, Sugar Plum Fairy, and Jackie. The characters that are all cronies of the infamous Andy Warhol Factory, as was Lou.

    "Little Joe" refers to Joe Dallesandero, who was also one of Andy's kids in the factory. He was in several films by Warhol. Sugar Plum Fairy is the nickname of actor Joe Campbell.

    "Holly," "Candy," and "Jackie" are based on Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, and Jackie Curtis. They are all real drag queens who appeared in Warhol's 1972 movie Women In Revolt. Woodlawn also appeared in Warhol's 1970 movie Trash, and Curtis was in Warhol's 1968 movie Flesh.

    Reed: "I always thought it would be kind of fun to introduce people to characters they maybe hadn't met before, or hadn't wanted to meet."

    This was not banned by the notoriously conservative BBC or by many US radio stations because censors did not understand phrases like "giving head." Depending on the regional US market, the song was edited for what we now call political correctness. Reed leads into the female vocalists' "Doo, doo-doo" hook with the words, "And the colored girls say," but some stations played a version that replaced the phrase with, "And the girls all say." In 1972, 3 to 3-1/2 minute songs were still the rule for radio, so this was edited accordingly.

    Reed struggled with his sexuality for most of his life. His parents even tried to "cure" his homosexuality.
    This came out at a time when audiences were intrigued by cross-dressing and homosexuality in music. "Glam Rock," where the performers wore feminine clothes, was big, and artists like Bowie and Elton John were attracting fans both gay and straight.
    JosephWolfon January 05, 2006   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThis is about Warhol's "Superstars," Holly is Holly Woodlawn, Little Joe is Joe Dallesandro, Candy is Candy Darling, and Jackie is Jackie Curtis.
    holyterroron December 31, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commentit's amazing that they play this song on the radio. it's a great song though. lou reed and david bowie, alright!
    magicnudiesuiton December 13, 2001   Link
  • +1
    General Commentroger_wilco's right. This song IS about all that went down with Warhol and his cronies. Mostly about transexuals, might I add.
    xrachiexon June 20, 2003   Link
  • +1
    General Commentit's very dark, sleazy, and just slightly glam. Oh yes. In spite of what others may say, Lou invented glam
    pumkinhedon November 21, 2004   Link
  • +1
    General CommentLou Reed was one of the regulars at The Factory and his music contributed to the atmosphere that Andy Warhol liked and needed to create his art. Holly Woodlawn, Candy Darling, Joe Dallesandro (the most frequent actor in Warhols short films), Joe Campbell (Sugar Plum Fairy) and Jackie Curtis. Candy Darling was also the subject of Lou Reed's song 'Candy Says'.
    Lou Reed and Andy Warhol had a fallout between the band The Velvet Underground when they both wanted to take the band in different direction.
    Lou Reed later recorded the album Songs For Drella (Andy Warhols nickname - Dracula and Cinderella) which was an apology to Warhol.
    sterile.starson January 13, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThis song is awesome and its just nice and simple. I love Lou's voice and how he is kinda singing and just kinda telling some stories.
    hsnodgraon April 17, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentThanks, JosephWolf, for a comprehensive and (as far as I know) accurate analysis of this song. And I agree that the song escaped being banned only because back in the 70's most people didn't know what "giving head" meant!
    crazymanmichaelon June 28, 2007   Link
  • +1
    General CommentIt was about Andy warhol's factory people. But mainly Candy Darling.
    WoahWhoAreYouon February 16, 2010   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain