The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

The Curse of Beauty

Posted on | October 14, 2014 | 40 Comments

Her name was Gia Carangi and she was, for a couple of years in the late 1970s, the hottest model in the fashion industry.

Only 18 when she arrived in New York and rocketed to success, appearing on the covers of magazines like Cosmopolitan and Vogue, she was the favorite model of legendary photographer Francesco Scavullo. “I have never known anyone so excitingly free and spontaneous, constantly changing, moving — she’s like photographing a stream of consciousness,” Scavullo raved in 1982.

By then, however, Gia Carangi’s career was nearing its tragic end. Her heroin addiction and erratic, unprofessional behavior had already gotten her blacklisted by many major names in the industry. By 1983, she was finished as a model. By 1986, she was dead.

Her sad story was brought to my attention by a commenter on my earlier post about Cara Delevingne, who is not the first lesbian supermodel — Gia was an open (and very aggressive) lesbian. At 15, she was already going to gay bars in her native Philadelphia:

“Gia just loved women and she fell for them whether they were straight or gay,” says one high school friend. “And the problem was that everyone fell in love with her, whether they were straight or not, male or female. She went after people and she always got them.”

Did you catch that? “The problem was that everyone fell in love with her” — why was this a problem? Isn’t this the kind of “problem” everybody wishes they had? Alas, Gia was a broken soul:

“Gia was prone to needing someone around all the time,” says another of her lovers. “Sometimes it was almost like she needed a baby sitter.”
“I think she mistook caring as sexual,” says one of the many straight women with whom Gia fell in unrequited love. “She needed people so badly that she pushed them away by putting expectations on them they couldn’t possibly fulfill.”

You can read the whole thing, which is full of bitter ironies. For example, Gia took delight in turning down propositions from men — she once turned down Jack Nicholson — but her heroin habit meant she associated with dangerous people in dangerous places:

“There were times in New York when people just took advantage of her. I guess you wouldn’t really call it rape because she wasn’t screaming, but there were a lot of times when that happened and she didn’t want it to happen. Being as high as she was, she couldn’t argue, she didn’t even know what planet she was on. She had a lot of anger about that.”

She turned down movie stars, but a junkie  isn’t usually in much of a condition to turn down anything. Gia died of AIDS at age 26.

Is there a moral to the story, other than “stay the hell away from heroin”? Maybe. Probably feminists will find a way to blame Gia’s fate on the patriarchy, because they blame everything on the patriarchy. But I think we have to look at how a blessing can be a burden.

To be one of the most beautiful women in the world — well, how many girls dream of the glamorous life of a famous supermodel? Yet we should not envy the beautiful woman, who is always to some degree trapped by her beauty, and we should not imagine that their beauty exempts them from the tragic dimensions of human life.



40 Responses to “The Curse of Beauty”

  1. K-Bob
    October 14th, 2014 @ 11:57 pm

    So, I guess if I start feeling sort of, not happy and weird, heroin isn’t the way to fix it?

    Who knew?

  2. M. Thompson
    October 15th, 2014 @ 12:06 am

    Don’t get into drugs is one item.

    Also, if you have the money for a Heroin addiction, there is something seriously wrong with you.

  3. Danny
    October 15th, 2014 @ 12:15 am

    This might be the most comprehensive take down of the feminist movement, and how destructive it is, that I’ve ever seen.

    It comes from Karen Straughn who is a female anti-feminist and male rights activist. It argued the value of men, marriage, and fathers in our society and how their marginalization not only has dire social consequences, but even worse economic ones.

  4. Danny
    October 15th, 2014 @ 12:16 am

    I did not mean to post my other comment as a reply. sorry about that.

  5. robertstacymccain
    October 15th, 2014 @ 12:16 am

    Whatever your problem is, heroin is never the solution.

  6. Good Stuff
    October 15th, 2014 @ 12:51 am

    “The problem was that everyone fell in love with her” — why was this a problem? Isn’t this the kind of “problem” everybody wishes they had?

    An unconventional look at the concept of love

  7. Taryn
    October 15th, 2014 @ 1:56 am

    Oh yes, a slave to the “patriarchy” indeed …

  8. David, internet troll
    October 15th, 2014 @ 4:53 am

    Stacy, this may be one of your best pieces yet. Not because of anything special about the topic itself, I just think you did a wonderful job of expressing the tragedy of this sad, confused girl.

  9. Zohydro
    October 15th, 2014 @ 5:32 am

    Beautiful, high, and stupid is no way to go through life…

  10. The Curse of Beauty | That Mr. G Guy's Blog
    October 15th, 2014 @ 6:03 am

    […] The Curse of Beauty. Yes, being a stone cold handsome man such as myself has it’s burdens too, but no, Heroine is not the way to cure it. […]

  11. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 15th, 2014 @ 6:55 am

    I once saw two alley cats going at it–loudly as cats are prone to do–and in the raptures of “love” missed the pack of dogs that showed up…it did not go well for them)

  12. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 15th, 2014 @ 6:57 am

    Beauty is not automatically a curse, but it can certainly can be. Doris Day is still lovely at 90 and avoided many of the pitfalls that took down Gia.

  13. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 15th, 2014 @ 7:15 am
  14. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 15th, 2014 @ 7:16 am

    Heroin is the solution if you want to kill your self. If you do it long enough, sooner or later it will get you to that destination.

  15. Mm
    October 15th, 2014 @ 7:33 am

    Angelina Jolie made an HBO movie called “Gia” about her life, about 16 years ago.

  16. Mm
    October 15th, 2014 @ 7:46 am

    So, let’s see: she was molested at age 5 by a man. At age 15, she became the girlfriend of a 21 year old woman. Why, when you look into the past of most lesbians, homosexuals and bisexuals, is molestation a common theme? And why is it apparently ok for a 21 year old to have sex with a 15 year old as long as they’re both female?

  17. RS
    October 15th, 2014 @ 8:17 am

    The beauty of supermodels is, to a large extent, manufactured by that industry. Dare I say, most women could attain that level of physical attractiveness if they had a “glamour shot” makeup artist on call 24/7. The problem is that ultimately, the makeup must come off and one must face reality in the mirror. What does one see then? Assuming a minimal amount of self-knowledge, that sight is frightening to many people, and it’s enough to send them into madness.

  18. RS
    October 15th, 2014 @ 8:18 am

    And, yes, I realize the above observation is cliche. However, the reason it is trite and cliche is because it contains truth we often forget.

  19. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 15th, 2014 @ 8:51 am

    Did it happen in Florida?

  20. Bob Belvedere
    October 15th, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    Keith Richards?

  21. Bob Belvedere
    October 15th, 2014 @ 8:59 am

    I hung around the fringes of the fashion industry in the early-mid-1980’s because of my involvement in the music business. I was struck by how ignorant and troubled the models were and eventually found out that those running the industry targeted those kind of girls [not ‘women’]. And most were either plain without makeup or boyish looking.

    The part of the FI I saw was run by harridan hetero women, homosexual men, and Lesbians.

    Slimey and vile, it was.

  22. Bob Belvedere
    October 15th, 2014 @ 9:01 am

    I should add that the bathing habits of the models were awful.

  23. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 15th, 2014 @ 9:25 am

    Even he gave it up. He also sold his soul to Satan, so he had that going for him.

  24. Finrod Felagund
    October 15th, 2014 @ 10:01 am

    Denis Leary has this great rant about Keith Richards telling kids not to do drugs.

  25. Finrod Felagund
    October 15th, 2014 @ 10:05 am

    Bettie Page was still very beautiful at age 80.

  26. K-Bob
    October 15th, 2014 @ 10:12 am

    Well, they rarely wake up in their own beds, so none of their stuff is there.

  27. K-Bob
    October 15th, 2014 @ 10:14 am

    The few times I was involved with that business, I felt the same way. Broadway is a notch UP from modeling, in terms of sleaze. That’s how bad modeling is.

  28. K-Bob
    October 15th, 2014 @ 10:15 am

    That’s one dull razor.

  29. K-Bob
    October 15th, 2014 @ 12:03 pm

    I like the picture of Elvis meeting with Nixon in the Oval Office.

    Evidently, Elvis was on some good $#!+ back in those days. (All PRescription, of course, so they weren’t DuRgzZ!).

    After he left, supposedly Nixon was all, “What was that about?”

    Even so, there was more “cool” in the Oval Office that day than in barack’s two terms.

  30. ontheleftcoast
    October 15th, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

    In a bio of Gram Parsons there was something to the effect that if Keith Richards was telling you that you were getting out of control with drugs (this was around 1971 or so!) that you were really out of control.

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    October 15th, 2014 @ 3:04 pm

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  32. RKae
    October 15th, 2014 @ 3:17 pm

    You’re not SUPPOSED to look into the past of most lesbians, homosexuals and bisexuals! That’s off-limits! The cause is that they were “born that way,” and if we shout it enough it will become true.

  33. RKae
    October 15th, 2014 @ 3:19 pm

    Heroin DID help Kurt Cobain become in interesting interior decorator.

  34. Zohydro
    October 15th, 2014 @ 3:55 pm


  35. Book
    October 15th, 2014 @ 4:34 pm

    Interesting vid- thanks for sharing that.

  36. theoldsargesays
    October 15th, 2014 @ 7:11 pm

    But unfortunately she’s still alive….

  37. Wombat_socho
    October 15th, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

    I thought he blew that gig too.

  38. Wombat_socho
    October 15th, 2014 @ 11:55 pm

    Or VERY tough lips.

  39. Squid Hunt
    October 18th, 2014 @ 12:34 pm

    Hey. How many angsty, stoner, loser kids missing their girlfriends has Cobain helped comfort in their darkest hour?

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