Stephen Fried,
Thing of Beauty
(Pocket, 1994)

Gia Carangi was a tough punk kid from Philadelphia, a product of a broken working-class family, who redefined beauty when she broke into the late 1970s New York fashion modeling scene.

Grappling with feelings of abandonment from her family, Gia was unashamed of her drug use and heavy partying and refused to reform for anyone. She sought love and affection via drugs and a string of intense love affairs. Her life ended in tragedy, as Gia succumbed to AIDS in a welfare clinic. She was one of the first women to suffer from the Gay-Related Immunodeficiency Disease (GRID).

Stephen Fried's book, Thing of Beauty, is as much the story of Gia as it is a treatise on the androgynous followers on David Bowie, the transformation of high fashion in the late '70s, modeling agency wars and the street drug subculture of metropolitan New York City. His treatment of all these subjects is thoroughly academic, which at times leaves the reader wishing for more of Gia.

Fried has collected dozens of first-person quotes from Gia's family, friends, photographers, agents, fellow models and other New York artists. He presents these narratives in a compelling story of the tragedy surrounding a lost girl searching for love and acceptance on the streets of New York.

review by
Jessica Lux-Baumann

15 December 2007

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