Overwhelmed: Coping with Life's Ups and Downs
Author and entertainment reporter Schwarz (The Hillside Strangler) documents the life of Juanita Slusher (1935-2005), from her birth and troubled childhood in Edna, Tex. to her days as a 14-year-old runaway, enslaved in the South Dallas sex trade, before escaping and becoming the popular Las Vegas erotic dancer Candy Barr-celebrated for the beauty and body that lured, all her life, the worst kinds of men. Schwartz's research includes a hundred hours of exclusive interviews with Slusher, who would only allow her story to be told after her death. A local legend, her connections to Jack Ruby and Mickey Cohen have been overstated in the title, but her story is a compelling, brutal tragedy set against a country's loss of innocence; she's even brushed by the investigation into JFK's assassination. Additionally, there's no redemption after a lifetime of abuse; she lived to see 70 and, according to Schwarz, spent the last 30 years of her life bitter and isolated. There was once talk of a Candy Barr biopic starring Farrah Fawcett; this is definitely the stuff of edgier television movies (think HBO, not ABC), and clearly a story she wanted told. 16 pages of b&w photos.