In the summer of 2007, I bought an album by a singer I’d never heard of, at a store that is long gone, The CD Shuffle in Wasaga Beach.
The owner commented on my purchase.
“She used to be in adult films.”
Honestly, I had no clue as to the colourful history of Candye Kane, but the title intrigued me: “The Toughest Girl Alive.”
Candye Kane was as tough as they come. She was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer perhaps a year after I’d added her CD to my collection, and fought till the very end.
Which came Friday May 7th. She was 54, the same age I hit two days prior to Candye’s death.
She had a tough childhood. When Candace Hogan was born in Ventura, California, her father was in jail for embezzlment. Mom taught Candace to shoplift when the girl was only 9 years old.
Things did not improve.
Hogan became an unwed Mom at 17, and later a battered wife, and her resume for the next several years included phone sex operator, exotic dancer and, as previously mentioned, an adult film performer.
By the early ’80s, Hogan was Candye Kane and singing in punk clubs in Los Angeles. Back then Kane was a plus-sized lady with enormous breasts that would have been right at home in a Russ Meyer movie.
“I Work What I Got”
Kane beat the odds and became an R&B diva, drawing on her shady past with songs and stage shows that said, “I am who I am and don’t fuck with me.” Candye played piano with those gigantic boobs, which led to an appearance on Penn & Teller’s 1998 “Sin City Spectacular” TV show. When Penn Jillette was told about Kane’s unique piano skills he said, “Book her.”
In the liner notes for The Toughest Girl Alive, Jillette said, “There she was with a real swing band and they were swinging…she killed on our show.”
The store is gone, the music lives on
The CD Shuffle ceased to shuffle several years ago but oddly enough, the landlord hasn’t taken the awning down regardless of what business has existed in that spot.
Candye Kane became a fixture on my show, The Rock and Roll Riot. Normally I begin each episode with a rock and roll legend. Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Chuck Berry or Little Richard. Not this Friday.
No, Candye will go first with the song that perfectly sums up her struggles, career and attitude…the toughest girl alive.
RIP, Candye Kane. You were that and so much more.