About Supermodel Gia Carangi

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Philadelphia-born supermodel Gia Carangi was one of the first women to die of AIDS.

On this World AIDS Day, Action News spoke to renowned makeup artist Sandy Linter, who recalls meeting Gia and their romance, which was famously depicted in a 1998 HBO movie.


Carangi was born on January 29, 1960, in Philadelphia, the third and youngest child of Joseph Carangi, a restaurant owner, and Kathleen Carangi (née Adams), a homemaker. She had two older brothers. Her father was Italian, and her mother was of Irish and Welsh ancestry. Joseph and Kathleen had an unstable, violent marriage, ultimately leading Kathleen to abandon the family when Carangi was eleven years old. Gia was described as “needy and manipulative” by relatives who recalled her as spoiled and shy as a child and a “mommy’s girl” who did not receive the motherly attention that she desired. Those who knew Gia blamed her “fractured childhood” for the instability and drug dependence that plagued her adult life.

In her adolescent years, Carangi found the attention she sought from other teenage girls, befriending them by sending flowers. While attending Abraham Lincoln High School, Carangi bonded with “the Bowie kids”, a group of obsessive David Bowie fans who emulated Bowie’s “defiantly weird, high-glam” style. was drawn to Bowie for his fashion preferences and his ambiguous gender play and outspoken bisexuality.One of Carangi’s friends later spoke of her “tomboy persona”, describing her relaxed openness about her sexuality as reminiscent of the character Cay in the 1985 film Desert Hearts.and her “bi-try Bowie-mad” friends hung out in Philadelphia’s gay clubs and bars. Though she’s associated with the lesbian community, she did not want to take up “the accepted lesbian style.”

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