The Story of Supermodel Gia Marie Carangi

Episode 82 – Originally Published August 2019 with special guest co-host Margo D., cohost of the Book vs. Movie podcast, Dorking Out and What a Creep podcasts

Content warning: this episode includes discussions about addiction, assault, and death. Listener discretion is advised.

Her faced graced the cover of vogue and cosmopolitan dozens of times.  She represented brands like Dior, Versace, Armani and Yves Saint Laurent.  She was photographed by some of the world’s greatest photographers including Francesco Scavullo and Richard Avedon.  She popularized the concept of a single name long before Madonna.  And she grew up in the great northeast – that’s northeast Philadelphia.

Gia Marie Carangi moved to New York City in 1978 when she was barely 18 years old to pursue a career in modeling.  She’d been signed by the one of the biggest agencies in New York, Wilhelmina Models, Inc.   There was very little runway leading to success for Gia.  She landed and was almost instantly a superstar.  Within just three years her career was on the decline because of her struggle with drug addiction.  By 1983 she moved back to Philly permanently, hoping to overcome addiction and find a new path in life.  Sadly, Gia passed away in 1986 from AIDS related complications.  She was 26 years old. 

This is the story of Gia Carangi, a woman whom many call America’s first supermodel.  There are other women who believe they hold that claim to fame,  but when you realize how quickly Gia rose to the level of the most desired model in the world, it’s hard to attach that phrase to anyone else. 

Research sources for this episode include:

  • Gia, HBO Docudrama, released January 31, 1998, directed by Michael Christofer, written by Michael Christofer and Jay McInerney
  • Thing of Beauty: The Tragedy of Supermodel Gia, written by former Philadelphia Magazine editor Stephen Fried, 1993
  • Philadelphia Inquirer Archives
  • Philadelphia Daily Local
  • Elle Magazine, April 2013 interview with Stephen Fried
  • V Magazine, October 2014 interview with Sandy Linter
  • 20/20 January 6, 1983
  • Sandy Linter and Harry King, 2012 interview 

TwistedPhilly is researched, hosted, and produced by me, Deana Marie, and available biweekly wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow me on Tiktok and Instagram at twistedphilly to see many of the locations and histories I discuss in the show.