'I Want Candy' Is About A 1960s Singer From The World's Fair

By Jacob Shelton
Left: Candy Johnson commanding attention in 'Muscle Beach Party' (1964). Right: Sleeve art for The Strangeloves' 'I Want Candy,' released in 1965. Sources: eBay; discogs.com

“I Want Candy,” the strangely timeless song released by The Strangeloves in 1965 (and Bow Wow Wow in 1982) has been said to be about everything from sex to drugs, to actual candy. The Strangeloves were a group of producers who'd had a big hit with “My Boyfriend’s Back” by The Angels. They were inspired to write "I Want Candy" in 1965 after they took a trip to the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing, Queens, New York. While at the World’s Fair the producers saw a performance by Candy Johnson, a dancer known as “Miss Perpetual Motion.”

Even though she’s the inspiration behind this incredibly popular song, Johnson has fallen through the pop culture cracks. Who was Candy Johnson? And why did The Strangeloves want her so badly?