“One person in the ‘60s fascinated me more than anybody I have ever known. The fascination I experienced was probably very close to a certain kind of love.”
I recently read up a lot about Edie Sedgwick, the 1960s American actress, fashion model, socialite and Andy Warhol’s superstar Factory Girl. None of the things I read gave much highlight into what I was looking for. Blatant facts, critical accusations and fashion musings. I did pick up a lot about her background and none of it seemed to be pretty. It’s so easy to turn someone’s life inside out and negate anything and everything you see in the harshest of lights. I also understand repugnance towards certain ways of life and while that is all understandable sometimes I feel the need to restore some kind of order into this universe. The Internet is a universe on its own now, isn’t it?
I may not be too keen on facts and it is to be noted that I was born in the 90s so you’ll have to give me some extra credit for even taking an interest in the black-white cinema days. What started with a faint obsession with the movie Factory Girl in which starred Sienna Miller as a biographical version of Edie, an upcoming model and her struggles right up to her untimely death at the age of twenty-eight. I felt as though there was more to the character than she could portray. I had to watch Edie as Edie.
That led to viewing quite a few Andy Warhol’s art films and I must say I was awestruck. Edie was so much more than what met the eye at first glance. She walked as though she owned the world. She had a constant air around her that attracted people. What was more was the mystery behind her eyes and how little she gave away with that innocent yet mischievous smile of hers. Edie was always naturally mesmerising so when she was in front of the camera, she never really had to act.
Edie Sedgwick: And what would I have to do in one of your movies?
Andy Warhol: Just be yourself.
Edie Sedgwick: Well, which one?
Her total disdain for the normal stereotype was like a breath of fresh air to the fashion world in those days. She created chaos and uproar wherever she went. Edie never thought twice, about anything. She could be a different person every hour and you’d still be watching her with a bemused expression wondering how many sides did she actually have. I saw that in Poor Little Rich Girl. It seems as though the camera was kept running and Edie was waking up, deciding what to have for breakfast, talking on the phone, deciding what to wear and just being herself. You might wonder what kind of a crazy person I am to enjoy watching someone perform mediocre daily activities, but it’s Edie we’re talking about! Look at her!
She had a poignantly vacant, vulnerable quality that made her a reflection of everybody’s private fantasies.
It’s fair to say that as enthusiastic and unpredictable Edie was, so was her personal life. Nothing with her was permanent or stable. There’s something so endearing about a beautiful person being messed up. When you start spiralling downwards everyone wants to step in and take care of you but when you go over your head insane, none of your charm will work for you. When that happens, people will hate you because you’re beautiful. They will abandon you because you’re beautiful and you’re wasting it and you’ll be left alone. Ridiculously alone. That’s how it ended for Edie. I’m so fond of her, even thinking about her like that hurts.
Edie took the world by surprise what with her trademark leopard print coat, those black stockings and long-dangly earrings. She wasn’t afraid to create her own brand and she did. So many people nowadays still do the Edie Sedgwick eye make-up without even realizing it. If I ever had to go under the shears to get short cropped hair I know exactly how I would want it to look.
I went to a party once and there was a palm reader there. And when she looked at my hand, she just froze. And I said to her “I know. My lifeline is broken. I know I won’t live past thirty.”
It must be noted that Edie didn’t lead a very sane life. The admiration on one hand and the deviations on the other affected her in many ways. She was always eager to impress and it’s said by many that she was so taken by the attention she got from Andy Warhol’s movies, she would do anything he asked of her. Some of those movies are still considered pornographic and I wouldn’t really deny that. Her brief affair with Bob Dylan seems to have played a major role in what happened to her career at Warhol’s factory. You could say jealousy or any other X chromosome-related emotion must’ve led Andy to completely ruin her world which was built by him. In the movie, Factory Girl, there’s a scene where Dylan tells her that she’s a fucking toy for Andy Warhol, she’s disposable. To which Edie breaks down and admits that she can’t leave him.
If Edie was dependent on Andy only for the limelight it would’ve been okay but when he stopped giving her any work and found someone exactly like her (minus the charisma) to substitute her, Edie was reduced to rags. She stole things from her grandmother’s apartment to sell for some money. Her colossal drug usage was always something of prime concern. Edie grew up with eight siblings of which a few died, committed suicide and what not. Her brothers and even her father were always making advances at her and she never did really have much to begin with. It’s no surprise that her death was the result of an overdose.
Edie still made the most of her short life, I would say. Hell, she even got married for a few months leading to her death just so her husband would help her get sober. Sedgwick became known as “The Girl of the Year” in 1965. She was dubbed an “It Girl“, while Vogue magazine also named her a Youthquaker“.
“I do love Alice in Wonderland though, that’s something I think I could do very well. Don’t you think we ought to do an A.W.? A.W.’s Alice in Wonderland? Andy Warhol‘s Alice in Wonderland? A.W. stands for a lot of things, I understand. It, uh, it would make a fantastic film. So I wanted somebody to write the script for it, in a modern sense. I think it would be the most marvelous movie in the world, if it could be done. Don’t you think? Really, I don’t think they’ve done one since they did a Walt Disney one — which isn’t really doing it. In a sense it is, but not in the way it really should be done. What’s needed right now is a real scene. I mean not just cartoon characters, but the actual character of people because there’s so many fantastic people that you might as well use the people.”
You have to watch this. Her voice and descriptions are unbelievable.
And this post would be incomplete without The Factory Girl trailer. Here you go.