Out of the three outlines titles given to the subjects of this blog, it would seem that Miss Edith Minturn Sedgwick fits all of them eqauly.
Regardless of how many films are made about her, Edie Sedgwick’s story will always be clouded in mystery, though a few facts remain intact. She was a socialite who dropped out of college and moved to New York, where she became Andy Warhol’s newest muse. Then, there was drug abuse, self-destruction, and eventual accidental death at 28.
From her first film, “Vinyl”, in which she appears as an extra for a few minutes to the final catalogue of her own disenchantment; “Ciao Manhattan”, there is an evolution of deviance that only seduces our interest rather than puts us off.
When I first became aware of Edie, I realized that one of the most paramount reasons behind her intrigue was the idea of being able to live vicariously through her as she was portrayed in Warhol's experiments. This is not to say that all of us at one point of another wish we were skinny blonde and cute girls with a never ending supply of drugs and money living in manhattan and fucking the rich and famous, but strange as it is to say, i believe I wanted to be a part of the deviousness she lived in Warhol's scenarios. I wanted to be completely oblivious to consequence and live as if I could forever, I wanted to be sans guilt and predictability, and I feel that if only for a bit, Warhol's silver factory provided that kind of environment. None, graced it better or more memorably than Miss Sedgwick, and none paid a higher price at the door.
Upon first laying eyes on her, Warhol quipped about how many problems she had, and as genuine as a privileged spoiled heiress could be, she hid her debilitating personal life very well from Warhol's camera if not from Warhol himself. In her films, "Poor Little Rich Girl", probably being the best example, Edie makes us believe that we have every reason to be jealous of her and hate ourselves for loving her. She says very little, and less of value, and yet we are drawn to her aloofness and childlike innocence that she displays even when drinking vodka tonics and sprawling out half naked on a bed. Not very seemingly smart, and yet so compelling, it's no wonder she was Warhol's most significant and most memorable superstar.
Warhol’s voyeuristic camera exposes Edie’s many quirks. In “Poor Little Rich Girl”, he shows us a side of Edie that would appear to be most evident about her as mirrored in the title, where she lounges about in a posh apartment, smokes a pipe, and tries on various articles of designer clothing. Her most provocative film is arguably “Beauty #2”. In it she is seen sitting on a bed, stripped down to her lingerie with a man in his tighty-whities, chain smoking and gradually getting drunk as a third off-screen character (Wein) bombards her with increasingly personal questions until she becomes so upset that she throws her ashtray at him. Though the static camera and Edie’s redundant banter would lead certain people to consider it monotonous, it is on the contrary, a profound study of human nature and impulse. The only non-Warhol directed film is the feature length part docudrama/biopic; “Ciao, Manhattan”, screening April 8th. 5 years in the making, the film is Edie’s recollection about her tumultuous past as told through her fictional counterpart Susan Superstar. Now living in the drained pool of her mother’s house, Susan has already lost most of her ability to function and is assisted by a live-in house servant with elementary tasks like making lunch. Filmed partly in New York immediately following her Factory days, and partly in California right before her death in 1971, Sedgwick’s self-imposed downfall is easy to catch. For most of the film, Sedgwick walks around in a haze, topless, wobbly, reveling about the nostalgia of her “modeling career” in Manhattan.
It is safe to say that Warhol’s most intriguing films were those in which Sedgwick acted. And though at times they are out of focus, or completely inaudible like certain parts in “Kitchen”, they are worth watching as he is able to find a way to exploit, intimidate, and immortalize Sedgwick by merely sitting back and letting the camera roll while she plays different nuances of herself.
In Edie, there is an air of sophistication coupled with absent-mindedness, despair and optimism, innocence and deviance, remaining an enigma even when Warhol's camera enters the most private recesses of her psychology. It is this mystery that makes her irresistible, not to mention her cute little face.