Sunday, 22 July 2012

Edie Sedgwick

"You're the boss, apple sauce", was one of the many adorable catchphrases said by artist Andy Warhol to his waif of a muse Edie Sedgwick in the semi-biographical film of their time together, Factory Girl. The story of Andy and Edie has fascinated me for years, it seemed a real love story of sorts, even though it would of probably only been a platonic love.
Edie Sedgwick was born into American Royalty and was thus the heiress to a mass fortune, with her long dark hair, elphin features, slim frame and big bambi eyes, she was beautiful as well as educated, talented and wealthy. Being an excellent artist herself, Edie moved to New York to attend art school and found herself in the middle of the mass sixties social revolution, in which people did not conform to societies usual straight-laced attitudes towards life. Hippies, rock and roll and Pop Art were introduced to the world simultaneously at this time, the birth place being that of New York City, and as the old saying goes, "If you remember the sixties, you weren't there".

Edie quickly became a socialite and "It Girl", one of the first of their kinds at a time when being dubbed such a title was indeed a positive thing (unlike socialites nowadays), and made a name for herself within the important social well-to-do sets as "new money". Andy Warhol was fast becoming the artist of his time, with his iconic studio being a completely silver painted/tin-foiled empty factory, subsequently named The Factory, that was full of basic odd-balls, misfits, transexuals and independent filmmakers. It was a space of creativity and the birth place of the now infamous Pop Art canvas screen prints. He himself lived with his mother and was very eccentric with quite a shy and quiet persona, Andy wasn't your typical enigma but he definitely became one post Edie. Edie was remembered as a girl who could "light up the room with her warm smile and made you feel like the most important person in the world", unfortunately she didn't have the happy childhood Andy had, sadly she was raised by an abusive father, Fuzzy, who regularly sexually assaulted her from an early age. Fuzzy also allegedly abused all members of the family, including Edie's brother Minty for being gay and he subsequently committed suicide.
Edie suffered some type of mental health problems from a young age and was sectioned to various psychiatric hospitals then forced to undergo ECT (electric shock therapy) as a means of treatment. Edie had later stated that it was her walking in on her father having sex with his neighbour that led to her being "put away", as Fuzzy claimed she was lying about what she saw and must of been crazy.
Speculation has been brought about on the grounds of Edie's abuse by her father and the possible link to her suffering from PST (post traumatic stress), which to me is a strong possibility.

Edie and Andy began their retrospective artistic collaborations in 1965 with independent films that were made in The Factory, the first being Vinyl, which was Andy's interpretation of the novel A Clockwork Orange. Over time, the media began to take immense interest in Edie, with her unusual fashion sense, charm and gorgeous looks, she got work as a model for Vogue and her underground film acting was getting more notoriety, the socialite was named "Superstar", a phrase which has now gone down in history.
Edie also became well known for particular high profile relationships, the main one being that of her and Bob Dylan, who was also at the height of his fame and along with his good looks and talent, they would of made one of the first "Golden Couples" in the fame world. According to the movie, Factory Girl, Andy became annoyed and jealous over Bob and disliked the fact that Edie was so mesmerised by him. He allegedly tried to make her choose, and, when she didn't, she became an outcast of The Factory and its' family members. Her love affair with Bob also crumbled, rumours suggesting that an apparent regretful abortion took place during the time, and, feeling abandoned she quickly became addicted to the drugs available to her. This was the main problem that lead to her demise; she fell down a slippery slope of narcotics and, regardless of any rehabilitation units she attended, never fully recovered or beat her demons.
She did marry in her late twenties, a biker named Michael Post, but she could never fully get over her grief at loosing her lover, her career, her mentor (who was now shopping around his new muse 'Nico' from The Velvet Underground), her biological family and urban one and sadly died suddenly shortly after she wed, aged twenty-eight. Her death was not to be in vain, however, as her legacy has lived on threw the decades with many of the fashion set looking back at her style as one of the best and most unique. She was a trendsetter and fashion icon, her long dangling earrings that she used to call "shoulder dusters" and mini shift dresses has become synonymous with the quirky, fun, flirty sixties attire.

I have a lot of sympathy for Edie Sedgwick, those who have read her biography Edie: An American Biography, will have become so informed of who she was and her stellar background and the sad turn of events in her upbringing which, I believe, is the main reason for her life being so short. Edie was a very troubled young woman who unfortunately didn't have the support or protection from her nearest and dearest, as we all should, and she had a desperate need for love. She filled that void with alcohol, drugs, artists and stardom but couldn't stay grounded as she had never been comfortable with her true self to who exactly who she was. Shortly before her death she made the avant garde movie Ciao! Manhattan, which was almost a confessional documentary of her live, drug addiction and fame threw her eyes; although she acted a fictional character named 'Susan Superstar'. The movie is incredibly honest and to the point with heaps of raw emotion that I found very upsetting at times to hear as though she was a little girl, lost. Edie had quite a deep, husky voice, as though she was a woman in her forties who smoked forty-a-day, and to hear her describe her life in The Factory made you feel as though she had lived the party life, and now her party was over. She was tired of it all. She wanted out.

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