Last week, we asked a few of our readers why they thought that people are so interested in Edie Sedgwick. Even the NY Times is puzzled. Here are a couple of replies. If you have your own thoughts, offer them up.
Our Guy in Australia responds:
Y'know... I've stopped to ask the same question.
I think that the ultimate answer is, sadly enough, that there are $$$$ to be made. The story of Edie's self-destruction makes her an ideal martyr for morose teens to fixate on. This, in turn, makes Edie a marketing opportunity. Being dead, she can't sue or ruin the myth. Edie left behind so little 'work' that she is an attractively esoteric idol to choose.
The supplementary question has to be why people want to buy the Edie currently on sale. This is where I see more complex forces at work. What strikes me is that Edie was real in a way that totally contradicts the contemporary notions of beauty and celebrity.
Starting at beauty, Edie was an individual and everyone wants to be one of them! More importantly her beauty was 'natural', not the result of nipping, tucking, botoxing and all the bizarre modern beauty rituals.
I don't think it's a co-incidence that this new interest in Edie has grown at the same time as reality TV and the 'Paris Hilton bratpack' of nouveaux celebs. Edie, not to put too fine a point on it, would never have shown her vagina while disembarking from a taxi. Edie was a pioneer of being famous simply for being famous and, as such, she is in a direct line to dear Miss Paris. The substantial difference between Edie and Paris is that Edie understood the Wildean concept of living one's life as art and consequently projected a celebrity that is still dazzling today. Edie did things, Paris just turns up places to collect a paycheck.
Edie was charismatic and supernaturally beautiful, neither of these things can be underestimated in her appeal. I do think, however, that it was the genuine-ness of her celebrity that distinguishes her. Andy presented Edie to the world and they lapped her up. Even from what little footage remains, it is hard to deny that Edie had a special and rare relationship with the camera- she is compelling to watch to this day.
At my third point, I'd place the question in the context of the American Idol phenomenon that gives the impression of having democratised celebrity. American Idol purposefully confuses talent with celebrity and the end result is the burdensomely bland. Edie's 'ascent' into celebrity had nothing democratic about it- she was 'crowned' by Andy Warhol. Edie never needed to employ a publicist.
Edie made her own eccentric way through her life and I really think that that is the core of her appeal. She has all the appeal of an Ophelia model doomed heroine and her life story is something of a cautionary tale for our times. Everything that Edie did, the beauty and the suffering, made her a very real person who, I gather, many people feel an affinity with.
Edie lived the dream that so many of us have to go to New York and 'become someone' but she destroyed herself in the process. In this sense, Edie made herself a martyr to celebrity and we just love them!
The Edie story has a grand arc to it that suggests the Edie myth will remain an active myth long into the future. If Edie represents anything today it is a time that was more 'pure', a time before cosmetic surgery and American Idol became cultural touchstones. Long after Paris Hilton is forgotten there will still be the Edie story there as one of the stories that builds our collective culture.222 West 23rd Street!
Jean Pearson, who took the photo below of Nat Finkelstein and Danny Fields at the Strand Book Store a couple of months ago to promote Edie: Factory Girl, weighs in.
I think that the Edie/Andy Warhol connection is ICONIC. Edie was the "IT GIRL OF THAT PERIOD." Her fashion sense as well as style were quite brilliant. Since Edie and Andy were such icons of a revolutionary period (the 60's) they both created a huge impact in our cultural history. Also, Edie was a member of Warhol's factory - when it really took off in the early years. She was such a symbol of 60's style - she was something so new, spirited, and fresh compared to the former 1950's stuffy, boring, and restrictive matronly fashions. Her image took off like a meteor when she hit the scene! She was edgy and over the top with tremendous spirit. It's unfortunate that she had a history of family problems as well as acute addiction/abuse issues, etc.. She was very "Chelsea Hotel" and it's great that she once lived at