Girl on Fire 1

This is a Blast Magazine enterprise piece.

The youth of the 1960s made an indelible impression on future generations. They clung to ideals hoping to change the world. They reacted to the turbulent times they’d found themselves in by living in the moment. They couldn’t be contained or restrained or controlled.

Edie Sedgwick epitomizes all that was good and bad about growing up in the sixties. She is an icon for Baby Boomers and has become an idol for today’s “Echo Boomers.”

She didn’t consider herself a rebel. She considered herself a “life artist” and wanted to use her medium to tell a story to parents a generation above her.As Sedgwick once told The New York Times “It is not that I’m rebelling. It’s that I’m just trying to find another way.”

"The thing she wanted to say the most was that there was a lot of hypocrisy with the way things had been in the 50s,” said Melissa Painter, co-author of a new book, “Edie: Girl on Fire,” that includes an audio CD of the “Ciao! Manhattan” tapes, her last recorded interviews. “She wanted to be honest… in an outrageous sort of way."

Sedgwick was much more than aspirational stereotypes allow. She wasn’t simply a socialite; she was glitterati personified. She wasn’t a model; she was a fashion trendsetter and style catalyst. She was not an actress; she was a film star and a muse for filmmakers.

She was brilliant and beautiful beyond words; passionate, playful, spontaneous and reckless.

Today, Sedgwick entices men with her sexuality and her uninhibited soul. She attracts women who want to be like her. Yet she’s been dead for 35 years.

Edie’s History

Sedgwick was born on April 20, 1943, to Alice Delano de Forest Sedgwick and Frances Minturn Sedgwick. Both came from wealthy, well-connected families. Born Edith, she was their sixth child, and grew up in a ranch in California. Her artist father was an adulterous alcoholic; her eccentric mother turned the other cheek at his indiscretions.They sent Edie to boarding school at 13; at 18 she was sent to Silver Hill, a New Canaan, Conn. mental hospital, to treat depression and an eating disorder. When that facility didn’t prove effective, her father admitted her to notoriously strict Bloomingdale, a psychiatric hospital in nearby White Plains, N.Y. While out on a pass from Bloomingdale, she made love with a handsome Harvard man and got pregnant. Edie shared on the Ciao! Manhattan tapes, “I was pregnant and I had psychiatric permission, you know, I could get an abortion without any hassle at all. And then after that, experiences I had making love, I found I had all sorts of hangups.”

Eventually, she left Bloomingdale and headed to straight to Cambridge, Mass., fraternizing with Harvard students and graduates and managing to find ‘the Bohemian epicenter’ in that community.

In 1964, Sedgwick inherited a trust fund from her maternal grandmother and moved to New York. When she arrived in Manhattan, she enjoyed an exorbitant lifestyle, one that included heavy use of amphetamines and alcohol. She shopped, danced, and socialized in an outlandish and extravagant way. In no time, she earned herself a reputation as the party girl to meet and in so doing, attracted legendary singer/songwriter Bob Dylan and influential pop-artist Andy Warhol. She knew she had become both famous and infamous; she herself said on the “Ciao! Manhattan” tapes, “Wherever I’ve been, I’ve been quite notorious.”

Warhol and Edie fell in love platonically but intensely, and their mutually beneficial relationship became the talk of the town. By her side, Warhol found himself on the guest list of upper-crust soirees. With his direction, Sedgwick found herself appearing on film for the first time.

"Very soon," Warhol said of his favorite muse in the book, “POPism: The Warhol Sixties,” a collaborative effort between Warhol and his diarist Pat Hackett. "Edie would be innovating her own look that Vogue, Life, and Time and all the other magazines would photograph — long, long earrings with dime store t-shirts over dancer’s tights with a white mink coat thrown over it all."