Edie Nation

‘Edie Nation’ was coined in 2002 by writer Jessica Willis in a piece called, Remembering Edie. Her article reviews the 20-year anniversary of Jean Stein’s “Edie: An American Biography,” and declares Edie Nation as the figurative place for “teen changelings” wanting out of their mundane restricted lives, looking to Edie for inspiration and guidance on how to accomplish a greater existence than they’d ever dreamed. Edie Nation is already in its third decade, with Edieesque items up for sale on eBay, Edie photographs up for share on Flickr, and a world of conversation and emulation of all things Edie showing up on MySpace and YouTube.

Weisman, thought he had closed the Sedgwick chapter in his life when the film was re-released in 1982 in conjunction with the Stein biography.

"In the end of the 1990s, I discovered that people in their early 20s were more involved with Edie Sedgwick than I was at the moment," Weisman said. He started a website, but let it fall to the wayside until he revisited it and realized the site had received over 20,000 e-mails since its inception.

"She has come to symbolize an aspect of the 60s,” said Weisman. “Edie is a woman who bravely walked her own path, without caring what society thought of her. And at the same time her story represents a cautionary tale for most of the young people who are fascinated by her."

“I act this way because that’s the way I feel like acting, said Sedgwick in a Time magazine article in 1965"Living, Society, Edie & Andy, dated August 27, 1965. “If people like it — fine. If they don’t, that’s their problem.”

Sedgwick’s fans are aware that, along with the fame, fortune and fabulousness, Edie lived a promiscuous, drug-centered existence, swollen with addictions. She ended up dead at age 28, face down on her pillow next to her husband. The enigma is that she intrigues and inspires in spite of her self-destruction.

"Thirty years after Edie’s death, she is still being recognized, reprinted and emulated," a 14-year-old girl from New York wrote in an e-mail to Girlonfire.com. "People want to be Edie."

In 2006, a fictional movie based on Sedgwick’s life titled, “Factory Girl,” starring Sienna Miller and directed by George Hickenlooper was released, major department stores and clothing designers launched Edie-inspired lines last fall, fashion magazines started featuring her look within their pages once again.

"I also really love that she didn’t seem to live to please anyone else, she didn’t seem to be concerned with what people would think of her," read another e-mail, this one from a 16-year-old girl in upstate New York. "It was revolutionary, really, to me anyway, because she didn’t worry about the double-standards for women, or how wealthy people were expected to act, she just lived her life as she wanted an didn’t apologize for it."

Edie: Girl on Fire

The disastrous end to Sedgwick’s life elevates her to near martyr status among the Edie Nation. Both “Ciao! Manhattan” and "Edie: An American Biography" have become biblical fodder for young people coming of age who discover Edie and want to learn more about her. Demand for substantive material on her life piqued the interest of one man who knew her intimately during the last five years of her life during the filming of “Ciao! Manhattan”: David Weisman.

In 2005, Weisman uncovered a treasure trove of black and white photos from his time with Sedgwick. That same year, he was introduced to Melissa Painter. Painter was born a generation behind Sedgwick and Weisman and had peripheral knowledge of who Edie was. Both Weisman and Painter recognized the underground interest in Edie and embarked on a dual project: a documentary and a visual biography of Edie’s life, called “Edie: Girl on Fire."

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