Mazda Isphahan, a talented animation and performance artist from Kraków, Poland, has made an Instagram splash with her uncanny resemblance to Edie Sedgwick, the tragic icon from Warhol’s Factory days. She has recently made an animated film about Edie and monitors a Facebook forum devoted to the one-time Warhol star. Amy Haben spoke with Mazda Isphahan for PKM.
“No party in New York is considered a success unless they are there,” Merv Griffin spoke as he announced Edie Sedgwick and Andy Warhol as guests on his television talk show on Oct. 6, 1965.
Andy played a mute act, while Edie did all the talking, lit cigarette in hand. While Edie explained an eight-hour film Andy made of a man sleeping, Merv’s sidekick teased her with snoring sounds while she spoke. “That’s a drag!” she snapped. “I don’t want to hear anymore of that.”
Who can forget the tragic, fashion icon who was Edie Sedgwick? Her fire burned bright across cityscape of New York in the 1960s. Her iconic, short, blonde pixie cut highlighted her gorgeous big eyes and adorable dimples. Ever so stylish, her svelte frame hugged her black stockings and leotard. Always in a kitten heel, she finalized her look with long, chandelier earrings and large false eyelashes. If she went outside, she’d often throw on a large fur coat.
An ethereal beauty with a charming personality, Edith Minturn Sedgwick was born April 20, 1943 in Santa Barbara, California.
The Sedgwick family were wealthy and highly educated. Edie’s great-great grandfather, Robert Weeks, started the New York Stock Exchange. Her great-great-great grandfather Theodore Sedgwick was both a U.S. Representative and Senator from the state of Massachusetts as well as the fourth Speaker of the House. Her grandfather was an executive of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Another great grandfather made the family wealthy by owning a shipping route that served the Gold Rush in California. Many of her relatives were lawyers and authors. She came from blue ribbon aristocratic beginnings that were tarnished by a sexually and emotionally abusive father. Two brothers died, one an apparent suicide, and her mother was eventually admitted to a mental hospital. Edie was sent to another sanitarium after she told her mother about an affair that her father was having. They came from the classic, ‘Looks good on the outside’ family system. Nobody in town knew the horrors happening inside their home. The patriarchal sociopath ruled the house with an iron fist.
Once she got the chance, Edie moved to New York City after living for a stint in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She took to the road with Danny Fields and Tommy Goodwin, among others. Edie shared with her brother that she was going to be the biggest star in New York. The old adage, “Be careful what you wish for,” couldn’t ring more true in her story. Along with stardom, Edie developed a massive drug problem after entering Warhol’s Factory.
Andy believed he would get to Hollywood with Edie on his arm. Not to mention her wealthy friends helping support his career. Edie was, at least for a while, fed emotionally by Andy, who played a fatherly role to her. He actually saw her talent while her overly critical father frequently put her down.
Edie starred in numerous films by Andy Warhol until their relationship started to crack. In Beauty #2, he had Edie lie on a mattress in just bra and panties while an attractive guy groped her. A creepy off-camera interviewer asked inappropriate questions about her molestation, to her chagrin.
This was the bad time. Andy hadn’t paid Edie for a single film and Edie felt betrayed and used. Her addiction grew worse. She set fire to her room in the Chelsea Hotel after nodding out with a lit cigarette in her hand. She was rescued by the fire department, and photos of the young socialite being carried out with ash across her face were sprawled across newspapers.
Eventually, Edie moved home to Santa Barbara where she was sent to a rehabilitation facility by her father and actually got sober for a bit. She met and married another resident at the facility eight years her junior. On her wedding day, her brother looked into her big brown eyes, expressing his joy that she was sober and happy. After he told her that he had been worried that she was not going to make it, he watched all the light escape her eyes. Two weeks later, Edie succumbed to her addiction, perishing of a barbiturate overdose at the age of 28.
Many models and actresses have tried to emulate the Edie look. It’s a hard one to pull off. Most are too polished looking. After all, Edie had one-inch roots, a cigarette hanging out of her mouth and that wild gleam behind her eyes. Edie had, in fact, accused Twiggy, the supermodel of Swinging London, of stealing her look. To be fair, Twiggy’s hairstylist was the one who had the idea to transform her long blonde locks to a hip, side-swept pixie.
Mazda Isphahan is a Swedish artist and filmmaker who also happens to be an Edie Sedgwick lookalike. Gillian McCain made me hip to her Instagram which blew my mind. It’s hard to distinguish the real Edie from the lookalike in many of them. I chatted with the creative beauty on her life living in Edie’s pointed pumps.
PKM: When did you start your transformation into Edie?
Mazda: There’s a kinda fun story to it. I have been experimenting with makeup and clothes since 2014, but I appeared in the “Mazda Isphahan” look (which you know from Instagram) only fairly recently in 2018! It was a day of my bachelor’s exam at the Academy of Fine Art. My major was animation at the Intermedia faculty, so naturally my thesis project was a teaser for an animated film about Edie Sedgwick. I thought that it would be fun to combine animation with performance art. I did an Edie look and went to take that exam! Guess what? Professors who have known me for three years didn’t recognize me! They even asked who I was! I will never forget that day!
PKM: Have you modeled before?
Mazda: I started modeling a few years ago on Instagram, when I received my first pair of Edie Sedgwick-inspired earrings by Steve Sasco. Steve designed earrings for the film Factory Girl (2006), in which Sienna Miller played Edie. I have been modeling his wonderful creations for six years now. I am a huge fan of this man — he is a true master! But modeling is not my job, I am not signed to any modeling agencies. I’ve never contacted any of them.
PKM: What celebrity would you be compared for before your Edie transformation?
Mazda: No one has compared me to anyone, so I don’t really know.
PKM: What are your favorite things about Edie?
Mazda: She is almost like a mythological figure. She is an enigma. She had that unique quality and aura around her. She was timeless. She was incredibly talented. All of these aspects inspire me, plus the glare in her eyes and a smile that could have lit up the room. I really wish I could have met her in person. For those who read this interview and would love to learn more about her, I invite you to check out my FB group: ‘Conversations with Edie Sedgwick,’ and follow the Instagram account: @dearest_edie!
PKM: Did you have any plastic surgery while making the transformation into Edie?
Mazda: No, I didn’t and I don’t plan to.
PKM: What are your hobbies?
Mazda: I love art! I graduated from Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków, where I am currently working on my Ph.D. project. My major is animation, but I love all kinds of art. Sometimes I paint with watercolors or do pencil drawings (you can see my art on www.kingasyrek.com). I also love cooking and baking! My signature cake is meringue with a mascarpone cream and a homemade cherry confiture. My other hobby is travelling! I can’t live without it! I would love to visit every state of the USA and ride down Route 66! I have been to 9 so far!
PKM: Do you get paid to appear at clubs?
Mazda: I don’t really appear in the clubs. I don’t do this for money and I have never been paid. This is a performance art project, so you can meet me more likely at the art galleries. In 2019, I took part in the Krakow Art Salon, which is a huge art exhibition of recent artworks made by artists from Kraków or who are somehow connected to the city. I was the only one performance artist out there. I did arabesques on the leather rhino (just like Edie in VOGUE). This is the only time when I was rewarded with money, because I won a Public Choice Award!
PKM: What are your plans for this year?
Mazda: My debut animated film has just been released. It is the first animated film about Edie Sedgwick for the 50th anniversary of her death. It had its premiere at the Oscars-qualifying 61st Kraków Film Festival. It has already won The Best Animated Film at the Long Story Short Film Festival in Wrocław and at the Across the Globe Film Festival. I am travelling with my film and taking part in film festivals and screenings. I will be also working on my Ph.D. project, which is based on the Virtual Reality (VR) technology. I will be transferring a 2D animated film by Polish animator Ryszard Czekała to the VR environment. It is a study on immersion in the animated film.
PKM: Where did you grow up? Expand a bit on your upbringing.
Mazda: I was born in Kraków, Poland, but I spent childhood in Tarnów, which is situated about 50 miles from Kraków. I spent most of my childhood making art, drawing comics, watching cartoons – that’s probably why I do who I do today! During summers, I travelled Europe with my parents, which was a tremendously inspiring experience.
PKM: Have you ever been asked to appear with an Andy Warhol lookalike? Or a Velvet lookalike?
Mazda: Yeah, it has actually happened once! I was doing research on Edie for my animated film Too Late (the first animated film about Edie for the 50th anniversary of her death) at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh. It was in the first week of July 2019. One day, when I was at the Museum, a guy from L.A. who visited the museum went crazy about me. He said that I was Edie! Then he told me that he cosplayed Andy Warhol for several occasions (like for Halloween and conventions) and that he was VERY upset that he hasn’t brought his white wig with him. He really wanted me to come to L.A. for Halloween, so I could be his Edie. I felt like a celebrity, who met a crazy fan. He even didn’t want to let me go. It was such a surreal experience.