Patti Smith Discovers Gender Bending in Pop Culture

Patti Smith Discovers Gender Bending in Pop Culture

Patti Smith was another New Jersey native who grew up on rock ’n’ roll. The flamboyantly queer rhythm and blues pioneer Little Richard first rocked her world, introducing the young tomboy to androgyny. Later, in Patti’s teen years, Factory superstar Edie Sedgwick made a similar impression with her boylike stick figure. Recalling the time she first saw Sedgwick in Vogue magazine during the mid-1960s, Smith described her as looking like a thin man in black leotards. “That’s it. It represented everything to me,” she recalled, “radiating intelligence, speed, being connected with the moment.” Smith saw Sedgwick in person during the fall of 1965, when she accompanied Andy Warhol to the opening of his first retrospective at the Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania. “Edie Sedgwick with the blonde hair and dark eyebrows,” Patti recalled, “she didn’t mess around. She was really something.”

From Chapter 4 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore


The Factory (original location)
231 E 47th St, New York, NY 10017