"SPIN"


BACK TO TOP 1997
Text: Sia Michel
Photography: Guy Aroch

NEW YORK DOLL

Chloe Sevigny likes to apologize. For being late, for being "boring," for being "hyper," and, worst of all, "unfabulous." Now she has run back into the New York City bar she just exited to say she's sorry for being "awkward" (she is, but in a good way). "I'm the kind of person who always feels like I'm about to get fired. " Sevigny says.

For people sick of supermodels and the beautiful people, this self-effacing 21-year-old actress (Kids, Trees Lounge), model (X-Girl, Prada's Miu Miu line), and costume designer (October's arty, Arbus-y Gummo, in which she also costars as a white-trash girl named Dot) has come to symbolize both a new kind of New York anti-celebrity and a return to the Warholian street Superstar. The New Yorker even dubbed her an "It Girl" before she had done anything but appear in a Sassy spread and a Sonic Youth video. Like Twiggy and Edie Sedgwick, her archetypal sisters in skinny, blond, slightly skewed WASPdom, Sevigny is famous for being famous, and for not really seeming to care. Like Beck, who's recently taken to dressing like a 19th-century country undertaker, Sevigny has figured out how to rumpage through the dustbins of style and come up with something entirely her own. Says Kids screenwriter and Gummo writer and director (not to mention ex-boyfriend) Harmony Korine: "She makes up things that are cool for herself."

Today, at the bar, it's teenage-runaway chic. Looking like fresh meat at a Greyhound bus station, circa 1975 -gaudy flowered tube top, ratty old basketball shorts, robin's-egg-blue flats that scream grandma's house-slippers but are actually Comme Des Garcons chaussures, frosted blond hair frizzing out of a topknot -Sevigny is carrying most of her earthly possessions in three overflowing bags. She has been couch-surfing in Manhattan for nearly four years, returning to her childhood home in suburban Darien, Connecticut, wherever she needs clean laundry. As a teenager, Sevigny used to cut out of "Aryan," as she calls it, nearly every weekend to hang out with the skater kids in Manhattan's Washington Square Park, but she's less a rebel girl than a Zelig adept at playing all sides of any scene. "Chloe simply insists on doing whatever she wants," says her mom, Janine Sevigny. "Once she's made up her mind, that's it."

Despite her independent streak, Sevigny's film roles have largely relegated her to victimhood. In Kids, she's a teenager hunting for the "virgin surgeon" who's infected her with HIV; in Trees Lounge, she's an abused 17-year-old Lolita who gets kissed and dissed by an alkie ice-cream truck driver (Steve Buscemi); in Gummo, she and her sisters get groped by a suave molester who claims he's found their lost kitty; and in the just-finished Woody Harrelson thriller Palmetto, she's a tarty rich girl who gets kidnapped for ransom. "I'm still waiting for a really juicy role," she says, spazzing out when the conversation turns to Linda Manz's proto-riot-grrrl portrayal of C.B. in Dennis Hopper's 1980 cult film Out of the Blue.

"Yeah, C.B. was this tough little punk who ran away to see bands, got into fights, and blew up her mom with dynamite," Sevigny says, sighing. "There are never good girl parts like that anymore."


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