Ciao! Manhattan is a scripted art film based on the life story of an early super model named Edie Sedgwick, who fell in with Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd in 1965, starred in some of his underground films, and got hooked on hard drugs, only to enter a slowly decaying orbit. After staggering through a series of mental hospitals, electro-shock therapy sessions and endless amounts of drugs and alcohol, her ravaged organs gave up the ghost in Santa Barbara, California in 1971.
Holed up at a California mansion in an empty swimming pool covered by a makeshift tent and filled with gigantic photos of herself and friends from her glory days in New York, Susan Superstar (who is really just Edie playing herself), filmed in full color in 1970, tells her life story to a young, naive Texas drifter named Butch through a series of black and white flashbacks filmed in 1967. After years of severe substance abuse, Edie is a sloppy mess with a quivering voice who stumbles around and can barely stand up, let alone walk. Although Edie was 27 years old at the time of filming, she comes across almost child-like.