Abington grad Susan Seidelman, award-winning director of ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’, launches new book with local memories

Susan Seidelman, a 1969 Abington Senior High School graduate and a former resident of Huntingdon Valley, published a book this week titled “Desperately Seeking Something: A Memoir About Movies, Mothers, and Material Girls”.

Seidelman said the book is filled with memories of growing up in Abington Township, including bowling at Del Ennis Lanes, eating Mighty Moes at The Hot Shoppes, and more.

From the book’s description on Amazon.com:

Raised in the safe cocoon of 1960s suburbia, Susan Seidelman wasn’t a misfit, an oddball, or an outlier. She was a “good-girl” with a little bit of “bad” hidden inside. A restless teenager, she dreamed of escape and reinvention, a theme that would play out in her films as well as in her own life. Because she loved stories, a high school guidance counselor suggested she become a librarian, but she had her sights set further afield. In 1973, she left the Philly suburbs, enrolled at NYU’s burgeoning graduate film school and moved to NYC’s Lower East Side. There, she found herself in the right place at the right time. New York City was falling apart, but out of that chaos came a burst of creative energy whose effects are still felt in American pop culture today. Downtown became a vibrant playground where film, music, performance and graffiti art cross-pollinated and where Seidelman chronicled the lives of the colorful misfits, oddballs, dreamers and schemers she met there.

It’s all in DESPERATELY SEEKING SOMETHING. Seidelman not only has a keen perspective on the times she’s lived through — from her Twiggy-obsessed girlhood, through the Women’s Lib movement of the early 70s, the punk scene of the late 70s, Madonna-mania of the 80s, to the dot-com “greed is good” 90s, and beyond–she tells great stories.

Today Seidelman is an NYC-based film director, producer, and writer with plenty of accolades to her name. She directed “Desperately Seeking Susan”, a 1985 comedy starring Madonna, Rosanna Arquette, John Turturo, and Laurie Metcalf, among other Hollywood names. The movie was added to the Library of Congress National Film Registry in 2023.

She was interviewed last week by Ageist.com about the memoir. An excerpt:

How did you get started in film?
I thought I wanted to be a fashion designer. I loved fashion; not because I was interested in designer clothes or labels, but because I wanted to express myself and realized that fashion tells stories.

So, I went to Drexel University and enrolled in the fashion program, which was great the first year because it was all about the history of fashion and design, and you got to do little sketches and stuff. And then, in the second year, the program got more serious and went into tailoring, sewing, cutting patterns, and everything that fashion designers need to know. And I found myself, at 18 or 19, sitting behind a sewing machine. I was too restless for that. So I started to look for other classes I could take to get enough credits to graduate and, on a total fluke, I saw a film appreciation 101 class that filled a spot on my schedule. I took it and got hooked. I realized that moviemaking is about design and storytelling and combined my interest in music with many other things. So, I  just kept going. When it was time to graduate, I thought, what could I do with my life? Could I have a career getting paid to watch movies? 

I applied to two film schools in Philadelphia but was rejected. However, this setback didn’t deter me. I knew I had to keep pushing forward.

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Photo: Ageist.com