Magazines + Newspapers


February 1981

Pages 18, 19, 20, 21, 22


by Robert Camuto

It’s after 3 a.m. in the Mudd Club, a dark, smoke-filled rock club in lower Manhattan. An attractive blonde-haired girl is wistfully singing the blues to a small crowd of about 100 people. She seems nervous, as if auditioning for her first gig. In between verses she folds her hands awkwardly in front of her.
But her voice carries the highs and lows rather well, and she looks the part of a teenage dream girl with her red leather skirt, silk stockings, black high heels, tight black sweater and artfully applied make-up.
She scrunches up her soft features, highlighting a pair of broad cover-girl cheekbones and coos, “I’ll al-ways lo-ve my mom.”
She could be any one of numerous unknown girl singers hoping for a break.
But she’s not. This girl is Debbie Harry, sex symbol and lead singer with Blondie, the most popular new wave rock band in America.
In the early morning hours, Harry and her boyfriend, Chris Stein (Blondie’s guitarist, songwriter and co-leader), are performing for a taping of Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party, a very low-keyed, humorous, music-oriented cable TV variety show.
This appearance in a New York rock club might seem unusual for Harry and Stein, who usually perform before thousands of screaming teenyboppers in concert halls and arenas. Still, it wasn’t so very long ago that the seedy New York clubs were the only places where Harry and Stein could get work. And they still feel comfortable here.
Debbie Harry was born in Miami, Florida, but was immediately given up for adoption. She grew up with foster parents, the Harrys, in New Jersey. When she graduated from high school, her yearbook listed her career ambition as “undecided.” Debbie promptly left home for The Village.
Through the late ’60s and early ’70s, Debbie Harry worked as a waitress in a donut shop and cocktail lounges. She also worked as a cosmetician, did some singing and did a brief stint as a Playboy bunny at the Playboy Club. “A good job,” she would later reflect, “for a girl who wants to make a lot of money and doesn’t know what else to do…”
After landing a waitressing job at Max’s Kansas City, then the center of the New York glitter rock scene (and the site of numerous performances by the New York Dolls), Harry met Elda Stilletto and soon became a singer in the Stillettoes, a campy/trashy girl rock group. (This was actually the second band Debbie Harry sang in. The first was a short-lived hippie/folk group called Wind and the Willows that recorded one album in 1968.)
The Stillettoes sang original songs like “Dracula What Did You Do to My Mother?” in dives like the Club 82 and the Bourbon Tavern and began to develop a following. One night, Elda Stilletto’s boyfriend, the late Eric Emmerson, brought his roommate Chris along to a Stillettoes performance.
Chris Stein, a Brooklyn boy who had attended the New York School of Visual Arts, was a scrawny rock’n’roller with an affinity for blue eye shadow.
From the night that Harry and Stein met (as fanzine lore has it, they fell in love when their eyes met across a crowded barroom, as in a slow-motion montage in a French film), they became inseparable.
Soon afterwards they formed a band of their own: Blondie. Though the personnel in Blondie was fluid, two things were clear right from the start: Stein was the leader and Harry was the knockout, blonde-haired singer.
Blondie played Max’s and CBGB’s (the club where the whole punk/new wave thing started) with other struggling groups on the scene: the Patti Smith Group, Television, the Talking Heads, the Ramones…
In late ’76, Blondie, the group’s debut LP – recorded in a Brooklyn basement recording studio – was released in Private Stock Records. When Blondie performed at the Mabuhay Gardens a few months later, the club was less than 3/4 full.
An early poster designed by Private Stock Records pictured a wan Debbie Harry in a sheer silk blouse above the question, “Wouldn’t You Like To Rip Her To Shreds?” Though the band was miffed by this twisted appeal, the media attention it attracted helped record sales.
When Blondie finally hit in America, they hit big. “Heart of Glass” became a #1 hit in the U.S. in the spring of 1979 and Blondie’s third album, Parallel Lines (which contained “Heart of Glass”), went platinum (one million copies sold).
By the summer of 1980, Debbie Harry was everywhere: in national magazines (earlier that year Penthouse featured Debbie on the cover, touting “Sex Symbol of the ’80s”) and in chic designer jeans commercials. Her face and/or body were plastered all over Manhattan (on the sides of busses!) to promote a New York radio station. Her voice was seductively repeating “Call Me” (Blondie’s most popular single) over disco sound systems at international jet-set havens like Regine’s. Debbie appeared in Vogue and young girls around the country started picking up on “The Deborah Harry Look.” Debbie Harry clones were in all the clubs.
At the Mudd Club, Debbie Harry finishes her song and as she steps down from the stage, the audience applauds. A few people standing close to the stage call out her name with awe in their voices.
As she walks across the floor, a guy barely able to stand grabs her by the arm and moans “Deb-bie.” She looks him indifferently in the eye, shakes free and walks away to chat with a girlfriend.
After the stage curtain (a rolling garage door) is closed. Debbie, Chris and I meet in the private attic above the second-floor lounge. This room, which is about half the size of a basketball court, is filled with old bar furniture, props, rolled carpets and other junk.
About a dozen TV Party regulars are sprawled on plastic chairs or on the two turquoise vinyl couches. Behind a wooden dressing screen, a shady-looking man wearing a broad cabby hat is cutting up quantities of cocaine with a Bowie knife. A frail chap in an intentionally paint-splattered silk jacket and dark glasses is tap-dancing across the bare splintery gray floor, which vibrates to the rhythms of James Brown.
Debbie, now wearing wide-rimmed glasses (for seeing), wraps a gray leather blazer about her shoulders and heads for the bathroom.
Chris and I move three chairs (as well as our paper cups) to a quiet corner separated from the rest of the room by a stack of old tables.
Despite his black rocker garb and leather pants, Stein carries himself with all the swagger and cockiness of a shrewd and successful businessman. Success has made him doughy around the middle.
He lights a joint and reels off, in (mild) Brooklynese, his favorite tidbit of “Frisco” rock gossip.
CHRIS STEIN: Blondie put the first graffiti on the walls of the Mabuhay Gardens.
C.S.: Yeah. It was in ’77 when we played there on the Iggy tour. There used to be these sculpted plaster crests upstairs, and we drew all over them – some stuff about the Queen and Ronnie Toast [a friend of Blondie’s]. We were nervous about defacing the place because it wasn’t covered with graffiti as it became in later years. In fact the walls were virgin white. So all the people who’ve defaced it since, have just been defacing our defacements… I have photographs that can prove it – that Postal [Boulevards’ photographer Jonathan Postal] took with nothing but our graffiti up there.
[Debbie returns. She sits demurely, smoothing the leather skirt over her lap.] DEBBIE HARRY: There’s no soap in the bathroom.
BLVDS.: A lot of people assume that after several platinum LPs you’re rolling in millions.
C.S.: We don’t have that much money. You’d be surprised. I’m surprised myself. We have enough to be comfortable and to buy things we never used to be able to. It’s great. But we don’t have what they owe us or what we should have. I used to think if you had a number one record you got a lot of money for it – but it doesn’t quite work that way.
You can’t just get rich. It’s not easy. I don’t think a lot of these people that everybody thinks are rich, are rich – like Springsteen or Bowie or any of those fucking people. People think they’re millionaires – they think we’re millionaires – that’s ridiculous.
D.H.: I don’t think that the money is exorbitant in proportion to the amount of work you do. I think that every penny you earn – you more than work for. It’s not a gratis situation.
BLVDS.: It seems that the more successful you become in music, the more people you have to support: publicity people, attorneys…
D.H.: A lot of our friends… [laughs].
C.S.: We have a car and new guitars, but it’s not heavy duty yet.
BLVDS.: With your success you’ve also attained a pretty unique social mobility – through both uptown and downtown circles.
D.H.: In a sense I think we always had the ability to move through different circles, but it takes a while to prove yourself, for different people to accept you.
BLVDS.: Do you go out often?
C.S.: Not that often. I’d rather go out and do something like Glenn’s television show than just go hang out somewhere. I guess I’d rather be the center of attention – that’s part of it. But, just going out to clubs makes me crazy.
BLVDS.: Have you ever been on any TV shows aside from Glenn O’Brien’s TV Party and Andy’s show? [Warhol & Co. air a cable fashion show weekly in NYC.] D.H.: We were on talk shows, but we never talked.
C.S.: We were in Mike and Merv, but we never got to say anything – we just played.
BLVDS.: When was that?
D.H.: “Heart of Glass” time.
C.S.: Even before that really. We went on when we were still really weird. All the old ladies thought we were really bizarre – they couldn’t handle it. That was the show in Philadelphia – which one is that?
D.H.: Mike Douglas.
C.S.: Yeah… Mike. That was before anybody knew who we were. I really gotta hand it to Mike for having us on. Because you can do one thing one year that seems surreal or bizarre, and the next year – after it becomes successful – it no longer seems that way at all.
BLVDS.: Autoamerican [Blondie’s latest album] seems to be centered around 20th century entertainment in all its various forms.
C.S.: Well, we’re trying to expand people’s horizons about contemporary music, and what is acceptable and not acceptable. I don’t think music should be put into categories of in groups and out groups.
D.H.: In a sense, I think the album is essentially a continuation of what we’ve always done. Like on the first album we had “X Offender,” “Man Overboard,” “Rip Her to Shreds”…
BLVDS.: “In the Sun” – one of the all-time great surf songs…
D.H.: … And they were all different types of music. But now we can pull it off better, because we’ve gotten better. And bigger. But, I think we’ve moved pretty much in the same direction.
C.S.: For me, it was trying to get people to… I mean I like all kinds of music, and it seems that the whole field of music has gotten so narrow-minded. Apparently everything has to get put into boxes and capsulized, and nothing really happens to build and create growth.
BLVDS.: Debbie doesn’t scream on this album. At all.
C.S.: [Mumbles.] That’s probably for the best.
BLVDS.: “Faces” seems a real departure – sort of a modern depression era song. [On “Faces,” Debbie exchanges refrains with Tom Scott’s sax.] C.S.: We tried to consciously make it a depression era song, for the ’80s depression. It’s about bums on the Bowery. I think that’s really the key song on the album.
BLVDS.: The B side of “The Tide Is High” [Blondie’s current hit] is “Susie and Jeffrey,” which is probably the least interesting of your new material – and it’s not on the album.
C.S.: “Susie and Jeffrey” is a true story. When we were out in L.A., there were these groups like Black Flag who’ve inspired this whole destructo trend. And one of the big things for the kids to do is drive their cars right into the clubs where the bands are playing – thereby getting the band banned. Ah… I think this is related to that somehow… We were in the studio one day and Orson Welles was also in there doing a commercial, and Perry Como was doing a Christmas special for Israel…. Anyway, all of a sudden we were called outside because these kids – Susie and Jeffrey – had driven their Audi through the wall of the studio. They weren’t hurt though, and the cops didn’t take them away, so we talked with them. And it turned out that Susie and Jeffrey had had a fight on the way to get their blood test to be married. Jeffrey for pissed off and drove his car into a wall. Jeffrey, we learned, has this S&M leather band called DeProgrammer, and they gave us a copy of their single, which is called ironically enough, “Slam on the Door.” So, Debbie wrote “Susie and Jeffrey” about that incident.
D.H.: It’s true. All the facts. Nothing but the truth.
BLVDS.: Why did you go to L.A. to record?
D.H.: Because it was our turn to go out there for Mike [record producer Mike Chapman].
C.S.: Because Mike does a lot more work actually, and what he does is more exhausting. So it was better for him to be home than us.
D.H.: He has his own studio there, and a room that’s been especially built for him, with a computerized board…
C.S.: Yeah, it’s adequate.
BLVDS.: How do you like L.A.?
C.S.: I’m not used to it out there – it’s difficult for me. It’s a pretty strange place – probably one of the weirdest places in the world. It’s like a big Ripley’s Believe It or Not.
D.H.: I don’t believe it.
C.S.: The whole state is like a giant Disneyland. No, I shouldn’t say that; Frisco seems like a normal European sort of town… except for the fact that half the population is homosexual [laughs] there’s nothing unusual about it. In L.A. though, everything seems big and plastic.
BLVDS.: They’ve said that disco is dead, but more and more white musicians seem to be recording disco numbers.
D.H.: There’s not the animosity here towards disco that there once was. There’s a really big crossover going on now – a lot of 4/4 songs with that electronic feel. Sort of like disco; it’s just very good dance music.
C.S.: Disco has never had the same connotations in this city, as it did in the rest of the country anyway. It’s just a different level of street phenomena here. By the time it filters through the Midwest, obviously it’s more obnoxious. What gets to most of the country is not the real guts of it, but what manages to seep through. The real gutsy stuff, by the black and Spanish people who create these wonderful rhythms, emerges in the ghettos, but it doesn’t surface for years.
BLVDS.: “Heart of Glass,” which was supposedly a momentous breakthrough for new wave [the first new wave hit], was actually a great disco song that you’d been playing for years.
C.S.: We played it since ’74, but we didn’t play it that often. We didn’t really think much of it.
D.H.: Actually that song was not called “Heart of Glass” at first. We just called it “The Disco Song.” The refrain was “Pain in the ass… Pain in the ass,” but at the last minute – in the studio – to make it more commercial and acceptable for airplay, we changed it to “Heart of Glass.”
C.S.: “Heart of Glass” also provided the hook that the song needed.
BLVDS.: What do you listen to at home?
D.H.: We listen to tape other bands give us or to the radio – WBLS – and soundtracks. We listen to the new Devo record a lot.
BLVDS.: They’ve been playing “Rapture” [Blondie’s rap recording in Autoamerican] on the soul stations like WBLS. Do you have any favorite rappers?
D.H.: Well, Flash. The beginning of “Rapture” is about Flash. You know [raps] Flash is fast, Flash is cool…
C.S.: Flash was originally in a group called The Funky Four Plus One More, which was a great group. In fact, I’ve heard that the Sugar Hill Gang [known for “Rapper’s Delight,” “Rapper’s Reprise,” etc.] were originally this guy Flash’s bodyguards. He’s only recently got his first single out.
D.H.: Rapping is really a form of street poetry. We see kids all the time with just music coming out of their radios and they’re rapping right over it. Sometimes they do their rap even without a radio.
BLVDS.: Debbie, you’ve been in four films to date. You had two cameo appearances, in Amos Poe’s The Foreigner and Unmade Beds, the starring role in Union City [a low-budget production, in which Harry played a lower-middle-class New Jersey housewife], and appeared in Roadie. Do you want to work more in film?
D.H.: Well, it’s not as thrilling as rock’n’roll, but it is more intriguing and more definitive. It’s a challenge, and I hope it works out for me. I believe I can act.
BLVDS.: You’ve done a couple of great commercials for Murjani. What do you think of Brooke Shields’ commercials for Calvin Klein jeans?
C.S.: I like them, but they just banned one here.
D.H.: They did?
BLVDS.: Which is your favorite?
C.S.: They’re all the same.
BLVDS.: No they’re not.
C.S.: Ostensibly they’re all the same. The one that was banned on two channels, I think, was the only one where she says: “What comes between me and my Calvins?… Nothing.” It made the front page of the Daily News – it was good publicity.
D.H.: That’s great. She is great.
C.S.: Yeah, we like Brooke – she’s a good kid. She does this sexual number that makes people crazy in a similar way that Debbie does. People aren’t ready for it yet I guess. But no one seems to mind when Kris Kristofferson takes off his shirt and acts like a macho man; yet when Debbie and Brooke do it, they get scared.
D.H.: I don’t think they get scared.
C.S.: Sure they do.
BLVDS.: Lester Bangs, in his book Blondie, seemed pretty upset about Debbie’s image, and how the band was using sex to sell records.
C.S.: Lester’s point was to make money. But he didn’t because the book didn’t sell. Because our fans were, all in all, pretty disgusted with it.
I think the level of some of this rock criticism is just horrendous. Walter [a New York musician whose first album was produced by Chris Stein] told me he got a bad review in the New York Rocker that said he should eat a bunch of Quaaludes and go home and go to sleep. That’s the level of some reviews: “We don’t like you… na na… go home.”
[Debbie laughs.] But my image of Lester [who also accused Stein of ideas in “the Twinkie Zone”] is that he goes to see a double bill with Blondie and the Stones. The Stones open for us, and Jagger comes out on a giant cock, and Lester goes: “Hey” – nudge nudge – “there’s Mick on a giant cock!” Then Debbie comes onto the stage on a giant cunt and Lester runs screaming for the aisle, because he’s afraid he’s going to be devoured.
D.H.: I was surprised by that book. We had known Lester for a long time; I was shocked that he was so hostile. What I do it, in a sense, nothing new. Yet I combine two, more or less, opposites. On the one hand I entertain in a very traditional way with the image of the beautiful female singer, though that can be very bland. But then I put a lot of feeling and information into the lyrics. Maybe that is scary. A lot of people don’t want to look at, or confront that.
C.S.: I just don’t believe that in order to be true men and women, we have to become sexless creatures that gradually grow together. Yet a lot of people feel that’s the true sexuality; this sort of Big Brotherland where everybody wears coveralls and has shaved heads.
BLVDS.: The coming androgyny.
C.S.: Yeah, maybe that’s the kind of world Lester Bangs gets excited by. In his book one of his main theses was that every little boy really wants to beat up his favorite poster girl to prove that she’s a piece of meat like everyone else. So maybe he would be happier in a world where everybody was the same.
D.H.: I think that people in general, whether they are male or female, who are inhibited by the clichés of what women are or what men are, really don’t like themselves. Because personality traits are not necessarily sexual.
[When asked to respond to Stein’s and Harry’s comments, Lester Bangs replied: First of all, this comes down to nothing more than sour grapes. Chris and Debbie are preparing a book of their own about Blondie and while I was working on mine they made no secret of their displeasure at the fact that it would be out first. They also dangled the possibility of interviews with the band before me like a carrot on a stick with the provsio that they get to read the manuscript before it came out. This makes them no different than Helen Reddy and Jeff Wald. It’s too bad that these people want to control absolutely everything that is written about them. Chris said to me while I was writing the book. “All this means is that something is coming out about us that we don’t make any money out of.” Which means, I suppose, that Creem and Circus and Rolling Stone and Boulevards should send Blondie checks every time they do articles on them. I’m sorry, but I’m not a shill and I don’t write puff pieces or puff books. After the book came out, Chris and Debbie called me up on the phone and invited me over for dinner. They thanked me and told me that because of the difficulties they put me through when I was trying to do the book, they had expected a hatchet job, but were pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the book a whole lot. Chris even let me interview him for my next book. A few weeks later, I started seeing all these interviews where they said things like they told Boulevards. I can only come to one or two conclusions: either somebody told them that the book was not as complimentary as they thought it was, or these people are schizophrenic. Futhermore, I’d like to say that Chris has a lot of pretentious ideas about media which he inflicts on Blondie’s fans: I seriously doubt that the average buyer of Blondie records in middle America or the rest of the world knows what Chris is talking about or even cares. He is a very intelligent kid whose conceit is to think that he’s Andy Warhol. He’s always talking about manipulating the media. I’ve got news for him: he manipulated it right into my pocketbook. Every time Chris and Debbie open their mouths again to yap about how horrendous this book is, it sells a few thousand more copies. I keep having this fantasy that they’re going to call me up and invite me over again and we’ll all have a laugh and a drink over it. As for sexuality, the two have marketed her in a way that Chris admitted in the book was exploitative. And I found Mick Jagger’s giant inflatable phallus just as disgusting and unnecessary as Debbie rolling around on the stage with her panties showing. And yes, I would like to see a world where men and women begin to see each other as they truly are and not as icons of frustration and contempt. But I can see Debbie being bugged because I also said in the book that she wasn’t my type.] BLVDS.: Even though you’re from New Jersey, Debbie, you’ve never written songs about high school.
D.H.: Well why should I?!
BLVDS.: Well it seems that everybody from Jersey writes songs about high school: Springsteen, the Ramones, etc.
D.H.: Well, I think for me to dwell upon high school would be kind of pretentious. I mean I didn’t like high school very much.
BLVDS.: What were you like back then?
D.H.: Pretty much how I am now, only more withdrawn. I thought of myself as an artist, and I was sort of on the fringes. I had friends, but I certainly wasn’t the most popular girl or the president of every committee.
BLVDS.: When did you decide to become blonde?
D.H.: In seventh grade, I started coloring my hair. I was twelve. But it wasn’t necessarily to be a blonde; I’ve had every color.
BLVDS.: Did you have any particular blondes in mind – that you admired or wanted to imitate?
D.H.: One of the first songs that Chris and I wrote together was called “Platinum Blonde.” And it wasn’t about any one in particular, but about all of them, and about the American blonde as a sex symbol.
BLVDS.: When Blondie started getting national attention – just a couple of years ago – you were always compared to Marilyn. But we don’t hear that nowadays.
D.H.: Well it just goes to show that it was nothing but hot air all along. [Debbie Harry crinkles her face into a broad smile.] BLVDS.: Do you think that now you’re finally known as Deborah Harry rather than Debbie Blondie?
D.H.: Yes, and I think by now people know who Chris Stein is, who Clem Burke is… and Jimmy Destri. There’s such an onslaught of groups and entertainers in the media these days that it takes a long time for individuals to get known. So unless your whole world is rock’n’roll – which for many of us at one time it was, and for a lot of kids today it is – you’re not going to sit down and memorize who’s who.
C.S.: I used to think that rock’n’roll could be your whole world. I think everyone in the band had a lot of illusions that have since been dispersed. I thought it could be the center of your life – that you could live rock’n’roll – but that’s all bullshit.
BLVDS.: But at one point – even after “Heart of Glass” broke… ah, rather… hit – you seemed to be looking back with regret, and nostaligia for your struggling times.
C.S.: Well, I’ll admit to that naïveté. There was a lot less pressure before, and we really thought we could go on living an innocent sort of lifestyle. But that’s not very realistic. You can’t go back to that. It’s ridiculous. I think that’s how a lot of kids are misled.
BLVDS.: This last summer in Manhattan, there seemed to be a lot of Deborah Harry clones in the clubs and on the street. How do you feel when you see little girls trying to be just like you?
D.H.: It’s fine. It’s cool. I mean I imitate as well as create. It’s flattering. And I think that by imitating you can learn technique. When I was growing up I used to imitate everybody I saw on TV or heard on the radio, and to that I added my own interpretations. Imitation really opens you up.
BLVDS.: Is Blondie planning a tour in the near future?
C.S.: Right now, we’re not going to spend a lot of energy touring – though we will do it soon enough. It requires a lot of concentration, which we’re trying to put elsewhere. We’d like to do an expanded version of TV Party, but better. Slick. Maybe it’s the next step after Saturday Night Live, and the rest of those things. I mean if we had the budgets that all those people did, we could turn out a lot better material.
D.H.: I don’t know if I’d want to be under all that pressure every week.
C.S.: Well what about Johnny [Carson]? I’d like to be part of a thing where you get used to going out there every night. You know, instead of going to your grandmother’s house, you walk to 30 million people. I think it’s a great idea.
BLVDS.: Well Johnny seems to be getting weary lately.
C.S.: But don’t you think if he stopped doing it, it would fuck him up? I mean what’s he supposed to do? Stay home and watch television every night? Johnny should have been elected president.
D.H.: Yeah, but they couldn’t have campaign posters that said “Vote for Johnny.”
C.S.: That’s true.
D.H.: Everybody would laugh.
C.S.: Anderson should have changed his name to Johnny Anderson, and gotten a pair of Andy Warhol glasses.
BLVDS.: He looks a bit like Andy – it’s all that white hair.
C.S.: But seriously. I think Anderson’s glasses severely hurt his campaign. It was those stupid designer glasses. If he had had straight glasses – maybe Medicaid glasses – he would have been in a lot better shape. He would have at least made it into the percentage points. She [Debbie] can get away with it. But not a politician.
D.H.: That’s right.
BLVDS.: What?
D.H.: It’s OK if politicians wear those half-glasses for reading, so that when they make their speeches they can look down at their papers, and then address their audience. I think that sort of adds to the image. But politicians wearing designer frames? It gives one the impression that they are not quite serious enough. That they are easily corrupted.
C.S.: I think computer should make all the important decisions anyway.
BLVDS.: Chris, I understand that you’re involved in Glenn O’Brien’s movie. [O’Brien’s filmmaking debut is a musical comedy with Debbie, several no wave New York bands and SF’s Tuxedomoon – backed, in part, by Fiorucci.] C.S.: I’m the musical director. Hopefully this whole scene will make it as we have – but right now we’re a few steps ahead of everybody else, in that we’re the only ones, except for Glenn, supporting ourselves with our art. Most of these other people suport themselves with other things.
D.H.: It’s difficult, as you well know. In a sense I don’t know if it’s more difficult to struggle to earn money as an artist and do bits and pieces here and there, or if it’s more difficult to try to be commercial with your art. [She sighs.] I mean that’s a real challenge. You meet up with all these people who squeeeeeeeeeeeeeze you into this salable mold – plus you start squeezing yourself after a while because you want to pay the rent. It takes time to be able to control the process – you have to be approved and accepted as a money-making thing first. Before that, you can’t control it. You are not given that power. They want you to pay back all that money first.
BLVDS.: Business art.
C.S.: My lawyer teaches a “show business law” course, which is something coming into vogue now. I mean that gets to be an art too. These guys paint canvases with contracts! [Deborah Harry takes out a small container of lip gloss, and applies it with her pinkie.] BLVDS.: I suppose I could ask you what is the future of rock’n’roll.
C.S.: It’s not anything really. It’s just going to keep on the same as it always has. It’s just a business.
D.H.: New musicians, new apology, the usual…
C.S.: Rock’n’roll doesn’t start anything, or any trends – it just reflects what’s going on in society.
D.H.: Reportage and reflection.
BLVDS.: How long do you want to be doing it for?
D.H.: Oh… Forever.
BLVDS.: The Blondie image seems to be based, in large part, on youth. At some point down the road, won’t that inevitably have to change?
C.S.: Well, we do have a lot of little kids for fans, but as we get older they’ll get older too. So in 1990 all out ten-year-old fans will be twenty.
BLVDS.: Why do you think you have so many young fans?
C.S.: They haven’t had all the years of restrictions and programming built up around them. They were free to accept us when we were a new thing.
D.H.: The kids nowadays are so sophisticated, and the music is real preppy. You don’t have to think about it – you can though.
BLVDS.: Debbie, do you plan to be a blonde forever?
D.H.: You never can tell…
C.S.: I always tell her she should switch back.
BLVDS.: You wouldn’t have to be a brunette again.
D.H.: I’m full of surprises. [She teases.] I could do anything with it. You never know.
BLVDS.: But what if it turns green from the peroxide?
D.H.: My hair is not going to turn green. [Deborah Harry laughs defiantly.] MY HAIR IS ABSOLUTELY NEVER GOING TO TURN GREEN.

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