The Australian Women's Weekly - April 1984

Pages 158 & 159

For Debbie Harry, there is life after Blondie

She has been wrestling with a new career but the lure of the pop stage may be too strong.

Eighteen months ago, the assisted blonde hair, pouting purple lips and pogo jumps that were Debbie Harry vanished from the international pop stage.
That was when Blondie decided to call it a day, and the band's ubiquitous frontperson went off to explore other areas of the arts.
One of her projects was writing, with Giorgio Moroder, "Rush Rush" for the soundtrack of the Brian de Palma/Al Pacino film "Scarface", which has just been released nationally.
Debbie also stepped on to the theatre stage during her hiatus, to appear on Broadway in "Trafford Tanzi", memorable for its short run more than anything else, and she starred in a science-fiction horror movie called "Videodrome", which has yet to be screened in Australia.
"The break has really been good for me," Debbie told The Weekly. "I had to change gears, rethink a lot of things. I needed that time to myself."
While neither was a commercial success, each was a valuable experience.
"Doing "Trafford Tanzi' was very interesting," said Debbie. "It was a musical comedy, and I had to learn how to wrestle. Sure, it was depressing when it closed after three weeks, but it wasn't the end of the world. It wasn't a great moment, either! But that's just the chance you take."
She considers "Videodrome" one of the best things she has done to date. The film was another in a line of rather off-beat experiments with acting, a collection of underground shorts, "Union City" and "Roadie" being the others.
Her entree into acting wasn't automatic despite her star status.
"I used to be very upset by going to casting calls or auditions," Debbie recalled. "And then not getting the part - that's happened hundreds of times. I went to read for 'Raging Bull'... 'Arthur'... you name it...
"People see you by what you've done, and there are very few people who have enough imagination to see you as something different."
But although the new road to the top is a gravelly one, Debbie Harry has no regrets about the break-up of Blondie.
"We did a tour in the summer of '82," she said. "That was the last time we played, and it was our best show. It was a firm decision to stop. The band wasn't working. The reasons were pretty much artistic. We'd all outgrown it.
"But, yes, we did what we set out to do, and more. When we started, we had mostly creative ideas; we wanted to change trends, to bring out more dance music. Rock'n'roll dance music wasn't happening.
"We were tired of all that macho guitar business. Blondie was one of the first bands to use synthesizers. It was indicative of the rock growth that would go on for the next 10 years."
She finds it hard to say which of the Blondie albums was her favourite. "There's something out of each that I love," she said.
As for her much-criticized solo album, KooKoo, Debbie laughed and said: "That was the dark horse of the album scene for good old Deb here. It had a lot of great music on it but I think it was a bit before its time."
She's equally reluctant to say what music she admires today.
"I'd rather not if you don't mind," said the newly-diplomatic Debbie. "I've given up doing that, it gets me into trouble. It's like asking someone his or her politics... but there's some nice stuff around."
One of the first things Debbie did when Blondie folded was ditch the "blondie" hair. In "Videodrome," she appeared as a brunette. But, today, blonde is beautiful once more. The image, it would seem, is still important.
"I always considered the pin-up part of my art form, if you want to call it that," said Debbie. "I always thought it was campy. But nobody ever saw the sarcasm of it. Everyone took it very seriously and I think that's a pity because in a lot of the things I did the humour was missed."
And humour, she said, always played a big part in her and boyfriend Chris Stein's career. "It was there all the time," she said. "You need it, especially when you're under stress."
Debbie Harry is now working on a new album with Chris. And she admits the lure of the stage is proving strong.
"I really want to do it again," she said. "When the album's released, I'd really like to get some kind of a performance together."
SUSAN MOORE

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