surface magazine
Issue 5: 1995
 Photographer: Austin Young.
Comments: I just happened to be browsing the magazines at Tower Record Store in London's West End when I saw this magazine staring at me. I was stunned to see Debbie's gorgeous face across the front cover and inside too. I bought my copy straight away! 
I D O L
 A BLEND OF TALENT, RAW SEX APPEAL & WARHOL ICONOGRAPHY, Debbie Harry CARVED HER OWN NICHE IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY. HER IMAGE IS REVERED, HER MYSTIQUE UNASSAILED. IN AN ERA WHEN POP CULTURE EATS ITS HEROES - DEMYSTIFYING, DEBUNKING & FINALLY DISDAINING THEM - DEBBIE HARRY'S ALLURE ENDURES. 
C H I T 
UNAWARE OF THE ADORATION SHE STILL ILLICITS FROM SCORES OF DEVOTED FANS, THIS BOMB- SHELL IS HARDLY AN ICY BLONDE. SHE WAS APPROACHABLE & SPONTANEOUS AS WE DISCUSSED HER FILM ROLES & ASPIRATIONS, INTERACTIVE FORAYS, & FLYING LESSONS. THERE IS A VUNERABILITY ABOUT HER THAT MAKES HER ACCESSIBLE. THERE IS A VITALITY WHICH ELEVATES HER TO IDOLHOOD. 
C H A T
 DEBBIE EMERGED FROM A TWO-YEAR HIATUS FROM THE PRESS TO TALK TO *SURFACE... WELL WORTH THE WAIT. 

...............................
*Surface: Hard edge, blonde bitches, glam rock & dance beat are all back . Where does Debbie Harry fit into all of this?
 DH: I'm breaking out my wigs. I'm breaking out my blonde wigs, all my leather clothing & well fuck you, (laughing like the wicked Witch of the East) I'm bringing out all my old toys! 
*Surface: You've been described as one of the great bleached blondes of rock. Was it difficult to let go of that image? 
DH: I felt more trapped by it than I wanted to be. I wanted to be considered a little more versatile. I felt like I wanted to express more things than that. It was a double-edged thing. 
*Surface: You're perceived as a very strong woman.
 DH: I know, but I'm not. That's a lie. Under this hard exterior is a big pile of mush. I have my persona that I reveal in public & entertain people with, & then I have my tiny little self who sits at home with my doggie (a japanese Chin named Chi-Chan, whose stage name is Peepers. She claimed, laughingly, that Peepers comes out on stage, barks at the audience & sits down). *Surface: "A woman who can have whatever she wants." Do you have what you want? 
DH: Sometimes I do. That's one of the misconceptions about modern living. I don't think anybody has what they want all the time. And that's the joy of achieving things. Sometimes you get what you want, & sometimes you don't. I think that's what joy really is. *Surface: What do you have that you cherish? 
DH: Hmmmm. My friends. I think it's something that has taken me quite a while to figure out. How to get the best out of these relationships. I know a lot of people, obviously. But to get all these different things going... to really benefit from them and to appreciate them and to share them in friendships is really a terrific thing. *Surface: Is there anything that was a misconception about you during the Blondie years? 
DH: It was assumed that everything that I did & was or represented, or envisioned or brought to life on stage & in pictures was very, very calculated. It wasn't such a sophisticated business as it is now. I think that were I that calculated or in control I probably would be much more of a house-hold name, as is Madonna.
 *Surface: Is getting older really a "beautiful" process?
 DH: (sigh) It's just what everybody else says. It's great. You get your shit together, but then your body falls apart! Though mine is holding up pretty well, I've been abusing it over the years. When it comes right down to it, I haven't been as good to it as I should have. I feel pretty good. Old age is a drag if you're not feeling well. Otherwise your brain is in a much better place. 
*Surface: Is there anything about those hard times, the before fame & fortune days, that you miss?
 DH: The excitement of something new. The first time is always the most exciting. You might not fully appreciate everything that's happening to you & there's nothing you can do to get that back. It's a one- time event. So that's exciting... all of the aspects of the unknown. 
*Surface: Any advice for a singer or band struggling to succeed in the music industry? 
DH: Give up music & go into computers. Other than that, it's tenacity & getting a few breaks. You have to be crazy to do it. (Laughter) I don't think that people realise how much time and effort it takes. It's not something that you can do five days a week & then go home for the weekend. It's 24-hours non-stop for as long as it takes. It's not the kind of thing that you can ever drop. 
*Surface: This seems to be an era of one-hit bands. Are pop icons a fading breed? 
DH: The industry does seem to be leaning that way quite a bit. It seems a lot easier just to sell records than to create monsters, as it were. There's probably a lot more money in it for them that way. If somebody's got a vision for themselves & is able to make everyone see it, then it happens. Whether the industry regards it or not is another thing. 
*Surface: Who are you listening to today? 
DH: I don't really listen. I go see bands. Listening to records & tapes just doesn't do it for me. I like the full impact of the live performance. 
*Surface: What is your take on the new generation that seems to be evolving? 
DH: I think that it's the embodiment of rock & roll - the revolutionary. The idea of youth getting their say & having a place to say it. I think that that is the value & the beauty of it. That it's somewhat forbidden & challenging & scary is just absolutely perfect. I'm quoting Ed Wood there with 'absolutely perfect.' 
*Surface: ...and you were quoted as saying that all singing, all music comes from the same basic core. Where does music come from? 
DH: Well, it's obviously a function of the brain, to be non-lingual & create some kind of tonal pattern. I saw some native South American Indians doing some music on TV & it was almost eerie, what they ended up with. Almost like when you're sitting thinking, but not thinking (imitates the tribal beat). And God knows what it does. It must be something very soothing, something good for the brain. 
*Surface: The Jazz Passengers thought you were ideal as vocalist for Dog In Sand because of the "little girl" lyrics. 
DH: It's hard to say how people see you or what you permit them to see... whether it's our subconscious, unconscious or conscience. People pick up on different aspects of your personality that they feel more comfortable with. What we see in other people is often just a reflection of ourselves. 
*Surface: What's next for you in music? 
DH: I'm playing it by ear. I'm going to do some recording with Chris Frantz & Tina Weymouth from Talking Heads. They're doing an Argentinian band, Los Fabulosos Cadillacs {who won for Best Latin Video at the '94 MTV awards}. I'm going to guest on a track for them. 
*Surface: Have you been looking at scripts? 
DH: I'm always doing that. You know hope springs eternal (with a laugh). I keep going & auditioning. I did a part with Adam Ant in an independent film called Drop Dead Rock. That's my latest thing. It's directed by Adam Dubin who has done alot of rock videos. 
*Surface: How do you chose a role? 
DH: Desperation (laughing). That's a big factor. Just kidding! It has to do with who's involved. What my schedule is like, who's directing it. I like things that are creative, that I'm not going to be really embarrassed about later on. 
*Surface: Are you interested in doing anything on television? 
DH: Yes. But it's such a frightening prospect, to be stuck in one of those horror things. Television writing just really turns me off. There are only a few bits & pieces & even they wear thin so quickly. It seems like such a danger zone to me. They wrecked Ren & Stimpy. That was an awful thing that happened there. If they can trash Ren & Stimpy, they could probably murder me & they'd never find my body! 
*Surface: Your role in the film Videodrome created a disturbing picture of TV in the future. 
DH: I thought it was a real mind bender & that was one of the things that I really liked about it. Of course I was a great admirer of David Cronenberg. And so I probably would have done anything he offered me. 'Here's a broom'... (Laughter). It was a fascinating concept. And virtual reality. I mean ol' David was pretty ahead of his time. 
*Surface: You've worked with alot of painters, photographers & musicians in the 70's & 80's who were ahead of their time. How do you think the 90's compare as an artistic period? 
DH: Now it's more in the technical ballpark. I see indications of something that could emerge but I don't really see it happening. It's not really my field, computers & all. I'm trying to learn more about them & how to use them. 
*Surface: You said that after your good friend Andy Warhole died life got boring * wasn't as much fun. What's fun for you now? 
DH: That was an immediate reaction to Andy's death. I think that I'm actually having more fun now than ever before. It took a while to get over the empty space that he left. Of course, I still do miss Andy alot. 
*Surface: So you're having more fun than ever before?
 DH: I enjoy things more for some reason. I go out more. I have a better perspective. Maybe it's because I'm older & more relaxed. Who knows? 
*Surface: I read that you would like to fly sombat jets. Is that true? 
DH: Actually I took some glider lessons to learn to fly... an entree into the piloting world. I really loved it, but it's scarier than just being a passenger. I have no problem being a passenger. I'm very relaxed. But as soon as I had the controls I became very, very responsible & very aware of this three-dimensional thing I was in, out there in the middle of nothing waitng for air currents. It was a lot of fun & will probably pursue it. 
*Surface: I've always wanted to be a rock star. What would you do if you came back to do your life over again? 
DH: I'd be a fighter pilot & bomb everybody! 
*Surface: Who do you admire in this lifetime? 
DH: Matisse. He had such a long, prolific, wonderful, wonderful life in art. Today, the people I admire most are the scientists... the physicists and the astronomers. People like that. I was just reading about anti-matter. All that stuff really fascinates me. It's so far beyond me. I really think they make our future what it is. I'm constantly intrigued. 
*Surface: I read that you carry crystals. 
DH: I have never carried crystals & I don't know where you read that. I am definitly not into that. I don't know whoever wrote that. 
*Surface: It was an article by Steve Saban in Details, 1988. So you're not into any New Age Healing & Spirituality? 
DH: No, I don't like New Age things at all. I think that your own idea of spirituality & your own knowledge of yourself & healing & internal health is very important. But when you're sick you should go to the doctor. 
*Surface: The year 2000 is right around the corner. How do you see yourself in the 21st centuary? 
DH: Older! (Laughs) In South America running fucking naked through the trees. Swinging on limbs. Who knows? 
*Surface: Are you still crazy after all these years?
 DH: (Laughter) I guess so... thank God, yeah. I think I am. Yes, I am crazy & I'm very happy to have that. But I think people are understanding more & becoming settled with their individuality. And if that's crazy, then I'm mad as a Hatter. 
* CINDY DUNDON
 

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