THE SUNDAY TIMES magazine
November 13th 2005 - Page 82
A Life in the Day
The singer, 60, found global success in the late 1970s with the band Blondie, who split up in 1982. They recently re-formed and have a new album, Live by Request. Their UK tour starts today in Norwich. She lives in New York with her calico cat, Peach, and her Japanese chin dogs, Peepers and Kisuki.
'I guess I made a bad career choice when I became a musician, because I really do like mornings. I am generally an early riser and will be awake any time between six and eight. If I read anything in the morning, it will be a book. These days, I don't read the papers. I have a cat and two dogs, but they never wake up before me. I've trained them to sleep late. They all need feeding, of course; then I have to take the dogs for a walk. My little guys are not really street dogs, though. They prefer to be in the apartment with me.
To start with, I'll always have a coffee. Latte. Very European, eh? I don't smoke these days, but even when I did I never really used to smoke in the mornings. I was never one of those people who loved smoking. It's pretty difficult to smoke in New York, anyway.
I have a circuit of different cleansing products that I like to try - it's not good to use the same things all the time. But I only ever use soap on my body, never on my face, and I don't like to put a lot of cream on my face, either. I'll just use a very simple moisturiser and maybe some eye cream. The amount of make-up I use depends on how many appointments I've got. If I've got a heavy day, I'll use more.
My hair is a problem. Most mornings I wake up with a dog asleep on my head. It's not a good look! People keep telling me I'm an icon, but to be honest I've never felt confident enough to be anyone's icon. These days, I try to confront that issue a bit more. In the old days I used to look a complete shambles whenever I left the house and nobody seemed to mind, but now I'm trying to be a bit more organised and presentable.
Music is still a big part of my day. I might do some writing in the morning, but I'm not the kind of person who can just have music on in the background. I like to sit down and focus on it. If it's just on, I get distracted and can't think straight. When I'm in a hurry to get out, I might put something fast on to help me get my ass out the door. Most of the CDs that I listen to are given to me by friends. I'm currently into a band called Morning Wood.
Because I don't really eat anything in the morning, I like to have my lunch about midday. It's better for me to eat more in the middle of the day because of my metabolism. New York is a great place to meet people for lunch. It's a very social city and, unlike London, the food is not too expensive. I was shocked at how expensive it is to eat out in London. I like to keep my meals pretty balanced - salad or vegetables, with some kind of protein. I love fish - it's always been part of my diet - but meat is not one of my favourite dishes. Occasionally, though, I really, really love to have a hamburger.
If I have a spare afternoon I may go uptown to Madison Avenue and have a look at the expensive shops. I just stand in front of the windows and drool a little bit. This city is very good for being able to satisfy my urges. I've tried to live in other places - I did live in LA for a while - but this is where my friends and family are. That's what it's all about, I guess.
When I moved to New York in the early 1970s, it really was the most amazing place. At the time the city was completely bankrupt and a lot of areas were in ruins. But that meant rents were cheap and people like me could live well and do our art. That scene is never really going to happen again. It's still got a great nightlife, though. And if you are going to make the effort to live in the city, you might as well take advantage of what's on offer. I don't go as crazy as I used to, but I still have a lot of fun. I like champagne, Weissbier, vodka, martinis, wine... I'm not fussy.
My favourite place is Avenue A - this long street with lots of bars and clubs and restaurants. It runs from Houston to 14th Street and is part of Alphabet City, but on the real Lower East Side. Eating at night is more about the conversation, so I'll meet some friends and maybe have a salad or some sautéed vegetable. Guys still hit on me. I still get a little bit of action! God, I hope that doesn't stop for a while.
I try not to get back to the apartment any later than 1 or 2am. Sometimes I share an apartment with friends in the summer, but I'm living on my own at the moment. I tend to go through different periods in my life. Sometimes I really don't want to be alone, but after going out on tour with a band and having to eat dinner with 20 people every day, you do begin to value your privacy. I am very happy being on my own.
I have to say something about make-up removers. Because I have to wear a lot of make-up for my job, I like to use the lightest make-up remover I can find. What I want is a make-up remover that literally lets the make-up float off your face. I hate scrubbing. Scrubbing is not good. People scrub their faces too much.
During the early days of Blondie, I never used to sleep very well. I think it was the stress. I found success very unsettling, because there was never anybody around to give me a straight answer to a question. These days, I have no trouble sleeping. Yes, I do dream, but I'm not sure if I want to tell anyone about them. It's like I have a tape playing in my head and... the tape gets a little out of sync at times. Actually, it's kinda nice. I like it like that.'
Interview: Danny Scott
Photograph by Todd Selby