Vanity Fair - July 1989
- Back to Her Roots
Written by: Gerri Hirshey
Photographs by: Steven Meisel
"Some people are just born
cool," says designer Stephen Sprouse of Debbie
Harry. In the late seventies she was Downtown's queen of
rock, who did it all before Madonna. Lately she's been
resurfacing in things like Hairspray and Wiseguy. Now
she's back with a new record. GERRI HIRSHEY reports.
Someone is laughing in the Museum of Modern Art. Here on
a dank spring afternoon, a real New York Story has
slipped into the crowd for a sentimental journey through
the Andy Warhol retrospective. Who is this, giggling in
She has strolled past the silkscreened Liz Taylors and
Troy Donahues, on beyond Elvis. There she is, a peach in
black leather, gazing at a pair of late-seventies
spattered canvases labeled "oxidation
paintings." The sign says MIX MEDIUMS, but in fact
they are the "piss paintings" according to
someone who says he watched Factory denizens take aim and
splatter. He says the paintings are so, well...
authentic... that Andy was obliged to stack them away in
a far corner, reeking of true eau de Downtown. Andy's
Cosmic Last Giggle.
Our laughing pop icon moves on,
when suddenly she's ID'd.
"Oooooh, such a FACE."
A goony Manhattan fashion
victim, trussed and buckled into pricey SoHo rags, has
gone rigid as a bird dog, urging her companion to look,
look, fergodsakes at that face.
"It's Debbie Har-ry.
"No shit. Where's SHE been
for the last hundred years?"
Deborah Harry does a neat pivot
and glides past them, double-sealed against such
recognition, the signature platinum hair tucked beneath a
black jersey hood, over which she's jammed a black
leather cap. The body, small and slim again, is wrapped
in a black leather coat over faded, too big jeans.
Unobtrusive, down to the sensible tie shoes.
Nonetheless, people do stare at
the face that became the flashy hood ornament for New
Wave rock in the late seventies, the bottle blonde who
stormed the stage at clubs like CBGB's and tore off a
tatty wedding dress to sing "Rip Her to Shreds"
- nearly a decade before Madonna writhed through Venice
like a video virgin in white. Harry was a Wrestlemaniac
ere it was hip, a true Downtown demimondaine who shared
her Bowery loft with feral cats and performed in a
zebra-striped pillowcase her landlord plucked from the
trash. She sang in lingerie before today's Top Ten vamps
could fill their bustier cups.
The Face is still quite
beautiful, unretouched by lens filters or makeup. You
could watch a movie across those cheekbones. They rise
over wide, molded planes unmarked by four-plus decades, a
fair amount of trouble, or what press agents call
"People seem to know
me," she says, "even when I'm not doing
anything - like this last, um... low-profile bit. They
know they know THAT FACE." She laughs. "Whoever
Harry has turned a corner to
find herself smack in front of "Marilyn
Six-Pack." Monroe in lavender. A mint Marilyn...
lemon... one for all tastes. "Ah... Our Lady."
As an adopted child in New
Jersey, brunette Debbie Harry fantasized that her real
mother was Marilyn Monroe. As a knowing adult on
Manhattan's Lower East Side, she mixed vintage sex-bomb
peroxide with dark roots and New Wave wit and took it
gold, then platinum on the record charts with her band
I wanna be a platinum blonde,
she sang at the outset, just like all the sexy stars |
Marilyn and Jean, Jayne, Mae and Marlene | Yeah, they
really had fun.
Yeah, yeah, and so did she, over
10 million records' worth, with hit songs like "The
Tide Is High," "Rapture," and "Heart
of Glass." Post-Monroe and pre-Madonna, she was a
glam queen, Vogue pinup, punk poster girl. Few
publications or college-dorm walls were immune to the
lure of her look. She was Scavullo'd. Warhol'd. The Face
was perfect Andy fodder, big, telegraphic, always
But now her friend Andy's dead,
nearly two years. The last Blondie tour was seven years
ago, and then the band broke up. After her lover, Blondie
guitarist Chris Stein, fell mysteriously ill in 1983 and
she all but disappeared from the charts and the clubs,
Harry became Manhattan's most whispered-about rock M.I.A.
since John Lennon dropped out to bake wheat bread.
"Where have I been?"
Harry laughs, a deep, subdiaphragm huh-huhhhhhh. She is
standing by a wall of plump shellacked Marilyn mouths,
this woman Newsweek once called a "klutzy
"Just write, 'She's living
alone. Somewhere below Forty-second Street.'"
The FACE that was 1980 has been
flickering almost subliminally throughout this decade. In
ads for Hush Puppies, Sara Lee, and Revlon. In supporting
movie roles - married to Sonny Bono in John Waters's film
Hairspray, as a housewife in Union City. She got her best
notices for her performance in David Cronenberg's cult
shocker Videodrome. Harry popped up two years ago with an
album, Rockbird, and a cotton-candy single "French
Kissin' in the USA." That was her, singing a lambent
remake of "Liar, Liar" on the sound track of
Jonathan Demme's Married to the Mob, with an accompanying
gangster video for MTV. And just this spring she joined
fellow rockers Mick Fleetwood and Glenn Frey for a run of
episodes on Wiseguy, CBS's hit Mob-u-drama. She played a
has-been rock star making a comeback. Harry was charming
- and convincing - as Diana, a pop siren becalmed in a
Jersey Meadowlands saloon, singing standards for a bar
glass full of change.
"It's fiction," she
says of the TV role. "Good fiction."
In the fiction, Diana/Debbie
resurfaces with a hot new single. The song, "Looking
in the Bright Side," is Harry's, and it just may be
on her new solo album, due in the stores any day. It just
may be the single. She recorded the album in California
and London, with some new friends, like the Thompson
Twins, and some old stalwarts, like Chris Stein and
former Blondie producer Mike Chapman. She says she's
tried to make it a bit more salable for today's corporate
suggests. "More aggressive."
This from a woman whose first
solo album, Koo Koo, pictured huge acupuncture needles
skewering her lovely head. She acknowledges that her
career has always been more instinctive than calculated:
"I'm not very smart, businesswise. I can really
lapse OUT THERE and get totally... God knows what."
Harry and Stein started writing
songs for the album nearly three years ago, and began
recording in fall '87. "All that stuff is over a
year old now, which is sort of depressing," she
says. The holdup? They had to switch record labels. And
"You know this
business," she says.
You have to keep a sense of
humor, no matter what. Which is why she's thought up this
title for the new record.
"I want to call it 'Deaf,
Dumb, and Blonde.'"
"Oh my God, oh, c'mere!"
Harry has a coat sleeve, tugging
me toward a huge Warhol silkscreen of S&H Green
Stamps. They're trading stamps, the great sixties come-on
that had millions of sticky-fingered suburban moms
dreaming of four-speed blenders and cute chip 'n' dip
"I don't believe this. I
used to work in one of those places. At an S&H
redemption center near Paramus."
It was on New Jersey's Route 4.
She presided over happy, if messy, consumer redemptions.
"I wore little rubber things on my thumbs to
separate the pages. I handed out toasters. Lawn chairs.
Cookie jars. TV trays for your frozen dinners..."
She is ticking off other jobs
she has held. Waitress. Playboy Bunny. Shampoo girl. For
the briefest stint, she barked Jersey housewives through
aerobic drills at a European Health Spa.
She stops and takes another look
at the canvas.
"Every performer kind of
slides along in other jobs to get by until it happens.
And so I got to be a rock singer. But, whoooeee, first I
was, um... AN AMERICAN GIRL!"
Such a beautiful baby. Folks
told Catherine and Richard Harry they should send
snapshots of her to the Gerber baby-food people. A puss
like that could sell a lot of strained peas.
They declined, happy just to
have the Miami-born infant they got at three months old,
when her natural mother gave her up. They raised her
Episcopalian in Hawthorne, New Jersey. She was a sweet,
tractable child who sang in the church choir and turned
mulish only when it was time to buy school clothes. Even
in grammar school, she saw visions they didn't sell in
"I was never really
satisfied with how I was supposed to look," she
says. "My mother and I had huge battles. When we
used to go shopping it was hell. She'd want me to wear
little blouses with round collars and sweaters and I'd be
looking at black turtlenecks. At that age - eight or nine
- you can't be doing that. It was not the look in those
days to be so, um, severe."
What made her so visually
"It was just something that
was in my head or eye. Something that was...
It got worse in high school.
"I had a hairy vest before
Sonny and Cher, I swear to God. I made this hairy thing
and my girlfriend said, 'You can't wear that, it looks
like a dead DAWG.'"
She says she styled it, cut deep
armholes and a V neck into a matted piece of acrylic fake
"It was really disgusting.
And I loved it."
Fuzzy and defiant, she strode
the halls of Hawthorne High. Happily, the classy Face and
a fling at baton twirling redeemed any teen fashion
crimes. Her classmates voted her Best-Looking Senior,
Class of '63.
In 1987, Harry would show up
with her prom pictures when John Waters cast her in the
role of the sixties hausfrau/bigot in Hairspray. As the
odious Baltimorean Velma Von Tussle - "Miss Soft
Crab of 1945" - she gamely submitted to teasing,
lacquer, even bleached her famous roots, trading comb-out
laments with her co-star the late, great Divine. Waters
says that despite "hairdo injuries" on the set,
Harry was a swell sport who understood the loopy
Zeitgeist of the Mashed-Potato Years in East Baltimore.
"She got it," he says.
"Debbie's no snob. She's beautiful and talented and
glamorous, but she's lived in the real world. I mean, she
wasn't a stranger to the bouffant."
Across from the Green Stamps,
Harry is having another small Andy epiphany, in front of
a painting done to look like an unfinished
paint-by-numbers still life. It's titled Do It Yourself.
"I just wrote a song by
She laughs. Again.
"I hope you're going to
make this funny," she says. "'Cause it is.
Andy. Jeez. Sometimes I think I'm just a child of his
She really misses Andy and his
determined celeb choreography. But when she first
encountered the Warhol mob, it was a boho nightmare. This
was in the mid-sixties, when, after a two-year stint at
junior college, she left her teasing comb in Hawthorne
and crossed the Hudson to lower Manhattan.
"It was the beginning of
the hippie invasion," she says. She was living in an
Italian/Ukrainian neighborhood on St. Marks Place,
singing with a folkie group called Wind in The Willows,
and paying the rent by picking up sticky change at that
scene-maker's boite, Max's Kansas City. Nightly, gaggles
of Warholites like Nico, Ultra Violet, and the protean
Velvet Undergrounders flung themselves into the scarred
black booths and made her cry into cocktail napkins.
"I was just a hysterical
waitress," she says. "I was so timid in those
days. They were all so wild, they'd come in wrecked out
of their brains, wanting a zillion things. I was
extremely shy, and I was dealing with a lot of things I
had to conquer within myself."
One of those things was a brief
heroin addiction - supported in part by that stint as a
Playboy Bunny. She kicked at an artists' colony near
Woodstock, returned to Manhattan, and became obsessed
with joining a girl group called Pure Garbage. They let
her when they reinvented themselves as a trio called the
Stilettoes. She says she walked back into Max's with a
bolder step, "serious makeup," and outfits
they'd never dare sell at Victoria's Secret. They sang
original songs like "Dracula, What Did You Do to My
And the timorous ex-baton
"I guess I left her in the
parking lot. Somewhere around Paramus."
We are looking at car wrecks.
Decapitations. Suicides. Electric chairs. Warhol's
disaster series, silkscreened off grisly news photos.
Harry makes a face, then punches
me in the arm.
"I just remembered
It's about the downside of
Downtown in the early seventies, on an airless summer
night when she left friends at a bar and tottered up
Houston Street on nosebleed platform shoes.
"It was real hot. And I
think I'd done something dumb like eat a Quaalude. This
guy pulls up in a Volkswagen Beetle, cute guy. He says,
'You need a ride?' Like a jerk I get in. And it's really
hot. I realize he's got all the windows rolled up. And
you know what?"
She thwacks her forehead.
"There were no window or
door handles on the passenger side! Ugh, what a moment.
Somehow, God knows how, I wriggled my hand out the three
inches my window was open and grabbed the door handle on
the outside. He saw me and swung the car - violently -
drove up over that median thing on Houston. The door
swung open, THANK GOD..."
The scenario end with Harry
spraddled in the middle of Houston Street, platform shoes
dangling clunkily over the curb.
"Flat on my ass."
In hindsight, she's glad she
didn't end the night in an N.Y.P.D. body bag.
"Hey," she says,
"Ted Bundy drove a Volkswagen, didn't he? You think
it was Ted Bundy?"
Shortly after this episode, a
Lancelot would ride into her life, a boy to be Blondie
with. They met in 1973, when she was performing with the
Stilettoes, vamping on a sawed-off pool table that served
as the stage in a West Side burger bar. Chris Stein
remembers that she had short brown hair and a touch of
glitter. She says he stared, and she noticed. He was
"Um, Chris," she says.
"He was a guy who used to wear these snakeskin pants
really tight and patched. With embroidered crushed-velvet
tops open low. With tons of necklaces and his hair was
very long and he wore eye makeup - black - like Alice
Later, she'd sing it: When I met
you in the restaurant | You could tell I was no
He was a sometime band roadie
from Brooklyn. A brainy guy with a sense of history and
an irresistible restlessness. They formed and re-formed
bands, dogged the Downtown clubs. It was love on the
Bowery: bed at dawn, breakfast at dusk, dinners with
headbangers, artists, punkettes. They survived poverty.
Bad management. Band wars. Success.
"Really," she says,
"let's not talk about this part too much."
Harry has stopped in front of
Warhol's tabloid-newspaper series, where a
professorial-looking couple stands reading Daily News
EDDIE FISHER BREAKS DOWN
In Hospital; Liz in Rome
"Eeeeesh," she says
A few years ago, Deborah Harry
lived some tabloid times, like the ones depicted here in
Warhol's shrieking-headline canvases.
They began in 1983 when Chris
Stein fell dangerously, almost fatally, ill with
pemphigus, a rare genetic disease. He'd needed oxygen
tanks on the last Blondie tour, and he got worse. And
worse. Their 110-m.p.h. life hit a nasty wall of lab
tests and baffled specialists. It was beginning to read
like a rock 'n' roll Love Story.
When the illness struck hard,
Harry never left the island of Manhattan while she tended
Stein, three months in the hospital, three years at home.
She slept on a cot in his hospital room, ducking
paparazzi who still managed to snap her scuttling through
back doorways, looking haggard, and uncharacteristically
zaftig. The famous do was covered with a babushka.
New York tabloids ran the
photos, and made her into a New Wave Garbo. Rumors
burbled in the rock world: Debbie's dying. Chris is
dying... Music editors sent reporters out for the big
destructo feature that never materialized. It was, after
all, a very old story: after eleven years together, she
had simply stood by her man.
"Period," she says.
"No big deal. No martyr stuff."
Apart from the real terrors of
Stein's illness, she says, the downtime was in many ways
restorative. "Everything had been so intense. Just
thinking about it I'm getting dizzy. There was no escape,
no respite. What really brought me down to earth was
Chris being sick. When that happened, I just said I don't
have time for this bullshit. And I just washed it out of
It would be nice to say they
lived happily ever after, but once Stein's recovery was
ensured, the couple split up, nearly two years ago. Harry
moved out of their West Side penthouse, the one with the
zebra-patterned kitchen floor and the swell terrace above
"So, yeah, I'm a single
As she walks along, Harry has
been absently shifting the burdens she declined to check
in the museum coatroom: an armload of stuffed manila
envelopes from her manager's office, and a boxed
appliance that still has bits of giftwrap clinging to it.
It's a present from her father, a small coffee-maker
designed for the single life. The label reads: "One
Cup at a Time."
"No drama, no dirges,
please," says Chris Stein, who has been well enough
to prowl the clubs and play guitar for over a year now -
something he and Harry still do together. He hopes
they'll tour behind her album, says they really enjoyed
the show they did last year with a band they called Tiger
Bomb. Recently they teamed up with their old pal Joey
Ramone at the Ritz.
"It was a Friday the
Thirteenth Inquisition Party," says Stein.
"They beheaded Nixon onstage. And [heavy-metaler]
Lemmy from Motorhead was the Grand Inquisitor and he sat
on a throne. I always enjoy those little things..."
He and Harry still indulge in
their fifteen-year obsession with pro wrestling as well.
Wrestlers often hung out backstage at their shows,
"young gigantic things," Harry remembers,
"with rock 'n' roll hair." They've maintained
their wrestling friendships, and sometimes they take
their friend punk poetess Lydia Lunch along to see Macho
Man and Rowdy Roddy Piper two-step at Madison Square
Garden. Not too long ago, the mighty Queen Kong saw them
sitting ringside and came down to pummel Stein's head -
bimbamboom - between her titanic bazooms.
Behind the laughs and the
cartoony nights out, there have been tough times. Living
apart and working together can be a strain, but neither
of them wants to yak about details. As they've written in
a called "The End of the Run," Once that tape
starts playing, | It's too hard to make it rewind.
They say the song is not so much
about their love affair as about life on the pop charts -
though the two were inseparable for them. Both of them
agree the lyrics have to do with the seductions and
treacheries of Style.
"Whatever scene people are
involved in, it was always better six months ago,"
says Stein. "People are always saying, Aw, but now
it's really fucked up. Everybody's longing for some
forgotten situation which was glorious just by the fact
that it's a fallen into memory."
Lava lamps. Beige lipstick. Da
doo ron ron.
"I'm not into
nostalgia," says the former Girl of the Minute.
Nobody has ever had to tell
Deborah Harry what to wear, and it is there, in the
ineluctable minuet of rock and style, that the Green
Stamp redeemer proved she was something special,
something unusual. An American Girl who could pull her
It should be noted that Harry,
always ahead of the curve, made her mark before the great
boutiquing of Self that has marked the MTV years - a
merchandising millennium in which department-store chains
have cashed in with Madonna-wannabee shops and a wacky
retail homage to Cyndi Lauper. It's couch-potato
shopping, since buyers and stylists do the prospecting.
But when Debbie did Downtown, it was strictly hands-on.
She talks easily and
enthusiastically about visual style, understands its
seductions. She is hip to the lasting social value of
being laughed at on the street: "Styles change and
somebody has to do it. I had a sense that the way things
melt down, aspects of fashion that were spectacular or
crazy or bohemian to the freak nature would wash down and
become salable, that everyone would want it."
When she started wearing
platform shoes in the seventies, even Puerto Rican
hookers on the corner of Fourteenth Street howled. Hey,
chica, nice SHOES.
"Within a year," she
says, "everybody who had hooted in laughter was
wearing HUGE ones."
Often, she found her treasures
thrift-shopping with that groundbreaking male glitter
group the New York Dolls. It could be hazardous, she
says, because those covetous big galoots would tear a
chenille bed jacket right out of your hands.
"David Johansen had a great
eye for cute tops."
She was with the Stilettoes
then, and the look was half glitter, half lingerie, mix
'n' match. More than once, she dressed out of Dumpsters,
plucking fabric remnants from the bins outside Lower East
Side sweatshops. For Harry, style has always been a
function of current economics and her whim of the moment.
"I've just always had this problem with
timing." Being "severe" didn't play well
in suburban Jersey in the early sixties. But, as it
happened, Severity redeemed the silly seventies. Those
leisure-suited days sorely needed our style heroes, who
rode in clothed in safety-pin chain mail of Anti-style.
Suddenly, Harry's schizy retro-couture made her a
leading-edge style moll with a look so cool, so
desperately desired, that she transformed the fash-addict
audience at L.A.'s Whisky a Go Go instantly - like some
punk Tinker Bell - circa '77.
"Everybody was there in
bell-bottom pants," she remembers. "And we did
a couple of shows. Then the girls were there in tight
pants and minis. They had SCOURED the secondhand stores.
It was bing, bang, BOOM, shooooooom." Harry lunges,
imitating the greedy grab of Melrose Avenue
thrift-shoppers, plucking chicken slacks off a rack.
"It was funny. It was cute.
It was really overnight."
As she's written in a song for
her new album: A torn T-shirt made it all dangerous
Punk and New Wave challenged the
polyester hegemony of disco wallpaper and M.O.R. easy
listening. Chris Stein explains: "The whole New Wave
thing we came out of, CBGB's and stuff, it was sort of a
backlash against all these faceless bands, Chicago, the
Allmans. Everybody sort of invented this personality
cult. The Ramones, Television, all these groups showed up
with a lot of personality."
And torn T-shirts and geeky
narrow-lapel suits. Says Harry, "The only way to
make everybody [in the band] look good and cool was to go
to secondhand stores and get really tight things, little
suits with the narrow lapels, small-collared suits which
nobody was wearing. I was dressing like a boy,
Other art-school types like
Talking Heads and Patti Smith sported inch-wide ties and
tiny tab collars as antidotes to the pointy Saturday
Night Fever nightmares - those huge, double-stitched
numbers that flapped like plastic gas-station pennants
halfway down the chest.
Blondie's metaphors were as
mixed as its wardrobe. Lyrics were patched from
literature and soap ads, for songs like "Kung Fu
Girls" and "The Attack of the Giant Ants."
Surf music, girl-group la-la, punk guitar slashes, and
jungle drums. Rap and reggae. They had great fun, and
left the semiotic analysis to fusty rock critics.
"We never gave it too much
thought," says Harry.
"We never did any sort of
deliberate thing," says Stein. "Just certain
style elements that we thought worked."
"Some people like Debbie
are just born cool, I guess."
This from designer Stephen
Sprouse, who added his Downtown professionalism to
Harry's Blondie look - in a very ad hoc way. Theirs is
still the greatest of friendships, forged of mutual
kindness and genetic cool. They were neighbors in the
mid-seventies, sharing the kitchen and bath between their
Bowery lofts. This was the Lower East Side before you
could buy pink peppercorns on Avenue A, when loft ads
read "toilet-fixture fee" instead of
"I met her in the
kitchen," Sprouse says. "Somewhere near the
toaster oven." He was painting, designing, a rock
'n' roll former art student who had worked with Halston
and his Uptown ladies. He says he first saw Harry
performing at CBGB's, singing "Heat Wave" in a
way that made Linda Ronstadt sound like a pruney
temperance leader on her hit version. But they got to be
friends because of the cats.
"There were backyards that
made a courtyard, and all these alley cats were
interbreeding," says Harry. "Hundreds and
hundreds. I don't know if they ate rats or whatever, but
they were tough, all scarred, one eye hanging out. One
ear. We'd see these raging battles."
Somehow, during the winter, one
of them got trapped between the floor of Sprouse's place
and the ceiling of the loft below.
"I'd still be sleeping and
I'd look up and there would be Debbie, feeding the
She pitched Tender Vittles into
a hole beneath the floorboards near Sprouse's ear. He
thought it was touching - and practical.
"She didn't want him to
die. And rot there."
Along with Chris Stein, they got
to fooling around - with hair, makeup, junk clothes.
"Steve had some stuff
because he had worked for Halston and he knew all these
models and elegant women," says Harry. "He'd
been dressing them, and he had a few pieces left over
from that. He liked the idea that we dressed sixties,
which was basically out of necessity."
Later, Sprouse would become a
darling of the fashion press for his neat, eighties
distillations of sixties style elements. Mick Jagger
would ring him in a panic a few nights before Live Aid
for a yellow jacket modeled on the old Stones getups.
"Steve had that clear
perspective," says Harry of those early years,
"and it all came together."
One memorable improvisation: a
minidress whipped up as the band was about to leave for a
British tour. "I got this thin, bodysuit-type
thing," Sprouse remembers. "I turned it upside
down and cut out the crotch and made it into this
Harry hung razor blades from the
hem, and rock 'n' roll badges. It became a poster shot, a
punk book jacket, a tightly wrapped silhouette that
echoed through the Alaia eighties.
By the time Blondie had three
albums out, there was more money, and Sprouse was able to
use the big silkscreens he made from video static and
test patterns, transfer them to good fabrics, and wrap
his famous friend in them - then charge the record
company. During her quiet years, he gave her many pieces
from his short-lived ready-to-wear collections - the
Keith Haring graffiti'd Bible-page prints, the Day-Glo
jackets. Following the collapse of his second
ready-to-wear line and shop, his friend Debbie Harry has
been supportive, gracing his gallery show (silk-screens
of Iggy Pop on the cross), and just hanging out like old
times. Sprouse says he is working on a book about the
last ten years of rock and style, and of course she'll
have to be a part of it. Along with Andy Warhol, Debbie
Harry, he figures, is the best curator/mannequin of his
"Andy - or someone from the
Factory - has the first two years of the stuff," he
says. "And Debbie has the rest."
"Here's the thing,"
Harry is saying. "Some people are just better at
You can be light-years ahead of
the curve, but some folks are born salesmen, and others
just get these weird ideas.
"You know, I never put it
together until just now. Not only my father but his
father was in sales."
Her grandfather sold shoes; her
father worked in the garment center. Her father used to
talk about his work a lot. When he showed up in Seventh
Avenue showrooms, he never sold hard. "He was very
casual about it," Harry says. "He always said
that if people want something they're going to buy
it." In hindsight, she's often said she's glad she
never had to come up with a hard-sell look. "I mean,
if I had to start today, I don't know what I'd do when
someone told me I had to have an image."
She says she'd still like to
fool around, "take those terrible Arnel suits, those
floral shirts with long pointy collars... drag all that
shit out, but do it nicely."
She's still got her platform
shoes - they're coming back in a very demure way in
Paris. Says Harry, "Nothing's new before it's old,
And therefore new again. Ask her
for an overall impression of the workings of rock style
and she doesn't stop to cogitate.
"IT'S COMPOSTED!" she
hollers, then laughs.
Things reconfigure and bubble
back to the surface.
On our way out of the Warhol
retrospective, we pass a huge multiple silkscreen of
Leanardo's Mona Lisa. Harry jerks a thumb at it.
"Now, that's the real
Out on the street, Harry is
headed home. Downtown. There she is, arm up in the
rush-hour traffic on Sixth Avenue, ahead of the curve and
out on a limb. Calling to mind a new lyric that had
blared out of the demo tape in her manager's office a few
hours earlier: Here comes the twenty-first century. |
It's gonna be much better for a girl like me.