Woman - 4th July 2005 - Page 43
Written By: Laura Edwards
Unbelievable Debbie Harry celebrates her 60th birthday on Friday July 1, but she still has more sex appeal than women young enough to be her granddaughter. So just what is it that makes the Blondie singer so darn cool?
Debbie, the most iconic blonde since Marilyn.
Debbie Harry always did things differently. Now, while her peers might be happy playing with the grandchildren and flexing their bus pass, she's preparing for a UK tour.
'I figured that if you just last long enough and maintain some sort of decent appearance, you become an icon,' says Debbie, who admits she's had some cosmetic surgery.
It's more than 30 years since New York art student Chris Stein first clapped eyes on the former Playboy bunny girl, and the smitten couple went on to form the band that revolutionised pop in the Seventies and Eighties.
Blondie clocked up six UK No 1s, including Atomic, Sunday Girl and The Tide Is High. With her trademark bleached hair, a pout that would make Victoria Beckham green with envy, and razor-sharp cheekbones, she was the most talked-about blonde since Marilyn Monroe. Every woman wanted to be her, every man wanted to bed her.
'Since I was a little girl, I've known about the effect I have on men. I'm not callous, I just capitalise on what I've got,' she explains. 'The sex thing has always been there and I know how to use it.'
Debbie became a household name in her 30s, an age when most modern pop idols have long since hung up their microphones.
She also devoted three years to nursing Chris Stein, when he fell ill with a potentially fatal skin disease.
His illness brought down the curtain on Blondie in 1983. Not long after his recovery, he and Debbie split up after 11 years together.
The ultimate punk diva lost favour with some fans when she piled on the pounds in the early Nineties in what she calls her 'ice-cream years'.
'I looked like a Michelin man,' she laughs. 'Then I got healthier because criticisms from the press on the way I looked were hurtful.'
Now she's a diva once again. She lives alone in New York and says there's no 'one and only' man in her life.
'Do I worry about getting older? Yeah, I suppose so. It's funny - your brain stays the same, so you think you're the same person, but your body sort of wears out,' she says.
Debbie's totally upfront about having cosmetic surgery. 'Yeah, I had a facelift years ago. Why not? It gives you all the things you need to be part of the action. I don't feel like hiding myself away.'
With concerts in Australia, Singapore and Thailand already under her belt this year and the UK leg of the tour starting in November, Debbie's clearly happy to remain hard at work.
'In some ways I think it's just preposterous that anybody my age is doing what I do, but I feel like I'm doing a good job.'
And so say all of us.
FIGURE IT OUT
12 - The number of weeks old she was when she was adopted. She says: 'I probably felt some anger at being adopted when I was younger.'
19 - The age she was when she moved to New York. She remembers living in a huge loft for $100 a month. 'It had no heating, but the liquor store was right downstairs, so that was a plus.'
1998 - The year Blondie reformed. They had another UK No 1 with Maria, and released two new albums.
DEBBIE'S VIEWS ON...
Turning on her fans: 'My act is erotic. When there are 5,000 people looking at you with desire that they have been manufacturing for months, you feel it.'
Dating: 'I do date but I haven't got a one and only. But I would definitely love to be in love.'
Marriage: 'I never wanted it. I felt it was a bad contract to get into.'
Motherhood: 'I wasn't really ready to be a parent when I was younger. I am now. I could handle it quite well.'
Domesticity: 'I could be a housewife. I've vacuumed the carpet a couple of times.'
Being an icon: 'I was criticised a lot for taking advantage of my looks, but maybe some people felt threatened.'