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TimesOnline - 27th June 2007

From The TimesJune 27, 2007

I had my fun. I guess I knew I was a sex symbol
Debbie Harry talks about peroxide, pants, punk and plastic surgery

By Carola Long

Debbie Harry is the lead singer of the new wave band Blondie. She was born in Miami in 1945 and raised by adoptive parents in New Jersey. Blondie was formed in 1974, and dissolved in 1982, when Harry temporarily retired to look after her boyfriend at that time, the bandís guitarist Chris Stein, who was seriously ill with a genetic disorder. Blondie reformed in 1998, and will tour the UK from July 8. Debbie Harry will release her sixth solo album, Necessary Evil, this autumn. 

The band name came from people calling out ďBlondieĒ to me while I walked down the street. I first bleached my hair when I was about 13. I was inspired by platinum-blonde film stars such as Jean Harlow, but initially went down the accelerated sun-bleaching route to pass it off as natural. It started to break off from overbleaching when I was in my forties. Was it traumatic? I just had to deal with it Ė thatís what happens when you peroxide your hair for years. I just cut it shorter; wigs arenít practical when you are a performer and want to move about on stage because they donít always come with you. 

I donít think that the outfits I wore when the band started were particularly outrageous. They might just have seemed that way because the mainstream style was the complete opposite of my look. Punk and disco hadnít taken off at that time. There were two trends going on; the spandex crowd Ė who were wearing the vestiges of glitter rock Ė and the hippy style Ė long skirts and towelling shirts and awful stuff like that. I didnít feel comfortable wearing those kind of clothes or long skirts, although Stevie Nicks made them work for her. I mean, was there any real style in the early 1970s? 

All teenagers are inclined to be a bit rebellious. I considered myself an art student, with a certain responsibility to experiment, and I did. People have speculated about whether I was wearing knickers when I appeared on stage in a really short dress, and there were occasions when I went out without underwear, but Iím not flashing myself like Britney. I donít think I ever went out on stage without some kind of underwear, because of the front row. God knows, though, I may have. 

I had my fun. I guess I knew I was a sex symbol. I think it has to do with projecting what you want people to think about you, and how you feel about yourself. Itís not just looks Ė sex appeal is very chemical: one manís feast is another manís poison. 

Itís important to express yourself through your clothes. Itís vital for your mood, your relationship, your career Ė for every aspect of your life. Put it this way, if you wear a really stupid-looking hat, people wonít want to talk to you. My signature look was influenced by the 1960s, pop culture and rockíníroll. I also had a very limited budget to work with when I started out in the band, so I made some of my clothes, and we would go to crazy places to shop. I lived on the Bowery, in New York, and there were lots of what we called ďthe bum storesĒ, where the vagrants would sell all manner of junk that they had just picked up, at really cheap prices. I bought some interesting T-shirts there, and some really cool heavy framed square sunglasses that were like something out of a cartoon. That kind of shopping doesnít exist any more. 

I love clothes. I consider them art, but I donít shop that much. I know a lot of designers personally; Marc Jacobs is a wonderful guy. Occasionally Iíll get something by Jean Paul Gaultier or John Galliano Ė incredible people who could design anything. Iím a bit savvier about what looks good on me now that Iím older, so I donít just see something in a magazine and buy it without thinking about whether it suits me. 

Everybody knows that Iíve had plastic surgery. I did it for business reasons. You photograph better, and looks are a key part of being an entertainer, so I felt that it was something I had to do. All sorts of horrific things happen in life Ė why make it worse by worrying about getting older? Do some charity work, or learn a new skill instead. 

DEBBIE HARRY

Link: TimesOnline - 27th June 2007


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