by Marisa Torrieri Bloom
Debbie Harry is not an open book. This came a surprise to me, not only because she wears bold, brightly colored outfits, but because of her huge persona as the singer of 1970s punk-pop band Blondie.
I’ve seen the band Blondie play once, about a decade ago in Brooklyn, and Harry was fun, friendly and not unlike her affable contemporaries Pat Benetar and Joan Jett. But it is the private Debbie Harry that I am most interested in: the woman who started a band with her lover (Blondie guitarist/songwriter Chris Stein), became an international music/fashion sensation in her 30s (at a time when women were artistically “finished” in their 30s), and remained an independent provocateur for her entire life.
During Monday night’s release party in NYC’s Town Hall for her memoir “Face It,” we got little glimpses into Harry’s life and legacy. But if she hadn’t been joined by Stein onstage — as well as DJ/rap legend Fab Five Freddie and Rob Roth — the 90-minute conversation wouldn’t have been so engaging.
It took prodding from all three guests, plus one well-worded audience question, for Harry to give any dirt on her rock n’ roll career. I had hoped for just one or two little anecdotes about Andy Warhol, or the moment when Harry and Stein knew their band had made it (though I loved FFF’s account of hearing “Rapture” for the first time”).
By the end of the night I felt a little baffled, yet intrigued: Why does Harry sometimes say she regrets writing a memoir? Why does she need Stein to animate the conversation? And why aren’t she and Stein together anymore?
I’m hoping some of these answers are in the book.