Monday, September 30, 2019

I’m Always Touched by Her Presence, Dear

Enjoyed spending a couple hours with Debbie Harry and Chris Stein on Monday night at Town Hall, celebrating the release of her “Face It” memoir. After a massive introduction by Penny Arcade, moderator and Blondie collaborator Rob Roth came out with the duo and announced that he envisioned the evening being like "one of the conversations we have on the tour bus" -- and it was, assuming conversations on the tour bus tend to involve a fruitless game of 20 questions. Don't get me wrong -- it was that kind of game where it gets to be so frustrating it's comical! But let's just say any qualms I may have had about giving Debbie's autobiography a lukewarm review were erased when she reminded me -- in the flesh -- that she really has minimal knowledge about her own life.

Roth -- who also designed the book -- did everything but hand Debbie pithy anecdotes on scraps of paper, but still couldn't get a straight answer out of her on just about anything. (With just about anyone else it would have been frustrating. But Deb's so adorable -- looking incredibly pretty in pink -- that it just added to her immeasurable charms.) The closest he came was when he fed her a line about the baby shower she'd thrown for Grace Jones at Studio 54 back in the day. (This is gonna be good!) But the bottle blonde still drew a complete blank, even after stunning the audience by recalling details about a birthday party she'd thrown at Studio 54 for Grace when the Jamaican legend was "extremely pregnant." (Gee, I wonder if they were one and the same?)

Things got measurably better when Fab Five Freddy joined the party -- it seemed to loosen Debbie up, who until this point was letting Chris do the heavy lifting -- reminiscing about taking Debbie and Chris to see up and coming rappers back in the day ("in places where white people just didn't to"). And later he lavished the duo with heartfelt praise for the support they've always shown fellow New York City artists, even when they were on top of the world. One of his best moments was when he told the story of hearing "Rapture" on the radio for the first time. He had first heard it when Chris played it for him in the studio. Freddy was flattered by the name check and recalled thinking Deb's rapping was pretty fly, which drew a shy look from her. But then he said he later heard it on the radio in a cab with Chris and Tina of the Tom Tom Club while in Paris. He thought Blondie had only recorded the song as a "goof" so was stunned when it came on, wondering how the deejay had gotten his hands on it. (The Talking Heads rhythm section had to explain to him that it was actually Blondie's new single!)

The audience was well-behaved -- we had to keep screaming out answers to basic Blondie trivia, as even Chris drew blanks on dates and places -- and managed to ask smart questions all night. (Parker Posey and Mary Louise Parker had sent in two in advance!) Highlight of the evening: Getting an update on those crazy kids Suzy and Jeffrey. Seems they came to say hi at a recent Blondie show and Debbie miraculously remembered who they were! Deb doesn't believe they're a couple anymore -- good thing they didn't bother with that blood test -- but what a hoot to be memorialized by the greatest band of the New Wave!

The book is out now. Read it and let me know what you think.

Clearly, this blonde has more fun.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank God we have you to discern the BS from reality. Bless you