By R.U. Sirius
It was the Escape From New York tour with The Ramones, Blondie and Tom Tom Club. I was backstage at Berkeley’s Greek Theater with Bart Nagel interviewing Chris Franz and Tina Weymouth of Tom Tom Club and Talking Heads when Debbie Harry wandered in. She came right up to me. “You’re the MONDO 2000 guy?” “Yes.” She came up closer, lowered her voice to just above a whisper and asked, “Do you have any of those new drugs?”
Damn. Not right now. I offered to look into it for her the next day but she was otherwise occupied so my 30-second fantasy of doing 2cb or some other designer hallucinogen with Debbie Harry was nipped in the bud. We exchanged contact info and I went back to the interview. Meanwhile, Nagel got Debbie to pose for some photos.
During the process of prepping Mondo issue #3, we decided to do a section on “21st Century Fashion.” Both Mu and I were fans of the look of those trendoid club culture magazines with a hint of surrealism like Wet and Fad and Impulse that were popular in the ‘80s and ‘90s. We figured we could find a futurist SF twist on all that and not only would it look good but we could tap into a potentially rich vein for advertising revenues. Man, did we ever wind up taking a ton of shit from (some of) the nerds and the righteous hippies and certain types of feminists for letting that bit into the mix.
Anyway, we somehow got Debbie to agree to be interviewed by phone on the topic of 21st Century Fashion.
Now, I’d read some pretty enjoyable Debbie Harry interviews. I mean, she wasn’t going to be Derrida or even Ted Nelson, but she could be pretty damned clever and epigrammatic in a sort of Warholish way.
This was not to be one of those instances. St. Jude’s daughter Tresca wanted in on the interview so she and Jude joined me at the MONDO house/office at the assigned time and we called Debbie.
As you’ll hear, she sounded vaguely drowsy and pretty much told us that she didn’t have anything to say about anything… particularly fashion. Plus, she was having a difficult time hearing us… which will derail pretty much any exchange. “This interview is gonna suck,” she told us
As anyone who has ever edited a magazine that has even a partial pop culture gloss will tell you, the planned celebrity interview that winds up being pretty vacant is a hazard of the game. You have to somehow perform a save. You’ll find the few good lines and run them below some pictures; or maybe — if you’re daring — you’ll just turn the show over to the interviewer/author and have him/her cover the fail over with fancy bullshit or — if you don’t care about the celeb — with snark. In any case, you’ll find some excuse to include the star’s name — maybe even her photograph — on your cover.
I liked Debbie Harry. So I squeezed what I could from this uncomfortable exchange and later, Debbie agree to let me fax her a few more questions… which bordered on aggressively obnoxious. For example:
M2: You have the opportunity to star in another Cronenberg film, but he wants you to have reversible plastic surgery on your internal organs. Would you rather:
A) Have your stomach turned into a pollution-belching urban landscape?
B) Have the collective information of all Haitian voodoo chiefs pass through your subconscious all at once via a microprocessor in the right brain.
C) Have your cervix turned into a mongoose?
D) Shoot R.U. Sirius for asking these questions?
E) Act in Lassie Does Detox?
DH: B & D
But she wasn’t actually pissed and one day I returned to the office with a message that Debbie Harry had called and asked for me. I called her back and I don’t remember what we talked about… and we never really talked again, but I’ll always treasure the brief interaction.
And now, because one should also show the warts sometimes, the uncomfortable and brief phone interview with Debbie Harry.
Listen to the audio now:
Previous MONDO History Entries
LSD, The CIA, & The Counterculture Of The 1960s: Martin Lee (1986, Audio. Mondo 2000 History Project Entry #6)
Did The CIA Kill JFK Over LSD?, Reproduced Authentic, & Two Heads Talking: David Byrne In Conversation With Timothy Leary (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #10)
Memory & Identity In Relentlessly Fast Forward & Memetically Crowded Times (MONDO 2000 History Project Entry #11)
Swashbuckling Around The World With Marvin Minsky In How To Mutate & Take Over The World (MONDO 2000 History Project #13)