Reader's Digest Asia Pacific
FROM PUNK PRINCESS TO QUEEN OF STYLE
Debbie Harry on her career.
SHE IS LEAD SINGER of the newwave and punk band Blondie, which is known for hits such as ‘Call Me’, ‘ Heart of Glass’ and ‘ The Tide Is High’. Deborah Ann ‘Debbie’ Harry, 72, has sold more than 40 million records worldwide over almost five decades. And that is not all: she has also been an actress, jazz singer and an environmental activist. For a long time she was considered the uncrowned queen of New York nightlife and a bombshell. Debbie Harry and her band Blondie released their new album Pollinator in May.
Reader’s Digest: Blondie stands for New York – for nightclubs like Studio 54, for the art scene and for bold fashion. Would you ever leave the city?
Debbie Harry: No, never. It’s my home base.
New York was pretty seedy in the ’70s and ’80s, but that was good for the arts, wasn’t it?
Yes, it seemed that way. A lot of artists could live there and do their art economically. But now that it has become gentrified, it is difficult. I think that is why a lot of artists moved to Berlin years ago. But even it is changing now.
Are you missing characters such as Andy Warhol, Truman Capote and William Burroughs?
Yes, it is very sad that they are gone. They were a terrific influence, but today we also have some pretty interesting artists.
Do you still go to clubs a lot – as hinted in your current song ‘Fun’?
I do, actually (chuckles). I guess I go out a fair amount. And I have a lot of friends who are DJs or who own bars and clubs. And I love to dance.
In Europe the right-wing parties are rising. Nobody would have imagined that at the beginning of the 2000s. And it is the same thing in England with Brexit.
That is the result of globalisation! And it is sort of like the last gasp of people who are afraid of what is going to happen. Of those who believe in the old theory that isolation is going to protect you. But it is not going to protect anyone, because globalisation has already happened, and we have to live with that. The thing to do is not to go back to blocking it off, but to take hold of it, and make it work.
Do you think Trump can really build that wall on the border with Mexico?
[ Chancellor of Germany Angela] Merkel got to the heart of it when she said: “We had a wall and it didn’t work.” I think she is absolutely right.
You use fashion as a sociopolitical statement. In February they honoured you at the London Elle Style Awards. How does that make you feel?
Yes, they gave me the Style Icon Award. I am flattered, but I wonder if I am really a style icon. I think I came along at a time – fortunately for me – when styles were changing, and I was adventurous and loved to experiment with fashion. I was in control because I didn’t have people around me who told me what to wear.
Is ageing a scary thought at all?
It is simply too late to think about it. There are other things that are much scarier.
Have you thought about retiring?
I don’t have to do this financially. But this is what I do. And I’m not dead yet (chuckles).