I thought of my older cousin as the epitome of cool, so when he casually informed me in the late '70s that Blondie was cool, I accepted it as a fact. Over time, my cousin stopped seeming cool to me. Blondie never did. If anything, Blondie seemed to get cooler. They were absolutely arctic to me by the time they'd broken up and Debbie Harry was on her second solo LP Rockbird, enough so that the chill kept until their eventual reunion in 1999—and it's been permafrost ever since.
An eternally cool moment
Given their penchant for drugs, fraternization, jealousy and feuds, Blondie's the last '70s band that should still be alive, together (give or take) and touring in 2010, but that makes each time I see them all the more miraculous.
That said, I've been a lousy fan; I've seen Debbie and/or Blondie perform quite a few times, but not every single time. This tour, I debated whether I'd go (I'd last seen their Parallel Lines 25th anniversary show), but was lured in at the last minute by a unique offer to pay too much money in order to have some alone-time with the band.
Not counting spotting her in Chelsea with her dog, I'd met Debbie Harry three times. First, I jumped her after a performance of the play Crave in the Village (2000). I was fat, she was exhausted, but it's a great pic (of a pic):
I did not give her the flowers (2000)
Next, I stood in line forever to meet Blondie momentarily at a J&R Music World signing of The Curse of Blondie (2003). Finally, I was one of a handful of people allowed to sit and watch Blondie's AOL Sessions taping to plug The Curse of Blondie (2004; the subject of my first-ever blog post). But the prospect of a private audience with Debbie, Chris Stein and Clem Burke was too tempting...the fact that there were gold and platinum levels made it even more irresistible. At the risk of sounding like a "Maria...you oughtta see her" Antoinette, I must have the best if there is any way to have it.
My platinum package promised me a lot...I wondered how much it would actually deliver almost immediately after charging it:
I was told an on-site coordinator named Paris would meet me at the venue to facilitate. Nothing good has ever come from working with anyone named Paris, right? I picked up my ticket early and saw that Blondie's site recommended arriving by 6:45 for the meet-and-greet. This was not good—with doors opening at 7 for a show starting at 8, how would there ever be time for me to have front-of-line entry, part of the package? Well...there wasn't.
I arrived just after 6 and was told to meet my contact not in Red Square but "in the alley." In truth, the alley is a really nice area beside the Nokia filled with tourists that's 20 degrees cooler than the 95-degree outside world, but it sounded so ominous I had to laugh. I turned the corner to find all of two other VIPs penned in by the stage door, a young guy who fell for the band after seeing them on the American Music Awards in 1999 (and later interviewed Chris for Origivation) and a guy in his forties from England who remembered them from their hit "Denis" in 1978 but only really became enamored of them "over the past year or 18 months." (He'd flown from the UK specifically for this show and for the meeting, his first time on a plane in 21 years.)
She had as much fun as the audience (note the Material Girl line outfit—credit to Angel for this)
"Is your heart racing?" he asked me. I hoped I didn't look as nervous as I was, but in reality I was more nervous about the details than the actual encounter in the same way I'm always freaked out about boarding my plane with no hitches yet never think twice that we'll crash.
Shady lady opening the show