I had fun at the Town Hall event surrounding Debbie Harry's new memoir, Face It, Monday night. Having heard mixed reviews of the book, I had low expectations.
The event — a ticket came with a signed book — was a Q&A with moderator Rob Roth, featuring Debbie, Chris Stein and surprise guest Fab 5 Freddy of “Rapture” fame.
Debbie looked great (I would've had more photos, but the ushers were aggressively shutting that down in the early part of the event and I got intimidated) and was game, although her infamously absent memory leads me to wonder how much of her memoir is made up of educated guesses.
An iconic photo would be flashed on the screen by Roth, only to find Stein and especially Harry barely able to guess the decade in which it had been taken, let alone any circumstances, leaving enthusiastic fans to call out the details. Debbie played it off hilariously, though, and the funniest part of the night was when she was told she had once hosted a baby show for Grace Jones, but she couldn't recall it. “But I remember throwing her a birthday party, and she was really pregnant —” not even putting two and two together that that was the baby shower.
Fab 5 Freddy told the story of “Rapture,” recalling how he had taken his mentors to places where hip-hop was happening, and then when Stein played him the song he was touched by their calling him out, but assumed it was a studio goof even though Harry sounded terrific rapping. A month later, in a cab in Paris with some of the Tom Tom Club, he heard it on the radio and couldn't understand how the station had access to Blondie's private recordings; only then did he realize it was their single!
Debbie and Chris also spoke lovingly of Andy Warhol, Andy Kaufman, Joan Jett and Glenn O'Brien, and Debbie sweetly talked about how she's always felt women should be friends in response to a question about feminism.
In response to Chris kvetching about the recent sexist-ish header noting that Debbie is showing she is more than another hot girl in tight pants, Debbie stood up, vamping, and said she'd been happy with that header!
The best question (it was a miracle — no bad questions!) came from a kid who asked what ever happened to Suzy and Jeffrey of the B-side of the same name. I was shocked to hear they were real people, fans who had crashed their car into the studio in which Blondie was recording. They lived (I always understood from the song the characters had died), and for years would show up and ask Debbie, “Remember us?” As if she could forget the people who crashed into her studio!
Debbie also — clearly in full sell mode (cough) — admitted she never wanted to do the book and regrets doing it, but is grateful for the outpouring of support. Punk rock!
All in all, while it was like pulling teeth to get Debbie to remember stuff, she was a lot of fun. Afterward, she moved toward the edge of the stage and did selfies and signed books for several minutes, as did Chris.
Outside, fans were eagerly waiting for them to depart, but they faked everyone out and emerged from a different door. Already ensconced in their car, they were then followed down the block in traffic, with dejected fans holding up flowers and things to sign ... as if they expected her to roll down her window and sign! Hilarious.