Debbie Harry – the Please Kill Me Interview: Part Three

LEGS: Do you remember Malcolm [McLaren]?

mclaren-v-sign_1612768i

DEBBIE: Yes I do. I remember Malcolm and the funny story about Malcolm was that one of the Dolls had an apartment on like 13th street or 12th street and I was over there for some reason and all of a sudden this station wagon pulls up in front of the house—a rental—and Malcolm starts opening up the back of the thing, pulling out rubber dresses and platform shoes, selling them on the street. And everybody’s running out there, help, help, help… and… well, he’s just muttering in that, you know, his Irish?

LEGS: So was he selling them on the street from the tailgate?

DEBBIE: Yeah.

LEGS:  Did everyone run down to buy them?

DEBBIE: Well, we did.

GILLIAN:  Did you know who he was?

DEBBIE: No. But we found out.

GILLIAN: Just a random spot, he parked the car?

DEBBIE:  Well, no, I guess Janice knew and she arranged it, or something, or just whoever’s apartment it was, he knew there would be people there who were gonna buy the shit. There was a limited market in those days.

LEGS: …for rubber dresses? Did you buy anything?

DEBBIE: Oh, I couldn’t afford anything at that time; it was expensive. At least for me it was.

LEGS: Was it soon after that Malcolm started managing the Dolls?

DEBBIE: No, I think that was much, much later, much much later. The Dolls had already recorded a couple of albums by the time Malcolm picked ‘em up and this was like early, early on, so he was well aware of what was going on New York.

LEGS:  Did you like Malcolm?

DEBBIE: I didn’t feel anything particularly about him; we didn’t pay much attention to one another.

GILLIAN: What did you think of his fashions?

DEBBIE: Oh, I loved them.

GILLIAN: But he looked kinda goofy, didn’t he?

DEBBIE: Oh, I thought he looked great. I mean, Vivienne got her hands on Malcolm.

vivienne-westwood-malcolm-mclaren

Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren

GILLIAN: Oh you think she copped his…

DEBBIE: Oh no, no. She did, she did him, I mean, she was the brains behind all that style. She’s the designer, she’s a great designer and I don’t think Malcolm is a designer at all. And she dressed him and she might’ve encouraged him, he may have had a certain flair, I can’t really say. But I think that she definitely inspired him to heights of better dressing.

LEGS: Connie [Ramone].

DEBBIE: Connie, oi, oi, oi. All of a sudden Connie appears. I don’t know, all of a sudden there were more girls… oh no no, Connie came quite early, didn’t she? She was there with the…

GILLIAN:  Arthur [Kane].

DEBBIE: Where’d he meet her, in L.A.? Or was she dancing in New York?

LEGS: I think she was in Times Square.

DEBBIE: Don’t ask me about Connie, although we did hit it off.

LEGS: You did?

DEBBIE: She never tried to stab me.

GILLiAN; Yeah, you have all your fingers.

DEBBIE: I do.

LEGS: Were you surprised when you heard the story that Arthur…

DEBBIE: No, because they always had violent, drunken free-for-alls that I heard about and witnessed and she was insanely jealous.

LEGS: When Connie hooked up with Dee Dee did you think, now there’s a couple?

connie-ramone-style-1

Connie and Dee Dee. Photos by Paul Zone.

DEBBIE: Ha ha ha. I just thought, trouble, yeah. She never stabbed Dee Dee, did she?

LEGS:  Yeah! In the ass, don’t you remember that?

DEBBIE: Oh, ha ha ha, that’s right.

LEGS: …with a broken beer bottle.

DEBBIE: Right, right, right.

LEGS: Yeah, and he couldn’t sit down for a while. Poor Dee Dee.

DEBBIE: Poor Dee Dee. Well, there you have it.

LEGS: Was Connie and Dee Dee kind of the forerunners to Sid [Vicious] and Nancy [Spungen], do you think?

DEBBIE: I don’t know. There’s always been couples like that.

LEGS: But Nancy wanted so much to be in a couple like that, did you get that feeling?

DEBBIE: She was really wanting a lot of attention.

LEGS: She was also a sweetheart.

DEBBIE: But Nancy was much smarter; Nancy was actually pretty smart, very bright. Very bright girl but emotionally messed up.

LEGS: Do you remember meeting Nancy for the first time?

DEBBIE: I don’t think I ever spent any time with Connie when she wasn’t completely fucked-up or such an idiot that she seemed like she was fucked-up. Nancy had definite, you know, she would go out and get wrecked but before that she was conversational, I mean she was really intelligent and interested in a lot of things. Are you just saying yes to please me or what?

LEGS: No, because she used to let us take showers at her place on 23rd street.

DEBBIE: Yeah, I know, right over here.

LEGS: Yeah and the Punk magazine office was on 10th Avenue.

DEBBIE: Oh, so you could shower there.

LEGS: We didn’t have a shower in the Punk office so she was like great during the day. She would make me scrambled eggs; she was really nice.

DEBBIE: She was a doll.

LEGS: Oh, no I’m not trying to make you happy… what, I am, I take that back.

GILLIAN: He can be very antagonistic.

DEBBIE: I’ve been around.

LEGS: Remember meeting Nancy for the first time or when she shows up, she comes to follow the Dolls, no?

DEBBIE: I don’t remember that. I thought she showed up much later like ‘75, ‘76, and she was dancing, but who knows.

LEGS: Anya got her the gig dancing, because Anya seemed to get people the gigs…

DEBBIE: I never really associate Anya and Nancy. I never really put them together. Anya was around much, much before Nancy. I don’t think Nancy showed up until after punk had really been publicized and there was a real scene happening; she wasn’t there in the early days. Anya was definitely there in the beginning.

LEGS: Anya worked in that bar on White Street?

DEBBIE: Did she?

LEGS: Manage it or strip there? Yes, because Eileen [Polk] told me about going with her father and they went down to watch Anya strip one day.

DEBBIE: Really? Down on White Street? Maybe it wasn’t White…

GILLIAN: Not the Baby Doll?

DEBBIE: Mightabin there.

LEGS: Not the Baby Doll.

DEBBIE: No?

LEGS: Was it…?

DEBBIE: Oh, I don’t know anything about that.

LEGS: Didn’t you guys play some bar…

DEBBIE: Yeah, but that was a place that…

LEGS: On Wall Street?

DEBBIE: Yeah, but that was just like a straight bar—shark bar—you know, guys would come in at lunch time and drink as much as they could and then run back to work. It didn’t have a night scene except for like a few hours and then it was really nothing. And there was no topless, there was no dancing or anything like that. The only reason I got gigs in there was because I worked there as a bartender. And yeah, it was only for like a couple hours, like early on.

photo by Chris Stein

photo by Chris Stein

LEGS: Were they Blondie gigs or were they… they were Blondie gigs, okay. How much did you get paid? How come we couldn’t come down and drink there if you were working…?

DEBBIE: Other guys did. John [Holmstrom] used to always come down.

LEGS: Why didn’t you tell me?

DEBBIE: And so did whatshisname, Elliot.

LEGS: Kidd?

DEBBIE: Yeah, a lot of guys used to come down there.

GILLIAN: You were too drunk, they wouldn’t let you in…

DEBBIE: I don’t know, I don’t know why.

LEGS: Thanks, Debbie. I coulda drank for free. I woulda brought in a lot of business.

DEBBIE: I only did it to keep Fred Smith in the band and then he fucking quit anyway.

74f0e3bf4c5f0db090cb991af9854600PHOTO BY GODLIS

LEGS: Were you pissed?

DEBBIE: Yeah, I was pissed. I was pissed at all of them.

LEGS: All those Television guys?

DEBBIE: All of Television, all of Patti; Patti Smith and Fred.

LEGS: Why were you pissed at Patti?

DEBBIE: Cause she copped/dropped/talked to him.

LEGS: She did?

DEBBIE: Yes.

LEGS: Are you still pissed at her?

DEBBIE: Uh uh.

LEGS: She talked him into going to Television?

DEBBIE: Yeah.

LEGS: Bad Patti.

DEBBIE: Boy, did he make a mistake, ha ha ha.

LEGS:  Ha ha ha!

GILLIAN: Now, that’s going in the book.

LEGS: Yeah! Do you remember Patti from Max’s?

DEBBIE: Max’s, no. I probably saw her around Max’s, but I was more a follower of like Lou Reed’s and sort of straight rock bands at the time, not the poetry scene. I adored Janice Joplin and people that were actually recording and playing around.

LEGS: When were you aware of Patti? When she does CBs? From Television gigs?

DEBBIE: No, I was aware of her doing stuff with Burroughs and doing those St Mark’s [Poetry Project] things.

LEGS: Ever go see…

DEBBIE: Yeah, yeah.

LEGS: … because she opened for Gerard [Malanga]. Were you at that one?

DEBBIE: I went to see her at, I’m not sure which I went to see.

LEGS: … with Lenny {Kaye].

DEBBIE: Yeah, and I thought it was great, I was really impressed. Really, really great. And shortly thereafter she started working with a band and then she came down to the scene, but she wasn’t really at the scene in the very beginning, she was sorta in her poetry-cum-acoustic kind of world. More of an art world, I guess, yeah.

LEGS: Remember when she starts going out with Tom Verlaine?

6a00d8341c18b253ef019affc516e3970c-450wi

DEBBIE: Errr, not exactly, no, do I lose points now?

LEGS: Yeah. Did you know about that?

GILLIAN: Well, why else would Patti be trying to persuade…

DEBBIE: I thought you were asking me the day, of course I remember she was going out with him.

LEGS: Oh.

GILLIAN: It’s impressionistic. Not factual.

DEBBIE: I see.

GILLIAN: Anecdotal.

LEGS: It’s a fresco.

DEBBIE: Yes, I remember. I remember it well, the look on their faces when they were caught kissing behind CBGB’s, whoa!

GILLIAN: What was the look?

DEBBIE: Tom blushed and Patti went, “Fuck off.”

LEGS: Ha ha ha.

END OF PART THREE

MORE ON DEBBIE HARRY & BLONDIE:
DEBBIE HARRY: THE PKM INTERVIEW PART 1
DEBBIE HARRY: THE PKM INTERVIEW PART 2
DEBBIE HARRY: THE PKM INTERVIEW PART 4
LUCK BE A LADY: X, GARBAGE, AND BLONDIE IN CONCERT
LISTEN TO BLONDIE’S NEW ALBUM, POLLINATOR
Clem Burke Interview PART 1
Clem Burke Interview PART 2

COPYRIGHT © 2014 LEGS MCNEIL AND GILLIAN MCCAIN