This is Part 2 of Legs & Gillian’s interview with Debbie Harry for Please Kill Me

LEGS: When did you meet the Dolls and David Johansen?


DEBBIE: Let’s see, Mercer Arts Center. And Eric [Emerson] again was playing there through all of this. I mean, in a way it was a shame that he died because he just survived so many incarnations and periods and so many tough situations. He really was a great survivor. And he made beautiful children, ha ha ha.

LEGS: And a lot of ’em.


GILLIAN: How many does he have?

DEBBIE: Four, five.

LEGS: Tell me about meeting the Dolls, when you saw the Dolls at the Mercer…

DEBBIE: …instant love at first sight.

LEGS: Like a party on stage?

DEBBIE: No, it was like a performance, but they were also… they were just like a really… they weren’t really very punky, they just stood there and were either just blind drunk or stoned or just without being stoned they were stoned, staggering around in those huge shoes and trying to play, you know, it was very funny, it was the best thing that David… of course, swishing around like god knows what. It was just funny, the whole thing was funny but it was great and everything was clever about it and colorful and they were good.


LEGS: And it just worked, and the songs were great, too.

DEBBIE: Yeah, the songs were great, the performance was fresh and uninhibited. Yeah, so it was cool.

GILLIAN:  Did you think they were gay?

DEBBIE: I didn’t care. I really didn’t care, I just thought they were hilarious and wonderful and I went to every show.

LEGS: Is that where you meet Chris [Stein] or are you already together with Chris at this point?

DEBBIE: No, I didn’t meet Chris until ‘73.


Photo by Christopher Makos

LEGS: Did you start going out with David at this time?

DEBBIE: Not really. We were just intimate strangers.

GILLIAN: Good answer.

LEGS: What did you think of Johnny [Thunders]?

DEBBIE: Johnny, oh he was very passionate. I mean, there was no other life for him, you know, he was totally–this was it, this was his purpose in life, and he was fulfilling it and he was great. He was what he was and that was it, and no question.

LEGS: A great rock & roll guitar player.


LEGS: And of rock & roll, and living rock & roll.


LEGS: Remember when they came back from L.A. and Sable comes back with him?

DEBBIE: Sort of.  I mean, it wasn’t…

LEGS: It wasn’t an important day in your diary…

DEBBIE: No, it wasn’t a big… that was a little bit later on. I mean, at the time he was going with Janice and then when they started really working a lot and touring, I sort of lost contact with them. I guess by then I had sort of started working on my own bands and because when I first met them  I wasn’t doing a band. And they were touring and I guess Billy [Murcia] had died… I had been to see them with Jerry [Nolan] and the change was really not what I expected. They really changed the delivery; made their music less playful and more really…


(from left) Billy Murcia, Johnny Thunders, Arthur Kane, Syl Sylvain (front) David Johansen

LEGS: … hard driving?

DEBBIE: Yeah, yeah. Really changed the music a lot.

LEGS: Did it change them?

DEBBIE: Oh, I don’t know. I think the changes that go on is from sort of deciding that you can’t live without being a rock & roll star or musician or whatever and then what actually happens to you as you learn about the industry and become more of an adult. It’s just like growing up in any other way, I suppose. But it’s––––I think that that is what changes you.

LEGS: … not as much fun, maybe, when you find the harsh realities of life and the music business?

DEBBIE: [silence]

GILLIAN: She’s not answering.

LEGS: … not that one.

DEBBIE: I think that growing up and accepting reality and accepting responsibility like that some people can roll with it and others reject it completely and whatever else. I mean, the length of time people really withstand the pressures of being in the business and realizing that they’re either equipped or not equipped to deal with it… I mean, look at the number of people that have been in bands and now are not, you know what I mean, it’s…

LEGS: … most of ‘em.

DEBBIE: Most, yeah. So that speaks for itself, don’t ask me for a fucking answer. Prick. I didn’t tell the story about you leaping over the fucking…

GILLIAN: Let’s hear it.

DEBBIE: Ha, he does a leap frog in front of Phoebe’s, over the parking meters, and dives head first into the cement and everybody in Phoebe’s heads turned  because his head made such a noise when it hit the pavement. I mean, he went BAM like that, we thought he was dead.

GILLIAN: Just imitating Iggy.

DEBBIE: Yeah. Remember that?

LEGS: Yeah, I have the scar…

GILLIAN: Have a little egg on your head?

LEGS: I did I think, I was pretty drunk, so…

GILLIAN: …and then it’s easier to pick up girls.

LEGS: Yeah, because scars…

GILLIAN: So describe what Legs was like.

LEGS:  No, we don’t need this.

GILLIAN: We haven’t asked that question, I realize we’ve missed that question.


GILLIAN: He was pretty cute, wasn’t he?

DEBBIE: He was really cute.

GILLIAN: Look at him.


GILLIAN: Just wanna take him home and take care of him?

DEBBIE: Yeah, except that you had to bring the other one with him, you know, Holmstrom, I mean forget it. The two of ‘em, one was okay, one or the other, but both of em, eeeek. In spite of all of Leg’s shortcomings, he did a lot of stuff; he really covered a lot of… you were really active.

LEGS: Yeah. We did… we worked hard.

DEBBIE: Yeah, we worked your asses off. And what was really funny about it was that it was almost as if we were the children of the military and a lot of us were and we worked like military people, we had this …

LEGS: Drive…


Photo by Chris Stein – from Punk Magazine #15 – “Mutant Monster Beach Party”

DEBBIE: Yeah, this drive and this obsession and this… I mean the amount of work that we put out and the hours that we kept was absurd, nobody does that, nobody works like that…

LEGS: …now.  Always had to be somewhere and show up.

DEBBIE: Yeah, and doing all these things, it was mad, really. And I mean really well Chris [Frantz] and Tina [Weymouth] were… but a lot of the people grew up on army bases and travelled around from base to base.

LEGS: That brings us to, Anya [Phillips]. She’s a big part of the book, can we talk to her?


LEGS: When did you meet Anya for the first time?

DEBBIE: I don’t know, I met her so long ago, I mean I met her probably… ‘74, ‘75. When did she show up, had to be ‘75, yeah. I met her as soon as she appeared because there were no other girls there, believe me. It was mostly guys and the few women that were there that didn’t really know that they were women. No, we all had our day. Roxy was there, Anya was there, Lydia [Lunch] arrived, I was there, there was a really tall girl there.

GILLIAN: Sylvia [Reed]?

DEBBIE: Sylvia showed up later.

LEGS: Yeah, I think Anya sent for her; she was from Taiwan and went to high school with…

DEBBIE: Really, Anya imported Sylvia? I knew that they were good friends.

LEGS: Their high school dream was to go to New York and Anya was gonna marry a rock star and Sylvia was gonna work for Anya… and things happened a little differently.

DEBBIE: Yeah, but close.

LEGS: Yeah.

DEBBIE: Oh god.

LEGS: Can you describe Anya?

DEBBIE: Anya was great, very sarcastic, great sense of humor, dry, terrific dresser, very pretty…

GILLIAN: How’d she dress?


DEBBIE: Like a whore.

LEGS: Yeah. Ha ha ha.

GILLIAN: What stilettos and slips and stuff?

DEBBIE: Oh yeah, tight little things with, you know…

GILLIAN: …garters?

DEBBIE: You know how she dressed.

LEGS: Yeah, and this great bone t-shirt made out of chicken bones that said FUCK on it.

GILLIAN: Oooh, did she make it?

LEGS: Did she or was it from Malcolm [McLaren’s] shop?

DEBBIE: Maybe. Maybe that was a Malcolm thing.

GILLIAN: But no girls were dressing like that, she was the first, right?

LEGS: But she had the attitude, it was not only dressing like a whore…

DEBBIE: I don’t think she was the first?

LEGS: …being funny, you know.

DEBBIE: I think we all were sort of dressing like that with the high heel shoes. Well the stilettos, we always wore the stilettos, I mean that was our thing.

LEGS: Anya kind of defined the attitude would you say or no?

DEBBIE: She had a sense of organization and sort of an overview. She was a great businesswoman. I mean she just like looked around and she had a sort of a more organized perspective.

GILLIAN: Maneuvering.

DEBBIE: Yeah, she wasn’t an emotional wreck, let’s put it that way, ha ha ha. You guys, I feel like I’m at the shrink.


DEBBIE: I don’t wanna purge, I’m just having a salad.

G/L: [laughter]

DEBBIE: It wasn’t that funny.




More on Debbie Harry & Blondie:
Clem Burke Interview PART 1


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