I´ve very much enjoyed reading Debbie Harry´s Face It and thought of James Maker whilst reading the first few chapters. She was also an obsessive of the New York Dolls, travelled miles to every gig, subsequently became friends with most of them. She comes across as a real New York Art girl, first on the fringes, hanging out at The Factory, eventually invited to dinners with Warhol — who not only did the usual silkscreen portrait but also an experimental one with a commodore, one of the first done using only computer technology — and at the bunker with Burroughs etc. Basquiat appears in ´Rapture´one of the Blondie videos, and she offers the best description of his charm and attractiveness i´ve read. She also describes herself as ´Punk Til I Die´. And the combination of Art and Punk makes for an interesting set of observations, cool, intelligent, perceptive, detached; always surprising.
Face It is the tale of a woman who set out to be an artist, ended up being a pop star and chose a bohemian life. There are three incidents, two already much publicised, that speak of an attitude. On heroin: ´you either quit or you die´: she doesn´t linger on the struggle. On being mugged and raped in front of Chris Stein in her own apartment, she says it´s terrible but what she remembers feeling most is that the mugger stole their equipment and without it they could not work. No mention of psychological damage or what effect it might have had on her relationship with Stein. An interesting accent on the telling, perhaps an elision and occlusion. The last is when Bowie playfully takes out his dick and waves it at her. She admires it but wonders why Iggy Pop, who is sitting next to Bowie, doesn´t do the same.
It´s a marvellous book, full of such stories. She seems to know everybody in the New York Art scene, partly because of where she worked in the early years (Max´s Kansas City) or through the career with Blondie and beyond. We get stories on the music scenes of the period and filmmakers she worked with like Cronenberg and John Waters, and she has interesting and original observations on all of them. And , of course, her own music and its making is covered in detail.
The person that is evoked is a New York tough cookie, with glimmers of a heart of gold (her nursing of, and lifelong attachment to Stein) burdened with a lifelong fear of abandonment but with the will and daring to make her own life in conditions not of her making, plowing on and following her interests in art, music and fashion, fearlessly experimenting in all those areas. And appreciative of her fans whose art is lavishly illustrated throughout the volume. We see he as she chooses to depict herself in her life and as fans have seen her through her career.
For those like I for whom Blondie marked and is central to their youth this book is very heaven indeed.