She slumped down into the chair, wearing a lifeguard-orange spacesuit and black spike-heeled shoes. Her white-blond hair stuck out from her head in little tufts, punk style.
A photographer began to take pictures of her as she lolled back in the stuffy trailer, a feast of grapes and crab set out before her. But she quickly jumped up before he had snapped too many frames.
"Hey, I want to put my sunglasses on. And I don't even have my makeup on yet," she said.
She pulled a blue hat over her spiky hair and put her finger in her mouth. Petulant pose completed, Deborah Harry, vocalist for the rock group Blondie, was ready for the camera.
Debbie Harry is living out her own fantasy. She is her own creation.
And her hair is her emblem, and the group's emblem. Note that the group is named after her hair, not after her.
And Debbie's conception of her hair informs the style of the band. But her blondie is not Hollywood's blondie.
"There's all different kinds of images of blonds. I guess there are more images of blonds than of anything else. Take a redhead, for example," she said, leaning back in her chair.
"But the blondie that I capitalize on is a comedic fun character. Not particularly bright or stupid. A lightweight character.Just having fun."
"I get to do what most people never do and that is to live out the fantasy of my choosing," she said.
"We're just victims of the pop culture. We just try to act out our fantasies - like 'Hawaii Five-O' and Blondie."
What's the pop culture?
"It explains itself," she said with that don't-you-see-you-blockhead expression on her face.
"It means that I grew up in the '60s, I watched TV, I went to the movies, I ate Jell-O and drank Coca Cola."
Blondie has been around since 1976, when it released its first album. But only with the release of Parallel Lines last year did the group hit the charts. Now they're on tour, playing to sell-out crowds all over the country. Last week they played to two audiences of 50,000 in New York. Harry's sensual, agrressive voice and Marilyn-Monroe looks put this New Wave band where they are.
Debbie Harry is mercurial.
Her mood, or the mood she assumes, is sometimes sulky, sometimes just bored. She seems to be friendly and ebullient with her friends.The conversation is punctuated with her occasional bursts of laughter, her dimples flashing in the deep hollow of her cheeks.
How does it feel to be a sex symbol, she is asked.
"It's flattering. What else can I say?" She paused for a moment, tugged at her costume, and with an impish laugh, said "My blouse isn't open that low, is it? And besides, I don't have that much anyway."
On stage, singing to the vacant stadium at Merriweather Post before last night's concert, the rows of empty chairs like rows of military graves, she went through her numbers like an orator practices his speech to the mirror: Minus the adrenalin rush that arrives with the audience's excitement, the gestures and words seem more memorized than spontaneous.
Back in the trailer, she talks about the women's movement.
"I think most men are really glad for it. It gives them the chance to be real human beings instead of some idolized form. Nobody gets stamped out on a conveyor belt."
"America is symbolic of all these things. We're the testing ground for ideals. It's important that these things become law and part of people's morals and lives."
But aren't punkers, New Wavers, whatever they are called, destructive and antisocial? How can Debbie Harry of Blondie believe that laws can change people's values? How can she believe in the law itself?
"I'm just against the old ways," she said.
Chris Stein, Blondie guitarist, compared New Wave to the hippie movement, "Those who break conventions are wrongly labeled as being negative."
Record companies, it seems, are part of the problem in the eyes of Blondie.
"I have to fight to survive inside the industry. They try to suck out your blood and get your money. Record companies are like banks. They never take a virgin group and develop them. Unless you make money after the first two albums, they drop you," said Harry.
"Artists go through changes. They need support. Most other countries have grants and programs for artists," she said.
A few moments later, the door opened and a man delivered half a dozen roses to the band. Humming "Yellow Rose of Texas," Debbie busied herself putting them in water.
"Don't they smell good?" she said. "Who are they from?"
It seems that the record company had sent them as a gesture of affection. CAPTION: Picture, Deborah Harry of Blondie, by John McDonnell - The Washington Post