A Blondie transvestite impersonator, rare memorabilia and provocative photos of iconic lead singer Debbie Harry by photographers Robert Mapplethorpe, Annie Leibowitz, Bob Grossman, Bob Gruen and Chris Stein were unveiled at the Chelsea Hotel Storefront Gallery in New York City on Monday night. The display, entitled “A Blondie Exhibition,” celebrates the New York band’s 40th anniversary.
“Music keeps me going — it’s stimulating, it’s important as an artist and as a musician to keep digging for it,” said Harry, clad in a black T-shirt, hoodie, leggings and sandals. “I like a lot of these photographs; I don’t really have a favorite. Chris is a great photographer. I’m looking forward to his next exhibit, which will be a different subject matter. I’m sick of looking at myself! Chris is definitely my favorite photographer to work with; he relaxes me.”
Trudie Styler, Paul Haggis, Gruen, Grossman and Blondie co-founder, songwriter, photographer and guitarist Stein mingled with a host of downtown scene-makers, sipping cocktails like the Harvey Wallbanger (Absolut vodka, galliano ristretto and orange juice) and Union City Blue (Absolut vodka, blue curacao, pressed lemon, lemongrass and soda). An eclectic mix of photographs sat alongside vintage Blondie merchandise, including concert tees, concert programs and VIP backstage passes at the exhibit, sponsored by MAC, Absolut and Ray Ban. Guests were gifted with a few of Harry’s favorite MAC eye-makeup products.
“The photos are like songs; they are movements in one larger piece, but they are more specific,” said Stein. “I like the photographs of Blondie walking down the street; she’s relaxed and herself. I started taking photos of Blondie when we first met. Then we moved into a bigger place and it got a little more normal and organized.
“We have a mental connection, and it goes that way when we write music too,” he continued. “We still need one more hit. I take a lot of vitamins. it helps.”
The exhibit launches in conjunction with the Sept. 23 release of Stein’s photography book Chris Stein/Negative: Me, Blondie and the Advent of Punk. It features never-before-seen shots of early live performances, private moments on tour and interactions with The Ramones, Iggy Pop, Andy Warhol and Joan Jett.
“A Blondie Exhibition” runs though Sept. 29 at the Chelsea Hotel Storefront Gallery (222 West 23rd Street). The exhibit is free and open to the public, from 1-8 p.m. daily.