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Deborah Harry: Platinum Blonde [Kindle Edition]

Cathay Che
3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Written with Deborah Harry's co-operation Platinum Blonde was the first portrait of the original Rock Goddess. With her unapologetic sexuality and perfectly aggressive pop, Ms Harry has remained a lasting icon of cool, synonymous with New York City attitude and the intersecting worlds of punk, rock, rap, art, film and fashion. Though a mainstream pop star, Deborah was never predictable. Her punk sensibilities, her roots in bohemian, alternative culture and her friendships with controversial artists such as William Burroughs and Andy Warhol set her apart from the archetypal sex symbol and pin-up girl. As bold and uncensored as the women herself, this quirky, broad sweeping biography, filled with new insights from Deborah, her friends, family and peers, is seeped in the vitality of down town New York and spiked with anecdotes of a maverick musician at large in a world of fame.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A contributing editor at Time Out New York and frequent writer for pop culture rags such as Details and Interview, Che pays fun and frothy homage to multitalented pop icon Deborah Harry. Fans who have read Harry's own 1982 autobiography, Making Tracks, may not find much new grist here (unless you deem noteworthy the kudos of such contemporary hipsters as Shirley Manson, RuPaul and Theo Kogan of the Lunachicks). However, Che does mix her gushing about Harry's sex appeal, artistry, music and film career with some weighted analysis and original interviews--with Harry herself; members of Blondie, the band that brought Harry to the forefront in the late '70s; Blondie's unscrupulous ex-manager, Peter Leeds; and an eclectic cast of fans, friends and colleagues. Che also discusses the impact of Blondie's recent reunion, as well as some of Harry's lesser known feats, including her Broadway debut in Teaneck Tanzi: The Venus Flytrap, costarring the late comedian Andy Kaufman. Mostly, though, the book is a breezy, gossipy read. Those who aren't entrenched in pop culture might miss out on the copious references to New York fashion designers and scenesters (e.g., who is Ashley Heath, who notes, "That safety gear, knee-pad look she wore is just so Helmut Lang"?), but Che's lesson on Harry is loud and clear; as Fred Schneider of the band the B-52's says, "She's a goddess, in your face and in your ears." 16 pages of b&w photos. (May)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

On the eve of last year's Blondie reunion, Harry told Che, a contributing editor at Time Out New York, that her physical appearance accounts for 50 percent of her success. Unfortunately, here, Che does not critically assess Harry's other underrated half--her songwriting flare and proto-girl-power feminism. With downtown Manhattan as cultural backdrop, Che rehashes Harry's hippy stint in Wind in the Willows, the formation and breakup of Blondie, her B-movie and C-solo careers, her influential style, and, ultimately, the beatific blondeness of being. Although Che gave much-bad-mouthed ex-Blondie manager Peter Leeds the chance to blow off some steam, this is basically an extended, gushing celebrity magazine profile (indeed, it started as one); photographers (David LaChapelle), writers (Robert Christgau), and other musicians sing their praises between Che's thin entences. Alas, someone has yet to articulate Harry's intelligence--and her real musical achievements--as has been done for Patti Smith or Mick Jagger. This is recommended, however, because it is the first work to acknowledge Harry's tremendous influence on current female and male performers.
-Heather McCormack, "Library Journal"
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 3513 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Andre Deutsch; New edition edition (September 1, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005MY9686
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,221,208 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Blonde, but not platinum May 31, 2000
By A Customer
In an age of media obsessing over the latest youthful talent, Deborah Harry stands as an aware, experienced individual who led a full life before even forming Blondie. In fact, Deborah Harry was over thirty years-old before Blondie started getting the attention they deserved. Unfortunately, this book only seems to scratch the surface of her talent and artistic contribution. Interview questions bounce all over the place with a kind of gushing, fan-club-president urgency, with no follow up or connection between them. Additionally, the author should have gotten more of the facts straight (it's Jayne County, not Jane) and do I really need clarification that dead lox = cured fish? Flaws aside, the book's somewhat superficial content might be what we are privy to, from the subject's perspective. Deborah Harry seems to be private about aspects of her life, and does not elaborate too much in certain areas. Chris Stein (artistic collaborator and longtime partner) is a master at directing an interview to ground he feels comfortable in covering. As one of her many fans, it would have been great to get more insight into her brilliance, instead of the interviewer trying to hold responses together with "but some of your old looks were really great, like ripped t-shirts and underwear with boots..." For a more fun jaunt through the roots and takeoff of Blondie, "Making Tracks: The Rise of Blondie" is a must read. Written by Debbie Harry, Chris Stein and Victor Bockris, it is a more intimate picture of Debbie, told in her own words. Topics range from the creature feature she just watched and was inspired by on late-night television, to details on early band struggles. Read more ›
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complimentary portrait of Deborah Harry August 30, 2003
Cathy Che's book traces Harry's life from her birth in New Jersey to her becoming drummer and vocalist in the psychedelic group Wind In The Willows, singing with the Stilettoes, to Blondie, and beyond. However, she divides the book thematically, such as Harry as a movie actress, Harry's influence on music after Blondie's departure from the music scene, as an icon for gays, and on fashion. All this leads up to the Blondie reunion, which yielded the No Exit album and the accompanying tour.
The coverage of the CBGB's scene and the onset of Blondiemania is done well, and certain movie roles, i.e. Videodrome, Heavy, and Hairspray, have added detail, as they were starring roles for her.
The key content of the book are the series of interviews with Deborah Harry and the one with Chris Stein. Che does reveal at the outset that Harry despises idiotic questions like "how does it feel to be a sex symbol?" And that good manners and intelligent questions are a prerequisite to have a successful and interesting interview with her. Her answers are honest, open, with a twist of humour every now and then. However, what struck me was her belief that her accomplishments wasn't worth a full book. Even Chris Stein thinks Harry doesn't realize the influence she has had on pop culture, which is bringing the "movie starlet sensibility into rock."
What's important to emphasize, as Che does is that Blondie is all five members of the group, i.e. Harry, Stein, Clem Burke, Jimmie Destri, Gary Valentine, and as may have been apparent, Blondie became solely equated with Deborah Harry, an inaccuracy on one hand, but that's something that Chris Leeds, Blondie's manager from 77-79, fervently argues, that the men were "backing up this particularly beautiful woman.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Not good enough September 26, 2002
This is a poorly written book (chock full of typos and inaccuracies) that doesn't do justice to the very interesting subject of Harry's life. It's nice that someone aimed to write her biography, but if you're looking for something definitive, you'll have to keep waiting.
Despite the fact that Che had access to Harry and Chris Stein, she came up with no new revelations, and doesn't even tell the story of Harry's life; she simply focuses on Harry's sex appeal and stardom, and doesn't even delve into that too critically. Pass on this one.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Superficial and poorly written June 15, 2000
By A Customer
Didn't this exact book come out about a year ago by the same author? Has it just been reprinted by another publisher with a different cover? I found this book really disappointing. The author's bio says she writes for Time Out, which would explain the style-- silly, attempting to be hipper than thou, ultimately poor writing. Who took on this author? Terrible.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Golden "Blonde" February 23, 2005
Before Gwen Stefani, Madonna and Courtney Love, the original and premier rock blonde of the world was Deborah Harry. So it's a given that she would be adored as an icon of rock, punk and pop music -- but does Cathay Che have to adore her quite so much?

"Platinum Blonde" is a useful, interesting look at the life and work of Debbie Harry -- adopted at three months into the New Jersey Harry family, Debbie later went on to the legendary Max's Kansas City, and then to become the frontwoman of the hit punk band called Blondie. (Contrary to legend, SHE is not Blondie herself) Later, when the band broke up, Debbie embarked on a solid solo career as a singer and actress.

Biographies are always a lot better when the subject goes along with it, or even helps. Debbie Harry did both, and that means that the details are plentiful and the background is as well-researched as it possibly can be. In addition, Che has some very exclusive interviews with Harry and her bandmate Chris Stein. These interviews are intelligent, insightful, and give a great deal of insight into Harry, her career, and her band, and are without a doubt the best part of the book.

What is more, the book has a great deal of other input on Harry and Co., most of which add to the overall "feel" of the book. (Except for one mildly icky story about a photographer getting a naughty glimpse in one of his photos). And Che has a great deal of enthusiasm for her subject, and the impact Blondie and Harry had on the world.

The main problem is Che's rosy lenses -- it's understandable that a fan would get a bit adoring of Harry, especially after interviewing her in person for this.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Fair Effort.
I've never been that easy to impress (or so I flatter myself), but in my humble opinion Debbie Harry has led one of the most extraordinary and inspirational lives in popular music... Read more
Published on October 16, 2010 by ihasch
5.0 out of 5 stars A must have for Deborah Harry and Blondie fans
Cathay Che wrote this biography from a series of interviews with Deborah Harry. It was first published in the UK as "Platinum Blonde". Read more
Published on February 5, 2010 by Mark D. R. Stern
5.0 out of 5 stars Good bio
Other reviewers have written about the book, I shall just say this is a decent book, and Blondie fans will like it.
Published on October 25, 2009 by konacoffee
2.0 out of 5 stars Detroit 442
I love Deborah Harry. She is a genuinely interesting artist. The author relies too heavily on Deborah's own book Making Tracks. Read more
Published on August 22, 2002 by X-RaySpex
1.0 out of 5 stars I WANTED to LOVE it...
...okay fans and friends, not to make this review section a (contest) let's just say I have seen Debbie perform at least 30 times since '78 in all forms, with Blondie, Jazz... Read more
Published on November 28, 2001 by Cory Smith
4.0 out of 5 stars Deborah Harry Tribute
This is a worthy attempt by Cathay Che to dedicate over 250 pages to one of the most innovative and creative female performers in the rock industry. Read more
Published on September 7, 2000 by John Corniello
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must" for all Blondie fans!
This biographical sketch of the leader of Blondie traces both her personal life and stage personality, from her punk roots to her influences on film and fashion. Read more
Published on September 6, 2000 by Midwest Book Review
4.0 out of 5 stars Thee Ultimate Rock Goddess, finally recognized as such!
In a world where female rockers are now the norm, the media and the public have forgotten the time when only a few existed, but leave it Cathay Che to save the day! Read more
Published on June 4, 2000 by Henry Branham
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