Dear Debbie Harry

I was to attend a 21st birthday party on Saturday night, and the theme was to dress as someone you admire and would like to be for a day. Pushed for time, I thought of wearing my sari and going as Indira Ghandi or a Bollywood actress. But stupid senseless impulse prevailed instead, and I ended up wearing a R50-wig that I found at the Chinese shop and trying to look like you.

Please forgive me – it was not my intention to dishonour your image as a pop icon or your contribution to mildly funky 70s and early 80s music. Of course, no-one could ever hope to emulate your trademark lips and cheekbones, least of all me with my moon-round face, thin lips and yellowing teeth, but I had hoped to at least be able to capture some of your spark, your sexiness, your sequinny shine and glow.

Not only was this not to be (it didn’t help that the vintage black sequinned top I thought would work okay couldn’t even be zipped up at the back), not only did people not recognise me as Debbie Harry (and especially not the 21-year olds who, I’m so sorry to say, had never even heard of you), but most people didn’t even recognise me under all that make-up and blonde acrylic.

At first this was rather fun and interesting. Rob’s ex-wife’s brothers kept buying me drinks and asking what my name was and what I did for a living, until they realised it was just me underneath. Even Rob was more courteous than usual for a bit, proffering platters of smoked salmon and bowls of crisps. (The younger ones stayed away, thank goodness, but I think only because they thought one of the witches of Eastwick had landed.) Is this how it was for you, Debbie, when you were young and authentically gorgeous? Maybe I should have tried being blonde earlier.

Or not. I actually found it pretty hard work, all that fake glamour. By 3 in the morning (yes, I know, but it’s what you would have done, right?), I had had enough. With the wig peeled off, the face scrubbed, the jewellery and stockings gone, I felt so much more at ease with myself. Warts, bags under eyes, thick ankles and all.

Next time I’ll definitely go with the sari. (Maybe you once wore one, too?)

Yours sincerely,

Jill Goldberg

17 thoughts on “Dear Debbie Harry

  1. Lara

    Jill, you look great. And you should have worn the black sequinned top back-to-front, for added Harry-esque cleavage … ;)

  2. rowena

    I hope your stockings were ripped for authenticity. Maybe if you’d had that black wedge of hair she used to have at the back…..? But who had the other people in the photo gone as?!

    1. Nice piece of work

      Chris and Mark dressed up as Mickey Rourke – i.e. barflies! and the lovely Anya was just Anya. Quite a few people weren’t dressed up at all because the invitations hadn’t been very clear. This only added to my discomfort. But it was nothing that another tequila couldn’t fix :-)


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