Robert Mapplethorpe (1946–1989)
Gelatin silver print, 1978
The cofounder and lead singer of the new wave punk band Blondie, Deborah Harry carved a path for female rockers with her good-meets-bad fusion of unattainable sexuality, haughty detachment, and streetwise style. A regular at the downtown clubs and the Chelsea docks, Harry was a pioneer in the New York City punk scene and a bona fide fashion icon. Yet her untamed stage moves, sophisticated music, and edgy voice managed to stave off a blonde bombshell stereotype. In 1978 Harry challenged the notion that musicians—particularly women—needed to be accessible: “I’m against the idea that rock stars have to live a life that’s completely understandable or predictable to their audience. . . . Maybe I’ll just be the mysterious figure that’ll never be able to be truly defined. Maybe that’s what my thing is.” This portrait by Robert Mapplethorpe captures Harry’s tough beauty and defiant attitude.