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|Brooke, Debbie and Lo
By Bruce Carleton
This is the story of how I came to acquire a particularly prized possession. It's mid-winter '77-'78. I've recently joined the staff of PUNK as "art director." Since the staff essentially consists of only John, Elin and me, and whoever might be hanging around, the title is sort of abstract. I come into the office one afternoon (office hours were loose) dressed as usual in old khaki pants, gray hooded sweatshirt and brown leather jacket (which I had recently been able to start wearing again after a several-year hiatus when bomber jackets were adopted as part of the homosexual uniform). (I remember reading in the NME or someplace like that where somebody was trying to encapsulate the difference between London punk fashion and New York punk fashion: whereas London punks had spiky mohawks and lots of bondage gear, New York punks tended to look more like messenger boys. When I read that, I thought "They're talking about me.") At this time I'm reading Lolita, so I've got it in my pocket.John comes in happy. "Hey, there's a press party for Blondie at the Copacabana. Open bar! Let's go!" (If I recall correctly, "Denis Denis" had just gone platinum in Belgium. Since that was the highest pinnacle yet reached by a punk band - if you can call Blondie a punk band - their record company had decided to celebrate.) So we go.
The place is fancy - nothing like what I'm used to. Great buffet, which I much appreciate. And this is my first experience with an open bar. I like Meyers's Rum a lot, but I draw a temporary blank on the name, so I ask for "Planter's Punch" like it says on the bottle label. That gets me a huge, sweet contraption with various fruits and umbrellas sticking out of it. (It's clear now that I should have put it in a corner somewhere and tried again, seeing as how the drinks were on Blondie, but it seemed intolerably wasteful at the time.) I drink it anyway, and decide to stick with Jack Daniels after that. And beer, of course. And whatever anybody else sticks in my hand. The upshot of this is - no big surprise - I get looped.
At some point it hits me what a nice coincidence this is: Brooke Shields over there and Lolita here in my pocket. Under most circumstances I wouldn't do it, but being looped made it so easy. I walk up while she's unengaged (and with Mom nowhere nearby), hand her the book, and say "Would you sign this?" She looks at the cover, but there's no discernable reaction, even though she had to have seen or heard that name mentioned in the context of herself. She writes "Happiness Always Brooke Shields" in the best junior high school yearbook style.
After that, I decide the party has run its course for me and take off. As I walk around the block, beginning to wonder why I left all that free booze, I stumble on the Playboy Club. Somebody coming out hands me a sticker, which I think will nicely adorn my Lolita. (I later regretted it an got most of it off.) I finally come to my senses and go back into the Copa. I decide I might as well gild the lily, so I get the hostess to add her autograph ("X Offensively Yours / Love Debbie Harry 78").
Much later, people are starting to leave. I'm out at the front of the club talking to somebody, and Brooke and party come out (she's got some girlfriends with her). I'm talking to her, about what I couldn't possibly tell you, but she's laughing a lot - with me or at me, who's to say. Then Mom comes and sweeps them all into a taxi. The taxi rolls down 56th St. (or is it 58th?) with me trotting along behind it shouting something and the girls looking through the big Checker rear window laughing some more. No doubt thinking, "What charming and urbane fellows these punks are!"
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