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Blondie Week – Day 1: Excerpts from Blondie’s Fan Mail, circa Parallel Lines

TO CELEBRATE THE UPCOMING RELEASE (MARCH 24th) OF OUR 33 1/3 ON  PARALLEL LINES, WE’RE PLEASED TO BRING YOU THE FIRST INSTALLMENT OF BLONDIE WEEK BY AUTHOR KEMBREW MCLEOD!

After Parallel Lines went multiplatinum, the number of adolescent fans outnumbered the group’s adult hipster contingent by a wide margin. We can get a glimpse of Blondie’s new audience by combing through the “Pen Pal” section of their fan club newsletter (which was run by a young Jeffrey Lee Pierce, who later fronted the L.A. cowpunk group The Gun Club).

Blondie’s Pen Pal pages functioned like a pre-Internet social networking site, where misfits and teenyboppers searched for kindred spirits by sharing their mailing addresses and lists of personal interests. Twelve-year-old Stephanie Maria Burr, for example, named a few of her favorite things in the 1980 edition of the Blondie International Fan Club publication: “HOBBIES: Blondie, biking, running, reading, painting, animals. FAVORITE GROUPS: Blondie, Heart, Fleetwood Mac, Abba. DISLIKES: People who say Debbie Harry takes drugs.”

These lists planted Blondie firmly in the mainstream—a mainstream that was articulated in sometimes-surprising and contradictory ways. Thirteen-year-old John Smith’s hobbies included “Roller Skating, singing, dancing, horror movies,” and his favorite groups were “Blondie, B-52’s, Air Supply, Heart.” One of the most eclectic “favorite groups” list came from Maria Barrera of Abilene, Texas: “Blondie, Bay City Rollers, Sex Pistols, Beatles.”

One comment

  1. Not sure if I’d characterize Gun Club as “cowpunk”. that label seems really reductive. Jeffrey Lee Pierce and company were tapping into all manner of musical and literary genres/traditions with their work in that seminal band. I hope someone writes a 33.3 book on one of Gun Club’s records.

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