New Music

Blondie’s Chris Stein Releases Photography Book on NYC Punk Scene

  • December 13, 2018
  • 3 min read
Blondie’s Chris Stein Releases Photography Book on NYC Punk Scene


L to R: Chris Stein, Debbie Harry, Rob Roth

If a single piece of pop culture could be fished out of a time capsule by some hip alien race, entrusted to tell the story of New York City nightlife in the late 1970s, a Blondie record would do the job (and no doubt still slap, no matter how many years after or how many galaxies away.)

Debbie Harry, the band’s vocal powerhouse, resonates as a fashion icon, as a feminist flag waver, as one of Warhol’s famous subjects, and as a main character in the cultural renaissance known as the Lower East Side punk scene. The very images which she evokes in our collective consciousness are captured in the era-defining photographic work of Chris Stein, co-founding member and lead guitarist of Blondie.

In his latest work, Point of View: Me, New York City, and the Punk Scene, Stein unlocks history for those of those of us who weren’t there to see New York at its grittiest yet most glorious, to rub shoulders with the vast network of painters, musicians, poets, merchants, and artistic luminaries who shaped the golden age of Manhattan nightlife (dubbed “the downtown 500”).

On Friday 30 November, Stein and Harry sat down at The Great Hall at Cooper Union for a discussion of Stein’s new book, moderated by the group’s creative director Rob Roth. When asked to differentiate Point of View with his previous works, Stein revealed that his aim was to “show New York’s influence on the band” rather than the other way around.

Stein spoke with the language of his present day peers, describing his book as a series of “finite snapshots”. He likened his work to street photography, observing its popularization by Instagram, which he claimed inspired him to dig deeper into his own personal archives and curate his photos in a style similar to the platform layout.

His ranging subjects featured the obvious likes of Debbie Harry and The Ramones, as well as lesser known members of the scene such as Anya Phillips, who shares the book cover photo with Harry, and who Stein referred to as “an influencer before we used the term influencer.”

The bandmates took turns sharing favorite photos. Harry opted for a black and white portrait of her holding and swooning over cat Daniel who often took to roaming the NY streets. Daniel, Harry told the crowd, belonged to a beloved feline family that also bore Sunday- namesake of the tune “Sunday Girl”.

Stein showed the crowd a photo of two anonymous newlyweds regretfully taking public transit, a photo which Stein recalled taking on the way to or from Rockaway Beach. He often toted around a camera when working with his friends in the arts, which presented the opportunity to capture such candid only-in-New-York snapshots. Roth inquired, what was his camera of choice? Stein answered: “anything I could get my hands on.”

Without relying on pure nostalgia, but rather piecing together moments to form a picture which encompasses the past and present, Stein’s work adds depth to our understanding of an era that yielded so many artistic luminaries, revealing what it was that built them, betrayed them, and at every cross street fueled their creative impulses.

Point of View, which was released on 23 October is available for purchase at chain and local bookstores such as Barnes & Noble and The Strand, as well as on Amazon.

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About Author

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan is an accomplished promoter, event planner, producer, activist, counselor, poet and blogger. Within the course of two and a half years Chris Ryan has worked with some of NYC's most established promoters/event planners, been named 2007′s GaySocialite of the year, granted a promoter of the year award from NYC's most famous gay establishment, Splash. He's worked in some of NYC's top venues including; Avalon, Capitale, Cipriani, Cielo, Pacha, Element, Le Poisson Rouge, XL, G Lounge, Plumm, Hilton Hotel, Indigo Hotel, Spirit, Myst/Quo, Splash, The Ritz, Vlada, Roseland Ballroom, Heaven, etc. In 2008, Chris Ryan has begun to unveil some of the most innovative & unique parties New York City has ever seen. The Fusion events "fuse" together all disciplines of art into an event that remains diverse yet cohesive at the same time. won best gay promotions website from NYC Event Patrons in 2008 & he was granted an award from the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, Gov. Patterson & Michelle Clunie (QAF) saluting him for his hard work in nightlife. Chris Ryan has also begun working with many renown companies, including; doctors, lawyers, physicians, modeling agencies & more. Chris Ryan has been responsible for wide-scale promotions for all these companies & generating tremendous business. Chris Ryan has even started to become National with events taking place in LA & Miami this year. In May of 2009 Chris Ryan received the very prestigious honor of being named a "40 Under 40″ Gays in America by the Advocate Magazine. He also created three successful parties that generated over 1,500 patrons each. In January of 2010 Chris Ryan was featured as one of the top promoters to look out for in Noize Magazine Chris Ryan joined forces with legendary promoter/event producer, Lee Chappell and created one of the most talked about events of all 2010, Desire @ Capitale. Chris Ryan and Lee featured one of the most outstanding artists NYC has ever seen, "Oh Land." Her performance coupled with an exquisite and unforgettable set design added to this extravagant event that held over 1,000 patrons in one of NYC's most successful PRIDE events! Chris Ryan then joined forces with legendary Pacha promoter, Rob Fernandez in addition to Jake Resnicow and Tommy Marinelli to bring one of the largest and most successful parties worldwide to NYC, MATINEE. The event on Governor's Island saw over 2,000+ attendees and one of the most ambitious productions ever. In 2011 Chris Ryan started Emerge Music Promotions with business partner Darren Melchiorre. Emerge Music promotions began signing artists with plans to develop and market the artists to the community at large. Emerge Music promotions has big events planned for 2012 and 2013. Chris Ryan debuted the IMAGE events which took place on top of two of NYC's most beautiful rooftop venues, Rare View and Indigo Hotel. The events were blogged everywhere and featured the fashion designs of several clothing designers, artists and photographers. Chris Ryan felt that fashion and art should be displayed at every event and attracted the likes of Malan Breton, Calvin Klein and even Katy Perry. Chris Ryan began an extremely successful event which incorporated the concept of a house party into a nightclub atmosphere. The event Twist'D at G Lounge has been one of the most talked about events in NYC and allows it's audience to play nearly-naked Twister, beer pong, flip cup & more with other attendees. Chris Ryan was granted an excellence in volunteering award from AVP (Anti-Violence Project) for all his efforts in supporting the organization. 2013 has a very promising landscape on the horizon and Chris Ryan is complacent in saying "you haven't seen anything yet!"

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