A belated August 13th Birthday Big Em Up Shout Out to actress Debi Mazar. You wanna talk White Girl Mob? Debi done did it (sorry, Lil’ Debbie). After chilling with hip-hop’s seminal figures as a young b-girl, Debbie Mazar moved on to become an acclaimed actress who has appeared in such films as Goodfellas, Jungle Fever, and of course, HBO’s long-running Entourage. Throughout her travels, this native New Yorker is always representing, putting Queens on the map. We caught up with Mrs. Mazar for our Book of Rap Lists back in ’98, but the memories are fresher than ever.
READ DEBI MAZAR’S HIP HOP MEMORIES AFTER THE JUMP…
1. Up In The Bronx Where The People Are Fresh.
When the ’80s came around, me and a girlfriend of mine used to go up to the Bronx River House cuz we heard about this guy, DJ Kool Herc, and somebody called Bambaataa, who were spinnin’ music. I had pretty much come out of a disco scene, but my friends and I really liked the music comin’ from the Bronx. It was interesting cuz it was like hip hop and new wave kinda collided. You had The Sex Pistols, Debbie Harry, the Talking Heads, Devo, Kraftwerk and Kurtis Blow. People like Run-D.M.C. were doin’ their own hardcore style rap. Stylistically, people started gettin’ a lil’ bit freaky—streakin’ their hair and wearin’ 25 earrings. It was a really fun time. And it was the first time I felt that color didn’t divide. Everybody came together and nobody was judgin’ anybody.
2. A Roller Skating Jam Called The Roxy.
I used to work the door at Danceteria and the Mudd Club when I was like 16. Believe it or not, I used to do security at the Roxy like in ’83, ’84. The Roxy at the time was a roller rink so they didn’t want the floor to get damaged. It was kinda funny cuz my job was to walk around and tell people that they couldn’t smoke. People would look at me and go, “Get the fuck out of here.” So basically, I didn’t really do my job. I was hangin’ out and sneakin’ my cigarettes and dancin’ to the music. My job didn’t last that long cuz I guess they realized that they were payin’ me to do nuthin’.
3. D Rugs.
There were a lot of drugs back in the day, like dust was a really big thing. People were going away because they flipped out on dust. It was a shame—fabulous artists were getting totally wasted. You could always tell when someone was using because you could smell that mint smell. Crack hadn’t even hit yet.
It was interesting too because it was a time when people from the ghetto could all of a sudden go to Europe. People were buying art, so artists were making money. Rock Steady blew up and they were traveling the world. That was very exciting because they were like role models for a lot of us.
4. Where My Dogs At?
I knew Run-D.M.C. At the time, nobody was large and everybody knew each other. I was doin’ make-up then. Matter of fact, I even did their make-up on their “Christmas In Hollis” video where they had a pit bull play the reindeer. They had these cardboard antlers on him and the dog got really pissed off at me and snapped, almost biting me.
5. Sisters Gonna Work It Out.
At one point, me and my girls tried to have our own lil’ crew. We called ourselves the Midtown Angels. We had our own little beads. It wasn’t like a fighting thing or to signify like, “Yo, this is my territory.” We just wanted to have our own lil’ thing too. It was like, “All because we’re white we’re not down? Fuck that shit.”
6. The Revolution Will Be Televised.
A bunch of friends of mine were involved with the hip hop television show Graffiti Rock (1984) —people like the show’s creator Michael Holman, Rock Steady, Vincent Gallo, who went on to become a director, and my boyfriend at the time, Kel 139.
I knew Michael years before the show even ever happened. He was one of the first people that tried to infiltrate TV and try to spread the word about hip hop. I remember hearin’ him talkin’ about doing Graffiti Rock. We were all like, “Yeah, whatever, you’re doin’ a TV show.” But then it got very real. And everybody was down with it. Like D.ST wanted to do it. People that were hot at the moment like Shannon were performing.
We taped Graffiti Rock in East Harlem. I remember it was up by about 114th Street in a big studio. We all knew each other from like hangin’ out in the clubs and we were all really excited to be there. All I remember is having a lot of fun and it taking a long time to tape. Then I got bored after a while dancing to the same songs.
It was my first time on TV. My mother, all my friends watched it. It was kind of big news in the hip hop community at the time that that sort of stuff was getting on TV. But I guess the ratings weren’t all that. We all watched it, but the rest of America didn’t.
It didn’t seem like we were doing anything that was so monumental in hip hop. It was just kids from the street and from our scene that were makin’ something that was gonna be on TV and that was exciting enough. I didn’t really appreciate it all until later.