Joshua Tehee

Blondie super fan in Fresno pushes to get band a star on Hollywood Walk of Fame

Manic Panic salon owner and Blondie fanatic Cynthia Stevens shows off a pair of shoes she was given by Debbie Harry. Steven is leading a campaign to get the band a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.
Manic Panic salon owner and Blondie fanatic Cynthia Stevens shows off a pair of shoes she was given by Debbie Harry. Steven is leading a campaign to get the band a star on the Hollywood walk of fame. The Fresno Bee

Cynthia Stevens became a Blondie fan in 1982.

That’s the official date on the postcard she got from the band, anyway, confirming her as a member in good standing in the fan club.

She really became a fan the first time she saw them on TV, performing on The Mike Douglas Show.

“You just looked at the band and thought, damn, they’re cool,” says Stevens, a local hairstylist and Blondie fanatic working to get the band a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Her salon is a shrine to the pioneering New York band. It is one of three Manic Panic salons in the nation and is known for counter culture hair coloring – the brighter the better. The company was started by Tish and Snooky (siblings with no last names) in New York City in 1977. Before that, the pair had been back up singers in the original Blondie lineup.

It’s the first piece of Blondie trivia Stevens shares during our chat.

Inside her shop, the floor is tiled in black and white lines, “parallel lines,” Stevens says, a nod to the band’s third album, which features “Heart of Glass” and “One Way or Another.” The word Blondie is painted in bubble letters on the roof, in an homage to the New York’s hip-hop and graffiti scene, ala Blondie’s “Rapture” video, which features a cameo from neo-expressionist artist Jean-Michel Basquiat (the second piece of Blondie trivia).

Just off the entrance to the salon is an actual shrine to the band, with records, photos and memorabilia Stevens picked up over the years.

Blondie broke up before she was able to see them live and long before she made her first trip to New York City to see CBGB, the legendary punk club that was home to New York’s underground punk scene that included Blondie, Velvet Underground, Ramones and others. But she’s seen Blondie 80 times since the band reunited in 1997.

She hasn’t been alone. Looking at a concert photo, she’s able to pick out and name the people in the front row. It’s a close knit group of super fans, many of whom are helping with the Walk of Fame campaign.

Unlike other hall of fame selections (the Rock in Roll Hall of Fame, for instance, which inducted Blondie in 2006), the Hollywood Walk of Fame is mostly fan driven. Anyone can make a nomination, as long as they have the nominee’s consent and $30,000, the price for the creation, installation and maintenance of the star.

There are more than 2,500 stars on the walk, which runs down multiple blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street, and some 24 inductions are made each year in five categories (motion pictures, television, recording, radio and live performance/theater).

To give you a sense of things, Snoopy got his own star earlier this month. The list of 2016 honorees include Quentin Tarantino, Gary Sinise (for his television work) and Kevin Hart. The honorees in the recording category include LL Cool J, Adam Levine and Itzhak Perlman.

While Stevens has the band’s go ahead, she’s hoping for some help with the $30,000 fee. She’s created a Facebook page to raise awareness for the campaign and is currently crowdfunding through the website GoFundMe. She’s also working to set up an Ebay page, where they will sell some hardcore Blondie swag, much of it donated from diehard fans.

Stevens has until May to get the nomination completed. By June, they will know whether the band has been accepted. If the nomination isn’t accepted this year, Stevens says she will apply again the following year and probably every year after until it happens.

It’s only right, she says.

Blondie is good to its fans. She has met the band on multiple occasions and has the photos and autographs to prove it – she even has a pair of neon green high-heels that singer Debbie Harry gave her during a show in Reno.

“She literally, took them off of her feet and handed them to me. I earned those shoes.,” she jokes.

Likewise, she earned the tattoo on her arm. It’s a Blondie logo and the signatures of Harry and guitarist Chris Stein. Sadly, she’s missing the signature of drummer Clem Burke. The signature rubbed off before she could get to the tattoo parlor. (Third bit of trivia: Burke’s wife once lived in Fresno.)

For Stevens, Blondie represents something different, something other than Heart or Led Zeppelin or .38 Special, the bands that were popular at the time. Blondie was a window a world outside of Fresno and the reason she became hair dresser. Her business cards all have pictures of Harry. They change from time to time and have become collectors items among her clients, she says.

Stevens admits that Blondie mostly plays to her inner teen. But the band is still very much active and released its 10th album “Ghosts Of Download” in 2013 and continues to tour. She expects a new world tour to be announced soon.

Besides that, even at 70, Harry is still cool. She’s eternally cool, Stevens says.

“She’s cool like Elvis.”

And yes, Elvis has a star on the Walk of Fame. He was inducted in 1960.

Joshua Tehee: 559-441-6479, @joshuatehee