by Mary Anne Christiano
Photos Copyright © by respective photographers.
On January 10, 2001, there was an art show at CBGBs Gallery to celebrate the return of PUNK Magazine, along with spoken word performances and live entertainment from anyone who's anyone in the punk genre.
While in the Lounge I saw a familiar-looking woman go into the Ladies' room. I waited for her to come back out, to see if she was who I thought she was. The muse of the Andy Warhol crowd, actress in Warhol's play, "Pork," the first "video chick" who starred in David Bowie's "Jean Genie," author and mother of model Mia Tyler.
"You look like Cyrinda Foxe," I commented. I had just read her book and as a pre-teen in the '70s, loved seeing her pictures in Rock Scene magazine and wrote in my diary that she was the most beautiful woman in the world! As an older teen, I emulated her by bleaching my hair platinum blonde.
"I am!" she said. Amazing - years after her heyday and she looked exactly the same! I told her I loved her book and she let me take pictures of her. We acted all "girly" and traded coats. Cyrinda looked super in my faux fur - but then again, Cyrinda would look good in a potato sack! I missed some bands I really wanted to see that night because I had so much fun hanging out with Cyrinda. Later on I told John Holmstrom that meeting Cyrinda was the best part of the party, and he suggested that I interview her.
Not too long after that night, I got a phone call from a friend who read in the paper that Cyrinda was very ill. I was devastated.
"Mary Anne," my friend sympathized, "I know you like her a lot, so I had to tell you."
I saw Cyrinda again at the Joey Ramone Birthday Bash, and then again at her benefit. This interview took place the last time I saw Cyrinda, at the Gramercy Park Hotel, October 2001, almost a year before she died.
Sitting down and interviewing Cyrinda was a little girl's dream come true for me! Who would have thought that the sexy, stylish blonde I wanted to be when I grew up would be hanging out with me and talking about her life! Even without makeup, Cyrinda looked great. When you got it, you got it! At times Cyrinda was a bit emotional, but for the most part we had a lot of fun ? not only talking for PUNK, but also talking "girl talk" when the tape player was off.
When you first came to NYC, what was your impression?
It was big and it was tall and all the buildings were so old. I had no clue in hell where I was. All I know was it was great. And I stayed at the women's "Y." I didn't have any money. I couldn't find a job typing because I couldn't type fast and accurately enough.
I thought it was fabulous. It was everything I thought it would ever be. I've been reading magazines since I was a teenager and New York was the place that had The Cheetah and all those clubs where everybody went. And all the girls were so great and the clothes were so fabulous. Why would I not wanna go there?
Tell me about Andy Warhol.
I was hanging out at this club called Max's Kansas City 'cause that's where all the young people seemed to go. And I went there and these guys were looking at me one night. Plus I started dressing a little bit more wild. I was looking at everybody else to see what they were wearing. And I'd see I had farm girl clothes that I thought were all cool and dressed up but they were not. They were still for the roller rink or something.
[Laughs] What do you mean, "farm girl clothes"?
I was living out in the Midwest, in Oklahoma and Texas before I came to New York. And what's all savvy and groovy out there has nothing to do with Paris and London. Or New York City, you know... So you could put on all the right clothes, but they weren't the right clothes.
So I went to Max's and I was hanging out. And this one guy came up to me and said, "You know, we've been looking at you. Would you like to be in a play?"
And I said, "Well, I don't know, maybe. Will I get paid?"
And he said, "Not much, but it's very very good for you."
And I said, "Okay, let's talk." And it turned out to be "Pork," the one I did for Warhol. And it was Leee Childers who came up to me. They wanted to know if I'd be in the play and of course that started everything because they turned me on to all the thrift shops that had all the old clothes from the '30s, '40s and '50s and of course some guy told me that he did silk and net style. And so I started wearing it.
Then this other guy said, "You know, you should be blonde. Like, really really, really blonde."
I said, "Really?"
[Laughs]. And it took like three days to get my hair like Jean Harlow.
But I did it and that was the start of it. That was the whole entire search. I started going to Max's of course 'cause all the young kids were there. And I met all the drag queens, and they were so enlightening. They just wanted to be women so bad that they would tell me things about clothes and hair. I was like their living doll or something.
It was fun! Candy Darling, Jackie Curtis, there was Leee and Wayne - Wayne County, who is now Jayne County. They were doing plays as well. Everything was off-off-off Broadway. You couldn't get off any further.
Everybody that was anybody came to see these plays. It was fun. It was very good for a lot of things in life. So that's that.
Then I met Andy. I said, "Who's that cute little man sitting over there?"
How about the wildest party?
There was one party that I'll never forget. It's because it was so ridiculous. And it turned out to be a lifelong Johnny Thunders topic. We were at the Miamis' house after going to Max's. I had no idea; I hadn't drank or done drugs or anything. I wasn't doing any drugs - at all. Johnny comes in and somebody said, "Here let's just do a little bump."
And I thought "Okay it's coke." But I know I don't like coke, so... I had to do really, really tiny like a match head. It wasn't coke it was THC or something really really strong. It blew my mind. They picked me up and Johnny put me in a closet.
Leaving me there. I remember my legs hanging out, people walking by. There I was... that's all I can remember, really, about that party. Now all of a sudden, I really wanted to go. Somebody said, "Let's get out of here."
And John says, "What are we gonna do with Cyrinda?"
And someone says, "You're gonna take her home. You're the one who got her like this, you jerk. You're gonna have to take care of her now."
And I was like, "Whatever!" I didn't care. I was just fucked up! And I could not walk very well, of course. And he got a taxi. He and Sylvain had an apartment uptown in the 50s. And so we got there and I started throwing up. And then these sailors were in town for some reason. And they came up and they started talking to me, and I was like "oh no" and John ran down the stoop and got me and I went upstairs. And all these people came over, and it was just this wild, crazy evening... but you know, to get fucked up and be left in a closet, you'd love to have Johnny Thunders be your babysitter. It's really wild. I thought. He's just so not a babysitter. You know he had all those children.
He had children?
Yeah, he married that girl and every child he ever had, they all ended up getting food stamps and he'd steal the food stamps and sell them for dope. John, I know, was something else. He told me he wants me to leave Steven and I said, "I can't leave Steven. I have a child with him. What are you talkin'?"
He goes, "You want children, I'll give you children."
And I said, "Thank you. You're soooo sweet, Darling I love you. But you know what? I don't want to go through it. I don't want your children. I love you, but you keep the ones you have and take good care of them."
Were you dating Johnny?
No. Just friends. Forever. I loved him. I loved him with all my heart. When he died it was just too much. I didn't even believe it was him in the casket. I was very upset. There goes, you know, someone I knew since I was very young. And it was so hard.
What was it like working with Bowie?
I just spoke to him not too long ago. You know, he donated a beautiful acoustic guitar to the benefit. With a beautiful letter saying, "I wrote many songs with this" and that he played it on stage.
I love David. And now he's married to that woman and he was so sweet when I talked to him on the phone he said, "I want to come see you."
I said, "Fine. Well, I got a wig, so I'm happy."
He said, "Is it a good one?"
And I said, "Yeah."
And he said, "Is it a good one?"
And I said, "Yeah, if Francesco Scavullo likes it..."
"Yeah, if he likes it, it must be good, right?"
And he goes, "I'll be the judge of that."
"I'm coming over to see you."
And then I never called him back. I was supposed to call him back on a Monday or something and I never picked up the phone. I forget to call people. I write it down and it doesn't matter. I just don't do it, you know, it's fucked up.
So you liked doing all that, all the modeling stuff, being in the Bowie video...?
Yeah, it was fun. 'Cause he's fun. He's wonderful. What could be said? I mean, look at him, he's so handsome. Look at him now, he's more handsome now than he ever was.
Yeah, that's true!
He looks better now. This is his best look. You can tell, when I see him on TV, or talk to him on the phone, he's still the same David. Which is fabulous. Which is very humorous. He has a good sense of humor. What else can you ask for in a white boy?
But a lot of talent and a good sense of humor. I love him. I love him. I adore him. I've always adored him. David's wonderful. And he's so handsome. I wish I had a boyfriend as handsome.
[Laughs] Yeah, we all do, right?!
[Laughs] You mention David Bowie to any woman and the eyes open up! It's amazing. Older women, even... like my age. We're not supposed to get excited, I thought...
I didn't think when I brought Steven into Mia's private Catholic School, that was next to Jacqueline Onasis's house, that those women that age would get so excited. And they all did. They all wanted their picture taken with him.
Oh wow, that's funny!
It was cute! I just thought; well there you go!
You did so many things, like, you did the stage, you did film, you're a model, you're a writer...what do you like the best? What career was your best?
I just want to party and hang out with my friends.
[Laughs] So, you like that better than doing anything?!
I just wanna be comfortable. I wouldn't mind being married again. To the right guy. I like homemaking. I love nesting.
Awww, that's great! So you feel like a mom is the best thing for you?
Yeah, being a mom was my favorite thing. It still is. Mia is my favorite thing. I love her more than anything. She makes me laugh more than anything. She smells like my daughter, so I love her more than anything.
And she's modeling now too, so she's following in your direction.
Yeah, it's great, 'cause all these girls write her and idolize her. I'd love to see her lose some weight, you know. But that's just me. That has nothing to do with reality or what's right for her. But whatever she wants to do, I'm happy for her. Just want her to do the best work she can do. You know, don't be lazy. 'Cause we both can be very lazy.
So what kind of music are you listening to these days? 'Cause you were really into the punk, right? You really liked all the punk bands?
No. Not really.
No? You liked the scene more?
No, I didn't have anything to do with the punk scene. You never saw me hanging out in CBGBs. Maybe once. That was part of the reason I left. It just wasn't happening to me, that scene. Everybody started wearing bad clothes. They weren't attractive. Nobody was trying to look pretty glamorous. They were all trying to look horrible.
So you like the glam scene more?
I like the glam scene much more. I love going to Valentino's and looking at real clothes. And I love Vogue, and Elle, and all the magazines that have real fashion. Fashion wasn't part of anything - they were anti-everything. So I didn't like that. Why would they be anti-, you know, Yves St. Laurent? I don't understand. Unless you're another designer, I mean, like what are you supposed to wear out here? That's all I wear now are my jeans and sweaters and stuff. Like, my whole summer I must have spent like a thousand dollars on clothes because I bought everything on Eight Street or down in Soho or something, on the street. But it's a good thing, at least, that these bandanas became very popular because I can hide my beautiful head.
Do you want me to shut this off? Do you want to talk about this?
I don't care, everybody knows anyway.
Do you have any other punk stories that you want to talk more about? A Ramones story?
I don't have a Ramones story. What's his name, Dee Dee?
Yeah, Dee Dee.... Okay what's the Dee Dee story?
I never went to CBGBs and I walked in with David Johanson and I saw Dee Dee and he goes, "Oh Cyrinda, I saved a place for you to sit tonite."
And I go, "Really, where?"
And he goes, "On my face."
"That's okay, thank-you very much. It's very good of you to think of me, but you know what? I already have a chair. Thanks a lot, though. That's very kind of you to think of me and keep me in your thoughts and be concerned where I sit and stuff."