Before Debbie Harry appeared on the cover of major magazines like Cosmopolitan and Rolling Stone, her first-ever cover story was in New York Rocker, shot in Blondie’s loft on the Bowery. Publisher Alan Betrock launched his DIY paper in early 1976, right around the time Punk magazine debuted on the scene. When Lisa Jane Persky joined New York Rocker as a founding staff member, she had been dating Blondie bassist Gary Valentine and had already taken several rolls of film at the band’s loft on the Bowery. So when Betrock said he wanted to put Harry on the cover of the third issue and was looking for a photo, Persky realized, “Oh, I’ve got the perfect one.” Other small-scale zines had already started covering what would become known as punk music—such as Teenage Wasteland Gazette, started in 1973 by the Dictators’ primary songwriter Andy Shernoff. The same year, Lisa and Richard Robinson launched the photo-heavy magazine Rock Scene, which employed Lenny Kaye as an associate editor and Lance Loud as a contributing writer. Several other little publications existed, such as the Anglophile zine Trans-Oceanic Trouser Press, but it was New York Rocker that struck at the right place and right time. “Alan kind of invented the scene with New York Rocker,” Kristian Hoffman said, “because it made it seem like, ‘Oh, all these bands are in the same magazine,’ so it all coalesced into a scene.” A symbiotic relationship between local indie media and the downtown scenes had deepened since the early days of the Village Voice in the mid-1950s, Ed Sanders’s Fuck You during the 1960s, and a host of smaller mimeo publications.
From Chapter 33 of The Downtown Pop Underground — order online, or from a local independent bookstore