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Atlanta icon Blondie talks about life, hypocrisy, spirituality

A local fixture since the 1970s

BLONDIE #1 Web
Photo credit: tony paris
LOVE YOU, TOO: Blondie.

Anita Rae Strange, better known as Blondie, the Clermont Lounge’s fabled dancer, is celebrating 44 years at the venue. She began entertaining customers in 1978 at what was then a “deadbeat redneck club” — as described by a local news outlet — and made a name for herself by crushing empty beer cans with her breasts, but more importantly, she says, is her longtime mentorship of fellow dancers (“my girls”) and advocacy of LGBTQ issues.

On top of that, Blondie turned into a writer who authored a pair of books and still hands out poems to her admirers, as well as contributing to Creative Loafing over the years. “I’ve written for you several times,” she says. “I even did an advice column one time.”

We asked her to comment on the paper and its 50th anniversary. “You covered me countless times. I don’t remember a time when something was going on with me that you guys didn’t write about it,” she responded. “When my 40th anniversary came along on the rooftop of the Hotel Clermont, you guys covered that really well. I was so happy that day. Great photographs too. When my documentary came along you covered that.” Then she added, “I wish you delivered a bigger paper like it used to be, but it is what it is.”

Blondie is now 65 years old and performs just three nights a week. Her spiritual health is more important, or just as important, as her physical health, she explains. “I’m doing great, honey. I did four hours of worship today and I exercise. I’m off drugs. I do drink a little bit, but I’m good,” adding that she is not necessarily religious “because some of the hypocrites are in church. My mother always told me If I have a good relationship with the Lord, it’s not necessary to go to church. Maybe I will find (the right) church someday, but I’m not worried about it.”

Blondie recently returned from a six-week trip to St. Croix where she discovered her just-deceased mother, a longtime resident, had been defrauded by a local pastor and several accomplices. “We have a detective on it. I probably won’t get any of the money back, but I want them brought to justice so no one else has this happen,” she says. “I forgive them; they must answer to God for this.”

Any parting words for us? “I really enjoyed being with you all these years. I’m proud of it and happy that you guys kept going through the pandemic, and are still doing it. That’s a good thing.” And what’s next? “I was thinking of going to the park but if I do it’s going to be just like the Clermont Lounge.  I don’t get a moment’s rest because everybody wants to take a picture with me, and I know I look fabulous.” —CL—