flower child-woman debbie hooper grooves on sunshine, sculpture and progressive politics
Committed though she is to helping her generation unwind our uptight society, 21-year-old Debbie Hooper proves that one needn't storm the barricades to qualify as a liberated -- and liberating -- spirit. She supported Senator Eugene McCarthy's bid for the Presidency and was left "brokenhearted' by his defeat at last year's Democratic National Convention, but Debbie -- who's currently studying philosophy and sculpture at San Fernando Valley State College -- tries hard to avoid the politics of confrontation on campus. "Some of the radicals' demands are good and some are bad," she says, "but they ruin their chances for success with the tactics they use. What kind of education can anybody get when you close the school?"
Debbie's personal morality has been strongly influenced by Ayn Rand's objectivism: "It makes sense to live for yourself, because self-love is the basis for all love;" and her attitude toward sex is unabashedly anarchistic: "Sex should be totally spontaneous and consenting adults should be allowed to do whatever they wish. A good relationship doesn't always need a long period of time to develop, and when you get zapped immediately by someone's charisma, your instincts are right more often than not." Irked by middle-aged advertising copywriters "who make egg rolls look erotic but worry about what sex is doing to their children," Debbie also looks askance at contemporaries who abhor conformity "but wish they had XK-Es and houses in Big Sur."
Not that her anti-materialism is dogmatic. "I know I can live without too many possessions, but happiness is what counts, and most people need a few nonessential comforts in order to be happy." For Debbie, those nonessentials include eye-catching outfits; she favors bell-bottoms and -- for the beach -- leather bikinis, as small as the law permits ("if you have to wear one at all"). While Debbie uses her wardrobe as a colorful medium of self-expression, she prefers to be an appreciative spectator when it comes to painting: "The work of some artists, especially Chagall and Beardsley, really turns me on. Even though I do get ideas of my own sometimes, I lose them when I try to put them down on canvas or paper."
If she could have any fantasy come true, Debbie would like to be an out-of-sight songstress: "a combination of Billie Holiday and Barbra Streisand, perhaps." The Beatles are indisputably tops among the pops, as far as she's concerned, but Debbie also responds to the pulsating sound of Creedence Clearwater Revival, a West Coast rock-and-soul combo: "Their beat always puts my body in motion."
Debbie's taste in drama is relatively conventional; underground films tend to leave her cold ("Why pretend to like something you didn't even understand?"); she generally prefers to get involved in more romantic tales; and Camelot is her favorite film. The prospect of emoting in movies herself holds no special attraction for Miss August, who has acted successfully in a few stage plays; she worries that "my identity might dissolve" if she were immersed in the Hollywood whirlpool. We're completely convinced, however, that Debbie would continue to be her own unpretentious self in any milieu.
Photography by Mario Casilli