In the early 1980s, Rayya Elias’ upward trajectory seemed unstoppable. Her music career was taking off, her hairstyling skills were high in demand – she was making it in big, bad, beautiful New York City.
But the drug use which was inseparable from the music scene, and which had dogged Rayya her whole life, grew out of control and everything began to unravel.
Rayya’s memoir retraces her journey from an early childhood in Syria to her battle with addiction and numerous run-ins with the law, culminating in a stint in Rikers Island jail, where Rayya earned her nickname Harley Loco.
I spoke to Rayya ahead of her appearance at the Adelaide Writers Week. Rayya is in Australia until 7 March – visit Bloomsbury Australia’s website for details of her appearances.
Harley Loco: A memoir of hard living, hair and post-punk from the Middle East to the Lower East Side is written by Rayya Elias and published by Bloomsbury.
Visit Rayya’s website and listen to her original compositions which comprise the soundtrack to Harley Loco.
Interview broadcasted on ArtSound FM.
Interview date: 27 February 2014.
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