“Some people call me The Cupstress. Some people call me the Diamond Princess, the Queen of Bling,” says Debbie Harrison, “but I’m Debbie the Glass Lady.”
The simple nickname is fitting; Harrison has made her signature jewel-encrusted pimp cups for everyone from Lil Jon to Ben Stiller to Hilary Clinton. She’s even crafted a pimpstress glass for the diamond princess herself, Paris Hilton.
This Monday 200 of her one-of-a-kind creations will be presented to locals at Jet nightclub as part of the Second Annual Crunk Cup Ball.
“Each cup is different. Everything I do is by hand; nothing is by machine. It’s all hand painted,” Harrison says. The Chicago-based artist has been making glasses for 25 years, but didn’t start “blinging them out,” as she puts it, until 1999. Now a big business, particularly with certain rap and hip hop stars, the glasses started out as a treat for dinner guests on Thanksgiving, says Harrison, who learned to make them from her mother.
“I just ask people for an idea - give me their personality – and I just take it from there. I pray over everything that I do, and I ask God to lead my hands while I do it. It just happens. Sometimes I’m amazed at what I can do myself.”
For Jet’s ball, which awards local nightlife industry heavyweights with personalized Debbie originals, the Glass Lady has created a whole range of pimp cups. Some sport nightclub logos; one has a Star Wars character on it. Harrison says her favorites are a glass with a mermaid along the bottom and a Batman glass created for one of Jet’s most loyal customers.
“Some of these glasses I’ve been on for seven hours for one glass. One took me all day,” Harrison says. “It’s a piece of art on glass, so how can you rush it.”
And they’re functional, too. The Glass Lady’s creations are meant to be used, though which libation makes each recipient feel the crunkest is, of course, up to them.
The Cupstress, however, says she drinks out of less ornate glassware. Harrison doesn’t have a custom glass of her own, but rather tends to end up selling or giving away the ones she creates for herself. “It’s like a beautician’s hair,” Harrison says laughing.
Creating a goblet fit for a king – or pimp, for that matter – doesn’t come cheap. The now famous pimp cups can run from $100 each to upwards of $1,000, depending on the materials and artwork used.
In a town that loves flashing lights, glittering jewels and virtually anything that attracts attention, one of Harrison’s glasses is the ultimate gem-covered accessory. Thanks to Jet, two hundred lucky locals will get to take one home.
“(Light Group) has spared no expense,” Harrison says.