Debbie Gibson could tell Justin Bieber a thing or two about being a teen idol. She was just 16 when she soared to the top of the pop charts. And this was before YouTube! How did she do it?
From her 16-track studio in her garage at her then-Merrick, Long Island home, she wrote songs that made her a music prodigy. She became the first shopping mall star and set the stage for acts like Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and, yes, even Bieber.
With perfect pitch, she echoed up the charts with hits like “Only In My Dreams,” “Shake our Love,”“Foolish Beat” and “Lost In Your Eyes.”
Interestingly enough, when her second album Electric Youth dropped, she was one of the first pop stars to have her own perfume, Revlon’s Electric Youth.
She’s starred in Broadway musicals as well (Le Miserables, Cabaret, Gypsy), appeared in movies and became the voice of her generation in the 1980s.
During her career, she was often compared to Tiffany, another shopping mall teen star. Turns out, there never was time for a rivalry.
The two re-united earlier this year for a Syfy Channel movie called “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.”
It turned out to be a mega-hit for the cable network, and the two followed up with an appearance at The Canal Room in New York City and sold out both shows.
The two will re-connect, again, this summer for a hand full of dates, debuting on the ABC’s “Good Morning America” summer concert series on July 29. We spoke to Gibson from her L.A.base:
TheImproper: The tour with Tiffany has for many been a dream; how’d it come about?
GIBSON: We had such a great time doing the Syfy movie together last summer, and we realized the fans got such a kick out of seeing us together… It was time to give the people what they want!!!
IM: There rumor about you two being rivals … that was never real, right?
GIBSON: Nah! Who had time for a rivalry! I have never been in competition with anyone but myself!
IM: Back then, the media was different right?
GIBSON: For sure. Kids were allowed to be kids. There was no TMZ, no camera phones. The flip side of that was that we had to build our audience a few people at a time! There was no chance of reaching a million people in one fell swoop via the Internet! I am glad I started in the biz when I did though! I feel a strong connection to my fans to this day because of all the face time with the audiences!
IM: Tell us what you’re working on music-wise these days?
GIBSON: Dance/pop with a touch of Urban and inspirational, very much a reflection of how empowered I feel these days! I have been living a lot of real life to draw on in my writing. I don’t live in a glass bubble free from all of the everyday issues that everyone has. It gives a lot of inspiration for music!
IM: How will the show will Tiffany work?
GIBSON: Basically, we will do some songs together, also show the audience what influenced us individually in the ’80s. We will each do our hits, of course, and introduce the audience to some new material! Bring your lighters!
IM: Tell us about the ‘Gibson Girl Foundation.’ You had an event last month at Oheka Castle on the Island, right? How’d that go?
GIBSON: We raised a ton of money to send talented kids in need to arts summer camps. GibsonGirlFoundation.org has tons of info on how families can apply for financial aid for their children.
IM: What’s your feeling about all the music-oriented shows on TV right now?
GIBSON: Having been a ‘Star Search’ reject several times, I would have been right there amongst the thousands that audition for ‘American Idol’ and all the rest. I think it is fun, entertaining, and if an artist is ready for the journey, like Carrie Underwood was, it is the ultimate platform!
IM: We heard you’re working on a possible TV show. Can you tell us anything about that?
GIBSON: Stay tuned : )
IM: As an original American Idol yourself, any observations for the kids today?
GIBSON: Stay true to yourself! And know your craft. A red carpet fifteen minutes of fame moment is just that. It is not a career!
IM: Your record as the youngest performer ever to have written, performed and produced a No. 1 pop Record (“Foolish Beat”) still stands; how’s that feel?
GIBSON: Great, humbling, and a bit perplexing! Come on kids! Break my record!