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Deborah Gibson: Twenty Questions

In 1987, Debbie Gibson's "Out of the Blue" exploded onto the charts. At the age of 16 she was the sweetheart of a nation, her blond hair and big brown eyes making her the perfect "girl next door"--and the fantasy of teenage boys everywhere. (Our staff was no exception!) When "Foolish Beat" topped the pop charts a year later, Gibson became the youngest artist in history to write, produce and record a #1 single.

By the early 90s, though, the music industry was changing and Gibson's popularity seemed to fade. Her later releases failed to impress radio listeners, but change was in the air. "Debbie" became "Deborah," and she returned to her "first love": The Stage.

Starring roles in a string of Broadway hits, including the leads in "Les Miserables" and "Beauty & The Beast," Gibson firmly established herself as the star of a whole new medium. She even had the chance to play the "bad girl" during her stint as "Rizzo" in the U.S. national tour of "Grease."

Gibson's now working on what some have deemed a comeback album, tentatively titled "M.Y.O.B." (Mind Your Own Business, get it?). Her new single, "What You Want," has a surprisingly enjoyable hip-hop lean to it. Not only does Gibson sound as fresh as any of the current flock of teen queens, the track has also been picked by "Billboard Magazine" as a sleeper hit for the fall.

While on location in Florida, recording the new disc--scheduled for November release--YourMVP Magazine caught up with the former teen sensation to find out her thoughts on the current state of music, her stage career, the "rivalries" that she's had over the years with other stars, and the possibility of seeing her naked.

Ha! Only in our dreams.

After hitting the top of the pop charts in the 80s and early 90s, you began a stage acting career. What brought about the apparent change in career?

The real change was going from theater in my childhood to pop in my teens! The change back, or integrating the two, was a natural progression. I simply missed theater.

How have you enjoyed your stage acting career by comparison?

Stage kept me sane at a time when the music I was writing

did not fit the angst-ridden, hippie chick radio mold.

What is the biggest challenge of being a Broadway performer?

Staying still and focused while performing as opposed to feeding off the hyper energy of a pop audience.

Of the characters you've portrayed, which has been the most satisfying role--and why?

Probably Fanny Brice in "Funny Girl." I got to use a lot of my own experiences in that role in addition to going beyond my years and my experiences.

In addition to your Broadway career, people don't realize that you've been steadily releasing new music. What has prevented your music from being more widely accepted?

I can take you through it album by album. "Body, Mind, Soul"--I don't think people were ready for me to be funky and edgy even though a lot of it was tongue-in-cheek. Also, there was a burn-out factor in terms of the public needing me to go away for a minute! "Think With Your Heart" was an all orchestral, adult contemporary album. It came out at a time when Jewel and Sarah McLachlan were not yet in the mix. People considered this kind of music to be for a limited audience. That said, it was a dream to make a recording like that one. "Deborah" was done independently and just as it was picking up momentum, the distribution filed Chapter 11!!! Bummer! Suddenly, our promotional efforts became legal efforts, and that is not how we planned on spending our time and money! But everything happens as it should, and I feel more ready than ever to bust it wide open again!

There is currently a resurgence in 80s artists--from the New Kids on the Block releasing solo work to a new album from fellow teen-queen Tiffany. You, too, have a new album in the works. Tell us about that. What kind of music should we expect from Deborah Gibson?

It's me--older. Lyrically and musically it's more sophisticated, but still youthful. It reflects who I am at 30, which is part 12-year-old and part 70-year-old!

What are the chances that a song by Deborah Gibson will ever achieve the level of success a "Debbie Gibson" song did?

I'm glad you sit and think about these things so I don't have to! I just make the music and persevere!

Is this album going to reposition you as an adult artist--no longer shackled by the perceptions that come with being a "child star"?

After six albums and seven musicals, I sure hope so!

Did you change your name to help in overcoming that? What exactly prompted you to do that?

No. Actually, the change was from "Deborah" to "Debbie." "Debbie" was a stage name, but "Deborah" is truly me.

Your mother has guided your career since the beginning. When your popularity began to wane, did you ever think you might be better off getting new management?

Never! If I ever were to sit and interview managers, I'd look for undying faith in me as an artist, loyalty, honesty, and above all, true concern for me as a person. Careers (especially in pop) are roller coasters!

How "in touch" do you feel you are with the sound of music that is prevailing today--and is this new disc going to play into that?

I am always influenced by a contribution of what I hear on the radio and what I feel in my gut. I am an avid music fan, and a 30-year-old Manhattan girl. I feel quite "in touch."

Do you feel it is necessary to "distance yourself" from your image in the 80s?

No. I will never disown my past. I am proud of every accomplishment and how those "cheesy pop tunes" fit into many people's lives.

On an appearance on the Howard Stern show, he discussed with you the

possibility of posing for adult-oriented magazines such as "Playboy" as a means of "distancing yourself." Have the magazines ever approached you? And, if so, why have you never accepted an offer to pose?

Yes, they have! I considered it momentarily, but felt it wasn't enough "on my terms." I think leaving a bit to the imagination is sexier!

Given your feelings about posing nude, I'm sure you're aware that there's a porn site out there that has pictures of your face added onto the nude bodies of other women. How does someone doing something like that make you feel?

It's ludicrous and laughable! Does my fake bod look good???

The recent crop of teen sensations--such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera--have drawn a great deal of comparison to the perceived "rivalry" between Tiffany and you in the late 80s. To what extent did that rivalry actually exist?

Not at all. It would be like comparing two artists as diverse as Whitney and Madonna simply because they're in the same age group. There's room for everyone!

How did it feel to have Britney Spears be so publicly upset about a comparison "Rolling Stone Magazine" made between her career and yours?

I actually met her and spoke with her and we hit it off really well. No one likes comparisons of any kind, and again, musically we're completely different.

Tiffany recently made the cover of "Billboard Magazine" for the first time in years discussing her new album. Inevitably the comparison between the two of you is going to pop up again--since you are each releasing "comeback" albums at the same time. Have you heard her disc? And, if so, what are your thoughts?

I was at the studio for a bit of the recording and I'm really proud of the steps she's made in earning her own niche in terms of style. This album is truly her own. I support her completely.

If you had to name the worst part of growing up in the limelight, what would that be?

Rumors, speculation, expectations. Although, these are what I would call "happy problems," problems that exist as a result of using my gifts and talents and doing what I love to do.

What is your favorite part of your life right now?

Doing everything, both personally and professionally on my own terms. I love performing for tons of people, then coming back home to my dogs. I love that I've learned to balance my life. It took years!

Lastly, where can fans expect to see Deborah Gibson in the future?

Music, of course. A new musical "Skirts," which I've written the songs for, and a VH1 movie tentatively called "Teen Queens" spoofing a lot of what we discussed about supposed teen rivalries.

Click to go to the OFFICIAL Deborah Gibson Website

Click here to purchase the "My Girlfriend's Boyfriend" from Amazon.com

Click here to purchase Deborah's CDs from Amazon.com


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