Tiffany: Not Alone Now
By Bob Merrick
It's hard to believe that it was 1987 when Tiffany first came into our lives with her hit album, Tiffany, and a mall tour that captured America's imagination in a way no Chess King ever could. This year she appeared on Hit Me Baby One More Time, released the new album Dust Off and Dance, and October 1 she will be rocking the Gay Days at Disneyland. We caught up with the fiery redhead, recently returned from England with her new British hubby.
First off, happy first anniversary! How is married life?
It's great. I didn't know if I would ever get married again. And then I found my Mr. Fabulous, Benn.
Where did you meet him?
After being married for 12 years I was just enjoying being single and dating, doing my career, and having my independence. My girlfriend Margo and I were in Brighton [England] and it was one of my rare days off, so we decided to go pub hopping. And we ran into him in one of the pubs.
So is it safe to say 'you saw him standing there'?
Yes! But ironically, I was trying to set Benn up with Margo to go and dance with her. All I can say is, thank God it didn't happen!
What were you doing over in London?
To my surprise, I had gotten two phone calls to go sing 'I Think We're Alone Now.' It kind of has its own life over there and I really didn't believe a lot of the hype. I thought, Hmmm. OK, it's a chance for me to go to England, which I love, and I'll get paid and we'll see. So Margo and I headed over there, and to my surprise, they were telling me the truth. 'I Think We're Alone Now' is huge over there and people of all ages, for whatever reason, just can't get enough.
Even still, it just keeps going?
It does, so I thought, Wow, I'll just rally behind it then. I love singing the song, I don't mind singing it all. It's even more interesting to me to find 18- and 19-year-olds screaming and loving the song and making up their own little dances to it.
How did you get involved with the show Hit Me Baby One More Time? [Editor's note, Tiffany appeared on both the British and American versions of the show.]
Shortly after Benn and I were married, we moved over to England for a while.
That's so Madonna of you. I'm glad you haven't adopted the accent.
[Laughs] I've fought it off. The press found out that I had married a British guy and it was sort of like the movie Notting Hill. So I just began putting out feelers, and before I knew it, work just started flooding and coming my way. I had such a blast doing it over there.
And you went far, right?
I totally did. I won my show and then made it into the final, which Shakin' Stevens won. We all knew he was going to. He is the favorite of England, he's like their Elvis Presley. But it was such a liberating experience to see everyone again, and new and old fans being so supportive of 'I Think We're Alone Now.' And to do the whole press thing over there, which I hadn't done in years and really wasn't sure if it were ever going to happen again in my life. So it was a really great experience, which is why I jumped on doing the American version.
And how was that experience?
I'm glad I did it, but it definitely had a different take, which I knew it was going to have. Over in England, once you've been successful, they have a sense of celebrating your success, no matter what. They don't really look at it as, 'Oh, you're coming over here to beg your way back.' Whereas in America, if you aren't on top of the charts, they perceive you as falling off the face of the earth.
You posed in Playboy a few years ago. How did that come about?
I was out working an album called The Color of Silence, which was more like my 'coming out' as a songwriter. I had spent three years in Nashville just kind of learning the art of songwriting, getting my confidence, and sowing my oats. Then there was a lot of craziness, I went with a smaller label and it turns out they had committed fraud, which I didn't know, and so I didn't have the funds you need to properly launch a record. So I sunk a lot of my own money into it and after awhile, the well was just running low. Then I would go into radio shows and they would have an advance of the album and it would get great reviews, but they would say, 'But it's Tiffany, and we don't know what to do with that.' There was just too much stigma of me being a child pop star. They acted like being a child pop star was a crime!
So you really needed to break out of that mold.
Yeah, and while I was out shopping the album, the Playboy opportunity came about and at first I didn't really jump on the bandwagon to do it. But I knew the photos would be beautiful and amazing and it was going to break that image. So I thought, 'I don't know if it is going to blow my credibility, what little I have, or if it is going to make it better.' And ultimately, out of frustration, I finally just said yes to doing it.
Do you regret it?
No. I had nothing personally against doing it. I felt I was in great company with wonderful women, so I felt it was an honor, and I thought, this is definitely a shocker. All of a sudden shows I couldn't beg my way on were calling and inviting me.
And now you have another new album out, Dust Off and Dance, which is all dance music. What inspired that?
It was really just being in England and going out after my shows with Margo. I wasn't there to pick up or meet guys, I was just there to have a good time. We'd go out on the dance floor and just dance and not care who was watching or what we looked like. Your hair gets all messed up and you're not trying to impress anyone and it is like being 18 again. And I just thought, If I can make an album that makes people feel like this, then I would make an album of dance. But I am not going to try and keep up with J. Lo or Christina, I just wanted to make a good fun dance album for my fans. That kind of album that you listen to while you are getting ready to go out or blare while you are driving in your car.
What do you think about when someone hands you a publicity shot from 1989 and your hair is teased and your jeans are acid-washed?
I want to rip the picture out of their hands immediately [laughs] go and have it photoshopped and then send it back to them!
The night I met you, we were in Rage [a gay nightclub in West Hollywood]. When did you become so gay-friendly?
My first gay friend I was aware of was my girlfriend Beth. I was probably 12 or 13 and she was very butch. She stood out from the rest of the girls, and she just had the kindest spirit about her. She took a liking to me, but never tried to make a pass at me. She was witty and loved to break the rules and she loved Culture Club, which I think is why I'm still the biggest Boy George fan all of these years later. So I've always just had gay people around me. I love them, they accept me for who I am, and I love them for who they are.
My friend Shannon refers to me as her number one gay. It's all the rage lately. Do you have a main gay?
(Laughs) I have more than just one!
I'm sure, but who is your main gay?
Ron. But I have to say Jeff too. Ron and Jeff are inseparable, so I have to say his name too. They make the complete gay! I love them to death. They drive me nuts at times, but my life would be boring without them.
What's the nastiest thing you've seen onstage?
The nastiest was one time a pair of men's underwear were thrown at me, and when they hit my hand, they had something funky in them. That's not so hot.
OK, let's put it to rest once and for all. Was there ever really a feud between you and Deborah Gibson?
No, there wasn't. We didn't really become great friends because we were tired of answering questions about each other, but we've never had unkind words face to face at all. Y'know, we take little jabs here and there, but just because it is funny. We go to dinner from time to time and we're both very supportive of each other's career.
You both performed at the West Hollywood Pride Festival. How did you decide who would go first?
You know, I don't really buy into all of that. I'm more, 'Girl, get up on stage.' So I don't care who goes first so long as I can get up there and do my thing. I actually wanted us to do a duet of Donna Summer's 'Bad Girls,' but we just couldn't get it together in time.
That would be brilliant! Now I know what to pray for before I go to bed tonight. In the meantime, I have one very important question left. Would you ever sing in a shopping mall again?
No. Never. But I can shop like the best of them!