I have only spent the night on a sidewalk to buy concert tickets for two people; Deborah Gibson is one of them. Because of her, I became obsessed with vests that I still own, never wear, and cant seem to throw away. I spent every day during the summer of 1988 watching her Out of The Blue Tour on video until the tape finally broke, and I had to save up for a replacement. I still know all the moves to Electric Youth. No matter how rough my life wasfrom being picked on in school to coming out at 19her music and attitude always inspired me to stay positive. All these years later, I got to have a chat with someone who was absolutely my teen idol. A conversation with the resilient Deborah Gibson I thought could happen (forgive me for this one) only in my dreams.
Youve had quite a year! The indie film you madeCoffee Dateis generating good buzz at film festivals, you took a spin on the ice rink on Skating With Celebrities, youve performed at several pride festivals, and currently you have a duet with former New Kid Jordan Knight rising up the adult contemporary charts. You must be feeling good!
Thank you and I am!
I just saw your debut performance with Jordan at an APLA event and I instantly felt like I was 14 again. You both looked and sounded amazing and as though neither of you have aged a day since 1989. How did this pairing happen?
[Laughs] We actually have a mutual friend at Trans Con, the record label, and he suggested it to both of us. We were both really into it. And I think we both use Oil of Olay to stay looking young!
After being absent for a decade, what does it mean to you to have a song on the charts now?
I know I have been absent from the charts, but I hardly feel like Ive been absent. I never stop working so I dont have time to think about things like chart positions. I dont live and die by the ups or the downs which is how I stay sane! I recently saw an old interview of Brenda Lees and she said the same thing. Us troopers just do what we do!
You are in a new movie, Coffee Date, which has been playing at all of the gay film festivals. Tell me a little about it.
My character craves drama. So when I think that Todd, the lead character, is gay, I suddenly become interested in him. I swear I didnt draw on any real-life experience. [Laughs] I basically play the office hussy! The film is so great. I have a tiny role, but I also did the song over the end credits. The cast is amazing, in particular my buddies Wilson Cruz and Jonathan Silverman and my new buddies since doing the film, Jonathan Bray and Sally Kirkland.
In the trailer for Coffee Date, I nearly spit up my drink when they cut to you on top of Todd yelling, Do you want to fuck me or not? First Playboy and now this!
I never, ever swear. It was far more shocking to hear me say that than it was for my friends to see me naked! After Cabaret, Gypsy, and Chicago they were like That ol body? Whateva!
Now that you have our attention, what are three things that people would be surprised to know about you?
I am intense and tortured despite my sunny disposition. I have not taken a beach vacation in eight years cause I love to work. And I have never lived with anyone; I have a clean slate in the man department!
At what point in your career did you realize you were becoming a gay icon?
Oh, Godprobably as a teenager when I saw myself being done in drag! I think all the gay clubs I played in the beginning of my career and my work in the theater has brought me closer to the gay audience. It is the only audience that allows me to segue from a Funny Girl song to Electric Youth and doesnt get confused! There is no more loyal an audience. I hope we all grow old and gray together. Or, old and bottle blonde!
Earlier this year, you chose the ultimate in gay sports and were robbed on the show Skating With Celebrities. You were definitely the most improved and had no prior experience. Did you at least continue skating?
Why werent you a judge? I knew going into it that reality TV is political. I think the fact that Kurt and I were so drama free hurt us. We were boring television cause we were like throwbacks to another era. It was Dick Van Dyke on ice! I was skating every month but havent been in several months and I am going through withdrawal!
Recently our mutual friend Lance Bass came out publicly. Having thrived in the same pop landscape as the New Kids and then touring a couple of years ago with NSYNC, how do you think the publics acceptance/perception has changed since, say, 1989?
Not enough, being that it is still front-page news. We will know it really changed when people say who cares? and they move on. But with the landscape being what it is and the Bible Belt folks still thumpin those Bibles, I am proud of him.
Do you think a member of an active boy band could ever come out?
I think pretty much every boy band has a gay member anyway so I wish they would! The idea of a boy band is that there is one boy for everyone, so they should purposely hire one gay member!
I can see the headline now: Debbie Gibson On Crusade to Out Boy Band Members! Do you think our society will ever be able to embrace an openly out pop princess?
I swear, sometimes I wish I was a lesbian just so I could be your poster child! I hope so. Now that would be cool! I mean, really, who cares? The whole romantic fantasy of your pop crush is just that: a fantasy. So whats the difference if theyre gay or straight? I was in love with George Michael and he was never gonna love me back whether hes gay or straight, but I can still be in love with him!
Well said. You fought off the Playboy offers for years. What made you finally change your mind?
I was truly not even thinking about the nudity. Thats what made me want to do it. I thought, I know that Im a free spirit but no one else knows. I mean, being in the theater and changing in the wingsyou can only remain modest for so long!
So you actually found it liberating?
It was my version of skydiving!
Speaking of body issues, the tabloids are reporting that you are dating fellow Grease-alum Lorenzo Lamas. Isnt that a lot of pressure from the man who determined who was Hot or Not?
[Laughing] Im so far from the hot chick anyway, so it doesnt matter. People like me for other reasons. A personality will never require Botox!
Im dying to know. Has he ever taken out his laser pen on you?
Im getting him on the other line to ask him what that means. I didnt watch the show. He said he gets asked all the time if he has one, but he doesnt! Its so funny cause he is such a warm and evolved mannot at all the guy with the laser pen!
You hit it big at 17. How do you think you wouldve handled success had the media been like it is today?
I would have hated it. I still get told, To have a hit record, you have to lose weight, hit the red carpet in a trendy dress, and date a young, hot actor. How about making great music?
Excellent question! When can we expect more great music out of you?
I recently met a fab writer/producer named Neal Pogue. He has worked with too many hot acts to nameGoogle him. He and I are collaborating and planning on turning some heads. So I am working on new stuff and as soon as I feel I have the undeniable hits, I will release it. I dont want to cash in on the kitsch factor and live off my past. I am still young and ready to compete with the it girls.
And in the meantime, you will be playing Nellie in the Fresno Grand Operas stage revival of South Pacific. What is your dream Broadway role?
Well, this is one of them. I can be caught many an afternoon alone in my house belting Cockeyed Optimist! But my dream is to revive Theyre Playing Our Song.
If you were to look into a crystal ball that tells the future, what is Deborah Gibson doing at 50?
Honeythats not that far off! I would say VEGAS!
OK, its late and I am going to let you go to bed, but before I do, theres something Ive got to know. Do you still have your hat collection, and whatever became of the infamous bolero-style hat?
Ha! Its in storage. I recently threw out a ton of clothing but I still kept all of my tour costumes. Im a sentimental fool!
For more information on Deborahs upcoming shows and appearances, visit www.deborah-gibson.com.