Deborah Ann "Debbie" Gibson was a teen pop sensation in the '80s with hits like "Only in My Dreams," "Electric Youth" and "Lost in Your Eyes." Gibson recently showed her support of the gay community at Chicago Pride Fest by performing live. Windy City Times caught up with her during a hectic day in L.A. to talk about how she shows her pride.
Windy City Times: Hello, Deborah. Great to see you at these events for Pride weekend! You are having a busy day today!
Deborah Gibson: OMG, I was out of town for Rhode Island Pride. I am in the middle of moving and only in town three days. I am doing photo shoots and press. It's a little crazy.
WCT: You are shooting [ anti- ] Prop 8 photos today. Tell me about that.
DG: There's a photographer, Adam Bouska, doing a photo campaign that's potentially a coffee-table book and a gallery show. A lot of celebrities have done it so far like Ashlee Simpson, Fran Drescher and Pussycat Dolls. Everyone's in a white T-shirt with a piece of tape over their mouths.
WCT: You are very involved with the gay community now. What motivated you to do this?
DG: I have always been involved, always. In fact, when my first single came out, I was only 16 years old; I would play a teen club, a straight club and a gay club. I did that four nights a week for nine months. So at 16 years old I was introduced to the gay community and I was a little white-bread girl from Long Island! [ Both laugh. ] I learned very early that I would do the teen club and the teenagers would act cool, I would do the straight club and it was like I was interrupting their evening of drinking, I could hardly wait to get to the gay club because that's where they appreciate the music. I have always had that love of the gay community.
WCT: Well, the gay fans stay with you for so long.
DG: What I love about the gay community, as a whole, is loyalty factor and the open-mindedness. I do a lot of Atlantis Gay Cruises as well as gay prides for the last 15 years, and I love that I can do my pop music, my piano ballads and my Broadway stuff, too. They don't try to pigeonhole me. In a concert, when you do Broadway the audience can be very confused, stick to one niche and put you in a box. I feel a freedom and openness when I perform in front of a gay audience. They don't want you to hand them a lip-synced performance or phone it in. I get to really use my Broadway chops and give them that kind of caliber performance. At the same time, they want to party and I give them that too. For some reason it's a natural fit.
WCT: I am sure with starring in so many musicals that it broadened your gay fan base. Any plans for more musicals?
DG: I am working on one that I am a composer and co-lyricist on. It is called The Flunky and I wrote it with Jimmy Van Patten, who is Dick Van Patten's son. It's funny because I did Cabaret in New York and I have been so particular about my theater choices after that. It is easy to do Grease again but I don't need to be playing high school in my 30s. Last year I got to surprise myself when I did The King and I; Rogers and Hammerstein is not really my style but they wanted me to update it. They wanted more punch and more sexual tension between Anna and the King. I said, "Okay then I am you're girl!" I fell in love with it because it was rich. Anything that is rich I can dig into and never get bored eight times a week. Cabaret is the role that I would do in a 200-seat theater in Boise, Idaho. It's the kind of role that you can do into your 40s, which I am pushing.
WCT: Well, you look amazing.
DG: Thank you. I work at it like everyone else.
WCT: You just did a movie that was at Cannes called Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus. How did you get involved in sci-fi?
DG: My agent called me and wanted some footage for my reel. He said, "This was so under the radar and no one is ever going to see it." It was a two-week shoot, very low-budget and my acting sucked in it. There were days we shot 21 pages; on real movies they shoot, like, four. I never imagined it would get 2 million hits on the trailer. It amuses me.
WCT: Tiffany was promoting a film at Cannes during the same time. Isn't that ironic?
DG: We were both in Quebec at the same time. We did an '80s nostalgic concert with Rick Astley, who I love. I actually accompanied Tiffany on piano and it was so cool, because we have never shared the stage and I never wanted to do that in any cheesy way but this was the perfect time with a 12,000-seat arena. It was so much fun and she is my buddy. It was surreal and cool to be part of the band playing with her. The audience got a kick out of it.
WCT: The media still likes a good pop-music catfight with singers today such as Britney and Christina. Any advice for them?
DG: Ignore it all! Tabloids shows are like candy. They can be fun to tune into but the problem is ninety percent of the country believes its all true.
Missed Chicago Pride Fest? Visit www.deborah-gibson.com and find out about other upcoming performances.