February 01, 2012

Our Q&A with Culture Club partner & Celebrity Apprentice star Debbie Gibson

Some teen idols grow up and pretty much disappear, thrown out like one's Teen and Tiger Beat zines, never to be recycled, only briefly recalled on a VH-1 round-up show—if that.

Not Debbie Gibson. The onetime pop idol who wrote, sang and performed her own songs (take that, Tiffany!) has never really gone away. She's starred in various theater productions around the world — Beauty and the Beast on Broadway, Grease in London, as well as touring companies of Funny Girl and Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat — and appeared on TV shows like American Juniors and Skating With Celebrities. She's popped up on Deal Or No Deal, posed nude for Playboy and made a cameo in Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" video.

One reason Debbie endures? Perhaps it's because, unlike many artists who came to fame in the 80s, she refuses to denegrate the decade. Indeed, she outright embraces and endorses it—and her fans, new and old, love her for it. Last fall her supporters turned out in force to hear her sing her hits "Only in My Dreams" and "Shake Your Love" at the VIP reopening bash for NiteTables venue Culture Club, of which she's a partner.

And starting February 19, she vies for the title of Celebrity Apprentice on Donald Trump's hit NBC reality series—an offer she almost turned down! Read on to find out why in NiteTables' interview with the star:

NITETABLES: You're a partner in NYC's reopened Culture Club. How did you get involved?

DEBBIE GIBSON: Robert Watman, one of the owners, has been a friend for a long time and often booked me to perform there. I always felt more like a part of the family than just a hired artist and wanted to be involved on an ongoing and permanent basis! I thought NYC needed a place that was more about the music than flavor-of-the-moment hipster energy.

NT: It seems 80s music and culture are more popular than ever — even with people who weren't alive during the decade. Why do you think this is?

DG: The music rocked! It is melodic, timeless music, and that decade was carefree and spirited. We are in more difficult times now, and people want to escape.

NT: Speaking of which, did you see the Ferris Bueller-themed commercial for Super Bowl XLVI? Were you a Ferris fan? Do you have a favorite scene?

DG: I loved that movie, yes! I would say the scene where he rigged it so it seemed like he was sick in bed. Kids today could play hookie successfully if they studied that! Ha!

NT: Which other 80s flicks are among your all-time favorites and why?

DG: Anything John Hughes made, of course! Who did not relate to Molly Ringwald?!? I also loved Can't Buy Me Love.

NT: With a young Patrick Dempsey! Moving on: You donated some fun memorabilia to your booth at Culture Club, including one of your Bowler hats. If you could own any piece of 80s history, what would it be?

DG: Michael Jackson's glove! I own Liberace's all glass and mirrored piano, which is still surreal to me. My first live concert was Liberace at Westbury Music Fair. I was a peculiar little kid!

NT: At the reopening party for Culture Club, you sang several of your pop hits. Which remains your favorite and why? Do you ever listen to your old albums?

DG: I don't really listen to them often, but every now and then. I did recently hear "Silence Speaks a Thousand Words" from my Electric Youth album and thought, "Wow! When was I going through THAT angst?!?" Very serious for a teenager! I love hearing what little synth lines and percussion ad libs are there because I was always very detailed with the arrangements and production. My faves are probably "Lost in Your Eyes" and "Foolish Beat." Ballads stand the test of time.

NT: Culture Club is a huge draw for bachelorette parties — why do you think this is?

DG: Because girls just wanna have fun! But seriously, I would say that no guy is going to worry too much that their bride to be is out dancing to Debbie Gibson tunes. It is a safe fun place that brings everyone back to their youth!

NT: You'll soon be seen on Celebrity Apprentice. Did they come to you or do you request to be on the show? Tell us one thing we don't know about Donald Trump!

DG: They came to me, and I almost didn't do it. I was always one for doing my work, then going home. Having a camera on you all day is rather intense. Donald Trump came out to support me on my opening night in Les Miz on Broadway 20 years ago! He is a really nice guy and has always been a supporter of mine!

—Lori Majewski


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