By MIKE CHAIKEN
As soon as readers of The Observer heard via Facebook that an interview with 1980s pop star Debbie Gibson was imminent, the “likes” and comments began to rain down.
It was clear from the tone of the comments and the volume of “likes,” that Debbie Gibson—who gave the world songs such as “Only in My Dreams” and “Foolish Beat”—still held a near and dear place in the hearts of her fans.
When this Facebook tale was shared with Debbie in a phone interview—where she was warm and toasty in a tank top and shorts—she said she got all “teary-eyed.”
“To have that love and loyalty (from fans) is really amazing,” said Debbie, who will be part of the 80’s .Extravaganza concert at the Mohegan Sun on Friday night.
“The ‘80s was the last era of music fans to have that kind of loyalty,” said Debbie. It wasn’t until Taylor Swift arrived on the scene where that same sense of community among fans for their favorite artists has been able to reassert itself.
All that loyalty, said Debbie, “never fails to touch me and amaze me.”
When she arrived on the scene in the 1980s, Debbie was the focus of fan adoration for her own hits. But Debbie also was a fan of other people’s music when she was recording those memorable tracks.
Debbie said she dreamed of being an artist like Madonna, releasing hit songs every other year. “She started it all for all the pop princesses,” said Debbie of Madonna. “She was the queen.” Debbie’s adoration of Madonna even affected her own performance, she said. “You can hear her in the inflection in my voice.”
Debbie said she also was a fan of another 1980s musical icon.
Debbie shared a story about when she was younger and when she would fly on planes with her sister. The siblings had a shared Walkman, and they equipped it with a splitter that would allow them both to plug their headsets into the same cassette player. And as the plane taxied down the runway, their ritual was to listen to one particular song, whose driving beat provided the perfect soundtrack for their journeys.
“I Think We’re Alone Now” by Tiffany.
Other artists and tracks that found their way into Debbie’s headphones included Wham!— and George Michael, Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam’s “Head to Toe,” and Shannon’s “Let the Music Play.” (Lisa Lisa and Shannon happen to be on the bill at the Mohegan, as will be Tiffany.)
As for her fellow pop princess, Tiffany, Debbie lavished praise on her one time chart rival.
“She’s amazing,” said Debbie of Tiffany, who she now considers a friend. “She’s an incredible vocalist… I always tell her you can sing me under the table.” In a live setting, Debbie said Tiffany’s pop rock vocals just blows people away.
Besides Debbie, Tiffany, Lisa Lisa, and Shannon, the bill for the ‘80s Extravaganza features Andy Bell (of Erasure), The Pointer Sisters, Berlin, and Club Nouveau.
Of the acts on the bill, Debbie said she has long been a fan of Andy Bell. “He has an incredibly huge loyal following. Any time he plays, he sells out. He’s a great performer and vocalist.”
Debbie also said she loves The Pointer Sisters. “They’re just so classic… They have universal appeal… They’re still kicking it. They’re ageless.”
As for her own set at the Mohegan Sun show, Debbie said she will be performing for 30 minutes, putting the focus on the hits— including a remix she’s recorded of “Out of the Blue.” She’s also planning a surprise medley of other people’s hits from the 1980s.
Beyond her singing career, Debbie has kept busy on both stage and in film. (She even wrote a stage musical.)
This past year, however, Debbie said she had to slow down a bit for the sake of her health. Last year, she learned she had Lyme Disease. Given the diagnosis, she made a conscious decision to take it easy.
That said, Debbie wasn’t completely idle.
She continued to perform for Gay Pride events. (She counts the gay community among her most devoted fans.) She also did some shows with another 1980s vocalist, Rick Astley.
As for whether a new album is in the works, Debbie said she has been writing. And she said something may be in the works in terms of a new independently released album. In the meantime, she is considering releasing some tracks “from the vault” on her website to satiate the interest of her diehard fans.
Beyond the possible album, Debbie said fans should keep an eye out for a new movie on Up TV, “The Music in Me,” where she has the lead role. (There also is a new song of Debbie’s on the soundtrack.)
And for fans keeping an eye out for more of Debbie’s adventures with Mega Shark on SyFy, she noted that both she and Tiffany had been killed off in the movie series. But if the network can find a way to bring her back to once again take on Mega Shark— perhaps do a prequel or bring them back from the dead— she’d be there in a heartbeat.
And Debbie said she had an idea of how to take Mega Shark to the next level.
Maybe, the world needs “Mega Shark the Musical.”
And on the SyFy network, something like that wouldn’t be entirely “Out of the Blue.”
Debbie Gibson, and the 80s Extravaganza with The Pointer Sisters,: Berlin featuring Terri Nunn, Lisa Lisa, Andy Bell of Erasure, Tiffany, Club Nouveau and Shannon is at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville on Friday, Feb. 6. It is produced by The Commission Presents (www.thecommissionpresents.com). Show time is 8 p.m. Tickets are $48 and $68.
For more information, go to MoheganSun.com