Very few female singers caught my heart in the 80s like Debbie Gibson. I was a shy, chubby, and awkward early teen and my taste in fantasy girlfriends usually remained in a safe zone. Although I thought Madonna was a major turn-on and was a naughty thought waiting to happen, the stupid little kid me also realized that Madonna would eat me alive and intimidate me like a bear to a rabbit.
Enter Debbie Gibson.
Debbie had a good girl persona. She seemed sweet and cute and was a girl that, if I was not a shy, awkward, and chubby early teen, I could totally get to go out with me to a movie. In fact one of my first ever girlfriends was named Christine and had a Debbie Gibson fetish (much like the more popular Madonna fetish) where she dressed like Debbie and bought all the Tiger Beat magazines, etc. That relationship ended after one date, but I still recall her ensemble of acid washed shorts over spandex, neon green sweater under acid washed “jeans” (denim) jacket, white tennis shoes with neon strings, and multitude of bright bandannas on her wrists. It was almost like the real thing.
The cover of Debbie’s first album “Out of the Blue” (right) was a mainstay in my life. I think my obsession with girls in ripped acid washed jeans came from staring at that album cover. And Whose Responsible for that bear with a watch? I indeed had the vinyl LP and the record stayed in the sleeve of a different album while the “Out of the Blue” album cover hung on my wall. I think it was the only female glamor that adorned my wall in my early teens. It was not exactly a shrine, I don’t have that kind of personality, but it sure did get stared at a lot.
I tended to enjoy the ballads of Gibson more than the dance songs. “Lost In Your Eyes,” and “Foolish Beat” were just the type of thing that made me feel her good girl sincerity in longing for a nice chap to hold her hand and pull out chairs for her. My crush probably reached the point of true adoration.
Gibson was linked with many of the other girly mall-pop artists of the late 80s. For some reason she is almost universally mentioned along the same lines at Tiffany. Although there is some surface similarities, what I now find that I respect about Gibson is that she actually wrote and arranged her own songs. Whatever the artistic merit of those songs are or are not, one has to admit that it is unusual for a pop product in a very abused genre to break away from the cover song and generic composed norm and actually write and arrange the hits that made her famous. It makes me believe that she got her whats her’s by her own will. Which is pretty cool.
Here she show her chops with a 1988 performance of ‘Lost In Your Eyes:’
I eventually moved on to other crushes and lost contact with the subject of my once undying adoration. While looking up information for this post I saw that Gibson moved from mostly dance pop to piano ballads and adult contemporary. A good move on her part because she was a proficient piano player and could write a tune. Plus the adult contemporary chart would be the home genre of some of her earlier fans. She also apparently went ginger. Not a bad movie either to separate from the acid wash and dye job look of the 80s – and it looked good on her. Apparently her success was sporadic on the a/c chart and – though she continued to release music independently – her sales and fame dwindled as is apt to happen to any marginal to decent pop artist.
So surprisingly, in 2005 at aged 35, Deborah Gibson posed nude for Playboy. That does not really mean much to me. I think Playboy is a pretty tasteful mag and what I’ve seen of their spreads tends to make me think that they tend to show instead of exploit or shock. It’s not a bad move career wise because folks love a little notoriety and indeed Gibson charted on the a/c in 2006 with a duet along side Jordan Knight (I think from New Kids on the Block without looking it up).
Ok, so it’s fine to do Playboy. But what the hell is this?
It looks like she got ran over by a Winnebago that was backing in to the trailer park. I hate to be cliche, but this was once the love of my early teen life. I mean, Christine! Cute! Acid Washed! Oh, yeah. Acid washed. We all know where that style went. Unfortunately it seems that Debbie followed.