Debbie Gibson vs. Tiffany: Inside The Supposed Rivalry Between The Pop Stars

The ’80s teen stars have long been pitted against each other. What's really behind the beef?

Debbie Gibson had “Only in My Dreams.” Tiffany had a hit cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Gibson donned her signature black hat, while Tiffany sported her trademark bright red locks.

Both teen pop stars rose to fame in the ’80s, when big hair, ripped jeans and neon reigned supreme. During the height of their popularity, they had competing singles on the charts.

So naturally, these two starlets were rivals, right? Not so fast. Contrary to popular belief, Gibson said, there has never been any beef between them.

“Who had time to not get along? We were both doing our own things. We were focused. We were on the road,” Gibson told HuffPost at Build Series. “And if we did cross paths, which was usually at a ‘Top of the Pops’ or somewhere in Europe or whatever, we always kind of bonded over the fact that we were two of really a handful of girls … there were a few of us that were super-young doing it at the time, but we kind of would look at each other and go, ‘How are you doing? How are you holding up? You good? I’m good.’ So I think we had a bond.”

The two were too busy to worry about any rivalry, she said.

“We didn’t have time to be best friends,” Gibson said. “There was just no time, but we always had a connection. And we certainly weren’t rivals. I was always super-supportive of her career.”

Tiffany and Debbie Gibson in a scene from “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.” Contrary to popular belief, there has
Tiffany and Debbie Gibson in a scene from “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid.” Contrary to popular belief, there has never been any beef between them, Gibson told HuffPost.

After they appeared in the 2011 movie “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid,” Gibson and Tiffany finally got the chance to spend time together; they’ve have kept in touch ever since. This month, they are co-headlining a show in Singapore.

To this day, some people confuse the two of them, which figures in Gibson’s new Hallmark movie, “Wedding of Dreams.” Loosely based on her life, it follows her 2016 film, “Summer of Dreams.” She said she had been going on auditions for a while before landing the lead role in “Summer.” 

“For years, I’d got to meetings in LA, and my dad would even say, ‘You know, you’re always going to these meetings. What ever comes of these meetings?’ And I’m like, ‘I know.’ But you kind of have to go. So I got so used to people saying ‘no’ that when Hallmark actually said ‘yes,’ it was such an amazing surprise,” she said. “And then it was such a big hit when it resonated with — I think a lot of children of the ’80s watch Hallmark — but even beyond that, I’m now running into older women who have no idea of my musical past, and they say, ‘I saw you play in that show ‘Summer of Dreams.’ It’s so much fun to have that new audience as well.”

Debbie Gibson in “Wedding of Dreams,” which is loosely based on her life.
Debbie Gibson in “Wedding of Dreams,” which is loosely based on her life.

Gibson took an idea for a sequel Hallmark. The producers went for it, and the follow-up will premiere on Sept. 8. In the movie, her character, Debbie Taylor, faces some tough choices amid her busy career and new relationship. It’s not too much of a stretch from Gibson’s life.

“In the last decade or so, I really started thinking about birthdays and New Year’s Eve. New Year’s Eve is a big performance night, and it’s like, ‘Wait, I have a partner I want to spend New Year’s Eve with now, so maybe I should do that. I haven’t done that yet,’” said Gibson, who has been dating Rutlege Taylor, a doctor, since 2008. “So I did make those decisions and put those things first a lot more ... And now the pendulum is swinging back, and there is more career infusion all of a sudden. You need that … I’ve always been fired up by my creative endeavors.”

Those creative endeavors started at a young age for Gibson, who released her debut album, “Out of the Blue,” in 1987 at the age of 16. She’s still the youngest female writer, producer and performer to have a No. 1 Billboard single, with “Foolish Beat.”

Gibson, sporting her signature black hat, performs in Chicago in 1988.
Gibson, sporting her signature black hat, performs in Chicago in 1988.

“When I first started, being a female writer-producer was something that wasn’t happening — and then being a teenager on top of it,” she said. “So I felt like I had to arm myself with that much more knowledge. I almost had to show off, like, ‘Oh that’s B flat, minor 7 chord there, not a 6.’ Or whatever, because the boys’ club needed to know that I knew what I was talking about.”

Meanwhile, Gibson is still waiting for someone to top her.

“All you young girls out there who are on GarageBand doing your thing, come on, beat my record,” said Gibson, who remarked how impressed she is with today’s musical talent.

“I was watching the VMAs and was going, ‘What’s cooler than being a rock star?’ And I don’t feel like that kind of rock star. Like I watch that, and I go, ‘That is a whole art form.’ Like wearing that couture outfit and having that groundedness in the midst of a circus atmosphere,” she said. “I’ve never been really comfortable in that. It’s a lot of energy and a lot of stimulation. When I watch people breeze into that situation … I can only dream of sounding that calm in a concert.”

Lately, Gibson has been working on new music and helping compose a couple of musicals. She’s also writing and serving as a musical supervisor on her own musical.

Until then, this rock ’n’ roll thing will never get old, she said.

“I still think it’s cool.”

Check out the full Build Series interview below.