Frisky Q&A: Tiffany Talks About Her New Tour And Her Lingering Fondness For Jean Jackets

I was already convinced that the coolest of girls had red hair, thanks to Pippi Longstocking. But then Tiffany exploded on the scene in 1987 with her monster hit, “I Think We’re Alone Now.” Tiffany was one of the first CDs I ever purchased and I listened to it on repeat for hours at a time. I even remember buying an acid washed denim jacket, just so I could look a little more like Tiffany, since my mom had strictly forbid me from dying my hair red.

Tiffany, of course, has a last name. It’s Darwish. And 24 years after her first mall tour, she is back on the road with her fellow ‘80s pop iconic, Deborah Gibson, whom she reconnected with while shooting the SyFy movie, Mega Python Vs. Gatoroid, available now on DVD. Only this time, Tiffany is not just a singer with a new album out—and yes, she does have a new one called Rose Tattoo—she’s also a wife and a mother of a 19-year-old. Yeah, that made me feel old, too.

After the jump, we sat down with Tiffany to talk about her tour, her new album, life, and her relationship to jean jackets these days.

It’s weird, I like jean jackets and when I see them on people, I’m like, “Cute!” But when I put one on, I feel … weird. I feel like if people see me and they know me, they’re gonna be like, “Poor thing, she’s still wearing her jean jacket.” It takes on a whole different meaning for me.

There’s so much going on for you!

A lot. Right now, it’s like “tour, tour, tour.” I’m just kind of like “Ahhhhh!” I’m a workaholic anyway, but then you take extra stuff on your plate, and I’m up at 6 a.m. and going to bed at 2 a.m. I wake up in the middle of the night and have a sketch pad next to me so I can go, “And don’t forget this, and don’t forget this. Okay, go back to bed.” That’s what I was doing last night. My husband was like, “You are getting into weird land.”

Do you remember the first time you met Deborah?

Actually, I really don’t. A lot of that was kind of a blur for me. We were always thrown together on the red carpet. I actually have pictures—I have like everything from back in the day because my dad was so diligent about every moment of my career. But it was a whirlwind. You’re being pulled and tugged and on red carpets and there’s tons of pictures. I remember more than anything that, as we toured around the country separately, we’d leave little notes for each other. I would say, “Oh this hotel is really great,” or “There’s a Hard Rock Café down the street. Check it out.” We’d give little tips to each other. But we never did a show together, so we never really had a lot time to really get to know each other.

How did you reconnect as adults?

Doing “Mega Python vs. Gatoroid,” our silly, cheesy Syfy movie. That’s really how this all came to be. I’ve always wanted to do [a movie]. I’m a big sci-fi fan but did I ever think I’d get the chance? No. That’s a stretch. That’s not something you’d think of Tiffany the singer doing. So I was thrilled when I got the opportunity. I’m pretty goofy. I love martial arts and I was always a tomboy at heart. I used to be that kid in the backyard, pretending monsters were coming to get me and climbing trees. So it’s cool that in my adult life, I got to do that.

What was filming the big fight scene like?

It was a lot of fun. It was definitely something we had to do in one take, so it was: “Just go for it. Use as much of the cake as you can!” Deb and I got a kick out of it because it was definitely for those people that think we have a rivalry. Hopefully, we put that to bed with a good catfight.

What did you think seeing it on screen?

When I saw the edited version I was like, “Wow, there’s a lot of boobs there. What kind of film is this?” I had to sit down and watch it with my son—he’s going to be 19 this year. He was like, “Okay, I get the whole gator/python thing, but you never told me you were going to be wrestling in mud!” I was like “Elijah, what do you expect from my world? It can never just be straightforward and normal.”

How did the tour come about?

I was out working on my album and things were really plugging away for me. And then the phone call came asking, “Would you do a tour with Deborah?” At first I was like, “Gosh, I’d love to—but I don’t know how I would make that work. I already have tour dates and a lot going on. And I know Deb’s kind of busy.” So we decided to do a mini tour together. It’s a celebration of ‘80s music. Obviously, [we] still sing the hits, so there’s reminiscing. I’m not running away from being a teen pop star—I’m still celebrating that. Then I get to do new music at the end. We designed a show that celebrates who we are as individuals. I’m definitely much more of the rocker chick. Even though I was the girl-next-door, my influences have always been Stevie Nicks and John Mellencamp, really rocker-country artists. The show tells a story really of who we are and why our new music sounds the way it does. It’s kind of like the Debbie-Tiffany musical inspiration package. [Deborah and I just] kind of fit together. And the summer—it’s a good time to reminisce.

Where did the album name Rose Tattoo come from?

I have a rose tattoo. I was at dinner with my husband at the time I was naming the album. I wanted something that was me. I was just thinking and thinking and I looked down at my tattoo and I was like, “Rose Tattoo.” I thought it was kind of cool and wondered if anyone else had used that. So I Googled it and no one had. I started saying it to a few friends and they were going, “Oh that’s a cool name.” Then I remembered, the first place I ever had a reoccurring show—I was 12 at the time—was a small little club in Los Angeles called Rose Tattoo.

Wait, you were 12?

[Laughs] Yeah. I went on a journey to Nashville at age 10, trying to get a record deal, but everyone said, “You’re too young. We’re not really interested.” So I went back to California and started pursuing producers and opportunities in Los Angeles. People were like, “Well, if you wanna be discovered you gotta get headshots and go on TV commercials.” My parents didn’t know any different, so they signed me up for everything under the sun and I’m a ham and I wanted to do it. I met my musical director who said, “The country thing is great, but country in LA isn’t as prominent, so let’s branch out. You’ve gotta sing classics.” [Rose Tattoo] had me every weekend get up and perform a mini show. I couldn’t stay in the club because I was only 12, but that was the start for me of being a professional. That show was a growth spurt for my career and showed me what the music industry really entails. So it all really came for circle with Rose Tattoo.

What do you think will surprise people about your new music?
All the reviews have been good, thank goodness. But I think that people are kind of shocked that I can write songs that are meaty. “Feel the Music” is a little tongue-in-cheek, but then I can turn around and write a song like “He Won’t Miss Me,” that is a very heartfelt ballad. This album—it’s honest, all the way around. I think that vocally, I’m singing probably the best I ever have in my life. The lyrics that I wrote are from experiences. Even “Feel the Music.” I’m married—I’ve been married most of my life. I’ve been divorced and remarried. Definitely I look at some of my girlfriends who aren’t married and/or haven’t been married and they still have freedom to go out and own it. When I was writing about this girl in “Feel the Music,” that was about going out and knowing that you’re special and can still turn a head. I think that’s something that everyone can relate to, for girls and guys at all ages and seasons of our lives.

Are people surprised that you do country music now?

Definitely, I get comments like, “Country? What’s making you do country?” But there’s a whole back story that once they hear it, they go “Now I get it.” I always wanted to do country. I loved being on the road in other countries and being a teenage pop star. I’m thankful that it happened. But now I’m on the next step of my life. I saw myself twirling around at 9-years-old being a country singer so I’m just going back to what my original dream was. That doesn’t mean that I lived a fantasy life or that I had to compromise or that I hated my career or anything like that. I’m very grateful and I’ve enjoyed all of it. I think that the success of that career is what’s allowing me to change gears now and to do stuff with a new sound.

I was a huge fan of yours in the ‘80s. What do you think made teenage girls connect to you so intensely?

“I Think We’re Alone Now” is, again, an honest song. Besides having a good beat to it that sounded cool on the radio, it’s something that every teenage girl kind of went through. You dated somebody that maybe your parents didn’t like or you’re talking to a boy that your girlfriends are like, “Really?” Having that time alone with them—it was that flirting, that innocence. That’s what “I Think We’re Alone Now” is. We didn’t really know what we were doing, how to really date, and we were just going with the flow a little bit. Having a song like that, I’ve had so many people come back and say, “That reminds me of my first boyfriend.” That first heartbreak is terrible and I don’t think it’s something you ever get used to. That song continues to go out there and speak to people. I had the opportunity to record songs from great songwriters right off the bat, so now as a songwriter myself, I take it very seriously and I would love for somebody to re-record one of my songs.

What did you think when you first heard The Shondells’ original version of “I Think We’re Alone Now?”
I was like, “Okay, not so hip, but all right.” Now I love it. I play tambourine, so I love all the tambourines on that record. And the way they sing the vocals is very choppy and just has an attitude to it. It’s funny because when that song comes on the radio, if it’s me, I’m like, “Okay cool.” But if it’s Tommy James and the Shondells, it’s like, “Oh cool!”

How did the idea to tour shopping malls come about?
When I was playing clubs as a young teenager, it just wasn’t connecting. I’d be playing and I’d just see eyes glazing over. MCA Records just wasn’t sure what to do with me because I was so young. When I was presented with the idea of the mall tour, I thought it was brilliant because that’s where I really was hanging out. When I wasn’t in the recording studio, I was at the mall with girlfriends. We used to go to record stores, watch guys, share a soda and pretty much hang out all day.

What was the first album you remember getting?

It was “Saturday Night Fever.” Actually, it was given to me for a birthday gift from a guy that worked for my dad and he was hot! So it was like, “Yes!”
Have you ever considered another hair color?

Oh, I’ve been other hair colors. I’ve been blonde. I look really terrible as a blonde. It’s so sad. My mom is a blonde, a lot of girls in my family are blonde, but no—it’s not good on me. I’ve been like a dark cherry, almost purple. Then I’ve been a dark, deep, rich black. I actually like myself like that, but no one else does. I’ve messed around with different colors of red and Manic Panicked myself out. I get really bored very quickly and hair color is something I’ve experimented in. I still do but there’s something about being a redhead as I’ve gotten older. I see so many people coloring their hair and wanting red. My personality is really that of a redhead, so I own it. A lot of my favorite people are redheads and we’re very unique.

What do you think about ’80s fashion coming back?
I think it’s a blast. I buy a magazine and I love a lot of it. Some of the neon colors and leg warmers—not so much—but I love the bold prints and the wild stuff because I think it’s cool. The fashion was something I always loved about the ‘80s. Other than Lady Gaga and a few other people now, music isn’t really that daring in fashion. More scandalous, but not as daring. I love that people like Boy George and Adam Ant and Madonna could all be a little different. You could be whatever you wanted to be. I was very plain—jeans, t-shirts, big hoop earrings and bad hair. I didn’t know anything about fashion. When I went and took my picture for my album cover, there was no stylist. I was 14 when I took that picture. I was just a girl from Norwalk and that was relatable. I think a lot of my fans were just girls that liked music and they could afford a jean jacket.

What denim item is your favorite these days?

It’s weird, I like jean jackets and when I see them on people, I’m like, “Cute!” But when I put one on, I feel … weird. I feel like if people see me and they know me, they’re gonna be like, “Poor thing, she’s still wearing her jean jacket.” It takes on a whole different meaning for me.

I think the biggest thing that I wear now is just jeans. I really love flared jeans. The more beat up the jean, the better. I go to vintage stores and find them and I’m like, “These jeans can talk to me. They’ve probably lived a life.”

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