Despite having had a nearly 25-year (and counting) career in show business, singer Debbie Gibson is still full of youthful energy and excitement when talking about recent projects and what she has planned for the future — perhaps that is due in part to the fact that she had her first hit single and taste of fame when she was only 16 years old. The ever-vivacious Gibson is particularly excited about taking part in a benefit concert and cabaret show tonight here in San Francisco, “One Night Only: A Shrektacular Holiday Celebration,” which will also feature the cast of Shrek currently at the Orpheum Theatre, and raises funds for the Richmond/Ermet AIDS Foundation.
“Pretty much if I’m available, I can’t say no to this organization,” says Gibson, who has always been heavily involved with helping charitable groups throughout her career. “I really enjoy these intimate shows with solo theater performers, and it’s kind of a perfect fit for me — obviously I bring my pop persona to the table, but at the same time I’m part of the theater community, so it makes perfect sense really.”
The ‘80s pop chanteuse, famous for her initial hits such as “Only In My Dreams,” “Out of the Blue,” and “Electric Youth,” was one of the few stars of that time and genre who wrote and arranged much of her own material, which led to her successful forays into Broadway productions, and eventually into acting for film.
Her recent appearance in the cult B-movie Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus has also sparked a new run of interest for celluloid gigs, with Gibson happily looking forward to the release of a new SyFy Channel movie, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, which finds her teamed with another singer and actress who once vied for the same airwaves and video times as she did back in the 1980s — none other than Tiffany.
“[Mega Shark] was so bad it was good; this one is smart, kitschy, and campy, it’s sexy sci-fi horror, and it was so much fun to do,” enthuses Gibson. “The first one was done a lot on blue screen, and all that; for this one I was hanging from rope ladders, crawling in the swamp, and climbing buildings. It was actually quite an action movie in addition to being a sci fi movie. Throw in a little food fight between me and Tiffany and there you go!”
Gibson says that both actresses had fun playing on their supposed rivalry from their youth, and that they didn’t mind that some of the people behind the film may have had, er, some ulterior motives. “We were like, ‘what dirty old men at SyFy sat around [asking] how they could get Tiffany and Debbie Gibson to get whipped cream on each other?'"
Gibson is referencing a scene from the movie — which comes out next month — that was released early, showing a drawn-out, extended cat fight between the two involving smashed cake, wrestling in a river, and a hilarious reference to the title of one of their hit songs. At tonight’s special show, Gibson is planning on performing a new song, one she hopes will provide a new take on holiday tunes, and also on her supposedly squeaky clean image from her past.
“I wrote it about a year ago, and it’s a kind of a modern ‘Santa Baby,’ a sexy, jazzy, original Christmas song. It’s tongue in cheek, mocking myself, it’s called ‘The Naughty List’ — I’ve always been the good girl and I’d very much like to be on ‘The Naughty List’ for once!”
Mon/13, 8 p.m., $35-$65
Theatre 39, Pier 39, SF