Class of ’87

Rick Astley, Samantha Fox, Debbie Gibson and Tiffany activate for Quebec City’s Nostalgie 80

by LORRAINE CARPENTER

The ’80s is a decade that just won’t quit. Nostalgia is high, and promoters in Quebec City have put together a show to delight fans of the era’s top teen idols.

“We’re gonna take you by storm,” promises Samantha Fox (aka “Sam”). “We’ve not only got the band, we’ve got my four sexy dancers from England. I’m so excited.”

Ms. Fox, 42, is no stranger to the British tabloids—in the ’80s, she graduated from page-three girl on the payroll to sexy pop star stalked by paparazzi—and when she revealed in 2004 that she was in a long-term relationship with a woman, the rumours began flying again.

“My boobs are real, my face is real, I work out six times a week, I look great,” she states, defending herself against countless plastic-surgery claims. “It’s tomorrow’s fish-and-chip paper—you wrap it up and say goodbye.”

Ms. Fox’s return to la belle province may be somewhat bittersweet. Her 2006 album, Angel With an Attitude, was recorded in Montreal, then released by a local label that suddenly declared bankruptcy. During her subsequent tour, fans reported that the disc had never been stocked in stores. The record is now available on iTunes, and via her own Fox Records, a vehicle for her music and that of the up-and-coming bands she intends to sign. “I’m hoping, in my old age, to be producing and writing,” she says. “I can’t be singing ‘Touch Me’ when I’m 77, babes.”

Rick and roll

“Clearly, the Internet is a very strange place,” says Rick Astley, 44. “I’ve been Rickrolled myself, many times.” Astley’s Stock Aitken and Waterman-produced single “Never Gonna Give You Up” is at the heart of the YouTube phenomenon to which he refers—“rickrolling,” wherein disguised links to news footage direct viewers to Astley’s 1987 music video instead. Last year, an estimated 30 million people fell prey to this practical joke. Astley’s good sportsmanship led to his participation in a live Rickroll at last fall’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade in NYC. Shortly thereafter, he was voted Best Act Ever at the MTV Europe Music Awards, care of his online fan base. Perez Hilton accepted the award on his behalf.

“It’s been a laugh for me and my family, really,” he says. “This thing has a life of its own.”

Although Astley has released music sporadically over the past two decades, it’s been more of a lark than a career pursuit. Since 2007, he’s been rocking the international nostalgia circuit. “I have to admit, it pays well,” he says, “and it’s loads of fun. I cannot complain.”

The future is electric

“This is actually my first nostalgia gig,” says Debbie (aka Deborah) Gibson, 38. “Twenty years later, it’s kitschy and fun. It’ll be a give-the-people-what-they-want show.”

Between her work on and off Broadway, where she’s played such roles as Sally Bowles in Cabaret, Gibson has found time to pose for Playboy, release new music on her Web site, co-write a stage musical (The Flunky) and found Deborah Gibson’s Camp Electric Youth, which had its first two sessions in L.A. and NYC last year.

Gibson is currently working on a new album, music she compares to that of Fergie and Katy Perry. “I’ve always felt that there is that Tina Turner, round-two comeback moment for me,” Gibson says. “A lot of people are scared to say that out loud for fear it won’t happen, but I’m not because it is gonna happen. It’s a matter of the music being right, and the timing.”

“A lot of people don’t know this about me,” says Tiffany Renee Darwish, 37, “but I really am a gypsy.” As an underage pop singer, Tiffany made her name touring American malls, playing to a fanbase just slightly younger than she was, but she had already been performing country music across the U.S. since she was 10, and now intends to move to Nashville to revisit her roots. Yet she’s also had international success with dance music in recent years, and when theMirror contacted her last month, she was about to sing with the rock band Sin City Sinners in Las Vegas. “I probably shine best when I’m with a full band, out on the road with the boys, doing stuff that’s more singer-songwriter.”

She’s also been nagging Gibson to embark on a joint American tour, a logical step considering their common fanbase. (Tiffany also posed for Playboy, incidentally, so as to shed her mall-rat image.)

At the very least, Quebec City will see America’s ’80s sweethearts together, alongside their British contemporaries—Tiffany has shared a bill with Fox before, but never had the opportunity to hang out with any of these artists. “Whenever I was in a club situation, I was whisked in and whisked out because I was 15,” she recalls. “Finally, I get to party with everyone else!”

WITH DJ MADO LAMOTTE AT THE
COLISÉE PEPSI (250 WILFRID-HAMEL,
QUEBEC CITY), FRIDAY, APRIL 10, 8
P.M., $38.50–$98.50

For the complete article in the Montreal Mirror, click here

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