Gary James' Interview With

She was a teen idol in the 1980s who knocked off the King Of Pop himself, Mr. Michael Jackson out of the number one spot on the album charts. Her debut album, which sold over 6 million copies, included two number one singles, "I Think We're Alone Now" (a remake of the Tommy James hit) and "Could've Been". Also on the album was "I Him Standing There", which was a Top 10 hit. Her second album, "Hold An Old Friend's Hand" went to Double Platinum and included the Top 10 hit "All This Time". By the early 1990s she wanted to take a break. She returned ten years later, in 2001, with the release of the CD "The Color Of Silence". And then there was 2002. She decided to bare all, literally in the pages of Playboy magazine to reinvent her career. We are talking about Tiffany.

Q - Tiffany, since you appeared in the pages of Playboy back in April 2002, how has your life changed? Did it in fact revitalize your career?

A - Well, I did Playboy for a strategic reason. I don't think it's a bad thing to be connected to the Playboy name. They treated me incredible and I don't regret doing it as a woman who thought, "Oh, that's cool, at 30, attractive enough to be in Playboy." That's kind of a notch under your belt kind of thing. It's definitely a self esteem builder because some of the most beautiful women have been in that magazine. So for me as a woman, that was an amazing thing. As an artist I didn't really get taking my close off to necessarily sell my music. But I have such a problem, maybe more in America where there's that stigma of child, young artist. Most people don't recover from that. For me, I found that people were going, "Gosh, her new music is amazing. If it was anybody else than Tiffany, it would be number one right now." I just thought I cannot be ashamed of my past. I don't regret it. "I Think We're Alone Now" was a big dance hit, but there's so much more to me. I tried booking things like The View , a very credible show, to get the word out that I had my new album. I was doing a very successful college tour. And again. I couldn't get attention based on my music. Here I do Playboy and I cannot tell you how the phones started ringing. So it was a real experience or me.

Q - So, the people on The View said, "Let's get Tiffany on the show!"?

A - Oh, yeah. I was on in a heartbeat. If anyone watched The View, I actually made the comment, not to be rude, but to say exactly that. I think it was Star Jones who asked me, "You don't mind people going I know about your music now because I saw you in Playboy?" To be honest with you, no. I tried booking that show for a year now and couldn't get on this show, any show. If Playboy was an avenue for me to go, yes, I did Playboy. That shoot was beautiful. It's nothing to be ashamed of, but I sing! (Laughs). That's the avenue I took and it worked at that time.

Q - Did you approach Playboy or did Playboy approach you?

A - You know, I really don't know how that whole courting process started. It just kind of came about. It had been there, the opportunity, for quite some time. It wasn't like I ever said "Absolutely not!" I just didn't really ever consider it. You have to be pretty confident to do that. (Laughs) It kind of came about during the working of this record. I thought it was the perfect avenue to break that image. I thought, you know what? That will definitely do it!

Q - When David Cassidy and Donny Osmond released a new CD in the past few years, neither one of them had to pose nude to boost CD sales. Do you think a double standard exists here?

A - I don't necessarily think it's a gender issue. Probably if Donny Osmond said he was releasing his album five years ago, I'm sure because of his name and his past he probably had a lot to overcome. When you start off in the industry and you establish yourself as a teen actor or a teen singer, the transition is very hard. I give credit to people like Britney (Spears) and Christina (Aguilera) who are making the transition. But they are making the transition with extreme shock value. I think today's mindset is a little different than maybe fifteen years ago. There is no possible way that myself or Deborah Gibson or New Kids could've been putting out videos like they are now. If Jordan Knight (New Kids) would've broken off and done what Justin Timberlake is doing, the sexy videos, it wouldn't have worked at that time. It was about being wholesome. You have to do something to really break that image because for what ever reason it kind of turns around and bite you in the industry.

Q - Rather than release a CD with the name Tiffany on it, could you have used the name Tiff?

A - We thought about that for some time, doing a band name or a different name or doing no name putting out music. How do you do interviews then? My whole life becomes a lie then because there's a whole past I won't be able to talk about. Again, I'm not running from anything and I shouldn't have to. I don't think it's fair for me or my fans. So, I thought Tiffany, that's who I am. I was born that way. Music is my life. That's my passion. I'm going to continue to do the things that make me happy. I think I've learned and I'm still learning that yes, everybody wants to say they hope their music will be heard on the radio and would be accepted and liked, but sometimes these things happen on different levels. So for me, as long as I can keep working in the industry and growing as an artist and making choices on my own as much as I can, I'm finding that more fulfilling right now than maybe instant credibility, because I have that. It's so hard to maintain that. It's like you are going at such a rapid pace that you do have to keep fighting for your space. I don't know as a person right now that I want all of that. I'm a mom. I'm multifaceted. I'm a songwriter. I want to do more acting. For me, I just tried to plug away and keep a balance and kind of let everything else fly. I'm hoping to be doing more touring. I've actually started doing that last year after the Playboy stuff.

Q - Due to play an instrument?

A - I don't. I play very bad guitar, barely.

Q - How then do you write songs?

A - Well, actually I just hear melodies in my head. The writers who work with me have to be so wonderful and patient. (Laughs). I'm a lyricist mainly. Either I'll work with somebody who already has a track and I'll write to that or there are songs like "If Only", "As I Am" where I really can't tell you how it happened. I just hear it. It is frustrating, that's why I learned chord structure on piano and guitar, so that I can sit and at least direct somebody. When I didn't have any concept, it was really hard. For me, I heard distinctive melodies, but I couldn't instruct another musician. I'd love to learn to really play, but I have to say that's a discipline. I'd have to practice. It's not like my music vocally. I open my mouth and my voice happens. It's a blessing. It's a gift. There's no thought behind it. Anything else I'm having to learn. You gotta practice!

Q - And you probably don't have the time.

A - Not really. I find a lot of time that I have to myself right now, I prefer reading or writing songs. I'm kind of learning at 32 to enjoyed the journey rather than the instant gratification. So, practicing the guitar, I want to pick it up and play. (Laughs). I'm having to learn the process of learning, and that takes some time. It's not an instant thing for me.

Q - In Playboy, you mentioned you had personal problems with your family and management. Have you resolved those problems?

A - Well yeah, because a lot of those people are no longer in my life. The music business is a very powerful, strong, shady business. There's a lot of untruthful people out there everywhere. I don't know why. Maybe the morals are a little loose, so people take advantage a little more. Artists are not known to be people that are necessarily accountants, lawyers, well informed business people. So we hire people like that. There's always people out there who are going to take advantage of you. Now, I advise people if they are going to get in the industry, to learn something about the industry and how it runs. Now, you have a lot of educated artists who understand how the label runs and understand marketing. It's a lot more now than just grabbing a microphone and getting up to sing.

Q - Whose idea was it to launch your career singing in shopping malls?

A - It was the label's idea. They had signed to me and were ready to release the album. Then they realized, where do we promote young 15-year-old girls? We can't go to clubs. I tried doing some dance clubs mostly on the East Coast and it was hard because it wasn't my age group. I had to rush into the club, sing, and get out because alcohol was served. I was a minor. That was not my audience. Out of a desperation act, the person who was in charge of my project, Steve Moyer, who had children, really literally one day just thought "malls." I think his daughter was asking to go to the mall. He thought, we'll go to malls! That's where her peers hang out. That's where normal kids hang out.

Q - My favorite story is while you were singing, people would watch and say at the end of the song, "What are you doing?"

A - Oh, yeah. Why are you doing this? Do you need attention? What's wrong with you? I had all of that. The first couple of weeks of the mall tour was really a disaster. A lot of the mall security wasn't informed. We got booted off. I don't blame Zale's Jewelers. They are trying to cater to a certain clientele. There's this little girl squawking in front of their store, dancing and singing, making noise. They weren't aware that this was going to happen. So we had a lot of upset store owners. It started taking off and I really give the media, the journalists, the radio, credit for the mall tour more than anything aside from just the fans. Had they not been able to hear the song on the radio, they wouldn't have known there's this girl you can go see for free at the mall.

Q - Did you like being well-known? Did you like all the attention you received?

A - Oh, yeah. I didn't expect it. Did I like being flocked over? I like that people like me, liked my music and I like people. So, I just like to sing. What came along with that was girls that wanted to know what I like to eat, what clothes I liked to wear. I really look at them more than anything as just my friends. I never looked at them as my fans. I was just a kid. We were kind of all just getting through it together. They just like my music and thought I was cool.

Q - Now see, I would've thought all the attention on stage is nice, but offstage it would get to you.

A - It didn't really get to me. I didn't know any different. I didn't really have anything to compare it to. I think it was maybe a little harder when I went back to school, like in between the mall tour when I started to get famous and I would try to be in regular school friend situations. A lot of people would be jealous or a lot of people would be friends that were never my friends before. I've been pretty lucky that I was pretty keen to that. I think a lot of times I felt coming home from the mall tour, that I didn't fit in with my own personal friends. As a teenager, things move so fast. People break up one minute, then they are back together. Everything is so dramatic. I would be gone for two or three weeks and I would come back with my own friends and it would be an awkward moment to kind of fit back in. I felt like I'm out of the loop. So after a while, it felt more comfortable for me really to be out on the road.

Q - Were you in public school?

A - I was in private school.

Q - No one pushed you out on stage, did they? Your mother didn't push you on stage, did she?

A - Oh, no. I wanted to sing. No, you can't shut me up. (Laughs).

Q - How crazy did life get for you when you had three number one hits?

A - People find out where you live. People stand outside your house. You have people who have opinions on your life, who want to know about your family, want to dissect. It's on all levels. I don't think there's anyone who can really prepare themselves for fame. It's the people who are your real close friends that keep you grounded. It happens very fast. All of a sudden you are so popular and every TV show wants you and every radio station. You see your face plastered everywhere. It's a great feeling, but you don't have your own privacy. You have to learn to balance that. I think that takes years sometimes. I see people like Sally Field, maybe Nicole Kidman. These kind of people seem like they have a handle on it. But that took some time. Being on stage is such a high. When you are coming down from that, I've learned to do a meet-and-greet afterword and then maybe have some friends after. Really, after that moment is gone and if you are just thrown in a hotel room, for some people, especially me as a teenager, that was such a high and a low.

Q - Did you tour the world?

A - Oh, yeah. Everywhere pretty much. Up until two years ago I had never been to Hawaii. I had never been to Jamaica, normal vacation spots. But I've been to England extensively and all throughout Europe. All throughout Asia. Spent a lot of time in Asia, mostly in Japan; places like Taiwan as well. Then the United States, I was always on a plane somewhere. Between 15 and 18 I was pretty much on the road. I wasn't really in LA that much at all. I think at 18, after that second tour, I kind of got a little burnt out. I just wanted a break.

Q - What would you like to see happen at this stage of your career?

A - I would like to continue to tour. I want to grow as a musician. That's like the most important to me. So that means I want to become a better songwriter. My goal was never really to become a producer, but I do want to learn how to produce more than what I do now. I want to learn to play more of an instrument and just grow as a musician. It just interests me. This is my life. Music is my passion. I love music. All kinds of music. I'd like to try singing in different languages at one point.

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