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Woo-hoo! Monday is the first day of camp for those attending Deborah Gibson’s Camp Electric Youth. Geared for those ages 7-17, the students are immersed in performing arts classes for ten days.

“It’s basically not only to teach kids about singing, dancing and acting, but also the mental side of the business, too, and how to emotionally navigate being a young performer,” she tells me. “There will also be courses for the parents involved so that they can learn the business end and how to look out for their child’s emotional well-being. This is my idea, and I really love kids. I want to mentor.”

98 Degrees singer Jeff Timmons, Wayne Brady and Dancing With The Stars finalist Marissa Jaret Winokur will also make appearances.

In this interview, Deborah, 37, talks about dealing with stardom at a young age.

How is fame different for today’s stars than it was for you?
The obvious is the Internet. You can’t make a move without people knowing. You can’t make a mistake without people knowing. I have no skeletons in my closet. I don’t think I made any major mistakes, but that’s my point. I don’t think I did. But people can capture any little thing and make something of it, and I think that’s really daunting. It doesn’t allow for much room for kids to be kids. That’s probably the biggest thing. The paparazzi.

It’s like I don’t know which came first — the chicken or the egg. On one hand, the paparazzi is more present. On the other hand, I didn’t give them anything to write about or follow. Where were they going to follow me? To the skating rink in Long Island? I was living such an innocent, true, young person’s life that I wasn’t feeding them, but they weren’t as present either.

So now it’s become a combination of kids wanting to grow up too quick and the paparazzi being right there.

So many child stars are getting into trouble. Do you think starting out at a young age is a good thing or a bad thing?
It’s definitely not for everybody. I would never say it’s good or bad, it’s just simply not for everybody. And it’s not for everybody’s parents either. The parenting is where it really comes in to play. I’m lucky my parents never got more caught up in it than me.  I never got caught up in it at all, but you see some of these parents who are enjoying the fame and the perks even more than the kids are, which is very scary, because kids need parents to be solid and to be just parents.

I definitely think there are some people cut out for it. Neil Patrick Harris is a friend of mine. He’s a prime example of a survivor. He’s a survivor. He was always a real actor and a real singer. Kids who are in it from the right reasons, who have a passion for it, who have a work ethic at a young age, will be OK. But the kids who get in it because they simply want to be famous to be famous, those are the ones who get into trouble.

Miley Cyrus got into trouble for Vanity Fair. What’s your take?
On one hand, it’s a big deal out of nothing, but on the other hand it’s a brilliant example of … parents cannot leave their kids alone at 15 and assume they can make adult decisions. That’s the lesson that every parent and kid can take away from it.

The picture itself I don’t think is that awful or scandalous. She’s showing her back. But on the other hand, I have a fifteen-year-old niece, and I couldn’t imagine my fifteen-year-old niece being comfortable. She barely wears makeup.

This is again a case where a kid is in the business and being treated like an adult. Miley employs people — and I was that age and employing people so I can understand it. People really do forget that emotionally she’s 15 and you’re not prepared to deal with the ramifications that come from such a photo or the male attention that comes from such a photo. That’s the bigger issue.

Your camp is called Electric Youth, and you also had a perfume called Electric Youth. What’s your favorite celebrity fragrance these days?
I don’t have any celebrity fragrance. One that I use is Victoria’s Secret Love because it’s just fresh and it’s kind of like a new version of Electric Youth. It’s kind of fruity. [Laughs] I don’t like perfumey kinds of musky perfumes.

 

Camp Electric Youth begins Monday.

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