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Happy birthday to Deborah Gibson, my childhood hero. I figured if she could be a teenage singer-songwriter, why couldn’t I be a tweenage novelist? I had a pen pal ad in her fan club magazine, DGIF, saying “I’m a 13-year-old dedicated and devoted Debbie Gibson fan” and a major highlight of my childhood was when someone said I looked like her while I was shopping at this store called Afterthoughts at Chapel Hill Mall in Akron, Ohio. (It could’ve been the black hat.) I went to all her concerts, and her albums were the soundtrack to my middle school years…

All things considered, just imagine my sheer excitement the day Deborah came to the office to congratulate OK! on its best-selling issue, which featured her panic attacks and Eva Longoria’s wedding. I raced into the office – of course, there was mega traffic — and walked in when her publicist and her mom, Diane, introduced me to Deborah in the office lobby. Entertainment Tonight was filming, so I brought this super-ecstatic photo of a 19-year-old me meeting Deborah for the first time. When the cameras were rolling, Deb asked if I had the Electric Youth perfume. I did! Then, we had to do it over because her microphone was messed up. She gave me an autographed CD on camera. Hilarious! The strawberry shortcake cake arrived, and we got pictures. Deborah was like “we brought the party to you.” I missed the Hairspray press junket for this, and thank goodness. Deb said she wanted to stick around at the magazine to find out the next scoop so she could call up all her friends. Hahahaha. Check out the Valerie Gallery for more pix!

I always dreamed of being best friends with her – which of course would happen if I moved to NYC, right? And today, she turns 37…