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'Could've Been': Once a pop star, Tiffany now enjoys being a rock singer

1980s pop star Tiffany says she was miscast and should have been marketed as a rock singer. Photo courtesy of Emily Jones / Special to The Forum

FARGO—Do you remember Tiffany, the red-haired, teenage, bubblegum pop star famous for shopping mall concerts in the late 1980s? She's playing the Fargo Theatre Sunday night. Except that Tiffany isn't this Tiffany.

This one is a 46-year-old mother of an adult son who belts out rock tunes, plays casinos and makes B movies and reality TV.

About the only thing that's the same is the red hair.

Forget what you thought you knew in the '80s; today's Tiffany isn't that kind of girl. On the phone from her Nashville, Tenn., home, the singer talks about her touring show.

"There's some retro and, of course, the hits. I kind of rock out some of my older stuff, throw a little edgy guitar into it. I really like where I'm taking my music now," she says.

The retro stuff is the '80s rock music she loved, not the pop music her friends in New Kids on the Block made.

"I was mainly a rocker, so I love Heart, The Eurythmics, Kim Wilde. I'm a big fan of Van Halen. I was always more of a rocker in the '80s. I love pop music of course, but (rock) was what I was listening to in my bedroom," she says.

She likes playing with a full band and recently played the Whisky A Go-Go, the legendary Hollywood rock club.

Tiffany (her last name is Darwish, if you ever wondered) feels she was miscast in the 1980s as a pop singer when her heart was always in rock 'n roll. Even her signature song, a cover of Tommy James and the Shondells, was recorded against her wishes.

"I didn't want to record 'I Think We're Alone Now' because I didn't think it showed that I could sing and that was a worry for me," she explains.

She got her way with the follow-up single, her second no. 1 hit, "Could've Been".

"We fought to sing that to show that I had a range. Even now, people don't know. I get up on stage and they're like, 'Oh my gosh, I didn't know you had that range. I didn't know you had that voice,' " she says.

What people knew, or what they thought they knew, was that Tiffany had an ongoing feud with fellow teen pop star, Debbie Gibson. That was only a story that existed in the media, Tiffany says, adding that they knew each other a little then but are now friends.

They did a nostalgia tour together, but the 2011 kitsch movie, "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid," sealed their friendship. The two play opposite each other as a sheriff (Tiffany) and a scientist (Gibson) who team up to destroy the titular beasts, but not before they have a catfight in a swamp.

"It took doing our crazy SyFy film to be in the same location and really get to know each other," Tiffany says. "I mean, we knew each other, but not really like girlfriends. It was really great to become really good friends."

The movie was another effort by Tiffany to distance herself from the squeaky-clean image people had in the '80s, like her 2002 pictorial in Playboy and appearances on a number of reality TV shows, like VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club".

"I'm so open-minded," she explains. "If something sounds like it's going to be a blast and I'm going to meet good people and have a good experience, why not."

If You Go

What: Tiffany

When: 8 p.m., Sunday, doors open at 7, no opener

Where: Fargo Theatre. 314 Broadway

Info: Tickets are $30, $40 for a meet-and-greet., (866) 300-8300