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Debbie Gibson plays Westbury with Tiffany

Long before Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera or Miley Cyrus, teenage Debbie Gibson spent the '80s bopping to young-love anthems such as "Lost in Your Eyes" and "Electric Youth." Growing up in Merrick, she received a synthesizer for her confirmation, then used it to write, perform and produce her own songs, before an entertainment lawyer brought her to the big time. Her pop reign ended in the '90s, allowing Gibson to star on Broadway and in movies (last year's SyFy channel flick "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid," catfighting with Tiffany). Speaking of her old friend Tiffany, they're touring together and coming to NYCB Theatre at Westbury Friday.

When you started performing in malls in the '80s, singers didn't really do that. What was it like to be the first?

I didn't really do that! I did the normal in-store appearances. That was Tiffany's master plan -- that was awesome. I joke that she did the day shift and I did the night shift. I did all the Long Island clubs, getting in the back door even before I was able to go in the front door. Back then you had to gain your audience 200 people at a time -- Escapes in Merrick.

I'm so ashamed to mix that up! I hastily tried to check whether you'd played in malls but only got as far as references to " '80s teen mall queens Debbie Gibson and Tiffany."

People always mix that up. In fact, Gwyneth Paltrow had some quote on "Glee" -- they made a joke about that, too. That's why Tiffany and I are doing this tour together -- because people are still mixing us up.

Tell me one story about performing early on in Long Island.

I was in the [1982] Newsday Teen Talent Contest! I was one of the Top 12. I wasn't quite 13. That was the only time I forged my ID.

It was a Newsday contest? Really?

In fact, I had a huge picture in Newsday -- I'm wearing a white hat and a little polka-dotted dress, and it was the same look as I had when my albums came out. And it shows I never had a stylist, and I had a love of hats.

WHO Debbie Gibson and Tiffany

WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Friday, NYCB Theatre at Westbury

INFO $29.50-$69.50; 800- 745-3000,

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