Debbie Gibson knows from teen pop superstardom. And now she's ready to share some of her hard-earned wisdom with Justin Bieber.
"It's too much too soon," she tells E! News. "People have to remember even though a kid can be wise beyond their years professionally and can handle showbiz, emotionally you're not developed."
What else, Debbie?
She says if he doesn't stay grounded, he will "lose his sanity" later.
The '80s teen queen, who, ironically, is promoting her new Syfy movie, Mega Python vs. Gatoroid, which turns her against her old rival pop star Tiffany (whipped cream on boobs! swamp wrestles!), knows firsthand the pitfalls of early fame.
Gibson, whose own mom was always around for support but had no desire to be a stage mom, was the main reason she never landed herself in rehab, she says.
"It's very hard for a parent and employees to say no to someone who is writing the paychecks, and he is a kid," she says of the Biebs. "Somebody has to teach the kids to respect the chain of command. I went to my prom, I went through all the milestones."
Still, Gibson says she didn't escape childhood stardom totally unscathed.
"You go through things when you experience that kind of success young," she tells us. "If I could get all these kids in a room, I'd tell them you're not superhuman. If you need to take a week off, take a week off. Everybody makes you think the world will end and it won't. If you say no, you save your sanity later."
Gibson has fared just fine since her days of singing "Only in My Dreams." The singer-actress has gone on to star on Broadway and London's West End and pose (tastefully) for a nude pictorial spread in Playboy.
Her new song, "Rise," has been short-listed for an Oscar—it is featured in the documentary 3 Billion and Counting made by her boyfriend, the L.A.-based Dr. Rutledge Taylor, about the link between the DDT pesticide ban and an increase in malaria. (Listen to her song here!)
"It has kind of a gospel tinge," she says. "It's a different style for me, I wrote the music and lyrics with my boyfriend and sing it."
As for the campy Syfy movie, she plays a radical animal-rights activist who ends up wreaking havoc after she frees a bunch of illegally imported exotic snakes from pet stores and dumps them in the Everglades. The movie premieres at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York on Jan. 24.
"I did research for the role, I went and spent time with pythons to find out what was lovable about these not so little creatures. They are to be respected," says Gibson.
Tiffany plays the part of an overzealous park ranger who is her antagonist. (Sound familiar?)
"Tiffany and I are playing out what everyone believes is our old '80s rivalry," says Gibson. "We're giving the pop culture fans what they want. "
On behalf of all Gatoroid aficionados, we are thankful.