Tiffany Sheds Clothes To Help Shed '80s Teen-Pop Image

Singer says 'mall-girl stigma' was hurting her music career.

WEST HOLLYWOOD — After feeling trapped in the "I'm Not a Girl, Not Yet a Woman" stage for more than a decade, former mall-pop princess Tiffany has proclaimed her womanhood by posing nude for Playboy.

So is a similar move in Britney Spears' future?

"I don't think Britney would have to pose nude in Playboy," Tiffany said recently. "She is doing what she does in her videos and stage shows and has already established a sexy image."

Tiffany, on the other hand, may have paved the road for future teen queens musically, but she was never the vixen Spears and Christina Aguilera are considered to be.

"I didn't get any of that!" the 30-year-old singer said, pulling back her signature mane, a darker red than the "I Think We're Alone Now"-era Tiffany. "It was not appropriate for me to wear anything like a bustier or to be sexy. It was big hair and hoop earrings and jean jackets. There is no way I could pull off what Britney is pulling off now. It was a totally different time."

That time — an era of tight-rolled jeans and Hypercolor T-shirts — has followed Tiffany her entire life. Nothing, not even an album that garnered favorable comparisons to Alanis Morissette, could get rid of that late-'80s image. Well, almost nothing.

"Doing Playboy was frankly just a way to slap that mall-girl stigma in the face," Tiffany said. "There is no way you can look at these pictures and see that."

Tiffany's decision to pose for Playboy's annual music issue came out of frustrations surrounding her 2000 album, The Color of Silence.

"I was getting all of these great responses to the album from critics and things that I didn't expect, frankly, but because of my name, people really weren't open to booking me on shows," Tiffany said. "Radio wouldn't play my record, even though behind the scenes they were like, 'It's a great record, but just putting your name on it is gonna be a problem.' "

Tiffany's plan is hardly novel. Several celebrities have posed naked to raise their profile, including fellow '80s icon Belinda Carlisle of the Go-Go's. Tiffany has seen many of those issues, but chose not to consult artists who had posed previously.

"I bought a lot of issues of Playboy. I'm well-schooled," Tiffany joked. "For me, though, it was my own personal thing."

And it seems to be working. In recent weeks Tiffany has appeared on "Howard Stern" (of course) and on several other national television and radio programs.

"I'm gonna use this just to have the avenue to talk about my music, which, of course, is my [biggest] concern," she said. "Still, people aren't really interested in talking to me about my music, they are talking to me about being naked. Then I stick the music thing in there."

Tiffany is still plugging The Color of Silence, which she co-wrote and co-produced, and she is already at work on her next album. She is also hoping to break into acting, though it has been a struggle similar to her music career.

"I get scripts a lot that are approaching me from the mall-girl perspective," she said. "Now I am just waiting and seeing what else comes my way, maybe something really wild and crazy."

So "Crossroads 2" is out of the question?