She likes the Cars, her boyfriend and “waffles with ice cream and hot fudge.” But these days it seems Alisha Ann Itkin just can’t find time for the things most 17-year-old girls enjoy. Not that she’s complaining. After all, she has recorded three straight Top 10 dance singles in as many tries. And she traveled to West Germany at 15 to make a video, released a debut album at 16 and saw her most recent single, Baby Talk, enter the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart last December. To top it off, Cashbox named her 1985’s “Most Promising New Female Vocalist” in dance singles.
It’s just that Itkin finds it tough juggling her freshman class load at Kingsborough Community College in her native Brooklyn, publicity appearances in Manhattan and one-night performance dates in towns like Miami and Chicago. “If I wasn’t busy,” she reasons, “I’d say, ‘It’s…not good.’ ” What is good is the fact that she could be the first female star to emerge from the New York dance music scene since Madonna Louise Ciccone gave up hanging around clubs on the Lower East Side.
Alisha (who, like Madonna, performs under her first name) has Barbra Streisand mannerisms, a deep, sultry voice wrapped in a New Yawk accent and striking eyes that seem to go from blue to gray to green depending on the day and what she’s wearing. Onstage she’s “an erupting volcano, Miss Energy,” according to her father, Al, a retired New York Port Authority police officer.
The fourth of five children, Itkin was coaxed into show business by her parents, who arranged for a vocal coach, neighborhood recitals and, when Alisha was 14, a demo tape of her singing with a local rock band. The Itkins sent the tape to various record companies, including Vanguard, a small independent label previously known for classical, folk and big band music. Vanguard brought the tape to producer Mark Berry, who had been looking for a “great voice” to fit to a song called All Night Passion. “Her age is a selling point,” says Berry, who is in preproduction for Alisha’s second album. “The kids really relate to her, but she’s different from Madonna. She has a different style; she’s not a threatening presence. She’s a regular kid.”