Cyndi Lauper is a co-founder of True Colors Fund.
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Hi guys. This was supposed to be the 30th Anniversary, but I'm always a little late, so this is kind of the 31st or 32nd Anniversary, but I wanted to make sure that you had not only interesting tid-bits on the album, like demos and conversation, but I finally got to do a special on PBS that'll be released hopefully around Christmas so that people can finally get the whole album. I neva did the visual of a whole album, and I tried to find the first one, on the Fun Tour from '84, but all of it was disintegrated in their vaults, because, they basically, I guess they didn't think it was important to save correctly! I shoulda bought it from them, that's all, but they wouldn't sell in those days...
ANYWAYS, I'm celebrating 30 years of ‘She’s So Unusual' and we're re-issuing it on vinyl,.
My 4th annual "Home for the Holidays" benefit concert is happening on 12/6 at the Beacon theatre in New York.
I'm also the composer of the music for Kinky Boots on Broadway and on tour. http://kinkybootsthemusical.com
I'm here with Victoria from reddit helping me out. Whaddya wanna know?
Edit: Well, thank you all for joining this chat. I'm very flattered that anybody showed up, thank you very much! And I guess the album was a kind of a trying to give back to the people that the album meant a lot to. I tried my best to put stuff on there that would make you smile, and understand the process a little bit, that it's not always just the guy in the front, it's the team you're with and that was my team.
Wow. I do like Slytherin, because I thought that that guy - oh who's that fantastic actor, Alan Rickman - was SO fantastic. And then in the end, he was one of the GOOD guys, who wouldn't want to be there. And he was covert, too! You know! So you could be in the covert thing. So even though you don't win all the time, it's the spirit that counts. Although they had that other guy, Ralph Fiennes, he was nasty. It wouldn't be good to be associated with him then. It'd be different if he was in WUTHERING HEIGHTS, he was a good guy, well that's debatable - it turned south. But that happens in theaters and movies and stories and things. You just neva know.
Hello! Big fan. If you could choose one person to work with, past or present, who would you choose and why?
Also if I fall, will you catch me?
Thanks for your time!
Well, first, if you fall, I'd catch you, but it depends on how big ya are, because if you're too big, we'll fall together, so it's kind of a not-good-prospect to catch someone bigger than you. I'd try, but I can't promise you wouldn't fall anyway...
And who would I work with? Wow... Um... Well, I was thinking now about the people that I wanna work with, before they're not around anymore, and I really want to make a kind of blues kinda dance/trance thing with Charlie Musselwhite and any very open minded - in a kinda really open dance guy who can understand that kind of thing.
How do you feel about Weird Al's "Girls Just Wanna Have Lunch"?
I thought it was funny! You know. I liked "I wanna know where lunch is" Better but I thought "Girls just Wanna Have Lunch" was good. And I like Weird Al. I LOVED Like a Surgeon. I thought he was going to make MORE fun of Girls just wanna have lunch. But it wasn't hard. Because everybody thought I was an alien, I spoke funny and I dressed funny... Not hard to make fun of.
Is Victoria really as cool as everyone says she is?
YES! And she types SO fast!
Can you share a funny story about Captain Lou Albano?
OH MAN, there were so many.
Captain Lou made everything I did... fun. And... I know a lot of people said "Well you being with him... it makes people not think you're as good a singer as you are..." and you know, I always used to think to myself "if they don't think I'm as good a singer as I am they are fucking deaf, people with cloth ears will never hear you if you sing good enough."
I think my favorite moment was the first time we went out and I did an interview to promote my first album, and I had been watching all of the Beachcomber movies - you know, how they had the Great Kahuna. And I thought "We should have Captain Lou as the great Kahuna, he could be guiding us all, and that would be SO MUCH FUN."
So you know, little did I know - god bless Captain Lou - he was very religious. He had a crucifix on the outside of his door, the inside of his door, he was that religious. So when I did She-Bop, and I wanted him to be dressed as a nun, he didn't want to do that - Sisters Against Transgressors, you know. So we changed it.
And, um, we put something else - Suburban Wives Against Transgressors, I'm not sure- but to see Captain Lou singing with my Aunt Helen, my Aunt Grace, my mom and Aunt May - it was so amazing. I mean, in my videos, the thing I'm most grateful for was that I was able to put my family in it, and in all my videos, I'm able to see somebody - so I got to do stuff with my family, and they will always be my picture books of our lives together, besides our regular life.
How was it recording a song with The Hives?
OH MY GOD, that was awesome. But I wasn't even going to go that day, because I wasn't feeling good, and I took a lot of vitamin C - i was on the punishment bus- it was one of those english busses with a smelly bus driver who kept his smelly clothes on the bottom and didn't change the freaking toilet water, it felt like I was livin' in the subway - I got to Sweden and I was very excited, because i was going to work with the Hives - we went to go see them, and at first I was like "It's REALLY dirty" and then they played me these other songs that were really funny and dirty - and then I thought "as long as my son doesn't hear these, they're funny." We had a blast doing them, and then a year later, my son came up to me and said "*Really mom? Really?!"
How do you compare female artists in the 80s to female artists of today? More empowered? Less?
I see your influence everywhere.
You saved my life when I was in jr. high and bullied relentlessly.
You were a huge influence in empowering me to accept my weirdness. Thank you.
And you continue to inspire me decades later as I'm about to head into my 40s.
ps. "Heading for the Moon" will always hold a special place in my heart.
Wow. Um, I always loved that song too, I didn't think anybody ever liked it, but that's nice. Thank you.
Honestly, when you look at the kids coming up now, or the kids that were coming up then... yeah, there's a lot of difference, and yeah, it's the same. And if you look at it like "OH GOD THE 80S WERE SO MUCH BETTER" - the 80s were focused on melody, then it went to - you would take a melody and then you would take it apart, there was the whole, it wasn't punk, it was Nirvana, but they had melody too, but it was just different, and everything continues to be different. There's still melody. You haveta - I work with young artists sometimes, now, and I listen to how they sing and what influenced them and it isn't the same as what influenced me. They are listening to Lauryn Hill, and how Lauryn Hill did all those squiggly things in her voice very subtly, a new neo-Gospel R&B thing, she really hit on something really great. I think it was different for us in the 80's because we were listening to the jamaican music that was coming over, the ska music, mixed with old stuff from the 60's and 50's and rockabilly that's what made me, mixed that with Elvis Costello or Sting from the Police- it must freak him out a little bit, all these people sounding like Sting - he had a VERY recognizable sound and voice and feel. He was a great singer!
All you can do is keep listening and, you know, I was with a young girl in the studio just this past week, and she asked for more compression and FX on her voice, and the engineer was kind of snotty to her, and said "you haveta be more specific" and she said "I'm being very specific, I'm asking you for more compression" and I said "Yea you are." And then I told her "That guy just had a 'tude, and you have to understand, you're not wrong" but then all of a sudden, I felt protective towards her. Because that shit's been going on for 20 years, 30 years, 40 years - if a singer tells you I need more compression, turn the fucking compression up, how much more fucking clear is that?!?!
What was it like working on the Goonies?
It was pretty great. Dick Donner was great. And honestly, imagine - I had Steven Spielberg in my video. That was pretty cool. I remember when I first met him, and he told me Barbra Streisand actually sang to him, and I was jealous. on so many levels. Like 1, I never even MET Barbra, and she sang to HIM, and I used to sing with her so much when I was little, and she didn't even know. And the fact that he wasn't impressed that i was there at all, hehehe! But he was actually in our video, and Dick Donner was really great. I really believe that during the 80s, I felt he was just one of the great directors, because his personality was SO awesome, and BIG. And he would tell ya stuff, and you'd get inspired to do whatever it was that he said.
When my mother was shy, he would have her say her lines and eat cookies, and I thought "WOW, add an activity, that is BRILLLIANT." Next time I get stuck, I'll be sure to have an activity! I thought he was great, and the whole thing was great. And meeting the kids - I always wanted - i did that because i wanted to go to Hollywood, and act on a Hollywood set, I mean, I guess it was just one of those things as a little kid I always wanted to do.
So I got to do it.
What do you do for fun? What do you do to relax?
I don't know. Sleep? Um... I like to go bike riding with my husband in Minnesota, when the mosquitos aren't out. It depends on how fast ya pedal, because they can't catch you. But mosquitos are the State Bird, of Minnesota.
What is a strange fact about you no-one knows?
I like old movies, but everybody knows that. I don't think there's anything people don't know. I like to make spaghetti sauce, but everybody knows that.
I ate squirrel once. I was going out with a guy, he lived in Vermont, he didn't like to work and would go hunting, and one time he invited the cab driver over, he talked the cab driver into giving him a ride back home, and he talked the cab driver into coming over for dinner. So he went out, and he hunted a squirrel, and he put it on the table for me to clean. I didn't know what to do, all I knew how to make was Spaghetti sauce. I remember a guy a year before - I happened to have a face where a guy on the Saint Laurence River showed me how to clean a fish while I was on a boat the year before, you know, take off the head, take the bones out.
So when I saw the squirrel, I thought "Well, I guess you do it like a fish." I cut off the head, there wasn't much meat, I chopped up an onion, a bay leaf, some garlic, and took whatever squirrel meat I could get, and put it in the pot, and I thought "I'll add some wine, to kill whatever's in there with alcohol." I made a squirrel-anaise, I could say. But at the end, they kept saying "What kind of meat is this?!" I said it was chicken 3 times, and then I finally said "Yes it's a squirrel."
And he said: "No it's not."
And I said "Yes it is."
And he said: "No it's not."
And I said "Yes it is."
And then I showed him the pelt, he finally believed me, and he left.
So i don't know if a lot of people know that i know how to make "squirrel-anaise."
Four years ago my cousin was killed. It was one of the saddest experiences of my life. On the way home from the funeral I was in a car with my three other siblings (ages 17-23 at the time) and had just returned from the park where she died. It was rainy and gloomy. We turned the radio on- and though I'm the last person in the world you would expect to do this, I busted out singing along to Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. My other siblings couldn't help but chime in and by the end of the song we were all laughing. I just wanted to thank you for providing my family with music and laughter when we needed it the most.
My question is- What was the most awkward thing anyone said or did while you were on The Apprentice?
Well... there's a lot of awkward things. They didn't understand how I spoke. That was a big problem. And I thought that that was kinda awkward. But then they started to talk like me. Which was even worse. Because I thought "You don't like it, and yet there's something contagious about it, because you're all talkin' like me."
I just thought High School doesn't really end.
It stays the same.
What song do you secretly wish you had written and recorded?
I never think like that.
I never think like that. I always appreciate songs, there are SO many great songs, but I never think "I wish I did that."
Hi Cyndi. What's the most fun you've ever had?
Ya know, that must be like a gratitude list. Of writing down all the fun times that you've had, and trying to figure out which was the most fun. I've had a LOT of great times in my life, like a LOT of great times. One of the really cool times was filming The Goonies video. that was one of the- and I look back on that video, and I see my mother is there, and my mother is the hag - it's really rare to see GOONIES part 2, but it's fun, and I like to even look for it on YouTube, because there are lawn chairs on the deck of the pirate ship, and I just think everything about it is so funny, hearing my motha talk to me, Andre the Giant come in at the end to save the day- it was so much like OUR GANG it was one of the most fun times.
One of my biggest regrets was not doing SNL with all the wrestlers. Because i always wanted to see them do Shakespeare with me.
I just thought Shakespeare, offa them and me, woulda been unbelievable. In so many ways.
They could just be themselves and try to do Shakepeare.
What were the 80s like as a pop singer?
Well, it was very competitive, and you had to work VERY hard. I worked very hard. And I missed... my friends, having friends. I was, for a little bit, friendly with Boy George, and I saw him occasionally. And I missed having my friends around me, people who were like me. I was very much involved with my manager, and my producer, I loved them and I still do, they are very sweet people, but I missed the artsy crowd that i used to know before I... went full-on to be this popstar. And the funny thing is I could have known a lot more artsy people, being a popstar, but I was so busy workin' I never had time. But I did get to know Patti LaBelle and be close with her, and she sang at my wedding. She sang "Come what May", it's a beautiful song, check that out.
What was working on the "We are the World" charity song like?
Well, it was pretty remarkable. Everyone was tired, because we had just done the American Music Awards, and I had talked them into letting me do a performance art piece, and design this set where I would paint and dance and sing on - and instead of, you know, just doing GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN, i did this Prince song, because I wanted to continue my art and move forward. And I dunno if that was the right thing to do, I thought it was great, because I did performance art, and i had my hair - the only color was my hair and the paint I used, which I was really upset about afterwards at the We are the World thing, so that paint flaked off on my jacket since I didn't have time to wash my hair - it was like yellow and orange dandruff. All I had to dress up my outfit was all that jewelry, and they had trouble with that because they said it was too loud. I also was excited because i got to see all these wonderful singers singing before me, so when i got to the bridge, I felt like an explosion came outta my mouth.
To this day, I always think back to the kids that would sing it, and when they got to my part, the little kids would go "WELL WELL WELL WELL" - they never really... sang it. And I thought that maybe they did it better than I did. Maybe I should have just done what they did.
What stops girls havin' fun these days?
Well, trying and check what's on the polls. I hope ya voted today, because it's really important. If you want to look at NOT having fun, or your civil liberties that are being slowly stripped away, then that's what's stopping girls not just from having fun but also having a productive life that gives you the civil liberties that any man has.
One question... Will YOU marry Me? :D haha :p
Yeah, haha, I've only been married for... wait a minute, 1991, 2001, no... yeah, 1991, 2001, 2014, so I've only been married for 23 years, so I don't think so doll. I'm sticking with what i got, but it's very flattering thank you.
Thank you for taking part in this reddit AMA! Thank you as well for being such an amazing inspiration for an entire generation, especially through your music and your tireless dedication to causes like ending youth homelessness. Much love to you!
You’ve said that you are working on another Broadway show--can you share any details about that?
I really can't, because it's not up and running. And it's not, you know, it's still in the talk. And you talk about these things sometimes, forever. I hope that it actually does get going, because it's very interesting and very very different, from KINKY BOOTS. And just the total opposite. But I figa that's the only way I could learn, or grow.
Thanks for doing this AMA, my inner 15 year old is thrilled about the Box set that has come out! I just have one question: is it true that you did the vocals for the Pee Wee's Playhouse Theme? I often suspected it was you ... If it was, any chance this will be included on a CD somewhere?
Um, I don't know, if it will. Yeah, it was me. My friend Ellen, God bless her, I talked her into using her name, and I was so afraid that if came out and True Colours came out at the same time, that nobody would accept True Colours at the time. So...
Do you still keep in touch with anyone from the WWF?
Yeah, Roddy Piper. I really think he's a great guy and his family's great, and he's got a great heart. He's a good guy. And he's working on doing a one-man show, telling his story. Which is pretty remarkable. Any of these guys have a pretty remarkable story.
I absolutely LOVED Kinky Boots! One of the most fun I’ve ever had at the theatre (I’m listening to “The History of Wrong Guys” while typing this). Congrats on the Tony!
1.What was your favorite memory of working on the show?
2.Since you have a Tony and Grammy, any interest in going for an EGOT?
3. How does it feel when you go shopping or to a restaurant and hear one of your songs on the radio? Is it still exciting?
1) Oh my god! Meebee... when I had to sing... Step one in the basement of the theater - in Chicago - and they had to pull the piano out, and the bathroom was down there, and it was kinda stinky, something about the subterranean bathroom things was not good, but I sang this new song to them that I'd been working on. And I wasn't warmed up, but it was the most cookoo, and kinda real, throwback to the old music days, when they'd just pull out a piano and you'd just sing this song- you'd just pitch a song with a piano. That and the first time we did the music and a reading, and i Put together a jug bang, like with a conga, guitar, piano, and bass, and acoustic guitar, and I played dulcimer, and background singers, and that's how we kinda did it - I thought it was "wow" but Harvey Feistein couldn't get over that I was playing dulcimer, he doesn't like dulcimer, but now i think it's important to send him a dulcimer for Christmas. Or just sent a Christmas card with a dulcimer in it. Because I think the world needs more dulcimer.
That and Darryl Roth, who was extremely fond of the dulcimer.
2) I gotta get-get-get- I got two Gs, and E and a T. if I get another T, and an O, I got a "GETTO". So I'm looking to get a GETTO if i can. but I have to work it out. Honestly, I just want to make new music and you know, continue to grow. Oddly. Because most people say - who are reading this - this thing I read, I gotta magazine AARP, and Cher's in it saying "I won't step aside," and I'm thinking "Why would anyone step aside? We need to grow and grow. I remember Ella Fitzgerald in her 80's. I saw that as a young girl, and I was like Wow, I wanna be like that." I mean, look at Tony Bennett! He did a duet with Gaga! I mean -am-a-zing!
3) It's weird. It's different, now. Because sometimes you could just be talking to someone bout something, and then GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN comes on, and you're like "Yea...that's me." Or you know, like my husband will go somewhere, away, or anyone of us leaves each other, you're working really hard, I was working really hard with Steve Remis, and then they are playing TIME AFTER TIME or GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN - they can't get away from me. I used to chase them with my notes, the poor things. Hehehehehehe!
Well, I thought that the soccer team that was there was going to lift me up and carry me through anyways, so I thought rather than being lifted by the whole football team, I would just walk up there myself and do it! The airport was getting rowdy, there were no more empanadas, Come ON!
Please tell me about the song "Maybe He'll Know" from the Blue Angel record? There is a monthly radio show here in Philly that plays lesser known new wave songs and I heard that song for the first time a few years ago. Should have been a bigger hit.....
Well, I liked it and I always thought it was interesting. And I was trying to use a weak part of my voice as a singer to create a sound, as opposed to just singing out. And, uh, I did that song - it was released in Amsterdam as a single, and also "I'm Gonna Be Strong" was released. I was doing a show in Amsterdam, and I twisted my ankle onstage, and they taped up my ankle, like a football player I guess, I just went out and kept singing, and then afterwards I remember I had to be on a cane, I was walking around Amsterdam by myself with a cane. I remember that song mostly in Amsterdam, because I bought these wonderful stretch leopard pants there, and this wonderful coat that was reversible, and inside it had polka-dots, it was blue, the outside it was just like navy blue, and it buttoned all the way down, so I come onstage with this outfit, of the polka dots and big sunglasses and my hair, and pull the thing off and have another outfit on underneath - and I did that in NYC too. And that was the first time I became interested in doing a performance art thing - not just stripping away the clothing but also the emotions as you got onset. So it was a beginning for me that way. But I did sing it for the first time in a church. We recorded it in "Media Sound" in 1980, it was an old church, so it was really fantastic to sing in there.
I've always adored your version of "When U Were Mine" - since Prince wrote this, how did you ever wrench the song away from him? I've heard he's notoriously possessive about his songs - how did that come about? (Edited spelling)
Well, he wasn't possessive about this one - he had already, probably, ya know, recorded it on a recording, and it was out. So, um, Rick Chertoff had been holding onto all these songs, and one of them was this Prince song, and I thought it was really kinda cool and modern, just a crazy sound, and I thought when we did it, we kinda did it, at the time, it was all - gated drum thing happening, and New Wave, and I think recording that song was one of the most fun, because I got to push myself in a direction I had never thought of doing, like doing two low voices and then the high voice. And I really loved the fact that he talked about sheets, that she didn't have the decency to change the sheets. I thought "Who the fuck writes about sheets? That's awesome."
I grew up listening to your music but who did you grow up listening to?
P.S. I love you :)
Funny you should say PS I love you - that was the first single I bought with my own money! And I loved the Beatles, I loved the Surpremes, before that I always listened to Barbra Streisand and all the things my mom listened to, all the Broadway shows, but when I got meet the Beatles and meet the Supremes in the fourth grade - I met them and I really loved them. I met them and it changed everything.
You were in an episode of "Bones" and were absolutely phenomenal -- so sensitive and emotional, and such a different "character" than how you appear on stage and when singing. Did you enjoy working in that role? Are you considering acting more in the future?
Well, funny you should ask. I'm going out saturday to do another episode of BONES as "Avalon." And I just am trying so hard to get the right Sarah Palin hairdo. Because I really believe that Avalon wants to make it in Washington, and you gotta look a certain way!
I absolutely love your duet with Sarah McLachlan on Time After Time. Do you think you would work with her again?
I also got to go to your True Colors concert in Boston in 2007. It was amazing. And I love all the charities that were supported by that tour.
I LOVED SINGING WITH HER. But I really felt like Beelzebub, because she sings like an angel, and I thought "Oh my god, here comes the devil now." But she is amazing and her voice is so angelic. Really great singing with her, very special.
I feel very lucky to sing with everyone I sang with on that album. I thought every single artist made re-doing the songs special, as opposed to just re-doing the songs.
Was it more fun to work with Christopher Walken, or Paul Rubens?
They're both great! I didn't know Christopher Walken at first, and I thought he wouldn't like me, because you never know if people like you, yo know, cuz you're a rock and roller and who knows what people think of you from your image as opposed to who you are... and they were both really wonderful. Paul was like my buddy in the 80's. I could do stuff with him, no matter what i did with him for press or anything, we had a great time. He was funny and creative and it was on this other level. With Christopher Walkens, he actually taught me something. I kept saying "Whaddya want? Whatever you want in the scene, let me know." And he kept saying "I want a million dollars, I want a steak." And I'd go back into my trailer and I would hear him watching - what's that crazy show - it just had trailer park people fighting all the time, Jerry Springer playing, laughing hysterically, meanwhile I was trying to breastfeed my kids, trying to clean everything and pump to have milk for my kid, and then go out on set, it was fucking nuts, and laughing cuz this guy is next door listening to Jerry Springer laughing his ass off - and I would watch him in the scene, and that was what I thought was really fantastic. To watch Chris - he works like a musician, so when something happens to him accidentally, he just goes with it - like a musician does. And I was in a scene with him, and the pencil, for some reason, flew outta my hand - I saw it fly onto the floor. And then I looked at him, and I was trying to start the scene, and I couldn't remember. And he said "Cyn - NEVER end a scene. Something like that happens to you - you don't even know how funny you are. Take a minute, and it'll eventually come to you." And after that, I realized that, you know, I didn't have to be so worried that I could be more musical, you know? That it is like music. But the beginning of working was never like music, because when I worked in the 80's, it became more about the close-up, and there was a lotta weirdness, the first movie, but I think that's because everybody got dysentery and got weird, I don't know, and poor Peter Falk was upset because they gave him the same medicine they gave me for menstruation cramps, I felt bad about that, the whole thing was kinda stressful. But we were in Ecuador. You just can't have the ice in the drink, you just can't.
Who's your favorite superhero?
Oh, I don't know. Let's see: Godzilla.
Gets a little angry, gets it out of his system and then is able to move on!
Who's your favourite Muppet?
No, Kermit is yours. No, I like Miss Piggy, but I also like the Commander of the Spaceship. What's his name... CAPTAIN LINK HOGTHROB! He was good, and when he got the massage from Peter Sellers... that was pretty good.
What's your favorite use of one of your songs in a movie?
It was an independent movie.
I can't even remember it now - it was "Water's Edge." And it was about... a really twisted movie. And my husband was in it, and I got to score it and play all kinds of weird shit because it was a suspense / murda weird movie. It was very low budget and probably not released very big, but that was my favorite. I think that hole in my heart, for vibes, was nutty but it wasn't the song I wrote for vibes. I wrote a ballad, and they said that was wrong, I should have gone back and written an up-tempo, but instead they got a song for me called "Hole in my Heart" and I preceded to do what I thought was funny and not racist, and in the end when I looked at it it was still very racist.
But that was my favorite song that I actually got in there, besides RUGRATS. I got to write with Mark from DEVO, and we did "I wanna mom that'll last forever" and it was one of my son's favorite songs. And when I was little and I would have to go away, he would want me to play that song when I got back, because he wanted to hear that song.
Forget "Water's Edge" it's that song.
What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
I dunno. I try not to eat ice cream. I think... when I went to Minnesota, to the hockey camp, there was this ice cream place, and I got "snow white" a lot, which was a combination of coconut and maybe some chocolate chips, and vanilla ice cream, maybe. I'm not sure. Maybe mixed with almond joy or somethin' I don't know. That and pistachio is always nice. But even Tartuffo. Or Spumoni. You know. But other than that, I really try not to eat ice cream.
Unless of course, you're going to Corona, Queens, and you go to the KING OF ICE. But the King of Ice, you have to be very specific on what you want, because he doesn't mix anything. he's very strict. Like the Soup Nazi, but for Ice.