By Isa Goldberg
In her typical “Queens vernacular” Cyndi Lauper talked to Valerie Smaldone at the 92nd Y in what felt like an intimate evening (Wednesday, September 20th), albeit in a packed auditorium. Smaldone struck gold immediately, asking Lauper about her youth growing up in a Sicilian family, “It was very much like Shakespeare to me,” she said in her squeaky outer borough drawl.
I guess if you can believe that, you can believe anything. And that, in fact, was Lauper’s point – especially when it comes to believing in oneself. “When you sing, you feel so big,” she confides. Indeed, Smaldone mined some precious gems in discussing Lauper’s new book “Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir.”
The 80’s disco queen, still topping the charts in 2012 with the release of “Sex Is In The Heel” from “Kinky Boots,” the Broadway bound musical, struck number six on the dance charts – the first time in many years that a Broadway show tune has made that kind of popular connection. This January, “Still So Unusual,” Lauper’s reality TV show in which she shares the spotlight with her 13-year-old son, Declyn, and husband of 20 years, David Thornton, premieres on WE tv. And on September 20th, the day following her interview with Valerie Smaldone, she was performing at a benefit for her foundation, “True Colors,” whose mission is to open shelters for homeless gay youth.
Lauper was inspired to establish the charity by her gay sister, who sheltered her when she left home at 17. Growing up in a very Catholic home in which women were openly repressed, she explained, inspired her breakthrough hit, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” As told by the singer/composer/now author, she was inspired by her grandmother’s, her mother’s and her aunt’s faces when she wrote her feminist anthem.
A Grammy Award winning artist, Lauper came shining through with her grasp of the popular ethos. Quoting Oscar Wilde (via Harvey Fierstein) she gave it away, “Feel free to be yourself, everyone else is taken.”
Photo: Barry Gordin
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