Cyndi Lauper: 'Fame is tricky. There's no book on dealing with it'

Last modified: 12: 09 PM GMT+0

With 80s pop star Cyndi Lauper’s musical Kinky Boots continuing its run in London’s West End, she talks about dangerous videos, breathing deep and Miles Davis

That's all for today …

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

It's a pleasure talking to you, it's unbelievable that you can talk to the whole planet like this. You think it's just England but I saw somebody from Australia. I'm sending you all a big hug and because we're all citizens of this planet, please take care of her so we can leave it good enough for the next humans.

Updated

'When you accept yourself, you accept others, too'

Dancetoyourowntune asks:

Other than the fantastic joyousness of it all, what do you hope that audiences take away from Kinky Boots?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

That they see that people evolve, and acceptance - when you accept yourself, you accept others too, and those six steps of happiness (even though originally there were 12 but they were cut because it had to go quicker).

ToneLa asks:

Do you have any fun memories you’d like to share of Captain Lou Albano?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Captain Lou - when I first came out, they set up, we had this great publicist, Susan Blonde, and Dave Wolf was a real schemer. Dave Wolf, when I met him, he was the human fly, so he wasn't far from the kind of wrestling world, the drama of it. My idea with Captain Lou, cos I met him on an airplane, was to, I loved the old beach movies with the Great Kahuna, they'd go to the beach, sit down, and Buddy Hackett was usually the kinda dopey biker guy that would ask the great Kahuna something, and you never understood what the Kahuna really said, and I thought to myself, wouldn't Captain Lou be a great Kahuna. And he always had a Polynesian shirt, he was a great advisor. when we had the first record party, I sat at a desk with Captain Lou, who was my advisor, and he taught me things like the peg principle and it was so funny watching him explain that stuff to very unsuspecting press people there to interview me, and so it was - he made everything fun, he really did. All that publicity stuff you have to work so hard at, when he was around, it was an adventure, it was fun, and sometimes he brought his wrestling pals.

JenreJen55 asks:

What’s it like having to keep singing the same songs/greatest hits for 30 years? Do you recommend fame?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

It depends on the songs you sing. I try to choose songs that meant something with ideas that were bigger than myself. And to be part of the song Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and see how it has affected women, I busted my butt to make sure there was as much diversity in that group of girls as I could get so that every little girl watching could see that she too was entitled to a joyful experience in life. And so I am not tired of singing Girls because it's an anthem, because it's affected generations of women, and because when I went on the Women's March, I actually saw several signs that said Girls Just Wanna Have Fundamental Rights. It's true, we need them, and so I'll never stop singing that song. I'll probably look funny singing it on a walker, but I'll have to dress it up. Maybe some crinoline. Do I recommend fame? Fame is tricky. You need it to continue your work, but it is tricky and there is no book out, How to be Famous for Dummies, because I would have bought it. But if you want to continue your work, it has to be viable enough to earn money to live off of, for other people to live off of, so it has to be somewhat viable and you have to be somewhat famous, for your craft. Not fame for "I don't know what you're famous for" like the Kardashians. I don't know what exactly they do. That kind of fame, I wouldn't want. I would suggest developing your craft and that whatever you do in life you do it with passion and love and devotion, and if you are going to become famous, become famous for some contribution you're giving to the world.

philipphilip99 asks:

That flying trashcan stunt in the Money Changes Everything video –was it as frightening and dangerous as it looks?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Well yes actually, I thought it was a mechanical thing but it was actually 10 men with a pulley and a rope and I had no idea! But they were asking me to sign my will before I went on and that kind of upset me a little bit - why do you want me to sign this now?! So I guess it was very dangerous and no one told me. You know how Mick Jagger and Tina Turner always had a cherry picker? I had 10 guys hold me up in a trash can because that's all I could afford. And they brought me down right away because I started to jiggle it and they were losing their grip. I wouldn't have jiggled it if I knew it was 10 men!

Watch the video for Money Changes Everything

'Stop working for a second and just breathe the air for a minute'

AmyPop asks:

As a woman, what have you learned as you’ve gotten older?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

That I know less than I thought I did and to really try, even though everyone told me then, but to really try and take a moment here and there, to see where I am, stop working for a second and just breathe the air for a minute.

markinmanc asks:

How did you get away with She Bop? :-D

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

I did get away with it because I did not mention anything about hands. I just mentioned all the cliches of what happens to you when you do bop. And it was fun! I mean, I laughed pretty hard writing that song. A friend of mine, it was his idea. He called me up and said, "Come on, it's about female masturbation, nobody's writing this." And I said, true. We went to research this, I said there must be Playboy for women or something, and I found this magazine, Blueboy, had no idea it was for gay men. And so that's why Blueboy magazine is in there! And it just sang well, Blueboy. You know, I only really got in trouble when I went on Dr Ruth's show, then I got in trouble, then all of a sudden I was on the Filthy 15 list. I had to tell my mother what it was about and she was in the video - and all my aunts! That was all my aunts! They had no idea. Captain Lou - no idea. And he's so Catholic that when you walk into his house he has a big crucifix on the outside of the door, and a big crucifix on the inside of the door. He was an incredible guy, really sweet, and it didn't seem to bother him, and then he did Goonies with us and he was so wonderful. That video had to be my favourite video of all time - it was so our gang. And Dave Wolf, my manager, boyfriend, was so spectacular - he did this physical stuff that was amazing. All flailing arms, and then in the end Andre the Giant comes and saves the day. And the Bangles were in it. She Bop - again, all my friends and family. But calling up my mother and telling her that, she had to go back to my aunts because it was all over the news that all of a sudden She Bop was about down-there-of-which-we-do-not-speak!

Watch the video for She Bop

roi1 ask:

Is there anyone in music you haven’t worked with that you would like to either record or perform with?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

It depends - when I watch somebody sing sometimes and they're really opposite from me, I think, what would that sound like? I like the new bands a lot, the rock bands because I came out of a rock band, and even when I was doing pop, Money Changes Everything, I was kicking a garbage can across the stage.

'That was the moment to be wild, to be expressive, to use colour'

davidabsalom asks:

You’ve always had a fun dress sense, but are there any fashion disasters you regret?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

There was a time when everybody was just copying, so I started to wear things that I didn't think people would wanna copy. I did see something I wore with Rod Stewart that was quite... it was the stockings! The top of the stockings came out from the bathing suit. I wore an old bathing suit and a jacket, that made sense. But it should have been different stockings - fishnets. But that was the moment to be wild, to be expressive, to use colour, to mismatch. It was kind of like a big F-U to culture, because this was counterculture.

MikaylaMarsh asks:

What have you noticed are some of the major differences between singing in concert in the 80s as compared to singing in concert now?
What’s one thing that you miss about the 80s?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

I miss what I used to do, it was more performance art. I've tried to bring that back into my work again. I've always admired performance art. the problem is, as I went out on the road, I would be told that's too expensive. And I tried to do some stuff with a flashlight once and that didn't work out, it wasn't that bright. But usually I do that stuff in the dance clubs more, if I was doing a dance club routine.

Michael Dever asks:

I love your live cover of Joni Mitchell’s song Carey at Joni’s tribute concert. I still watch it on YouTube now and then. Did Joni have a chance to tell you what she thought of that performance? The audience really seems entranced by it and gave a standing ovation at the end – such a beautiful performance!

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Every time I went up to Joni or someone spoke to me about Joni, I'm such an idiot fan, I cried. And then when I met her, and I stood next to her, she said it was really, really interesting and she liked it, and we went to go see in a club a drag queen that was doing Joni Mitchell and playing dulcimer, and I said, I play dulcimer too. I kind of knew her from a long time ago, I went to meet her when I was in LA. Unfortunately I was with my friend who was giving up smoking, so I didn't let her sit next to her because she was smoking cigarettes, and the whole time she was talking, she was talking to my friend. They didn't even want me on the show, it's just that somebody cancelled last minute. I love Joni Mitchell and a lot of my work is influenced by her and her life and the fact that she is a painter. She paints, she does art, she used to make her own clothes. She writes her own songs, paints her own covers - come on, how awesome is that. And I don't know if she wanted to be a role model, she just wanted to do her art, and her lyrics are so enchanting. I used to busk her song too, Carey. I got two dollars once from a guy. He said, a dollar for now and a dollar for when you make your first record. I didn't know where I was gonna be or what I was going to do. I was couchsurfing at the time.

John Green asks:

Has the world changed around you in any dramatic way? Or is it business as usual for you?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

In every dramatic way, it has changed. It is not always a very good place and I think that it's up to us as people to stand up and start to look around and pick one thing that you can contribute to the planet, the people, and if everybody just did one thing, it would be an awesome place.

ladytheatre asks

If you could play any character in Kinky Boots, who would you be?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Of course I would be Lola, but just like Bloody Mary in South Pacific, I think that's a role I'll never attain!

'Make demos, do internet stuff – that's how you become a singer'

Rachael Wright asks:

As a teacher, I sometimes have students who would like careers in music. It is hard to give them realistic advice whilst not killing their dreams. What would you say to a teenager who would like to be a singer?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

When I started and I wanted to do it, I wanted to do it with someone else. That didn't work out, but I'd say, look to join a band, start performing. The best way to became what you want is to start your path and join a band - or start a band. And even if you do cover music first, you learn how to perform, then you start writing your own. You make sure your band is good enough, you're good enough. Then you go for it and you play live all the time. Make demos, do internet stuff - that's how you do it. Have a presence online, writing songs, learn GarageBand!

Bradster asks:

Just seen your first appearance on Top of the Pops from 1984. What were your first impressions of the UK? You said on the show you wanted to meet the Queen!

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

I did! I was very excited to be here. I thought that the Queen - and I still do - was, my whole life, I heard about the Queen! And I speak the Queens English, so I thought, you know. But of course, it's a different Queens... My first impressions when I came here - I turned the TV on and they had this weird show about a guy walking his cow at the end of his property, and another woman walking a cow at the end of her property, and how they would talk and walk their cows together. I was watching and I thought, that's really funny, very Monty Python, so I started laughing thinking, these English people are wildly funny, right? Then I changed the channel and there's this guy talking, and you see a little pool table, and you see just the hands coming in, and I thought, aw come on, this is hysterical! So my impression was that everything was funny and taking the piss out of everything - that's what the English people did, just like Monty Python. So I was singing in my head, "We're the knights of the round table..."

AlasdairDickson asks:

I only discovered Blue Angel’s incredible album a few years ago. Anna Blue gives me goosebumps every time I hear it, especially your “souped up Cosmo girl” line. How did the band form, what do you think of that record now … and will the record be reissued soon? (It’s so expensive on eBay!)

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

I don't know if it'll be released, it was a long time ago. I think it was a really terrific record. That was the beginning of my voice, I did some good singing, and I liked Anna Blue too. I don't know what kinda song that really was, every once in a while I sing it live. But it was written about my friend Anna - her name was Ann - and our experiences coming up, growing up, our teens to our twenties. To me that was grown up, but at this point I look at myself then and I think, I thought I was so grown up!

'I wanted diversity'

MiddlenameDanger asks:

How did Steve Forbert end up in the video for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun? Love that guy.

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Steve Forbert, we knew him and we were all fans of his, and we figured, oh my god he'd be so great! Everybody was in there, every friend I ever had was in that video - my mother, Captain Lou, my producer Rich who was walking my dog Sparkle in the beginning, the girls that worked at Screaming Mimi's, a girl that worked at the record company, Mira who worked in the Japanese piano bar with me, her parents owned it. What else... I wanted diversity, of course. Steve Forbert was kind enough to do it, but come on, it's pretty funny.

Watch the video for Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Octaviomex asks:

Will you ever release unrecorded songs like Still With Me, Edge of the Earth and Beautiful Thing? We would love to hear them. Kind regards.

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

I will probably release things like a single, and I always feel that Still With Me is eerily like today. It's a song about being watched. Edge of the Earth is also a good song, get tough binky kinda thing! I wrote that song with Bill Whitman who works with me, I wrote Still With Me with a girl I met through a publishing company.

TheatreGuy asks:

What song from Kinky Boots means the most to you? Which one moves you the most when you see it performed?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Usually Not My Father's Son or Hold Me in Your Heart. Last night David Hunter's performance of Soul of a Man was really, really good - really heartfelt, made sense, very connected to it, and I think he's a wonderful actor. It's a song about the character Charlie accepting himself - at the end, he has this eleventh-hour song.

Listen to Not My Father’s Son

yoshimispinkrobots asks:

I think you’re probably a huge influence on a lot of contemporary pop-punk artists. Bands like Paramore, for example. Are there any bands/singers in that genre you’re a particular fan of? Also, have you heard Aidan Moffat’s cover of Money Changes Everything and did you enjoy it?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

There's this really great singer from Finland, Alma, and she's got really great yellow hair, she's awesome.

[We listen to the cover] It's a ballad, that autoharp. In the first verse, that's when I would have gone apeshit. It's interesting and I love the autoharp.

stuckinazoo asks:

What is the one moment in your career you are proudest of and is most likely to give you a feeling of invincibility every time you think back to it?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

When I toured the UK, the whole country, and I was in Bristol, I was fascinated because I knew that Queen Victoria used to summer there, and I walked around and of course it wasn't the same, but in my mind I could kind of see her there. And when I went to sing, I sang I'm Gonna Be Strong, and I remember the people jumping up and applauding in a way that I never had heard, and I think back to that and the way I sang, and it's pretty amazing. I was proud. I think I take too much pride in those notes. But that was like, I don't know, 95? More than 20 years ago. And I guess winning the Tony was pretty amazing, and the fact that Kinky Boots went on to win an Olivier for best musical, and that it's - just the whole journey of Kinky Boots is pretty great and to be with these guys like Harvey Fierstien, Jerry Mitchell, Stephen Oremus, everybody, they're kind of the a list, and that was my first experience, the a list, my god. So you couldn't have learned from better people.

outofit asks:

Which do you think is the best cover of your great song Time After Time? I like the Miles Davis version.

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

And so do I, and the live version of Miles Davis doing that bass line is so amazing, but I am obviously a fan of his anyway, he did that great doo wop record with the Marsalis brother, it was great. He wanted to incorporate jazz and hip-hop, he wanted to do modern music, I thought he was really cool. I never really wanted to meet him because I thought if he didn't like me he would then not play the song any more and I loved the way he played the song so much that I didn't want to meet him.

Listen to Miles Davis: Time After Time

'I am a little left of centre'

hubbahubba asks:

With your unique style, do you think you would have made it in the music industry if you had started out today?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

It just would have been different - I would have done something differently, I obviously wouldn't have worn the same clothes, but I would have worn something left of centre and countercultural because I always feel that rock'n'roll music is counterculture and it balances out the scale. Anyway, I am a little left of centre.

Air4495 asks:

Would you tell us a little of the backstory behind the song Sally’s Pigeons? How true is this story? And why did you feel it was important to tell this story? I ask because you never seem to talk or get asked about it (maybe for personal reasons), but I’m very curious.

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

I knew stories like that constantly growing up, constantly. When I was growing up in the States, abortion was illegal, so if you were pregnant, to get it in a back ally or some place, a lot of girls died, and you always heard about this one found, blah blah blah, illegal abortion - dead. So I had a change to write with Mary Chapin Carpenter. She wrote the song I Am a Town, which really moved me and I thought maybe she would be able to write with me and I could tell the story. And she brought a guitar, I picked her up at the airport - scary, that's when I was driving - and she came to my apartment and we wrote a song, then I had to get her back. So it was good driving in the car. In those days, La Guardia wasn't so crazy. But it was a story about girls that really happened. My personal friend - I had one personal friend in my class in sixth grade and she was a year older, she might have been 12, 13, and it was a really early pregnancy. Or she was in high school maybe. She wound up being the big scandal. I was a little kid, I took everything literal - and I didn't understand why they were making a big fuss, Mary had a baby, she had a baby, what's the big deal, ya know? I Saw her walking the baby and how her life went, and the guy, he went off to school and she became, home with the kid at a young age with no education and no chance to succeed and so I felt like, okay, these are stories you need to tell, and that's why I wrote Sally's Pigeons. And I got a lot of guff about it too, from all these crazy people - and even a friend of mine, she sent me photos of dead fetuses, and I kind of wanted to send her back pictures of dead young women. But I thought, why engage with this, let it go. But nobody asked me about that, because nobody really recognises Hatful of Stars, I'm really grateful you recognised that album, I think it's one of my best.

Watch the video for Sally’s Pigeons

philipphilip99 asks:

For me, your vocal on the Blue Angel song I Had a Love is as close to perfection as it’s possible to get. Why do you think the Blue Angel band failed to get the attention it deserved?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Wow, thank you. Because when it came out, about a month later, there was a big article in Billboard by one of the head programmers of the country saying that they would not play these retro bands - he called us a "retro band", he called rockabilly a retro band, and he just wasn't gonna play them. It wasn't really a good time. Also because the head of the company wanted to make me into a new Barbra Streisand and I said, you know, could you get someone else to do that because I like to dance and rock out, and it was the head of the whole company, and it was at a lunch - everybody choked on their food and looked at me. After that, they weren't going to do anything with us until I quit the band and became their little big voice star, and that wasn't going to happen - I'm Sicilian, don't think you can outstand me or starve me out, I'm very tough. If I agree with you, I can be your best ally.

anne canterbury asks:

I love your upbeat energy. Makes me feel good how do you maintain that?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Vitamins! Multivitamins. It's always good to take a multivitamin. You don't wanna kill yourself with too much chemicals.

PilateError asks:

You once shopped/worked at Screaming Mimi’s in New York, do you still shop there?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

Oh yeah. I think Laura Wills who owns the shop is really great - I used to work for her. And Nikki Fontenella goes there sometimes for me, a wonderful eye. I was blessed to be with some really incredible people who loved fashion as much as me, and can go out and look for stuff. Nikki brings back such great stuff, and Laura used to, but now she's working in her store.

ClarkP asks:

Vibes turns 30 this year. What are your memories of working with Peter Falk and how about a re-release of Hole in My Heart?

User avatar for Cyndi_Lauper Guardian contributor

I loved working with Peter, I really wanted to work with him, he was nutty, he was funny and he was great - it was an honour. And the scene where he was dying in my arms, I was crying because he wasn't gonna be in the movie any more, he was dying! And anyway, he was so great, really great. And I always watched him.

Cyndi is with us now

Cyndi Lauper for a Guardian webchat
Cyndi Lauper for a Guardian webchat. Photograph: Laura Snapes

Post your questions for Cyndi Lauper

Best known for her 1980s new wave smashes, Cyndi Lauper has never let herself be defined by just one thing. She went from working in a pancake house to scoring a top-five US hit and a Grammy with her 1983 debut album She’s So Unusual, which featured Girls Just Wanna Have Fun and Time After Time, and followed it up with the chart-topping single True Colors: all showcasing her uniquely raw, four-octave vocals.

She has since released 11 studio albums, covering everything from electro-pop to blues and country; taken acting roles including a recurring part in drama series Bones; and written the music and lyrics for the musical Kinky Boots, which is now continuing its run in the West End of London. She has also campaigned for LBGT rights and most recently the Time’s Up initiative, including performing with Kesha at this year’s Grammys in a show of support for the #MeToo movement.

Lauper, and whichever shade of hair she is currently sporting, will be joining us from noon BST onwards on Wednesday 30 May, to answer your questions in a live webchat. Post them in the comments below, and she’ll take on as many as possible.

Updated

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