Cyndi Lauper says that despite what you might have heard, her career is not dead

CYNDI LAUPER, for those of you with very short memories, was the pop music sensation of 1984. She was nominated for numerous Grammy Awards for her album She’s So Unusual and for her song “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” Her daffy charm made her one of the early darlings of the original MTV Generation, and her mutlicolored hair and mismatched thrift-shop wardrobe spawned legions of imitators.

Her new album, Twelve Deadly Cyns, is a greatest-hits collection that also features some new songs, including a new arrangement of “Girls Just Want To Have Fun.” She thinks her music is better than ever, despite the career glitch she hit in the late eighties. (“They tried to sell me in the easy-listening Prozac radio stations, but my music was not easy for them to listen to. I said the hell with this and had a little revolution. I won.”)

She thinks people are hung up on her image and her offbeat style. (“They’ve got a problem that I dye my hair and dress funny. They always wanted to change me from day one.”) She feels, in retrospect, that her public image was indeed a fair representation of the real Cyndi. (“It’s hard enough to be yourself, let alone somebody else.”) Nowadays she colors her hair scrambled-eggs yellow. Her makeup is toned down. (“I do believe that less is more.”)

She is fond of wearing fringes, fishnet, leopard spots, tiger stripes, and polka dots. She tawks, in a high-pitched voice, with a Betty Boop Brooklyn-Queens accent. She is still girlish, and refuses to discuss her age. (“This country is hung up about age, which I relate to being hung up about death and sex. I figure, when they ask a woman who does stuff how old she is, it’s like they want to kick the tires and see if the chassis is still good.”)

She was born on June 20, l953, at Boulevard Hospital, in Astoria, Queens. (“My mother’s doctor was a sexist idiot who kept telling her she was fine, but then her water broke. She nearly had me in a cab. At the hospital, the illustrious doctor wasn’t ready. I started to come out, but he closed my mother’s legs on my head. I must have really been pissed off. Ever since then, I’ve been a little late.”)

She spent her first four years in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. She loved living across from the Brooklyn Navy Yard and a train trestle. (“It was magical, like a book–all those people from far-away places. Sailors, Hasidic Jews, Spanish people, Italian people, Irish, German. They all looked really exotic to me. I remember sitting and thinking that the gate to the Navy Yard looked like a castle.”)

Her family then moved to Ozone Park, Queens. She mistakenly thought it was a move to upscale Long Island. (“I wasn’t so good at geography.”) She says her home life was not what one would call stable. (“I lived in a nut house: my mother and father had a turbulent relationship. My mother and stepfather also had a turbulent relationship.”)

Her school years were rough. (“I was considered a slow child because I have dyslexia and read slowly. I never did my homework.”) She dreamed of going to Music and Art High School but settled for a fashion school. (“I flunked everything. Then they put me in a class for ‘nonachieving geniuses.’ But I flunked that, too. Afterward, I went to four different high schools. I was seventeen and still had three more years to go. So I said forget it and quit.”)

She always wanted to sing, but was discouraged by everyone. (“They said, ‘You can’t do that. Somebody’s got to clean the fish.'”) She was a horse walker at Belmont Park. She worked at a kennel in Vermont. She went to art college, but fantasized about singing. She eventually landed a gig as a background singer. (“All of a sudden my world changed: I didn’t look odd any more. I was where I was supposed to be, I guess.”)

She lives in Connecticut and Manhattan with a dog, three cats, and her husband of three years, actor David Thornton. (“He tells me I’m a tough guy, like Karl Malden in On the Waterfront.”) She has tried acting herself, and was nominated for an Emmy last year for her guest role on Mad About You. She blames an acting job–in the unreleased film Off and Running–for her worst haircut. (“They told me I was gonna look like Louise Brooks or Sophia Loren. I looked like Marco Polo.”)

She believes manners count, but admits that she can be quite rude in the wrong circumstances. (“If somebody is very arrogant, I give them the business. If they don’t want to sit next to me, I make sure I sit next to them and then I turn into the slobbiest eater, spill water, and become a real thorn in their side.”) She is ticked off by stupidity. (“Of course, I’m a little stupid myself.”) She admits to having engaged in fisticuffs, but is not proud of it. (“The circumstances were not good. I changed my environment immediately.”)

She says that, her video experiences notwithstanding, she is no hoofer. (“You call that dancing? I would be kind and call it ‘movement’!”) She is heavily into computers. (“It really helped me because being dyslexic, I had a great fear of writing and couldn’t read fast or aloud well. I felt nervous and sounded like a dummy. With the computer, I can write treatments for my videos. I can make the print size big and correct the spelling and, because I can read it, I don’t have fear.”)

Her favorite bagel is raisin (“With fish action, like salmon spread. It’s very exotic. When I was a kid, we never had fish in the morning.”) She confesses to being hooked on sugar but tries to drink protein shakes; she mixes in cranberry juice, banana, prune juice, and blueberries. (“The [shake’s] natural flavor is hideous.”)

She has brass beds in both Connecticut and New York. She sleeps in the nude, except in cold weather, when she wears a long-sleeved pajama top. (“If I want to arouse my husband, that’s different. I wear something like black stockings, and I pretend, ‘Oooh, I forgot to take them off!'”)

She sometimes tosses and turns, especially when she’s away from David. (“Then I usually fall asleep watching an old movie. I’ve been watching them since I was eight, a lot of Bette Davis. I just loved the women in those really funny clothes. I think I was born out of an old movie.”)

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