At first glance there is more similarities than differences between Cyndi Lauper and Jackie Gleason. Their shapes aren’t real similar. Neither are their tastes in clothes. Neither is their music.
But just as Gleason composed and co-wrote music, so does Cyndi Lauper. Justas Jackie made a point of watching every instrument and every piece of equipment, and informing himself of every aspect of his art from his earliest days in the business, so does Cyndi Lauper. And just as Jackie’s best works depended on the excellence of an entire team, so too — as Cyndi is quick to say –does Cyndi’s.
Besides she was almost born on Chauncey Street. Well anyhow, in Richmond Hill, Queens, which is a mere matter of subway stops away. A few months ago, she went back to Richmond Hill to participate in her high school graduation ceremony — having missed it the first time around, when she was a teenager.
Though she never appeared at a RALPH convention, Cyndi Lauper was one of the club’s first celebrity members. There is an unconfirmed rumor that when she joined, she yelled, “This is big, big, BIG ! Probably the biggest thing I ever got into….!”
HC: Are you really a Honeymooners fan?
CL: I watch them every night.
HC: Would you have enjoyed playing Alice ?
CL: I love to see her in action. I think she is pretty terrific. She was the best straight man I’ve ever seen. She was so good.
HC: The writers gave her some great lines.
CL: There are so many that stick out in my mind, like “Tell us, oh Richard the Chicken hearted. The peasants have a right to know.” That’s one of my favorite lines. And the time that she wants to buy a TV, but Ralph is too cheap to spring for one. So Alice explodes that she is tired of looking at the furniture and four walls. “I want to look at Liberace!!!”
HC: You sounded just like her.
CL: Thanks… I think. But really, I enjoy all of them. All of them. I love Norton. His body language was so excellent. Trixie, she’s very subtle. Shereally didn’t get a big chance. But she’s great. And some people were so much fun that they stay with you even though they were on only a few times, like Mrs. Manicotti. Or Carlos the mambo dancer who was on only once. And Gleason of course.
HC: Your friend Lou Albano did a superb ob of playing Ralph when they’re-created the famous Ralph and Ed grape juice sketch at a RALPH convention a few years ago. I couldn’t get over how much of Gleason he managed to project -his voice, his body language, his timing.
CL: Lou’s a funny guy.
HC: He is also very sweet and caring. We interviewed him for our number 7issue, which just coincidentally happened to feature him in a story.
In the interview, he mentioned that you and he have worked together to raise money for multiple sclerosis.
CL: I think it’s good to able to give something back, and it’s good to use your talent for something good.
HC: Was the same thing true when you recorded “We are the World”?
CL: It was an amazing experience, just to see all those people in one room.
At first I didn’t understand the song. But once I heard all the voices, and once I saw everybody sing, I got the feeling.
HC: Getting back to Lou Albano, what did you think of his role as Frankie the Fixer in Wise guys ?
CL: It was hard for me to get used to it at first, because I know Lou as a friend. Then I got into happy wheels demo watching it, and I thought he was really good. I enjoyed that movie anyway, the whole thing.
HC: And now, like Lou Albano, are about to take a plunge into comedy. With Peter Falk and Jeff Goldblum.
CL: I play a psychic studying to be a beautician. Which sounds bizarre, but not as bizarre as.. I don’t think she’s as bizarre when I fool around.
The character is funny though, and she has very strong instinct. She doesn’t think of herself as very smart, but throughout the movie, she’s the one coming up with the ideas. She’s the one saying, “Lets go to Ecuador.” Even though it seems like she isn’t doing anything, she is.
HC: By doing what?
CL: I can’t tell you the end.
HC: I know that you are making a new album. When will that be released ?
CL: In August.
HC: Is that about the same time your movie is opening up ?
HC: How was it to work with Peter Falk and Jeff Goldblum on the movie ? Did you learn a lot from them ?
CL: I loved it. I though they were terrific. They are really funny guys.
I had a coach with me, but also I watched them. Jeff comes from a completely different place than Peter. Totally opposite techniques.
But, you are always learning. The more things I do, the more things Understand about the different mediums. Rock video is real quick, so everything is real quick and large. A commercial is even quicker and even larger and it is even more shocking, it’s only fifteen seconds — so whatever you do, you’ve got to do quick and then you’re gone. A movie is a completely different approach. It’s slow enough for the camera to go in and catch your thoughts, without you’re having to come on like an explosion. You have more chance for depth.
HC: Are you a naturally free-spirited person ?
CL: I try– until I get uptight.
HC: Who have you been influenced by ? Did you used to sing to, say, the Supremes when you were a teenager ? Mama Cass ? Who did u enjoy ?
CL: I enjoyed everybody, but I really enjoyed the Beatles. I really listened to an awful lot of John Lennon. I didn’t even realize it as a kid, but when Listened to the Beatles, and we used to sing along, what I was actually learning was harmony, and I didn’t know what I was learning, but I would sing-along with the harmony voice. I guess my voice developed from listening to those kind of harmonies.
I listened to a lot of people. I though Joni Mitchell was the living end.
Of course, Listening to and watching Norton do the hucklebuck, watching Ralphdo his kind of dances, inspired me. And many times as I would be writing, I’dfind myself saying – you know, like Norton did – “why oh why was I born with this musical gift?”
HC: Do you write your own music ?
CL: I co-write. I co-produce. I co-art direct. I co-write the videos. Iwork on every aspect.
But I don’t want you to get the wrong idea. Let me say that you’re only asgood as the people you work with. If I didn’t have the people I am working with, I could never do it myself. You learn more and more about people, andgood leadership, which you always have to learn as you get on.
HC: No wonder you’re so great at what you do.
CL: That’s really sweet of you to say.
HC: But it’s true. Baby, you’re the greatest.