As 5’3″ Cyndi Lauper once noted, “You have to remember’ no matter what you’re told’ that God loves all the flowers, even the wild ones that grow on the side of the highway.” Ms. Lauper still believes that.
And she also believes she can act. You’ll be surprised to find that you agree when you see her emote as Christopher Walken’s girlfriend in The Opportunists, a tongue-in-cheek indie about a small time crime caper that takes place in Queens, New York. It’s not going to set film history on fire but it’s beautifully shot and does show off a newly toned-down Cyndi.
With a voice that doesn’t grate and a hair color your mother might choose, she’s utterly convincing as a tough but sensitive bar owner who wants her beau Walken to just be a good guy and marry her.
In person, however, Cyndi was back to purple tresses, although her hair style and her garb were rather classy. The girl was fit and ready to let loose.
PlanetOut: At the Joni Mitchell tribute concert which was recently broadcast over TBS, some folks said you gave the best performance. You were the one who brought the house down. Did you find many people shocked Cyndi Lauper was doing Joni? Most music fans probably only know of your early career.
CL: Oh, no! If you listen to “Time After Time,” you see how the poetry had to be influenced by somebody, and it certainly wasn’t the Beatles. I mean they were excellent and they influenced me in a lot of ways, and their writing was incredible … and I can’t say that John Lennon wasn’t a wonderful poet, but because, my God, he was, and he did influence me. But then there’s some stuff in there that definitely came from growing up and listening to Joni Mitchell.
PlanetOut: When you sing a song like “I’m Going to Be Strong,” you just milk it brilliantly. That’s a sensational performance. But do you get upset with folks who can’t see past your outrageous persona? Your outfits?
CL: You know, maybe for a time I did. But it’s been such a long time now, I’ve just come to settle on how I feel about myself. I like color. I do do funny things, and I am kind of funny sometimes even when I don’t mean to be. Maybe part of it’s stupidity. You know what I mean. But I think you’ve got to be who you are. It isn’t my issue to tell everybody what it is that I do. My issue is to keep doing it and to keep the channel open because while you’re doing it, and you’re in the moment of doing it, sometime greatness touches you.
PlanetOut: Well, being a great artist, one has to be selfish. Look at Tchaikovsky. [Cyndi laughs] Lots of gays are going to be seeing this film, The Opportunists, because they adore you. You have done so much for the gay community and AIDS.
CL: All right! Let me just say one thing. I’ve done what I could. I wish I could have done something really incredible. I only did what I could do, but it’s not like a separate community for me. I’m a friend and family member, OK, and when you have a gay person in your family or they are your close friends, you’ve got to stand up and say, “Hey, I’m proud of you. You’re a great guy. You’re a great gal. I’m proud of you.” Because if you don’t, and you really love that person, and you don’t show up, that’s really sending the wrong message to the person.
To the world. We’re all blessed to be born in this country because this is a wonderful country of real opportunity. I mean it’s hard but we weren’t born in a war torn country. We didn’t have major volcanoes all over us. You know we don’t have earthquakes. We do but we haven’t been devastated like other parts of the world, right? I mean Serbia. What if you were born in Serbia, what would your career be like then?
PlanetOut: Sadly, financially, not much different.
CL: Well, the only thing that I see that’s unfortunate about this country is not what happens to us, it’s what we do each other. And so if we can extend our arms and give support to each other and celebrate our differences, we got something. Me, growing up, my sister is a lesbian. She’s one of the most fantastic people I know. She’s always been heroic to me. She has always tried to do something good in the world. She’s been an inspiration to me, and I know I’m not just … I ain’t just talking, you know.
Everybody in this country has somebody in their family. Like I used to go to weddings, and they’d be like, “Oh, you’re sister’s the . . .” And I’d go, “The photographer” because you know … and I wore a tuxedo too because I knew they were going to give her a problem. And this is way before k.d. lang. So if you don’t stand up for each other, what’s going to happen? What are we going to do? Closet ourselves again? I’m not up for it. And that’s a little arrogant of me and it’s a little selfish of me because I’m comfortable within the community because that’s kind of like an extension of my own lifestyle except I’m not gay. I’m heterosexual, but I could give a (leaves a pause for an expletive) you know, if you are or not. It’s who you are. I have so many wonderful [gay] friends and my family whom I love deeply, you gotta show up. It’s just a … You gotta show up. It’s half-selfish, and half I feel an obligation, so I do what I can. I don’t see it as a heroic thing because it ain’t.
PlanetOut: So you’re a mother now. … What’s his name?
CL: Declyn. We spell it the Scottish way. … He’s 2 and 1/2. … He’s a great guy. He’s very funny. I’m enamored with the kid. Yeah, he’s my kid. He’s fantastic. He’s a lot like his dad. Unfortunately he has my temperament. I hope he has my voice. because if has my temperament and his father’s voice, we’re all in trouble.
PlanetOut: Getting back to the gay thing, you’re just being modest.
CL: No. No. No. If family members like me would stand up as opposed to not saying anything and if they’d say, “I’m loud and proud,” it would send a message out into this country that we’re not all bigots and homophobic and you know what I mean. You got to stand up and say it.