Still So Unusual

There’s no one quite like Cyndi Lauper. Her life and the music drawn from it are as colorful as her signature wardrobe and her ever-changing hair. But the singer/songwriter’s quirky charm belies the tenacity beneath. Her catapult to fame in the early 80’s did not come easy, and even after four songs in the top ten, a Grammy under her belt, and a firmly established place in the pop pantheon, Cyndi still battles to sustain her unique presence in a cynical, niche-driven market.

“If only people could just hear what you’re doing – have it be heard. I don’t want to be an oldies act.”

When HOME TEAM PRODUCTIONS began their hour-long documentary about Lauper for Bravo Profiles in the summer of 2000, producers Stephanie Silber and Victor Zimet knew going in that Cyndi was a true original. But spending time with Cyndi Lauper demands the casting off of any preconceived notions that may linger about the madcap waif who danced through the streets of New York singing “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” in the video that made her famous. The real Cyndi Lauper is not afraid to show her true colors in this surprising and evocative look at the singer. What the viewer discovers is a determined, straightforward woman. The whimsy is still there, and the wry humor, as well as her prodigious gifts — the mighty, 4-octave voice, the enduring pop songs she continues to write — but now she’s balancing the demands of career and family while she continues to evolve as a working artist.

“It’s a vocation… you would do it if somebody broke your arm and said, ‘Alright – I got your arm behind your back, NOW try and sing-! And you’d be singing anyway because you can’t help it.”

We follow as Cyndi performs at a Toronto Gay Pride Festival; rehearses for a Carnegie Hall appearance with jazz great Cassandra Wilson; attends the premiere of her co-star turn in an indie drama with Christopher Walken. We find her writing songs with collaborator Angela McCluskey from Wild Colonials (the gals DO have a bit of fun here at Madonna’s expense), in the studio recording new music, missing her family while on the road, and finally, in her garden, pruning flowers, throwing away the dead growth as she talks about what has meaning for her in her life now.

Besides hearing from Cyndi, interviewees include Cassandra Wilson; Larry Kirwan of Black 47, who evokes the downtown scene she sprang from back in the day when he was writing songs with her; her actor husband, David Thornton; Ingrid Sischy, Interview Magazine’s editor-in-chief; MTV’s Kurt Loder; and designers Cynthia Rowley and Nicole Miller, among many others. Fasten your seatbelts. We’re off to Cyndi-land. And she is still so unusual.