Wednesday, September 22, 2010

True colors keep shining through: A conversation with Cyndi Lauper

Music legend and gay icon Cyndi Lauper will be in Denver tomorrow night at the Paramount Theatre. Her most recent album 'Memphis Blues' has spent 12 weeks at the top of the Blues Album Chart.

I was lucky enough to catch up with her recently to talk about her upcoming reality show and autobiography, fighting for gay rights with her True Colors Fund and the Give A Damn Campaign, her thoughts on Lady Gaga, and when we can expect the return of the fabulous True Colors Tour.

Drew: Congratulations on the success of 'Memphis Blues.' You've been putting out a lot of interestingly themed albums in the past few years - blues, acoustic, electronic, standards. What musical styles or influences are left that you would like to explore?
Cyndi: Who knows what I will be doing next? I still have tons up my sleeves. Guess you will just have to wait and see what’s next!

Which of your albums is your personal favorite? How about a favorite song?
Just one? That’s going to be too tough. Because it changes from time to time.

The Give a Damn Campaign, which is a project of your True Colors Fund, is aimed at straight people who are interested in GLBT rights. What would you say are the two or three most important things straight people should know about GLBT rights?
Cyndi: There is so much that people need to know, which is why we created the Give a Damn Campaign. We wanted to create something that took all of the mountains of information out there and break it down to the basics so it was not so overwhelming. There are a ton of facts and information about the many forms of discrimination against gay people that straight people need to know about and can find at But, the most important thing that straight people need to know is that when one group of people's freedom is put up for grabs it means that it could be your group or the group of people that someone you love belongs to that could be next. Either we all are equal or no one is. I would also say that all of us in any majority have a responsibility to stand up as human beings for the minority, to stand up for the underdog. That to me is what being an American is all about.

What do you think gay people can do to enlist more straight people as allies?
The most important thing is to let the straight people in your life - your family, friends, co-workers - know who you are. Share your life with them. Let them know what being a part if a minority feels like, what being discriminated against does to a person. Open up to the people you share a personal connection with, that is the most powerful and meaningful way you can hopefully change people's minds or get people who support equality to get involved for the first time. Same goes for straight people, talk about why your support equality with the other straight people in your life. Lead by example.

You've worked with Lady Gaga on recent projects and she's cited you as an artistic inspiration. What are your thoughts on her as an artist and as a GLBT activist as it pertains to her recent work to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell?
There is no one quite like Gaga. She is definitely one of the hardest working girls out there. I adore her. I am blown away by her performances, everything from the energy to her passion on stage. Working together on the MAC Viva Glam campaign and talking about HIV/AIDS prevention for women has been really important to the both of us. We have a lot in common and have become friends through the work we are doing together. I admire her for the recent work to repeal DADT. Good for her. I always feel that if you are famous it's good to use your fame to help others. Give a voice to a cause that needs it. Its payback and it's the right thing to do.

I hear you're working on an autobiography. What will it be called and why write it now?
I am writing an autobiography that will be released via Simon & Schuster in late 2011. I am in the middle of writing right now so ask me this question again next time we chat!

What is that process of writing an autobiography like and can you give us any hints about the juiciest bits or most interesting chapters?
Its a bit like therapy. I am working with a great writer named Jancee Dunn, who was a writer for Rolling Stone -where we first met - and has gone on to write some really great books. As for the process, we spend time together, I write her long emails, we get together to talk, I write some more to send to her, she sends it back. It's focused on my life from the age of seventeen when I left home for the first time.

You were a huge hit on 'Celebrity Apprentice'. What was the experience like for you?
I had a blast on the show. I wanted to play for the True Colors Fund and knew so many people watch the show that it could really help me push the mission of the fund forward. If I had to do it all over again I would so I could raise even more money for the True Colors fund and have another chance to talk about civil rights and the gay community.

I hear you have your own reality show in the works. What's it going to be like?
Yes, I did a deal with Mark Burnett Productions before I signed on to 'Celebrity Apprentice'. Mark Burnett is probably the most successful producers of Reality TV so I am really happy to be in partnership with them The folks there are smart and creative and I think it's going to be a lot of fun to do. I love the medium so I'm excited about it. It is going to mostly be about me and my day to day life as I focus on my career. We start filming in January.

Are you a fan of any other reality shows? Who's your favorite castmember of 'Jersey Shore'?
Yes, of any of Mark Burnett's shows, of course! Which is pretty much all of them on TV right now. As for 'Jersey Shore', I don’t know too much about it. Been touring and working so hard, I don’t have much time to just sit back and relax.

The True Colors Tour's Red Rocks shows were some of the best I've ever been to. Can we expect another True Colors Tour in 2011?
Of course we will do True Colors in 2011! This year I wanted to focus on 'Memphis Blues' and bring it on the road. That's the main reason for not having a True Colors Tour this year. The other reason is that the economy is still pretty bad and a lot of folks just don't have the money for those big ticket festival shows. The more acts on the bill, the more the ticket has to cost. But we do want to do it in 2011. We are going to do a three-day festival in NYC and take it out on the road as well. Stay tuned!