To casual fans, Cyndi
Lauper is best known for sing-along-worthy pop tailor-made for prom nights
("Time After Time" requires a five-Kleenex minimum) and bachelorette parties
("Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" - and wear "funny hats" shaped like a penis). But
her recent work is among her best. Take last year's Grammy-nominated foray into
the deep, smoky-sounding South, Memphis Blues, her highest-charting album since the '80s. This
month, she releases an intimate live-concert DVD, To Memphis with Love, on which she performs tracks from the album alongside serious blues
icons. And on Sunday, October 23, she'll stop by House of Blues (15 Lansdowne Street, Boston, 888.693.2583) for From Memphis to Mardi Gras, a co-headlining tour with New Orleans legend
(and recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee) Dr. John. Tickets are $35-$45
at livenation.com. We grabbed the pop icon to chat about her new music, her
upcoming reality show, and Kinky Boots, a Broadway show she helped pen about a sassy,
shoe-loving drag queen.
To Memphis with
Love, huh? Have any love for Boston? I've always wanted to be a New Englander - there's just something about
the accent. I used to have a house on the Cape.
I would get chowda at a place that had this gigantic lobster. I'd
pose with it. I always wanted to buy it to save its life, but you know - if you
threw him back in the ocean, he'd just get caught again.
What was it like recording the concert? I wanted to bring the live band and the recording
band together to one place. But this one theater had bed bugs, and every other
place was too small. So we wound up renting a place, The Warehouse, and had a
gig there. We invited friends, blues musicians - not a lot of people. It was so
moving and special for me to sing with these legends, like Allen Toussaint,
Tracy Nelson, and Jonny Lang. And now I'm supporting it with Dr. John on tour.
That's an honor. He's absolutely something else.
And there's behind-the-scenes footage? Well, you always want to try to have a camera. . .
. You just have somebody there, leave the camera on, and tell them, "Make sure you
don't do any under-the-chin shots." . . . I took little pieces of me recording the album itself so people would get a feel for what that's like and how things get made. . . . I wanted the project to have that flavor to make it special, not just another live DVD that's glitz and glam.
You're also getting ready to launch a
reality show. Did you hesitate about showing your personal life to cameras? My personal life is just an aspect to the show.
What I think people will see is that no matter what - famous, not famous,
professional white-collar folks, blue-collar people - we all face the same
difficulties in life. [Like] taking too much on and trying to strike a good
balance between work, family, life.
Your last album, Bring Ya to the Brink, got a Grammy nomination for best electronic/dance
album. That sound is even hotter now. Since this is our Nightlife issue, I'm
wondering - are you going to do another dance album soon? I
love dance music, so I know that sooner or later I'll definitely want to write
and record more dance material. Actually, I've been working on music with
[UK dance group] Bimbo Jones for this Broadway project I am working on, so who
knows - maybe that tune will get to floors soon.
Speaking of Broadway, how is the creative process different
when writing for the stage? It's very exciting and different, being
part of a creative team building a show. You try to tell a story through music,
which is what I've always done, but this time the content is dictated by the
storyline of the play. Harvey Fierstein is writing the book for the show, Jerry
Mitchell is the director and choreographer, and I am the composer. I
brought in different songwriting partners for songs. Then you have producers on
top of that. When you make a CD, you kind of live in this insular world without
many outside [influences].
Kinky Boots stars a drag queen. So what's your drag name? You're
supposed to combine the name of your first pet with the name of the street you
grew up on. Princess Marcy!