It’s not just about having fun anymore. For Cyndi Lauper, music runs deeper than her ’80s-era eccentricities may have seemed to suggest. Lauper changes musical guises like she changes dye jobs.
The 62-year-old singer takes another sharp turn on Detour, her latest reincarnation, this time as a full-on Southern belle. The spunky pop priestess trades in her pink for plaid and saddles up with a slew of Nashville mainstays to sing signature mid-20th-cen-tury country ditties.
Lauper recently dished on longing to be the “unknown singer,” shoe struggles and forever wanting to take on Joan Crawford and Bette Davis’ infamous revenge relic “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?.” How exactly? By starring in a version of it alongside Madonna, of course.
I love the irony of you, mega LGBT activist, taking on a genre that’s not historically known to embrace the LGBT community.
There are a lot of LGBT people who love early country music! They love Patsy Cline, they love Loretta Lynn. I loved Loretta Lynn when I was little and when I heard her sing “The Pill” (a cheeky take on birth control) it was like, “Holy cow!”
You’ve called your new label, Sire Records, your “dream label.” And actually, Madonna’s self-titled debut was released on the same label in 1983. Do you think you and Madonna might have done a duet if you’d been on the same label back in the day? Was there ever talk of that happening?
Oh, not by business people. You know, I always felt for me, I would’ve loved to do “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” with her… ’cause I think that’s very funny! (Laughs hysterically)
Which part would you play?
Come on! Who do you think I’d play? I’d play Baby Jane – I’d be torturing her. Because she’s always viewed as the bad girl, you know! They’d make her the good girl and I’d be the bad one. Or (we could do Joan Crawford’s 1954 western-drama) “Johnny Guitar”– she’d be the righteous one (laughs).
Why is it important to you to still perform in North Carolina despite the state’s new discriminatory legislation known as the “bathroom bill”?
North Carolina is a very important place to go because once people are disenfranchised the way they have been, it’s very important to bring light to a place where people have none and also educate people on what the real concerns are and get people involved in their own destiny. It’s hard for me to even string these words together, but because you were on “Celebrity Apprentice:”
What if Donald Trump becomes president?
Ugh. Everybody keeps asking me the same question. I don’t know. I really don’t know. I wouldn’t feel that good about it. I don’t think people should campaign to stop Trump. I think people should vote, for one, and vote for the person they feel is most responsible and can really understand the way the government works right now and make it move forward instead of stopping it every frickin’ two minutes and costing people who pay taxes a lot of money. It’s a little disconcerting – the whole frickin’ thing – and it’s gone on for too long.
It’s been seven years since “Bring Ya to the Brink,” your last full album of original non-musical material. Do you write? Are there plans to release original material under your own name?
Well, I’m probably gonna write another Broadway show.
Oh, you are?
Yes. I think if I wrote (for a solo project) I’d probably write under a pseudonym and sing under a pseudonym because it’d just be a lot easier to have it be received better.
Why can’t you put your name on it?
I don’t know. Because I don’t want to be judged. I’d rather do new music with a paper bag over my head and be the unknown singer. (Laughs)
But you’ve been in the spotlight for almost your entire life. Aren’t you used to critics?
No, I know, but there are things that I can do as Cyndi Lauper and things that I can’t. Just ’cause I can’t doesn’t mean I won’t. I just won’t do it in a conventional way.
You can see Lauper live in concert when she plays Atlanta Symphony Hall on June 5.