Cyndi Lauper is a legendary music icon, and she has shown no signs of slowing down, despite the fact that her amazing music career has spanned multiples decades. She is known as one of the biggest pop legends, and her songs “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” and “True Colors” continue to be pop anthems that epitomize the ’80s and ’90s.
One of the qualities that people most recognize in Cyndi Lauper is her ability to be herself no matter what and her passion for authenticity. There is nothing fake about Lauper — she’s the real deal. Whether getting involved in the world of wrestling, creating and composing a Broadway musical, or advocating for vulnerable youth, Lauper puts her heart into everything she does.
The singer has had quite the journey over the years, and frankly it’s one people should know more about. Here is the untold truth of Cyndi Lauper.
Cyndi Lauper was in a band before going solo
Cyndi Lauper did not actually intend to work as a solo singer. Instead, she was the lead singer for the band Blue Angel, as she told KTLA 5 in 2019, and she worked hard to make a go with the group. While she has admitted that they only managed to sell about 12 copies of their album, Lauper’s original intentions were to sign a record deal that included the whole band. But big execs at record labels had other ideas.
Part of the reason she originally did not want to be signed as a solo artist was because she saw how women were treated in the industry and she didn’t want to be told how to act, what to wear, or how to sing. When she finally did accept a solo singing contract, Lauper fought hard to maintain creative control of her album. She explained, “I didn’t want to be like somebody else. I could only ever be a second-rate somebody else, but I could be a first-rate me. And that’s what I wanted.”
Here's how Cyndi Lauper decides what color to dye her hair
If there is one thing that people think of when they envision Cyndi Lauper, it is the colorful, eye-catching hairstyles that she has sported over the years. Whether it is bright pink or aquamarine, Lauper manages to make any cut and color look fashionable and trendy.
In an interview on The Real in 2018, Lauper was praised for her ability to pull off any hairstyle effortlessly. When asked how she chose what colors to dye her hair, she revealed her secret: She gets a lot of her inspiration from nature.
In the interview, her hair was a really light blonde with soft blue and violet highlights. She shared that the colors she rocked were inspired by the Madagascar periwinkles that she saw growing, which were a purple color, as well soft white tulips, all combining to create a beautiful arrangement of color. As Lauper explained in her playful way, “It’s hair, have some fun.”
Cyndi Lauper's surprising connection to wrestling
In the 1980s, rock ‘n’ roll music and wrestling seemed to go hand in hand. As pro wrestling commentator Michael Cole summarized, “Cyndi Lauper is the reason that WWE came to the mainstream.” It all began with Lauper having Lou Albano play the role of her father in the music video for her hit song “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
Lauper became involved in the WWE through her boyfriend and manager at the time, David Wolff. Through his love of both rock music and wrestling, Wolff played an integral role in the development of The Wrestling Album and subsequently the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection. Lennie Petze produced both The Wrestling Album and Lauper’s first solo album She’s So Unusual. As Petze explained to Vice Fightland, “We realized that Lauper was bringing in a mostly female audience, and we needed to get more of the young male demographic buying her record. The storyline that developed of Lauper owing Captain Lou record royalties and each of them managing a wrestler, Wendi Richter and the Fabulous Moolah, was huge”.
In 2019, Lauper was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame.
Cyndi Lauper was once homeless
Despite her incredible success, Cyndi Lauper has remained very open about her humble beginnings and the fact that she was homeless for a time in her youth. After leaving an abusive household, as she shared in her memoir (via HuffPost), Lauper was unable to sign a lease at 17 years old, and so she was homeless and living on the streets, as she explained to KTLA 5. “You had to be 21,” she said, adding, “I didn’t have anybody sign a lease for me.”
She found her way to Vermont, living in a youth hostel while there, and she claims that it was Vermont that “saved” her. Lauper was reluctant to go on welfare, instead wanting to work at any job she could. She was eventually hired to work at a kennel. She also managed to complete her GED and enrolled in college to study art.
While in college, Lauper realized that she didn’t really want to be a teacher, but rather she wanted to be a painter. So she returned to New York and held jobs in the art industry before answering some ads to be a background singer. The rest, as they say, is history!
The unusual form of payment Cyndi Lauper accepted when she was younger
After leaving home when she was 17 years old, Cyndi Lauper dropped out of high school and picked up work wherever she could. One of the jobs she worked was as a salesperson at Screaming Mimi’s, an iconic vintage store located in New York City’s Greenwich Village, according to AARP The Magazine. Eclectic, just like Lauper, the store was a perfect fit for the creative teen.
While working there, Lauper would often take payment in the form of used clothing rather than money. While she was an excellent salesperson in the store, her close friend and store owner Laura Wills told AARP The Magazine that Lauper “hid away the things she wanted for herself.” Given that Lauper was apparently taken by fashion at the time (and really, ever since then), it makes sense that she’d be okay with receiving previously owned clothes rather than a check she could deposit at a bank. Wills told the magazine that Lauper was fascinated by vintage clothes from the 1950s when they first met, and was interested in donning traditional undergarments as outerwear.
The health condition Cyndi Lauper endured silently for years
Cyndi Lauper is known for her upbeat, positive attitude. So people might be surprised to learn that underneath her cheerful exterior, Lauper quietly battled an illness that left her feeling very alone and “more unattractive” than she’d ever felt before, as she told KTLA 5.
Lauper has psoriasis, which, contrary to popular belief, is much more than just a rash. Although the cause of psoriasis is unknown, it is believed to be linked to an immune system problem that speeds up the regeneration of skin cells, according to Mayo Clinic. While it’s often marked by painful or itchy patches of skin, the condition can lead to “joint problems, such as pain, swelling or inability to perform daily tasks.”
This illness became so debilitating for Lauper, who developed the condition later in life, that her team, including her lawyer and manager, brought her to a meeting with the National Psoriasis Foundation, where she got to hear firsthand stories from other people who have suffered like her. “They changed my mind about everything,” she told KTLA 5. “I wasn’t alone.” It was an eye-opening experience for her, and Lauper became a supporter, using her voice to raise awareness about the condition.
Cyndi Lauper didn't really like the song "We Are the World"
In an interview on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, Cyndi Lauper revealed that she had confided to her manager about not liking the iconic song “We Are the World.” The song was one of the biggest fundraisers of the 1980s, meant to raise money and create awareness about the devastation that victims of famine were experiencing in Africa at the time.
The super-group of 46 vocalists, known as USA for Africa, was put together by Quincy Jones, who produced the hit song. It featured such popular singers as Michael Jackson, Lionel Richie, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Ray Charles, and many more, as well as Cyndi Lauper, of course.
Lauper is known to have caused something of an issue while recording the song, due to her jewelry hitting the microphone, as reported by Rolling Stone. However, she worked through it and provided an incredible addition to the hit song, her powerhouse voice catching the attention of everyone listening. Lauper explained, “It was catchy though, and I was honored to freakin’ sing it.” To this day, the song is well known around the world and remains a symbol of how we can all work together to make the world a better place.
How Cyndi Lauper found love after heartache
After splitting with her husband and manager at the time, Dave Wolff, after six and a half years of marriage, Cyndi Lauper experienced a challenging time. She was feeling depressed.
While working on the film Off and Running, Lauper met David Thornton, and the two quickly became friends. Lauper confided in an interview with The Independent that she began sending Thornton little notes to tease him, as her way of indicating that she was interested in getting to know him better. The friendship blossomed into a romantic relationship, and Lauper shared that it was “during an intimate moment in a Miami hotel that I realized I loved him, that I wanted to marry him.” The couple were married on Nov. 24, 1991 and are still happily married today.
“All I can say is that he is my best friend, he’s wildly creative and I just wanted to share my whole life with him,” Lauper, who shares son Dex with Thornton, gushed when speaking to Closer Weekly.
Why Cyndi Lauper said Kinky Boots was an "accident"
Despite the incredible success of the hit musical Kinky Boots and the fact that she won a Tony Award for her composition of the musical score, Cyndi Lauper told Frank Buckley of KTLA 5 that Kinky Boots‘ success was really all “an accident.” When asked why she felt this way, Lauper explained, “Because I didn’t know what I was doing!”
She may not have felt like she knew what she was doing, but Lauper made every effort to follow the directions she was given and “tried to make it catchy and I tried to do everything they wanted.” While Lauper felt like she “wasn’t as clever as [composer duo] Rodgers and Hammerstein,” she worked hard to do what the producers of the musical wanted, and, as such, Kinky Boots found incredible success. It’s just serves as a clear example that anyone can learn to do something new if they apply the same passion and determination that Lauper does to her work.
What Cyndi Lauper's relationship with her mother, who has dementia, is like
Cyndi Lauper revealed in an interview that her mother, Catrine, had been battling dementia for some time. Dementia is known to affect not only memory, but also thinking, problem-solving, language, and the ability to complete everyday tasks.
While it has not always been easy, Lauper was able to see the positives. In 2016, she explained to AARP The Magazine (via Cosmopolitan), “The good thing is, I can talk to her and tell her stuff that I really shouldn’t tell anybody, and she’ll give me these wonderful words of wisdom that a mother does. But then, 10 minutes later she’ll forget.”
Lauper and her mother seem to be closer than ever. In September 2019, Lauper celebrated her mother’s 89th birthday. Sharing a photo of her mother on the beach on Twitter, Lauper told her followers, in part, “Today was my mom’s 89th birthday. I thanked her for all she gave me, her voice, her music and her love for art.”
Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" wasn't thought to be Top 40 material
If there is one song that Cyndi Lauper is most known for, it is most likely “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” the iconic ’80s hit that skyrocketed Lauper to stardom. So, it’s pretty shocking to think that this song may not have been well-received at first. In an interview with Frank Buckley of KTLA 5, Lauper revealed that her hit song was actually not considered to be Top 40 material.
Lauper was told in a letter from a head programmer that “‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’ is not an album-orientated song.” The letter reportedly continued, “It’ll never make it, it certainly isn’t Top 40 [material].” The letter also stated that Lauper sang “way too high,” although this was intentional, as Lauper explained that she wrote it in a key where her “voice would sound like a trumpet because you were trumpeting in an idea.” Clearly, that head programmer was all wrong.
Cyndi Lauper has fought tirelessly for LGBTQ homeless youth
Cyndi Lauper is well known for her hard work as an activist in support of LGBTQ youth who are homeless. Her organization True Colors United helps to promote awareness about the unique challenges that LGBTQ youth face in society today and how we can help them. “We’ve been doing this for years,” Lauper explained in a KTLA 5 interview, noting, “We collaborate with different organizations. That’s why we’re called True Colors United.”
Lauper was passionate about helping the youth, whom she feels are “only homeless because they’re LGBTQ — that is the only reason.” As shared on the True Colors United website, Lauper has stated, “We each have a personal responsibility to make sure LGBTQ youth are treated with dignity and respect.”
Over the years, Lauper has worked tirelessly to ensure that these individuals are protected and cared for with access to resources they need.
What Cyndi Lauper really thinks about retiring and slowing down
It’s hard to believe that Cyndi Lauper would ever slow down, given that she continues to write and produce music and remains busy with her charity work. But there is a time for everything, and, in 2013, Lauper shared that there had been some discussion with her husband, David Thornton, about the possibility of her slowing down.
Lauper explained to ABC News that her conversations with Thornton were very realistic and practical. “When you’re done, you’re done. You don’t have to do any more,” she said. “You do what you want to do and that’s it.” To Lauper, age is clearly just a number, not a sign of when to do things. As she told AARP The Magazine, “You’ll get wherever it is you want to go at whatever time in your life you want to do it.”
Speaking with Us Weekly, Lauper said, “I’m half-Sicilian. Where I come from, the women endure.”
Cyndi Lauper's simple mantra for staying relevant in the industry
When asked what her secret was for staying relevant in the entertainment industry, Cyndi Lauper had a very simple response that she shared with AARP The Magazine: “Don’t listen.” Lauper has always marched to the beat of her own drum, and that is often what’s made her stand apart from other celebrities and singers over the years. While she may not have conformed to expectations, Lauper always stood firm on what she believed in and what she wanted.
She was never overly concerned about being or remaining famous. Her thinking? “You can’t live your whole life worrying about staying famous,” she shared. “If losing some fame means doing what you want, you gotta go with what you want.” Clearly, Lauper has always remained true to herself and the goals she wanted to achieve.
It didn’t matter if her individualism impacted her career positively or negatively; if it felt right to Lauper, that’s what she went with. She’s always been open to trying new ideas and learning new things. “I find it remarkable when the ‘industry people’ try to pigeonhole you, like they know. Even me, I don’t know what I can do,” she explained. “I want to be great, but I don’t know if I can be great, so I just have to keep trying.”
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