When Cyndi Lauper danced with Michael C. Nolan, a managing director of JP Morgan Securities LLC, he was the boy having fun.
A few of his friends enjoyed the moment too, among them Paul Friedman, chief operating officer at Guggenheim Securities LLC, and Paul O’Leary, managing member of Raffles Capital Advisors LLC.
But let’s not kid ourselves: It was the wives and girlfriends of the investment bankers and hedge fund managers gathered who had the most fun she-bopping with the ’80s pop star.
Back then Lauper had pink hair and her fans wore braces. At the Hearing Health Foundation’s benefit on Feb. 6 at B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, the rocker was a platinum blonde with pink and blue streaks, and her admirers were looking like they belonged at a Fashion Week party as they sung along to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and “True Colors.”
We’re thinking in particular of the chairwomen of the event, Fendi-clad Natasha Boucai, wife of Robert Boucai of Newbrook Capital Advisors LP, and Victoria Orlin, an architect and the wife of Paul Orlin, chief investment officer of Amici Capital LLC -- who had the uncanny ability to get from one side of the crowded room to another in the bat of an eye.
And also: Aryn Grossman, in thigh-high boots, who cuddled on a banquette with her husband, Matthew Grossman of Alg Investment Management LLC, and Melanie Charlton, chief executive officer and creative director of Clos-ette, which organizes the closets of the rich and famous.
There was plenty of shopping to do too. An auction included dozens of items, from an American Girl hearing aid to dinner at home with John Pizzarelli, with the jazzman cooking and performing.
The event drew 500 guests and raised more than $800,000 for the foundation’s Hearing Restoration Project, a two-year-old consortium of researchers working to find a cure for hearing loss. One effort is to figure out how to replicate in mammals the avian hearing cells that regenerate on their own.
Last year the foundation gave $1 million in research grants and brought the researchers together for an annual meeting.
“Traditionally the researchers are competing with each other,” the foundation’s executive director Andrea Boidman said. “What we’re bringing to it is collaboration.”
Nearly one in five Americans 12 and older has hearing loss in at least one ear, a study at Johns Hopkins University found. That’s 48 million people, and the number is expected to double by 2030.
Guests found ear plugs at their seats, along with plates of sliders and macaroni and cheese. Emcee Richard Kind’s remarks were close captioned on two large screens in the room.
Lauper -- one of the first to have closed-captioning in a music video -- donated her services for the benefit. The performance was a break from working on the musical “Kinky Boots,” for which she wrote the lyrics. It starts previews on Broadway in March.
“They told me not to play loud but as a matter of fact, if you’re having trouble hearing, maybe I should play loud,” Lauper joked.
Nolan, a board member of the Hearing Health Foundation, experienced hearing loss as an adult and wears hearing aids.
“It’s life changing,” he said. “I wish more people, especially the elderly, could get over the stigma of wearing a hearing aid.”
Nolan attributes his hearing loss to genetics and environment. He was born and raised on a farm, where he drove a very loud tractor.
People yelling and shouting at work had nothing to do with it.
“I’ve never worked on the floor. I’ve always been upstairs,” he said.
(Amanda Gordon is a writer and photographer for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. Any opinions expressed are her own.)
Muse highlights include Jeremy Gerard on theater, Greg Evans and Craig Seligman on movies.