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Cyndi Lauper of “Kinky’ Pegs ‘Unusual’ Tour to Hot Debut

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Cyndi Lauper
Cyndi Lauper, winner of the Tony Award for Best Original Score for "Kinky Boots" at The 67th Annual Tony Awards. Photographer: Mike Coppola/WireImage

July 9 (Bloomberg) -- “How you doin’?” Cyndi Lauper asked the crowd at New Jersey’s Center for Performing Arts Sunday night in Newark.

Lauper still acts and talks like the Sicilian-American girl from Queens, New York, whose debut album, “She’s So Unusual,” won her the Grammy for best new artist in 1985.

The award was recently joined on the Lauper mantel by a 2013 Tony for best original score for the Broadway musical “Kinky Boots.” Add her 1995 Emmy as outstanding guest artist in a comedy series, “Mad About You,” and you have a rare trio of entertainment accolades.

Members of the “Kinky Boots” cast were in the audience and she honored them during the encore with the show’s salacious “The Sex Is in the Heel.”

The “She’s So Unusual 30th Anniversary Tour” is the first time Lauper is performing the whole album start to finish, which she told the crowd was “a gift for you.”

“Unusual” sold more than 22 million copies and had five singles on the Billboard Hot 100: “Money Changes Everything,” “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” “Time After Time,” “All Through the Night” and “She Bop.”

“She Bop” was a smoky highlight Sunday night, with the 60-year-old leather-clad Lauper shimmying to the floor. Between numbers she reminisced.

KISS Encounters

The “Unusual” recording sessions were colored by encounters with the babe-toting band KISS and Lauper harnessing Yoko Ono as her spirit animal. It was entertaining just to listen to her rattle off street names with the deliberation and vowel-butchering of a true Queens native.

“You know what, go read the book,” she said when she lost track of her digressions. It was a plug for her autobiography, “Cyndi Lauper: A Memoir,” co-written by Jancee Dunn and released last September.

More music and anecdotes followed. “Time After Time” was a picture of life in her fifth-floor walkup; she referred to her loft bed as the “sixth floor.” The clock ticking in “Time After Time” was associated with her former manager-then-fiance, Dick Wolff.

Another ex gave her a squirrel to cook for dinner. The point of the story was lost when Lauper, as Italian women of a certain age are wont to do, started talking about her sauce. “I make a good sauce,” she said -- even with squirrel.

She described her antidote to booing (a Sicilian anger dance) and her weapon against negativity (a ukulele), which she plucked on “He’s So Unusual.”

‘True Colors’

The piece de resistance was “True Colors” in stunning a cappella. The song is Lauper’s testament to freedom and associated with the LGBT rights movement.

“True Colors” aligned Lauper’s musical career with New York City’s cultural journey during the past three decades. It was a poignant choice and a powerful delivery.

“The first 30 years are the hardest,” Lauper said.

The “Unusual” tour continues tonight at the Zeiterion PAC in New Bedford, Massachusetts; Manhattan’s Beacon Theater tomorrow night; the Capitol in Port Chester, New York, on Friday; and the MGM Grand in Mashantucket, Connecticut, on Saturday. Then it heads to Japan and Australia for August and September.

(Sarah Grant works for Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include Jeffrey Burke on books, Warwick Thompson on London theater.

To contact the writer of this column: Sarah Grant in New York at Sgrant43@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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