Beloved gay icon Cyndi Lauper was as lovably eccentric as ever when she spoke to the Star Observer ahead of her Australian tour next month.

“I’m sittin’ here at home in Connecticut with my dawg starin’ up at me, eatin’ a piece of pizza,” Lauper drawled down the phone in her trademark cartoonish Noo Yawk accent.

Her upcoming Australian shows will include selections from her current Memphis Blues covers album alongside a smattering of her most enduring hits — “The songs that took well to being played by a blues band”.

Memphis Blues came out of left field for Lauper’s queer fans, who lapped up 2008’s made-for-a-gay-club Bring Ya To The Brink.

“For me, everything’s a big departure, so what’s the difference, right? At Last, Bring Ya To The Brink, Memphis Blues — they’re all different.

“Right now I’m writing the music for a Broadway show, Kinky Boots. There’s dance, there’s ballads and there’s rock — and yeah, I think I’ll throw a little hip-hop in there too. I’m not gonna be singing it, so no one’s gonna get mad at me!”

Those underwhelmed by Memphis Blues can rest assured that Lauper’s new material has been roadtested for no less of a discerning crowd than 20,000 gays at Toronto Pride. The verdict: it rocks.

“I thought, uh oh, last time you guys saw me, I was doing dance music, and now here I am playing the blues. I turned around to my band and said, ‘We are gonna rock and kick ass’. All of a sudden, the blues took on this intensity — it was faster-paced, and I just went at it, went at it, went at it,” she enthused.

“They loved it.”

Then our chat went a little pear-shaped. Planned questions about Lauper’s GLBTI activism fell by the wayside once we asked about her forthcoming reality show, to be produced by Mark Burnett. Lauper launched into a lengthy, animated justification of why her life warranted such a program — meandering tales of car breakdowns, hotel fires and swearing French men. Here’s a sample:

“I love TV, and I can make it funny without even trying. When the guy from Mark Burnett’s production crew came to visit me, I was doing an in-store. You get the funny people and the regular folk coming along to something like that, and I don’t like in-stores because all of these people are waiting and you want to give them all a moment to see you, to feel you.

“He’s watching me as I sit there stressed out, trying to go as fast as I can because we’re running behind schedule, but trying my best to be nice and accommodating to everyone. That’s funny, right?
“Well, he thought it was funny.”

info: Cyndi Lauper plays Sydney’s State Theatre on March 31 and April 1, and Melbourne’s Palais Theatre on April 8 and 9. Tickets through Ticketmaster.

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