Time after time, Cyndi Lauper has been the outrageous one on stage.
Fans have expected eclectic tastes in fashion and neon-colored hairstyles from the pop singer who has sold more than 25 million albums.
Lauper will bring her usual flair to Proctors in Schenectady on Tuesday night, but she might be the conservative element of “Girls Night Out.” The two-woman show also stars comedienne-actor-talk show host Rosie O’Donnell. O’Donnell, whose public statements and arguments often make newspaper headlines, will handle the comedy part of the show.
“Maybe I’m the tamer of the two,” Lauper said in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles. “That sounds odd.”
Cyndi the vivacious and Rosie the viral — her video cat fight over Iraq with former “The View” colleague Elisabeth Hasselbeck caught fire on the Internet — have been hanging out since 2007.
“We toured last year together and the year before,” Lauper said.
To read Gazette music writer Michael Hochenadel's review of "Girls Night Out," click here.
For the latest road trip, Lauper added, “Rosie said, ‘Hey, I’m working on a few things,’ and I said, ‘Cool, let’s do it and see if we can do something with the food banks.’ ”
That’s the audience participation part of the show. “Girls Night Out” is designed to entertain and also boost supplies at a local food bank.
“While you’re having fun, put your lipstick on and grab a can of food for the food bank,” Lauper said. “There are a lot of people who don’t have anything and could use a little help just getting through until they get a leg up.”
Lauper is happy to lend her celebrity for a good cause. She’s been a major name in pop and dance music since 1983, when she won a Grammy award for best new artist and became the first performer in history to have five top-10 singles from a debut album. That album was “She’s So Unusual,” and the big singles included “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “She Bop” and “Time After Time.”
More than 25 years later, Lauper is fine with eternal identification as that “girl who wants to have fun.”
“I’m OK with that,” she said. “I think fun is a good thing. I think you have to have a joyous moment as much as you can. There’s plenty in the world to be bummed out about, but you’ve got to find your joy.”
‘Girls Night Out’
WHEN: Tuesday, Aug. 11, 8 p.m.
HOW MUCH: Tickets are priced at $50-$20. (Bring a canned food item for Schenectady Inner City Ministry food drive.)
Some musicians who scored hits in the big-hair, post-punk days of the 1980s have faded. Lauper, whose “Bring Ya to the Brink” collection of dance music was released last year, believes a stubborn streak has helped her persevere.
“I’m like a bad penny, I don’t go away, I always turn up,” she said. “I love music and this is who I am, although I’ve done a lot of things in my life.”
Teaming with Captain Lou
The Queens-born Lauper began her career in the mid-1970s as a vocalist with cover bands. The retro-rockabilly band Blue Angel was next. The group, with Lauper as lead vocalist, released a self-titled album in 1980. Shortly afterward, Lauper was on her own.
True fans know the early hits, and also remember Lauper made a true friend in wrestler Lou Albano — he was Captain Lou Albano in pro wrestling circles. Albano appeared in several Lauper videos, and Lauper became part of a continuing World Wrestling Federation story line that featured the usual over-the-top bombast and bravado.
Lauper remembers, too.
“I wanted to see Lou this summer, but I had my own family emergencies going on,” she said. “He’s actually a wonderful guy who made my career, especially in the beginning, a lot of fun, and took what would have been a mundane promotion schedule and made it extraordinary. Those days were a lot of fun and joy, they were great folks, Roddy Piper and Lou Albano.”
Lauper also has received attention and accolades from the gay community. Her 2008 “True Colors” tour was a way for the singer to take the stage and also raise public awareness about issues facing the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
“It’s an honor to always have the genuine affection of the gay community,” Lauper said. “They never have turned their back on me. I will never turn my back on them. We’ve had a long and enduring love affair.”
The past will be in play during “Girls Night Out.”
“I play stuff from the ’80s, I play stuff from the ’90s and I play stuff from this century,” Lauper said. “The music is a retrospect, because people were writing in. I took some of the songs they wanted, I even took some songs from Blue Angel — what a name — because they were requesting them.”
Not living in the past
Lauper may take cues from the past, but she doesn’t live there. She’s been active in television and cinema productions, and will make a for-now secret appearance in a popular CBS drama next season. And production of “Bring Ya to the Brink” took her to Great Britain and Sweden, for collaborations and new takes on her pop sound.
“I broke out of England before ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ was a hit here,” Lauper said. “It was a big hit in Europe and in Japan and in Australia and all over the world and then I came here. It’s always been that way, you guys just didn’t know.”
Lauper, in her mid-50s, thinks people make too big a deal over how old someone is.
“Everyone in this country is so programmed to think that at a certain age we have to be doing this or doing that,” she said. “We’re not cars. I always feel, ‘What do you want to do, look under the hood? Kick the tires? Check the mileage? It should matter what you do, not how old you are.”
Age can bring wisdom. Lauper’s grandmother was a practical woman, and the singer tells one of her elder’s stories when asking fans not to forget that can of food for Proctors on Tuesday.
“My grandmother always said, ‘If you have a can of tomatoes in your closet, at least you can make pasta,’” Lauper said. “You can make sauce.”