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‘True’ Friend

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Cyndi Lauper talks about her True Colors tour.

The GLBT community has a long history of unbridled devotion to its divas. From Judy Garland and Barbra Streisand to Diana Ross and Bette Midler, from Cher and Madonna to Whitney Houston and Christina Aguilera, we love them, we really love them.

As our divas go, Cyndi Lauper rises head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. Her mighty and emotive voice, her distinctive personal style, and her commitment to GLBT causes have placed her in a class of her own. Her True Colors tour, which runs throughout the month of June, firmly cements her status as reigning goddess.

With Lauper as both a performer and an organizer, and GLBT organizations such as the Human Rights Campaign, Matthew Shepard Foundation, and PFLAG involved, True Colors promises to be the event of the Pride season. As Cyndi herself says, “Listen, it’s a party, it’s going to be fun. I hope to see you there.”

Gregg Shapiro: When I interviewed Andy Bell [of Erasure] last spring, he mentioned the True Colors tour….
Cyndi Lauper: I know—that we were trying to get it together, but couldn’t. We got it this time!

RosieguitarHe talked about it maybe taking place in September of ’06, but now it’s happening in June, Pride month, of ’07.
That’s when it should begin, in June—it’s Pride month. It’s my birthday, it’s Pride, we spend it together anyway, so we’re going to go have a good time. It’s the first annual True Colors tour. It’s presented by [GLBT cable network] Logo this year. Every dollar from every ticket that is sold will go to the Human Rights Campaign.

Did you go to Logo and HRC with the True Colors tour concept or did they come to you?
I wanted to do a festival tour. When it came up that we were going to do True Colors, they said what about the True Colors tour? I said that we should do something with the HRC because of what the song has meant to the community over the years. I knew that personally, because I started reading the e-mails when I had a minute when I was pregnant. I read a lot of stories from people from the community who wrote me and told me about the times when they came out and how tough it was and that they were cut off from their workplace, their friends, their family, and that they were almost suicidal. And then they heard “True Colors,” and it helped them through. I felt that after that I could never look at the song the same way. So, I wanted to help.  

The song has definitely become an anthem. You mentioned wanting to do a festival tour. Is True Colors modeled on any of the other big legendary summer music festivals, such as Lollapalooza or Lilith Fair?
First of all, I was never invited to [perform at] Lilith Fair, much to my great disappointment, and I am friends with Sarah [McLachlan]. At that point, I went out with Tina Turner and did our own kind of “women-are-sisters-are-doing-it-for-themselves” tour. I know that there are other festival tours. This is five hours of music. I didn’t see their tours, so I don’t really know what they did. It’s me, Erasure, Debbie Harry, The Dresden Dolls, The Gossip, The Misshapes, and The Cliks. And Margaret Cho is the MC.

And there are special guests in certain cities. In Washington, D.C., and the Boston areas, Rufus Wainwright will come and appear and be our special guest. Rosie O’Donnell will be our special guest in New York City at Radio City Music Hall, and she will come into Texas and do all of our Texas dates with us, in Austin, Houston, and Dallas. Indigo Girls are going to be our special guest at our opening at the MGM Grand, June 8, in Las Vegas.

And other organizations that will be there will be PFLAG [Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays] and also the Matthew Shepard Foundation. When you come into the concert, everyone will be given these purple bracelets that Judy Shepard, Matthew’s mom, had made, that say Erase Hate. That will be a great way to start the concert.

Absolutely. How involved were you or are you in the selection of talent and performers?
I knew Andy and we were going to do it last year. And Andy knew Debbie. I met the girl from The Gossip, Beth [Ditto], and I really love her. The other people—I tried to get all kinds of people to come and join us.

I think that all the people are talented that joined us, and even the people behind the scenes are really gifted and have been working really hard to put this thing together.

This is the first year and hopefully there will be more and we’ll be able to effect a real change and bring real joy to
the community.

There are lots of great musical acts involved, and it’s wonderful that Margaret Cho is acting as MC, because as she will tell you, she can’t sing.
She is a stitch though; she will make us laugh.

Was it important to have a comedy element to the show as well?
Oh, of course, it’s really important [laughs]. And Rosie, too. But Rosie wants to play drums. That’s fine with me.

In addition to being an incredible supporter of the GLBT community, you were also an early AIDS activist. Are you still fighting the fight?
I have tried; you always try. When you can, you do what you can all the time, because of the people that we have lost in the community, and our friends. To honor them.

In the midst of all the plans for the True Colors tour, I understand that you are also recording a new album.
I am trying to get my album done. I am doing new music on the tour, so it’s not the same old tired story. I will be doing new music. I have an album that will be coming out in the summer. And it’s called Savoir Faire.

Details: The True Colors Tour, Sunday, June 24, 6 p.m. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion. Lawn seating starts at $26. More: www.truecolorstour.com.

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Gregg Shapiro

Gregg Shapiro is a regular contributor to OutSmart Magazine.

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