Ozone Park, QUEENS (PIX11) – It’s been thirty years since Cyndi Lauper put 104th Street in Ozone Park, Queens on the pop music map, with her hit, debut album: “She’s So Unusual”.
Now nearly 59 years old, she’s making her old neighbors proud again, winning the Tony Award for “Best Score”—after writing the music and lyrics for the “Best Musical”, “Kinky Boots”.
“At her age, I’m glad she’s coming back,” said Susan Martano of Ozone Park, who recalled one of Lauper’s first hits, “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.” “I give her a lot of credit.”
Lauper was pushing 30 in 1983, feisty and flamboyant—with her multi-colored hairstyles—when she lit up the MTV generation with her fun and fearless songs and videos. She won the 1985 Grammy for “Best New Artist”, after multiple hits were produced from her first album. She later won acclaim, and a Grammy nomination, for the song, “True Colors”.
But as Lauper’s “girl power” anthems and catchy tunes gave way to the rap generation, she was less of a “Top Ten” fixture, even as she turned her attentions to acting in film and on television.
Her signature, Queens accent was also featured in voice-over work.
Fred Schmidt of Ozone Park told PIX 11 on Monday he used to live around the block from Lauper, when they were both teens, and the two attended art school together. He remembered Lauper playing the guitar and doing gigs with bands on Long Island. “At the beginning, she was doing covers of Janis Joplin,” he said, referring to the songs, by other artists, that Lauper performed at beach clubs.
Schmidt added of Lauper’s influence, “She made a whole fashion statement for the 80’s.”
Lauper married in the 1990’s and had a son, Declyn, in 1997. Part of her life is spent playing the role of suburban mom.
But Lauper still tours with her music, and when Broadway icon, Harvey Fierstein, called her to write the lyrics for “Kinky Boots”, she didn’t hesitate.
Accepting the Tony Award on Sunday night, Lauper tearfully said, “I can’t say I wasn’t practicing in front of the shower curtain for a couple of days for this speech.” She then paid homage to her Sicilian-American mom, Caterine. “I gotta thank my mom for sharing all that wonderful music. I wrecked all her Broadway musicals when I was a kid, the cast albums.”