Just about 30 years ago, a young woman from Ozone Park recorded an album entitled “She’s So Unusual,” whichbecame one of the mega-hits of 1983.
In honor of that record, the pop icon Cyndi Lauper kicked off the “She’s So Unusual” 30th Anniversary Tour and made one of the stops in her hometown as part of the Kupferberg Presents Series at Queens College on Sunday.
“The last time I was here, I was getting my honorary high school diploma,” she said to an almost sold-out auditorium. “I used to get in trouble back then but hell, trouble is my middle name, even now.”
If there was any doubt that Lauper may have forgotten her roots, her thick and raspy New York accent eliminated them all.
It was as if she had never left.
Lauper performed every song from her debut album and every minute was electric.
On paper, having a 60-year-old woman writhe and roll on the stage floor whipping her hot pink hair from side to side would seem tackiy and pitiful, but Lauper made it work, embracing her age, her music and the audience.
“After you’ve been booed by 10,000 people at once, you’re not scared of anything anymore so I do what I want,” she said.
Though there were a few rough notes, Lauper’s vocals were mostly on-spot, hitting notes that many women her age would no longer be able to hit.
Highlights included “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” where the entire Colden auditorium that sits atop a hill on Kissena Boulevard and the Long Island Expressway, boomed the chorus back at Lauper in unison.
Always one to speak her mind, Lauper told the story of the giggle that can be heard in her hit “She Bop” — which she had no problem admitting is in fact about masturbation — came from.
“I wanted to do something different so I went into a separate recording booth and since no one could see me, I took my top off and started dancing around,” Lauper said. “I started tickling my sides and that’s when the laugh came out. Now, whenever I hear a song and I hear someone laughing I think to myself, ‘I know what I had to do to get that laugh, what the hell were they doing when they recorded it?’”
Hunter Valentine, an all-female indie band from Canada, opened for the “Time After Time” singer with an incredible set of dancey yet edgy music that got the blood pumping and the body moving.
In the end, the Queens College stage was almost the perfect size for Lauper and her band — filled mostly with musicians who worked with her when she was recording “She’s So Unusual.” The space was large enough to accommodate a crowd but small enough that the concert felt intimate.
There was no fancy lighting or distracting jumbo screens that are featured in many modern-day concerts. It was just Lauper, her band and simple lighting.
The recent Tony award-winner for best score for the new Broadway show “Kinky Boots” said that her dreams were achieved by being focused, driven and stubborn as hell.
“My intention was always to be going places,” she said. “I wanted to go places and that’s what I did. I went from a 5-floor walk-up apartment to writing the score for a Broadway show, for Christ’s sake. If you have a dream, always be going places and when you hit that wall, take a step back and look at it until you figure out a way around it to the next plateau.”