When Stuck in the '80s boys Sean Daly and Steve Spears landed a podcast interview with '80s hero Cyndi Lauper, they were drooly with questions, flop sweaty with anticipation. What was it like on the video set for We Are the World? Were you ever tempted to yank "Captain" Lou Albano's rubber-band beard? Why do you hate that totally awesome Goonies song so much? • But as they found out when the 57-year-old dialed up, Lauper was on a mission: talk about her Wednesday gig at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, discuss her excellent new album Memphis Blues and speak on the causes that mean so much to her. Mesmerized by her Kewpie-curled New Yawk accent, Daly and Spears could only sit back and let the Unusual One dominate:
We're not trying to kiss up, but Sean reviewed Memphis Blues and gave it big fat A.
Aw, thank you. You know, it seemed like the right time to do this. Everybody's kind of having a hard time. You read the news, seems like the blues.
You created a lot of heat with the blues masters on that record: Charlie Musselwhite, Allen Toussaint, Jonny Lang. But you and B.B. King have an especially good time.
I mean what are the chances in your life that that would happen? When I was going to do the blues record, I did court him. I wanted to make sure it was legit. I didn't want to do any blues record. For me that meant to go to a place (Memphis' Electraphonic Recording studio) where you could feel the energy of those people when they started. They were the first rockers. It's like Muddy Waters said, blues had a baby and it's called rock 'n' roll.
During your live shows, how do you switch from gutbucket blues to the '80s pop goodness of Girls Just Want to Have Fun and Change of Heart?
I don't. These shows are mainly blues shows, and I do my old songs at the end, and I don't switch. I do blues versions of (the '80s hits). If I did the same thing every year, it'd be a drag.
You're omnipresent in pop culture these days, but still it was surprising to see you on TV's Celebrity Apprentice.
I did that to get Wegiveadamn.org off the ground and to raise awareness for the True Colors fund and also to raise awareness for the LGBT struggle for civil rights. It's kind of scary when you can single out a group of people, because if you can single out one group of people, you can single out another group of people. It's not a good idea in our country.
Where did your involvement grow from?
I grew up in the women's consciousness era, where you'd sit around and listen to other women talk. And those women, and their experiences, I learned from. And it wasn't dogma being thrown at me, it was just human experience. I think that humans listening to other human experiences is the best way to share and understand the real issues that are at stake here in our country.
And TV seems like a perfect platform these days for you to express your ideas …
It's not my ideas, sweetie. It's a reality. Do you know gay people in your life? They're part of our family. These are people we know and work with, and we're allowing them to be discriminated against in a big way. I got to say that on national TV, and that's important. It's not about my opinion or my thoughts. It's a reality.
To hear the full interview, go to tampabay.com/blogs/80s.