By: Sheila Moeschen, IATG Senior Editor
Image courtesy of Sheila Moeschen
There is nothing like hearing a piece of wisdom from a person you greatly respect and admire. Unless, of course, that role model is pop music icon, Cyndi Lauper delivering her wisdom from a stage five feet in front of you. My best friend and I found ourselves in this scenario several weeks ago when we attended one of Cyndi’s She’s So Unusual 30th Anniversary Tour shows (30 years! Oof! Ouch. Blerg. My arthritis). Colossal Cyndi freak fans, my best friend and I had gone the extra distance for this show and purchased a “Meet and Greet” package, which allowed us 90 precious seconds to faun over Ms. Lauper while getting our photos taken and trying to stave off the embolism rising to our brains.
One of the elements that made this tour unique was Cyndi’s incorporation of stories about making the album, being a female musician in a male dominated industry at the height of some of the worst sexism in the record business, and passing along her quirky and provocative insights about life, success, and nearly everything in between. She relayed the story of performing with her first band, Blue Angel, as an opener for The Kinks. What started off as a dream come true quickly morphed into a nightmare; 7,000 unruly rock fans harangued Lauper and her band, physically pelting them with an assortment of junk until they finished their set. Later on, Cyndi ran into her friend, the wrestler Captain Lou Albano. “Captain Lou,” she said. “Seven thousand people just booed me! They hated me!” He looked at her and said, “Cyn, whether it’s seven thousand people booing you or seven thousand people cheering you, it’s all the same.” Knowledge.
We all get hung up on the high that comes from external validation or conversely become mired in the crash that comes from criticism. But as Captain Lou (that loveable, professional wrestling sage) pointed out, only madness can result from getting caught up in that whirlpool of fixation on how others view us. Instead, we are better served by owning our integrity; by measuring our self-worth on our values, our truths, and the way we treat one another not on accolades or derision arbitrarily assigned at any given moment. I like to think that many of those Kinks fans found themselves taking daughters or nieces to a Cyndi concert years later and thinking “Man, she is amazing! I can’t believe I ever booed this rock star! I also can’t believe I wore butterfly collars, but still…” And that’s what separates a great performer from a legend, an icon from a role model: The ability to inspire and empower others by sharing insight that comes not from a place of superiority, but from vulnerability.
It was a night my bestie and I will never forget for many reasons, and the next time I find myself spending too much time stewing over a bad review, a careless remark, or allowing negativity to rob me of my joy, I’ll remember that it’s no big deal in the larger scheme of things because, hey, even rock stars get the boos.