Out of the blue, a friend contacted José and I to ask that we join the group marching with Cyndi Lauper in the NYC Gay Pride March yesterday. Lauper was plugging her new charity, The Forty to None Project, dedicated to stamping out homelessness among LGBT youth (or, as the site forebodingly promises, "helping to bring an end to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youth experiencing homelessness"). Look, one way or another, we gotta get these kids offa the street! And what an honor and a treat it was to be able to march alongside such a tireless advocate for gay causes, not to mention one of my very first musical idols.
Sidenote: Before Madonna for me, there was Cyndi. (Even before Debbie Harry, who I didn't get into until Rockbird.) I was absolutely floored by She's So Unusual, which I still think is one of the most perfect pop records ever. It propelled me into a music store to buy my first-ever poster (which, if you've been reading me a while, you'll recognize was the start of something big), a fabulous, punky shot of Cyndi that was, unfortunately, a little crushed. Nonetheless, it became the very first poster on my wall in a room that would be covered (including the ceiling) by the time I left home.
In 1995, Cyndi was the first person I ever interviewed. I was working as a news assistant at Reuters and pitched a Q&A with Cyndi to my bosses. They went for it, she went for it (she was plugging Twelve Deadly Cyns), and so I found myself spending probably 45 minutes chatting with her in an office. I remember she kept looking at my pages of questions, probably wondering if they'd ever end, yet she answered everything at length and gamely posed for some pictures with me after signing quite a few odds and ends I'd brought with me. (I didn't care if it wasn't professional—I hated that job otherwise!) I'd even brought my "Hole in My Heart (All the Way to China)" picture sleeve, at which she'd exclaimed, "Oh, that! Well...that one I liked, though." (It was "Goonies" that she kinda hated.)
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Flashing forward again: José was traveling in Puerto Rico, so I arrived to the March with my Madonna Cyndi husband Jason around 11AM at 41st between Fifth and Madison. It was hot but not unbearably so, sunny and breezy, and as always, as goofy as Pride might seem before you're in the midst of it, there was an infectiously optimistic vibe of unity radiating from the diverse crowds milling around their meeting spots. We were all about to march in a parade whose roots go back to that history-changing night at the Stonewall and nobody's feet were going to be dragging.
Once we found our area, I wound up wandering a bit and snapping atmosphere shots as well as, of course, photos of sexy menz—I always have pervert pride, though I wound up asking quite a few of them, which was a new concept. I was also killing Jason by tawking and singin' like Cyndi Lauper (complete with lip snarl) at every available opportunity.
My good friend Rich with GLAAD was with George Takei and Jennifer Tyrrell, the lesbian booted from being a boy scout den mother due to her sexual orientation (had interviewed her here), and he graciously introduced me to George and facilitated a photo op.
I told George that I've been supporting him on Twitter a long while and he thanked me and was supernice, looking spiffy and giving us boy scout realness. "Oh, my!"
Back to Cyndi's group, I waited with camera in hand and caught great footage of her as she emerged from the Andaz decked out in what could only be described as a Twelve Deadly Cyns top hat. Between that and her ageless face, it was 1995 all over again for me. Cyndi was businesslike as she positioned herself in her red convertible, allowing photographers to swarm over her and briefly acknowledging the crowd. In a flash, she took off and we all filed into place behind her car and banner.
Before things really got going, I was able to get lots of close-up footage and photos of Cyndi in her parked vehicle. At first, tons of people were approaching her for photo ops (which she was granting liberally), so I asked a handler if I could snag one for my blog. He said yes, so I went around and commandeered a fabulous photographer (Jason was still amongst the marchers) named Marie to take my shot and e-mail it to me later. She complied as did Cyndi—and it came out pretty terrific!
I'm sure Cyndi was a bit more excited to meet and speak with New York State Sen. Tom Duane, who helped us achieve marriage equality and who was the country's first HIV-positive person elected to office (or at least the first to be open about it, which is what counts).