Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Video Annotated

"Girls Just Want to Have Fun" Video, starring: Cyndi Lauper
Director: Edd Griles

[0:01] The interiors were shot in the summer of 1983 at a studio in the East Village called Mother's.

Cyndi Lauper's mother plays the mother. "When I asked my mom to be in the video, I said, 'Mom, just think of what this could mean if you're involved - then you and I will make it popular to be friends with your mom.'"

[0:07] "The aesthetic I was going for," says Lauper, "was Screaming Mimi's." Screaming Mimi's was a used clothing store in New York where Cyndi Lauper explored her fashion sense. "Laura Wills, the owner, was styling my clothes for the shoot. That store really inspired me. ... It had humor, it had wildness, it had sexiness, it had the old-movie vibe ... that modern, cutting-edge thing where you mix elements together that would never have been mixed together" in other eras.

Lauper says, "[T]here are a lot of elements of [Jacque Tati's] style in" the video's visuals.

[0:15] The dog she dances past was her own. The dog walker is Rick Chertoff. "For that part," Lauper recalls, "I was inspired by a scene in [a] Sophia Lauren movie where she comes dancing down the street in Naples in the fuckin' early morning light with her shoes slung over her shoulder. ... I went down to the West Village where there would be cobblestone streets, like in the movie." The street is Gay Street.

[0:44] "I wanted the kitchen to be very fifties. We couldn't really afford wallpaper - it was really a low-budget shoot - so I brought in a tablecloth from Screaming Mimi's that had a pattern I liked, and the art director ... painted the walls like that."

[0:50] Captain Lou Albano, a pro wrestler, played Cyndi Lauper's father. Lauper says she met Albano while she was in the band Blue Angel. She and Albano were sharing a flight home from Puerto Rico.

[1:08] "When I pick up the phone backward and then turn it around, it's because I had seen a David Bowie piece somewhere, where he had a phone receiver upside down and then put it right-side up. I thought, 'Yeah, that's a good idea.'"

[1:12] "[W]e got a whole bunch of my friends and family to be in the video. ... [B]eauticians from Vidal Sassoon [were in it, including] Justin Ware, who did my hair for the shoot. I knew everybody at Vidal Sassoon because I was a hair model there ... in 1975 or '76 ... The hairstyles were art pieces. ... [W]e had the beauticians ... secretaries from Epic [the music label], the girls from Laura's shop, Myra from the Japanese place where I had worked, and this black girl we cast who looked awesome with her dreads. ... I told Edd that we had to have multiracial people too. At that time everybody who was in videos was either all white or all black."

[2:07] For a scene by the fountain in front of the Metropolitan Museum "all of us were lined up, Francis the cameraman used a Steadicam that he owned, and I took all my sunglasses that I had gotten at Screaming Mimi's over the years and handed them out, so everybody put on a pair. ... I brought all my makeup to the shoot, too, and ended up getting pinkeye because all of us shared everything."

[2:53] The man with a handlebar mustache is Lauper's laywer, Elliot Hoffman.

[3:39] Cyndi Lauper's younger brother Butch delivers pizza.

[3:46] "Steve Forbert [is] holding flowers."

[3:49] "Joe Zynczak, who was [one of] my manager[s] was the waiter in the bedroom." Note the tray of dishes on the left.

[4:17] "I had a friend named Bonnie Ross who was a nurse, and she was there dressed up in her uniform." Note stethoscope.

Cyndi Lauper says she went into the editing room and saw that some scenes hadn't made it into the initial cut. "I was literally sitting with Pam [the editor] and pulling strips of film from a bin. I changed a few shots around with her, and all of a sudden it was moving better ... I only did it because I wanted my video to move the way it should move, because it was about music - and I know music."

All quotes (and all information) are from Cyndi Lauper: a Memoir by Cyndi Lauper with Jancee Dunn, published in 2012 by Atria Books/Simon & Schuster.

Monday, March 04, 2013


They sat there in their striped fishermen’s shirts and the shorts they had bought in the store that sold marine supplies, and they were very tan and their hair was streaked and faded by the sun and the sea. Most people thought they were brother and sister until they said they were married.

That’s from the posthumously edited and published novel The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway.

Kent and I are often mistaken for brothers. Or twins! African American strangers seem more prone to declaring us twins. All white men look alike? We both have curly hair (his black and thinning, mine is brown and graying) and beards and we’re pretty nearly the same height and of a similar build. He’s heavier, but, no, I’m not skinny.

What’s funny is that the strangers are delighted, as though they’ve surely won a prize by figuring out our relationship. A week ago we walked into CVS. The African American woman at the cash register grinned and called out, “Twins!” I thought she had such a lovely smile. And I laughed. I shook my head, saying nothing else, and laughed as I headed down an aisle.

A couple years ago when I was visiting Kent in the hospital, I accompanied him as he walked up and down the hall in his robe, pushing along the bag of intravenous fluid on its pole. An African American man visiting his family came upon us and asked if we were twins. “Here you’ve caught us in our twin outfits,” I said.

If the acquaintance is likely to be more than just strangers passing I will say something further. The young Asian woman at the produce mart asked if we were brothers and I said, “No, but we are married.” And I pointed to my wedding ring.

I’ve wondered if this happens to straight people. When I came across the passage quoted above I said to myself, yes, I guess so.

On the other hand the observation is also a foreshadowing of the young woman’s transformation in the novel. She is beautiful, we are told, but also boyish, and in a way that remains incompletely explored she has ideas about being a man, and makes efforts to transform her husband into her twin. Perhaps Hemingway was never able to explore this gender confusion to his satisfaction so did not produce a version of the novel that felt finished.