Picks and Pans Review: Talking With...

updated 06/28/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 06/28/1993 AT 01:00 AM EDT

>Cyndi Lauper

SHOWING US HER CEREBRAL SIDE

"PEOPLE ALWAYS GET THE WRONG IMPRESSION of me," says Cyndi Lauper, who has just turned 40. "After they've seen me live, they come up and say, I didn't know you could sing.' "

Not only that, there's a thoughtful person under that platinum bob: "These are heavy times we've just lived through," she says, "and I wasn't going to ignore that." Last year's Republican "family values" crusade troubled Lauper, and she sympathized with Anita Hill: "I've had sexual harassment on the job when I was 17, and when you ain't got no money you'd be surprised what you put up with."

Lauper decided to make her political points through the characters in her songs. She was encouraged by her husband, actor David Thornton, to whom she was wed in 1991 with vows read by Little Richard. (She and Thornton both appear in the new Michael J. Fox comedy, Life with Mikey.)

At the same time, Lauper decided to take more control over her career. On her last album, 1989's A Night to Remember, she remembers, "I was doing songs by people who were writing about their new car or the new extension on their garage. I don't do anybody else's songs anymore.' "

In the meantime, she says she's untroubled by the diminishing sales of each of her records. She's So Unusual sold nearly 5 million copies; True Colors (1986) only a million; A Night to Remember (1989) less than 500,000. "I don't need to have zillions and billions of dollars," she says. "I just want to do work that I'm really happy with."

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