Q&A: Cyndi Lauper, one of MAC’s new Viva Glam girls

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Cheeky cosmetic company MAC has tapped two of music’s biggest fashion renegades, Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga, to be the new faces of its Viva Glam campaign. Gaga is (obviously) currently making waves on the scene -- but Lauper, who shocked the world with her rag-tag vintage look and checkerboard haircut in the ‘80s, could certainly be considered one of her style predecessors.

MAC, which has raised more than $150 million for the MAC AIDS Fund through its various Viva Glam campaigns (starring RuPaul, Fergie and others), has created two colors for the current campaign: Viva Glam Cyndi (a soft, retro-feeling coral) and Viva Glam Gaga (a pastel whitish-pink). In addition to donating 100% of the proceeds from the sales of the lipstick to its AIDS fund, MAC will also be donating $2.5 million to programs that specifically target women.


We caught up with Lauper on the phone to talk about her newest role, what she thinks about Gaga and why she wishes she were two-faced.

How did you come to be a Viva Glam girl?

MAC has been involved in the True Colors tour, and I always said, ‘I wanna make a color.’ This color can change into whatever you need it to be. It’s sheer enough – you can wear it alone or you can wear it with a red liner for that Gina Lollobrigida feel.

Why were you interested in working on this campaign?

[HIV/AIDS] is a women’s issue, and because my age bracket and Lady Gaga’s age bracket are now the ones with the highest rate of new infection for HIV and AIDS. The lipstick is a wonderful present to give someone you love to remind them to protect themselves.

You were a predecessor to Lady Gaga in terms of provoking with your style. Did she bow down to you?
She has her own thing that she does. It’s not Madonna, it’s not me, it’s not Elton John, but it’s a combination of everything she saw growing up. And her mother’s records probably -- like David Bowie. She is a young maverick who is determined to create. I’m very pleased and proud to sit next to her.

What does your daily makeup look like?


I always bring lipstick and eyebrow pencil, but it depends. It’s like Paloma Picasso – she always used to wear the red lips and eyebrows. I have very thin eyebrows. Lipstick, always, it’s the quickest, easiest way to change how you look. It’s a mood stabilizer for me.

When did you start getting into makeup?
When I was a kid. I was brought up Catholic, what do you think? Then I went through a stage where I wore no makeup, because I was a painter. My regret is that I only have one face to put all that makeup on.

What was the photo shoot like with Gaga?

We had a good time – we did different decades and different things.

Who came up with the boudoir concept?

We worked with [MAC]. Gaga kept pulling out lingerie. I said, ‘What about when the ‘90s did the ‘20s, or when the ‘70s did the ‘30s or ‘80s did the ‘50s?’ I was working on a Jackson Pollock on myself.

Who is your favorite past Viva Glam girl, and why?

I loved Deborah Harry – I like women artists. Deborah Harry really brought glamour into rock and roll. She brought that Jayne Mansfield, Marilyn Monroe look into rock. And she did it in a way that was so creative and stunning.


What’s on the horizon for you in terms of projects?

A blues [cover] album. I found these blues guys down in Memphis and Mississippi. My thing is that we Americans are kind of in the blues right now. I’m also writing music for the play ‘Kinky Boots,’ and I’m supposed to be writing a book on my life. I have a co-writer and she’s been writing and I haven’t. My kid plays hockey, and I have to allot a certain amount of time freezing my butt off in the rink.

--Emili Vesilind

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