Or, seriously, what’s with the constant Cyndi Lauper posts?
Since Haunting Obsession features a thinly veiled homage to Marilyn Monroe, and is the story of someone who takes his fandom way too far, it’s easy to assume I’m an over-the-top fan of Monroe. And yes, I do fixate on many things Marilyn. But she is not the person I am most obsessed about.
I also love pop music of all eras. But I am a child of the 80s. I was in the tenth grade in 1983, a couple years after M-TV debuted, so the woman who stands above everyone else in my pop music universe is Cyndi Lauper.
Yes, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, She-Bop, Money Changes Everything, and the most awesome ballad of all time Time after Time. THAT Cyndi Lauper. Her rendition of Unchained Melody performed live in 2003 in a small Chicago dinner theater is the only time this six-foot four inch man ever swooned. Were I not already sitting down, it could have been embarrassing.
I see you. Yes, you. Hovering your pointer on the back-button, ready to bail out of this post. I know what you are thinking. I will say it for you. Cyndi Lauper. What a kook. RJ’s hopelessly stuck in the 80s. Isn’t she just for girls? See, I’m psychic that way.
I remember in 1983 the first time I heard Girls Just Want to Have Fun. My exact thoughts: “Wow, fun song, too bad it will never catch on.”
Hmmm…so much for my psychic powers.
It was Time After Time that reeled me in. A song, at the time, that reached beyond the typical “I love you” of most pop music and instead said “I’ll stand by you,” a decade before Chrissie Hynde. But I don’t need to defend that song–its significance as a timeless classic stands on its own.
What is less known is Cyndi’s songwriting career, which continued well into the 1990s and beyond. And though on the Sony label, she operated as an Indie artist, as the label abandoned her while shackling her to a contract neither party had much interest in. The irony is that with 1993′s Hat Full of Stars, 1996′s Sisters of Avalon (co-written with the fabulous Jan Pulsford–pay attention to that name) and 2002′s Shine, Cyndi songwriting skills fully bloomed, and in this fan’s opinion, she created some amazing music. (Everything but Shine is on Spotify)
At the same time, the internet entered everyone’s lives, and Yahoogroup communities formed. I can remember in 1994 discovering the “Shebop” group. Being a fan, at that time, was very insider. Like a secret club. We knew she’d never have another pop hit, but we could share this fabulous set of songs between us, secure in our fine taste and bask in our smugness.
In 1997, my Cyndi buddy Michelle and I planned a trip to Chicago to see Cyndi open for Tina Turner. Cyndi’s tour manager Jan Pulsford frequented the Yahoogroups, and she answered our email request to say that said that yes, we could briefly meet our idol. Backstage, when I told Cyndi of my dream to be a writer, she tapped my chest and said “Follow your heart.” Corny? Cliché? Sure. But it beats the hell out of “what are you gonna do for a real job.”
And that would have been the end, except for maybe the occasional repeated story of other backstage encounters. And that would have been cool.
Except for a sad Yahoogroup email that caught my attention in mid-2001 from a Ms. Mary Kay. She and her same-sex partner were unaware that Cyndi had canceled an appearance in Indianapolis. Mary had flown from Wisconsin to see her. Worse, Mary was confined to a wheelchair due to her chemotherapy.
I was moved to write Mary, at first just to send my apologies, because I had known of the cancelation. Someone, somewhere (I suspect Jan still monitoring the group) made Cyndi aware of the situation. When the tour hit Mary’s hometown, Cyndi extended an invitation to meet her. Very cool.
I was moved by Mary’s story. She was fighting breast cancer, with a prognosis of a death sentence. She struggled to pay for some comfort items–not medically necessary but which would help her recovery–a robe of special material, and an adjustable medical bed are two pieces I recall.
I had the idea to take a short story I’d written, based on a rare Cyndi Lauper song, (Fade. No, you don’t know it, but if you look for it on Spotify, the band is Blue Angel) recruit a couple of Cyndi fans who were also artists to add illustrations, and target the booklet to the other fans to help raise money. I asked for a minimum $25 donation to receive the booklet. Yes, it was self-serving and promotional. I wasn’t exactly Father Teresa. But I was unpublished and it was all I had to leverage.
The fans saw what I had started, and many of them dug out their memorabilia, T-shirts, ticket stubs, other things, and put them up on E-Bay to add to the fund. Someone (Jan again?) made Cyndi aware of our efforts, and did a simple but very cool thing.
Cyndi gathered up some old posters, 45 records, rare radio promo discs, other awesome things. She signed them all (I have come to realize that a Sharpie and a signature is a celebrity magic wand, and the only kind of magic wand that actually works in the real world) and mailed them to Mary Kay. Instead of raising $24-50 an item, we were now getting $100+ an item. We hit our goal of $3,000.00 and then some.
On New Year’s Eve 2002, Cyndi played Disneyworld Pleasure Island. Cyndi extended an invitation for us to join her. It was, in a word, amazing. Add to this, it was the first time Mary Kay and I met face-to-face.
Against all odds, Mary Kay recovered. I’ve seen Cyndi several more times with my concert-going fan group. She has treated this fan beyond graciously. She has met with us when I know for a fact she was running late. The last time I met her, last November, I handed her a copy of Haunting Blue and Indiana Science Fiction 2011, which contains a reprint of Fade. I signed my novel to her. “You once told me to follow my heart. This is where it led me.”
So no, no scary stories of fandom gone wrong.
But this has a lot to do with Haunting Obsession. Lily MonsterMeat–she’s my Maxine Marie Marketing Model in the standee, the banners, the author photo, and in the book trailer–we met years ago on the Yahoogroups.
And that brings me to the awesome Musical Magician, as I call her, Jan Pulsford. Jan wco-wrote my favorite Cyndi album, which is to say, my all-time favorite album, Sisters of Avalon. To be blunt, in this fan’s opinion, Jan is why Cyndi wrote the best music of her career. Since greeting us in 1997, she has never lost touch.
Jan, a professional electronica solo musician and songwriter, created a special remix of one of her pieces for my use in the book trailer, and offered an answer on how to adapt “I Want to be Loved by You” legally and free. She did this in exchange for my writing some marketing pieces on her behalf.
These collaborations happen, I think, because Cyndi draws kindred artists to who understand and want to help each other.
So you can say all you want about me and my odd fandom. I have heard it all. But I will not tolerate is a negative comment about Cyndi as a person. Yes, I saw Celebrity Apprentice. Yes, her thoughts really fly out of her mouth stream of consciousness. Yes, she will not suffer fools gladly. If you think she’s ignorant, rude or unkind, keep it to yourself. Hurricane RJ will strike, and it’s ugly. Just ask the last poor soul who made that mistake.
And out of respect for the many kindnesses Cyndi has shown me, for the ways she has inspired me to follow my heart, I will continue to post my “Cyndi-Tracker®” updates.
Which reminds me: Cyndi’s autobiography comes out next Tuesday. You’re welcome.
She wants to be loved by you…alone!
Daryl Beasley collects all things Maxine Marie, whose famous curves and fast lifestyle made her a Hollywood icon for decades after her tragic death. Daryl’s girlfriend, Loretta Stevens, knew about his geeky lifestyle when they started dating, but she loves him, quirks and all.
Then one day Daryl chooses to buy a particularly tacky piece of memorabilia instead of Loretta’s birthday present. Daryl ends up in the doghouse, not only with Loretta, but with Maxine Marie herself. The legendary blonde returns from the dead to give Daryl a piece of her mind—and a haunting obsession he’ll never forget.
R. J. Sullivan’s first novel, Haunting Blue, is an edgy paranormal thriller. R.J. is holding the book launch for forthcoming release, Haunting Obsession, a Rebecca Burton Novella, tomorrow. The book goes live online early next week.
R.J. is hard at work on the next chapter in Fiona’s story, Virtual Blue, coming from Seventh Star Press in 2013, followed by two more novels over the course of 2013 and 2014. R.J. resides in Heartland Crossing, Indiana. He is a member of the Indiana Horror Writers, drinks from a Little Mermaid coffee mug and is man enough to admit it. Check in to www.rjsullivanfiction.com regularly to learn the latest about R. J. Sullivan.