UPPER WEST SIDE — Singer, songwriter and 1980s icon Cyndi Lauper has been having a good year.
After launching her critically acclaimed musical “Kinky Boots” on Broadway with Harvey Fierstein, she won a Tony Award for its score. The longtime resident of the famed Apthorp Building on the Upper West Side has been busy ever since, touring and promoting charitable projects.
One such project is the Citymeals-On-Wheels’ Power Lunch for Women, happening Nov. 22. The gathering of influential New York women aims to raise money for the charity that delivers meals to the city’s homebound aged population.
Lauper spoke to DNAinfo New York about the charity and about her life in the city, past and present.
Why is the mission of Citymeals-On-Wheels particularly important to you as a New Yorker?
Everyone in this city knows about Citymeals-on-Wheels. It's a great and caring organization that feeds those who are frail, elderly and homebound. During the '90s Citymeals-on-Wheels fed one of my friends who died of AIDS. That was the first I heard of them. Then they fed a member of my extended family who couldn't drive anymore to get food. He was 92. I am very grateful to Citymeals-on-Wheels.
As a longtime resident of the Upper West Side, do you have any restaurants, coffee shops or bars you frequent regularly?
I haven't been home for a while. I just wrapped up nearly six months of touring. When I am home I have a few regular places that I go to — Cafe Luxembourg is great, so is ‘Cesca. I also love Gennaro. Nice Matin is great for lunch and I really love Caffè Storico in the Historical Society Museum for brunch on the weekends. It’s kind of a secret little gem.
Do you get stopped on the street very often? Do you consider going out in disguise to avoid fans?
Yes, I often get stopped, but as a whole New Yorkers are really cool. They will just say "Hey Cyn" or a short remark and just keep walking. I still take the subway. No disguises.
You grew up in Ozone Park. How often do you get out to Brooklyn and Queens?
When I'm home I do get out to both boroughs as I have friends and family in both.
Which was the best nightclub — past or present — in Manhattan?
I used to love the Lone Star. I'd often catch a show at The Bottom Line and CBGB and at The Ritz. Every night you could go out and see and hear a great band. The club scene, especially the rock club scene, ain't what it used to be, which is sad because there are less places for bands to develop a following or work on music live. Things change in the city all the time. It's safer, but Manhattan isn't the scene it was. I think there is less diversity than in the '80s and '90s. Now you need to go to Brooklyn. Brooklyn also seems to have a better scene for music than Manhattan. Manhattan is becoming a bedroom community.
What's one spot you loved from growing up in the city that you still enjoy visiting today?
Central Park, and going to shows on Broadway.
The city has changed so much since you were a kid growing up here — what do you appreciate about the way it has changed? What do you dislike about it?
Everything is changing in New York. Some changes for the better, some for the worse. A lot of the cute little shops are gone. Replaced by national brand stores. The music scene isn't as vibrant. As I explained earlier there seems to be less and less of a community for new bands to thrive in. The hipsters of the '80s are pretty much gone. You have to go further uptown for the interesting places. But the park is spectacular. And the trains work pretty good when you run late. And Broadway has seen a vital resurgence, which is so important. When I was a kid Broadway was the lifeblood of Manhattan and that's true again today.