Last night at Radio City, what a gay old time! The New York City stop on the second annual outing of Cyndi Lauper’s lesbian, gay and transgender-friendly music tour — featuring Lauper (pictured), the B-52s, Rosie O’Donnell, Regina Spektor, the Indigo Girls, and Carson Kressley — was nearly busting with rainbow-hued excitement. It was a colorful smorgasbord of stand-up, video, and song attended by all persuasions. And with all due respect to the younger acts on the bill, the best moments of the evening clearly belonged to the performers who’ve been doing what they do since acts like Spektor and Canadian rockers the Cliks were merely twinkles of a zygote.
O’Donnell, 46,gave a touching tribute to her mother, who passed away 35 years ago, and used the opportunity of a less inhibited environment to tell dirty jokes (let’s just say her childhood pet had a very anatomical name) and poke fun at her departure from The View (“it began as a nice little chat show, and ended up like a women’s prison film”), garnering roars of laughter and recognition from the crowd. But her overall message was one of inclusion and equality, a message reinforced by nearly every performer, including the B-52s, who encouraged the crowd to register to vote and make their voices heard. “We’re not allowed to say anything too political or tell you who to pick,” singer Fred Schneider noted wryly, “so we’ll just say, don’t vote INSANE.” Insane may well have described the sight and sound of decades-old New Wave classics like “Mesopotamia” and “Private Idaho” blasting from the stage of New York’s most classic performance hall (this is the home of the Rockettes, after all) as well as newer tracks “Juliet of the Spirits” and “Funplex,” from the just-released album of the same name. Singers Cindy Wilson (wearing a belted mini-dress and whipping her curtain of cornsilk hair like a dervish) and Kate Pierson (old-school burlesque in hot pants, flamingo-pink ruffled blouse and corset) have lost none of their vocal power, even if they both seemed a little exhausted by the idea of trotting out their 1990 hit “Roam.”
An impromptu surprise guest — comedian Margaret Cho, who happened to be attending the night as a mere spectator — gotthe crowd riled up with her descriptions of gynecological experimentsand threesomes (“They always make me feel like a competitive eater orsomething”) before handing the stage over to the woman of the night,Ms. Lauper. At 54, she has the swingy platinum bob of a sexy aunt andthe same voice as the flame-haired girl who first stormed MTV in 1983with She’s So Unusual. Beginning with the ‘86 hit “Change ofHeart,” Lauper, in a silky striped pantsuit, ascended her very ownwooden Statue of Liberty torch onstage before running into the audiencefor newer songs from her just-released dance-oriented Bring Ya to the Brink, including “Rocking Chair” and “Into the Nightlife,” and bringing out John Cameron Mitchell to duet on her raucous cover of Hedwig and the Angry Inch’s”Midnight Radio.” Her trademark Cawfee Tawk accent is inescapable whenshe speaks, but it disappears almost entirely when she sings, as on anincendiary version of her cover of Prince’s “When You Were Mine,” and”Girls Just Wanna Have Fun,” accompanied by— no joke! — O’Donnell ondrums. After dueting fiercely on “I Drove All Night” with Cliks singerLucas Silveira, Lauper welcomed the night’s many performers onstage fora finale of Sly & the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” whileprimary-colored plastic balls rained from the ceiling and the crowdstood up to sing along.
Finally, after nearly five hours of show, audience members beganslipping away into the warm June night, clutching their programs,souvenir t-shirts, and even some voter-registration forms, and smiledthe smiles of the thoroughly, debauchedly, and fabulously entertained. For a full line-up and upcoming dates, visit truecolorstour.com.