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How We Met: 41. David Thornton and Cyndi Lauper

Angela Neustatter
Sunday 05 July 1992 00:02 BST

Singer and actress Cyndi Lauper, 38, was born in New York, the granddaughter of Sicilian immigrants. Her first album, 'She's so Unusual', sold 4.5 million copies and her new single, 'The World is Stone', recently reached the top 30. She now stars in the film 'Off and Running' together with her husband David Thornton, 37, who plays a psychotic killer. Thornton studied at Yale and Lee Strasberg's Actors' Studio, and is now appearing in the play 'One Neck' at the Home for Contemporary Theatre in New York. They were married in November of last year and live in Connecticut.

CYNDI LAUPER: I'd been having a terrible time. I'd split with Dave Wolff - who used to be my manager as well as my boyfriend - after six and a half years. I'd moved out of the place we shared and was living in a hotel room. I got really depressed. To make things worse, I got into a no-win masochistic situation with this man who wasn't particularly good-looking. He was mean as hell to me. Then that ended. I felt ugly, dull and a mess. I was convinced I was through as an artist.

So the movie seemed like the chance of a vacation from myself, a way to get lost in work and forget who I was. Then I met David and everything changed. When we started rehearsing, David was real shy with me. I began to send him teasing notes - it's what I do when I kinda like someone. I wrote that he was a wimp because he didn't do as many press-ups as me. At nights we used to walk on the beach after dinner. The moon was always out on the water, and one night I said: 'I wish I was a kite flying over the waves' and he said: 'Why not be a wave?' I thought 'Oh my God, this man is a poet.'

In the movie, I was one of several women dressed as mermaids swimming around for the opening titles. All the other mermaids were nuts for David. One day I saw this gorgeous mermaid, dressed in shimmering paste jewels, all over David and I started to feel like 'Hey, this is my friend, keep outta it, walk outta the way.' I suppose that was when it began to dawn on me that I really liked him. But it was during an intimate moment in a Miami hotel that I realised I loved him, that I wanted to marry him. That week I dreamt that we were Neanderthal people walking into the sun in a desert and we spent our whole life there.

Two weeks after we'd really gotten together, he was talking about marriage. I mean, marriage] Dave and I had talked about it for six years and decided we shouldn't do anything hasty. I said to my make-up lady, who's real wise: 'What do you think about someone who talks about marriage so soon?' She told me she'd married her husband after two weeks and had never regretted it. But David and I were a bit more cautious than that. When the film was finished, we spent a month alone together at Cape Cod. We could stand each other, so we decided to go ahead and marry.

Then came the real problem: what should I wear for the wedding? I've never made a conscious effort to be outrageous, but I've been shocked by how upset people have been by my clothes. I've had them skidding to a halt in the road and shouting abuse, I've had just about everything thrown at me, including stones and lighted cigarette butts.

Anyhow, I wanted to wear hot pants and go-go boots but everyone said no, so I went to Saks in the end. I chose an on-the-knee white satin number - very Sixties - with embroidery down the front. I had a pill- box hat with a veil and satin shoes. My hair was blonde - it's purple now.

Of course, I have wondered what David's parents must make of having me as a daughter-in-law. David's father is one for serious knowledge. He taught English at Harvard. I saw him twitching during the ceremony because I murdered vowels all over the place. At one moment he had a tear in his eye and I took him by the arm and said: 'Dad, don't cry. You're not losing a son, you're gaining somebody who don't speak English too good]'

Sure, there are things I don't like about David. Number one, he doesn't like TV and always shuts it off. And, two, he likes to debate. I come from a Sicilian family and we yell all the time. If you get into a discussion with an Italian-American, it's not a discussion, it's like, 'Well, whaddya mean? You're a jerk . . .' I understand that. With David, we'll be talking and he'll suddenly say: 'I'm getting angry . . .' That means we're going to have a debate. But those are just little things. I want us to live in an elegant way, having poetic moments. When I'm 80 years old, I hope we still want to jump each other's bones.

DAVID THORNTON: Cyndi and I didn't communicate much on set at first. I was worried that if we became friendly and liked each other it might affect the scenes we do together, which are fairly angry and violent. Then, one evening, Cyndi asked if I wanted to join her and her assistant for dinner. There wasn't an immediate buzz, but we laughed a lot. And the great thing is that she's not a bit starry, so the first thing that happened was a real friendship began to develop.

She began inviting me to join her for dinner regularly, and after a couple of weeks it dawned on me that I really liked her an awful lot and all the nervousness I had felt as a boy in these situations came back. Growing up, I could never figure out how to get from the right to the left side of the couch. To this day I blame Dad. I said to him once, 'Why don't you give me a hint?' So he told my mother to get me 'the book' - which was hidden at the back of a shelf. It turned out to be a Thirties etiquette book - not a great deal of help. So I was really shy with Cyndi. One evening in the elevator I kissed her goodbye as she was getting out, and I must have gone crimson. When I got into my room, the phone rang and it was Cyndi saying: 'So what did that kiss mean? Are you going to finish what you started?' That broke the ice and our romance started. The idea of marriage came after I woke one morning and realised this woman loves me about as completely as is humanly possible.

I proposed to her in Los Angeles and I had several rings I thought would be right for her. One was an 1840s crystal which had belonged to a Hindu princess. Cyndi believes in reincarnation and the past, so I thought that might be right. There was an antique Roman ring with the stamp of Eros and finally an English regard ring with a curve of different gems across the finger. That was the one she chose. She made me go on one knee before she would accept me.

I did wonder how my parents would take to Cyndi. They themselves met in the Unitary Choir and are both very conventional. My father is an academic, writes books about Robert Burns. He wanted me to grow up as a proper gentleman and wanted all his children in professions like law and medicine. But my father had sung with Benny Goodman, and he and my mother both love a good voice - so that won them over. And I think deep down they were bowled over at the idea of a star in the family.

We chose a Friends meeting house in New York for the wedding. Neither of us is a Quaker, but we liked the idea of friendship and tolerance being the theme, as our friends come from all walks of life and all kinds of political and sexual persuasions. The first words at the wedding were when Little Richard, who Cyndi had asked to marry us, tripped getting on to the podium. Everyone laughed and he looked up and said: 'Shuurt-up'.

The only time I ever questioned whether I should be going through with the wedding was afterwards when these members of Cyndi's family came up to me, doing odd things with their hands and saying: 'Boy, you'd better be good to her. . .'

Like any newly married couple, we're having to learn about each other. One of the things I love about Cyndi being so expressive is that it makes me more comfortable about being emotionally demonstrative. But she's also volatile and temperamental and I'm not so comfortable with that. When I hear the decibels going up, I usually say: 'I don't want to play that game.' I fear getting into a rage because I'm a slow burner, but when I get angry there's a real white heat.

But I think we're well on the way to learning to sail into the sunlight. The thing that really excites me is that Cyndi will never grow old.-

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