Art Nerd New York | Los Angeles

She’s So Unusual

Cyndi Lauper‘s She’s So Unusual is one of my favorite albums, and not just because I know every song by heart. The album artwork reeks of 80s New York history- and was shot by none other than Annie Leibovitz, which is pretty impressive considering Lauper was just an ingenue at the time.


The cover, showing Lauper in her 80s prom dress glory, was shot on Henderson Walk back when Coney Island was still thriving with kitsch. Lauper dances in front of the World in Wax Musee, a weird museum opened by Lillie Santangelo in 1926 which had display after display of wax figures caught in the act of- murder. Rather than wax Elvis or Lady Gaga, Santangelo recreated famous murders…and even the birth by the world’s youngest mother at age 5. Unusual indeed.

A scene from World in Wax Musee by Costa Mantis via Vanishing New York

A scene from World in Wax Musee by Costa Mantis via Vanishing New York

I love the back even more- Starry Night painted heels underneath the iconic parachute jump. Lauper claims she bought the outfit at her former place of world, Screaming Mimi’s, which is somehow still in business.


I never realized that Annie Leibovitz shot the album until I was looking at it (left over from my childhood) the other day. At the time in 1983, Leibovitz was already famous, having worked for Rolling Stone for over ten years, and photographed the iconic John Lennon/Yoko cover just 3 years before (hours before his death).

She’s So Unusual wasn’t just a break through album for Lauper, but also preserves visually a moment in New York history that goes beyond only music.

Who: Annie Leibovitz/ Cyndi Lauper

What: She’s So Unusual Cover

Where: Henderson Walk, Coney Island


One Response to “She’s So Unusual”
  1. Paul says:

    I just finished Cyndi’s Memoir and remembered the story of the album cover. When I’m interested in something I really dive into it. Thanks for the piece.

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