She’s So Unusual is the debut album by Cyndi Lauper, released in October 1983 by Portrait Records. The album catapulted Lauper to stardom with such hits as Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop, All Through the Night, and Money Changes Everything. All five singles reached the top thirty of the Billboard Hot 100, with the first four becoming Top 5 hits. Lauper thus became the first female singer to have four top five singles on the Hot 100 from one album
The primary-colour rich cover of Lauper’s debut perfectly catches her bubbly persona
“Cyndi kept saying how she wanted peeling paint and walls that looked distressed,” recalls designer Janet Perr, “and I thought Coney Island. I knew that there were a lot of abandoned, boarded up buildings there. And of course, because it was by the beach, the lighting would be really beautiful”
The front cover of the album was photographed on Henderson Walk (a little alley one block east of Stillwell Avenue between Surf Avenue and Bowery Street) in Coney Island. Lauper is wearing a vintage red prom-style dress that she claimed to have purchased at the vintage clothing shop where she used to work, Screaming Mimi’s. She is also seen holding a bouquet of flowers which were bought from a vendor on the boardwalk at the time of the shoot. Lauper is also wearing fishnet stockings and heavy costume jewelry on her ears, arms, neck and her right ankle. She is barefoot, as her red high-heels have been taken off and lie in front of her on their sides at the bottom of the photo. The beach umbrella was used for other shots taken on the beach as well as the boardwalk. It’s featured lying open beside Lauper on the cover photo but can be seen being held by Lauper in the additional shots. The cover-shot was captured in front of the wax museum, The World In Wax Musee, which had been closed for some time and at the time of closure was featuring a wax statue of Puerto Rican baseball great Roberto Clemente. The wooden awning above the doorway with the two blue panels read the name of the museum. The first panel read “The World” and second panel read “In Wax”. This was airbrushed out of the photograph for unknown reasons
Annie Leibovitz snapped Lauper in a pose like a new wave marionette
“We were on the boardwalk with a boom box, and Cyndi had on a great vintage dress, and she was dancing with her shoes off. She was really like that – flouncy and jumping around – and I think that really came out in the photo shoot” recalls Perr.
The back cover is a photograph of the bottoms of a pair of white dress shoes with yellow socks. The bottoms of both shoes have been painted to depict a loose version of Van Gogh’s painting Starry Night. In the background you can see the famous Parachute Jump located at Coney Island
The cover won cover designer Janet Perr the Grammy Award for Best Recording Package in 1985