By Erica Fink, CNN
Two musical icons known for sending messages with body paint, outrageous ensembles and 9” heels are taking on a serious cause, with a message coming directly from the lips. Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper sat down with us yesterday to explain their new mantra: buy our lipstick and fight AIDS.
Gaga and Lauper are the new spokespeople for MAC’s VIVA GLAM campaign. They both have a MAC lip color named after them, and the full sales from each goes directly to the MAC AIDS Fund.
“We’re spreading word of mouth to protect yourself … that in the heat of the moment, you can do what the boy scouts do: always be prepared,” Lauper told CNN’s Alina Cho.
VIVA GLAM is focusing on the issue of women and AIDS. While the overall rate of new HIV infections worldwide has dropped, the number of women infected is growing. And the number of women living with HIV in the United States has tripled since 1985. HIV infection is a leading cause of death among black women aged 25-34 in the U.S., according the Centers for Disease Control.
“There’s a common misperception that HIV does not affect women,” said Nancy Mahon, the executive director of the MAC Aids Fund, citing a survey of women MAC conducted recently in which 75% of the participants did not know their status.
Mahon, along with Estee Lauder group president John Demsey, selected Gaga and Lauper to front the campaign to amp up the attention on the AIDS epidemic: “with this campaign, we are literally and figuratively grabbing the microphone to let women know they are at risk for HIV,“ said Mahon.
Both artists attended convent schools (though each was wearing the farthest thing from a Catholic school uniform – Gaga in a skin-colored leotard with chain links over her upper body, head and face; Lauper in a black cape, black leggings and stiletto heels) and derided the absence of sex education in religious schools.
“I’m sure you’ve gotten this phone call when your girlfriend calls you … and they say, ‘Oh my God, what did I do last night? I was so stupid, he was so cute…’ and everyone’s laughing, but that one time could be the bullet in your head,” Gaga said.
Gaga was the featured performer at the amfAR (Foundation for Aids Research) annual gala Wednesday night in New York. She waived her fee for the concert.
Gaga and Lauper follow a long list of colorful characters to take on the role of MAC spokespeople: RuPaul, Elton John, Mary J Blige, K.D. Lang, Lil’ Kim, Chloe Sevigny. MAC VIVA GLAM has raised more than $150 million through sales of lipstick and lip gloss since 1994 and, timed to this launch, announced a $2.5 million donation to fund HIV/AIDS programs.
“I have been dreaming of being a VIVA MAC girl since I was very, very small,” Gaga said.