Tag Archives: Elton John Rock of the Westies

Searching For Mr. Bullens

Just when I think I’ve heard every story about Westport’s rock ‘n’ roll history, I learn something new.

But I’ve never — ever — come across a tale quite like this one.

Cindy Bullens knew from age 4 that she’d be a rock star. In 1974 she left New England for fame and fortune. She arrived in Los Angeles with only $100, a backpack and guitar.

Elton John and Cindy Bullens.

Elton John and Cindy Bullens.

Fortune smiled. She met Bob Crewe — the legendary Four Seasons and Mitch Ryder producer. Six months later Cindy crashed a party, where she knew Elton John would be.

Two days after that, she was rehearsing to accompany him on his Rock of the Westies tour.

That meant turning down an invitation to play and sing with Bob Dylan. She’d been invited to join his Rolling Thunder Revue too.

Cindy went on to sing background on “Don’t Go Breakin’ My Heart.” She had 3 lead vocals on the “Grease” movie soundtrack, released 2 solo albums, and was nominated for 2 Grammys.

But that’s not the story.

In 1979 Cindy married Crewe’s brother Dan. A couple of years later — after her record company folded —  the couple moved to Westport. It was an artistic community, close to New York. They had 2 daughters.

In 1996, one of the girls — Jessie — died of lymphoma. She was 11 years old.

The rocker’s world was rocked. As part of the grieving process, Cindy wrote 10 songs. She did not intend to record them — she had no label — but after asking friends like Bonnie Raitt and Bryan Adams to join her, she recorded “Somewhere Between Heaven and Earth.” It became her best-selling album.

By default, Cindy was back in the music business. More records followed.

But that’s not the story either.

When she was just 4 years old, Cindy knew she was really a boy. In those days no one talked about transgender issues. In her teens, Cindy decided she’d have to live as a woman. She “did a work-around. I made peace with myself as Cindy Bullens.”

Four years ago, an old friend told Cindy she was transitioning from female to male.

Young Cindy Bullens.

Jessie  Bullens

Cindy was shocked. “As close as we were, neither of us had ever talked about our genders and bodies.”

Cindy’s mind imploded. Her friend’s revelation “brought up everything in my life I’d hidden away, in a very remote place.”

The timing was propitious. Cindy “had the psychic space to deal with all this. I was not in a relationship.” (She and her husband had divorced.) “My daughter had grown up and moved away. I was not in crisis.”

Once the door opened, Cindy walked through it. After deciding to transition, she spent a couple of years out of the public eye.

“I let go of Cindy. I became Cidny — but everyone calls me Cid,” he says.

But that’s not the end of the story either.

For a long time, Cindy had wanted to write a one-person show about her unusual life. Now, as Cid, he realized his transition added an exceptionally powerful narrative arc.

The result is “Somewhere Between.” The multimedia musical — a “one wo/man show” — explores the bridge between Cindy and Cidny. But it’s not just about transitioning genders. “It’s a universal and human story,” Cid says. “My transition is just a part of my life. This is about a person — not only a transgender person.”

Cidny Bullens today. (Photo/Joanne Berman)

Cidny Bullens today. (Photo/Joanne Berman)

The show begins in 1974. It travels through Cindy’s music career, the birth of her daughter and her transition. It ends with the birth of her grandchildren.

One of the most poignant moments comes with the song “Mockingbird Hill.”

“In Westport, we lived on Minuteman Hill,” Cid says of his 9 years in this area.

“It was a beautiful home, with a view of the water. We completely renovated it. It was the house I wanted to live in forever. But I was a square peg in a round hole.”

The song describes his relationship with the house and his daughters. As he sings it, a video shows footage of their renovation project, and the girls playing there.

“It’s one of the best songs I’ve ever written,” Cid says.

“Somewhere Between” earned excellent reviews in Santa Fe and Nashville. Now he’s looking to book it elsewhere.

Westport seems like a natural venue. For nearly a decade, this town meant a lot to Cindy Bullens. It was her home.

Even as she searched for her true home, where Cidny Bullens now lives.