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Cher Standup From 1995

IMG_0744Cher Scholar Dishy sent me this stand-up piece from Cher's 1995 album It's a Man's World announcing the single of "Not Enough Love in the World," including the Sam Ward Mix and the Junior Vasquez Club Mix of "One by One" (cassette also available).

What I love about this picture is that it shows me something I haven't seen before.

Those blue contact lenses and that luscious lipstick are well-recognized from her Man's World cover (where she's dressed in that green slip-dress), but I had no idea Cher did versions of this photo session with that curly wig.The long, black hair choice on the album seemed like such a departure (finally) from the big hair of the 80s and 90s, but this shows that look wasn't too nearly departed.

Soon after I crouched to snap this foto with my iPhone, I fell over backwards on my ass.

 


Cher Back to Russia, Woman's World News

CherhatOooh! Cher holding a cowboy hat. That's almost as good as Cher in a cowboy hat. Cher is at LAX on her way to Russia for a performance.

Cher News and Cher World are also reporting that the "Woman's World" single (and I hope video) will be released soon in June.

Cher.com is offering a premiere listen. Note: I can only get the song to play in Google Chrome.

Cher also indicated that the Lady Gaga single is now off the album. I'm not too torn up about this, myself. I didn't like the Gaga version on the YouTubes and that song is like "so two years ago."


Boston Globe's Comments About Cher

A few weeks ago Cher Scholar Dishy sent me the link to the Boston Globe review of Dear Mom, Love Cher. I thought two paragraphs were worth quoting. The review worries that the special is just an excuse for an infomercial to promote Georgia's new album but then the review goes on to say:

But, oh whatever. “Dear Mom, Love Cher” is an awfully sweet gesture, which arrives on the eve of Mother’s Day. Cher is a good daughter, and it’s pointless to resist her good will in sharing the spotlight and giving big public props to her mother. OK, so the rest of her family lives in the shadow of the glitzy, bellowing, tart-mouthed, surgically reconstituted, drag-queen-inspiring, bad-boy-loving, fashion-forward-forward, farewell-tour-addicted, mononymous, unsinkable, sympathetic, and always fabulous diva. We all live in the shadow of Cher, right?

...

It’s such a lovely thing — Cher helping her mother realize her dream after all these years — that I was able to let go of the special’s ulterior motive. And Holt seems to enjoy and savor her moment, as the three women talk and laugh together in her honor. Her beauty shines through. As a diva of a different stripe, Joni Mitchell, might put it, in Holt’s case, happiness is the best face lift.

 


Review of Dear Mom, Love Cher

DmlcThis is the first Cher special that has occurred since I've had my blog (which started in the fall of 2006). And I have to say, my two favorite Cher things in the world are Cher albums and Cher TV specials. I think this comes from starting to be a Cher fan in the early-to-mid 1970s when Cher was all about some flashy-fun TV Specials.

I noticed some old-tyme Cher special feeling while I was watching this one (luckily Mr. Cher Scholar was at work or he might have been disturbed to see it): childlike excitement, a feeling of suspended time, and then a slight sad fretting that the special would be over in one short hour. A Cher special for me is then like Marcel Proust's madeleine cake in In Search of Lost Time, a key to a vivid childhood memory. I watched it three times.

I loved seeing never-before-seen pictures of Cher as a kid and hearing the family delving into their history in Arkansas.

 

 

Bits about the family

Cher calls her history a "strange American story" but it's probably not so strange. Definitely interesting. Definitely American. She kids her mom that they "can only walk the narrow razor wire of white trash so long."

I loved all the stories about Georgia's grandparents, her fierce grandmother who defends her mother with a broken bottle and her mean grandfather who blows himself up while working dynamite to blow up stumps while the railroads in Arkansas were being built. This story is downright poetic with the psychic daughter's graphic dream predicting it. In newspaper reports, Lynda is called a "self-proclaimed psychic." It would be interesting to hear more about her other uncanny predictions or how the family felt about having some psychics in it. Lynda comes across as a very complex figure who is never described mean as such but does her share of mean things.

I wish we had learned more stories about Roy too who spent so much time with Georgia and who, it seemed, Cher knew as a child. He is described also as a complex of mean and funny. When did these family members die? What did they do while they were in California? And what about the story about Roy's attempt to kill Georgia and her brother Mikey. We learned nothing about Mikey.

Cher affirms that her grandmother Lynda's mother was either a quarter or a half Cherokee. Cher claims it was her great-grandmother who taught her grandmother the Rabbit and War Dance. She said although that doesn't make her very Indian, "Half Breed" was a good song to sing.

Bits about Georgia

MombeachGeorgia was born in Kensett, Arkansas, on June 9, 1926. Her father Roy was 21. Her mother Lynda was 13. She started singing at five and became state champion, described as a blues singer, in Arkansas (May 29, 1938). It was Bob Wills who encouraged her father to take her to Hollywood and they hitchhiked. Georgia talks about being perceived as a "dumb Oakie" when she came to LA. She explains why she changed her name from Jackie Jean Crouch (which she liked) to Georgia Pelham (in honor of a dead friend) and where Holt came from (last husband's name). Her Dad worked at the famous Cliffton's Cafeteria. (It's still open! Go eat there...it's so kitchy!).

Georgia talks about the squalid conditions of living in the slums near San Pedro, Main Street and Central Avenue. Georiga talks at length about her conflicting feelings about her early marriage to Cher's biological father, torn between her mother Lynda, John Sarkisian and an abortion. She tells more about the Catholic home in Scranton that wanted to keep Cher (which inspried Cher's critical song "Sisters of Mercy") and Georgia's eventual 6-week "Reno Cure."

Back from early struggles, Georgia won some beauty contests in Reno and LA (Miss Holiday on Wings) and won a Jack Carson scholarship to drama school with the Ben Bard Players. We get to see clips of her bit parts on both I Love Lucy and Ozzie and Harriet. You can see Cher's 1960's smile in some of these clips and head-shots. The family talks about Georgia being friends with Robert Mitchum and Lenny Bruce and a herd of beautiful people. The Asphalt Jungle story is told.

The list of husbands was illuminating but inconsistent:

  1. John Sarkisian (We find out where they meet and a few of their experiences as they relate to Cher, but don't find out anything about his character, his heroin addiction, his prison sentence, later-life conflicts with Cher after she became famous, when he died, etc.)
  2. Chris Alcaide (Also an actor, tall, loved Cher but they were only married "20 minutes" because he was very jealous.)
  3. John Southall (Georganne's father, described as one of the loves of Georgia's life, love at first sight, Cher calls him "dark like me" and appreciates the attention he gave her when Georganne was born on September 7, 1951 and "everyone forgot I was alive"...but he was an alcoholic. Georganne says that when she or Cher refer to their Dad, they mean him.)
  4. Joe Collins (Nothing is said about him...is there jucy dirt behind the omission or was he really that boring?)
  5. Gilbert La Piere (Was a wall street banker and they lived in New York with him, was described as very Father Knows Best and not a good fit with the family. He died last year and because he adopted Cher and Georganne, his obits still describe him as Cher's father. Georganne kept his name.)
  6. Holt (His first name is never given and nothing is said about his character or why Georgia married him.)

We hear much about Cher's longtime boyfriend, Craig Spencer, who came into the picture while Georgia was running Grannys Cabbage Patch quilt shop in Brentwood in the late 1970s. It was Craig who encouraged her to record an album at a West Lake studio. Craig was 30 and Georgia was 51. Craig and Georgia are shown being interviewed by Oprah early in her career. In old late-1970s clips, Georgia talks about having the same vocal resonance and register as Cher. Craig and Georgia talk about their disappointments that the album was shelved due to contract disputes. Craig laments, "50% of something is better than 50% of nothing." The recordings languished for years in Georgia's Palm Desert garages. Cher says they shouldn't Promo have survived.

Georgia comments a bit on her depression and how she became "a royal pain" after this late career setback but nothing about family depression is elaborated on. Georganne talks about Georgia's unique carriage and demeanor and I think that was spot on. Cher calls her before her time.

Bits about Georganne

We learn all the many shows Georganne appeared in and it's an impressive listing: General Hospital (where she created the mean-girl character of Heather), Ozzie's Girls (with a young Matt Harmon), Welcome Back Kotter, Happy Days, Fantasy Island, TJ Hooker, Police Woman, The Streets of San Francisco. Would love to see her full reel!

ChermugBits about Cher

Cher talks about living her life like a bumper car. Georgia claims Cher is stronger and braver than she is. Cher and Georgia tell the story of Cher's arrest (on January 27, 1959, complete with mugshot) and how the event started at a bowling alley before Cher drove off in the borrowed car to get a sandwich. A picture of the famous LA-eatery Johnnie's Pastrami is shown. By the way, the profile and head-shot of the mugshots do not match.

Scenes from the TV biopic The Beat Goes On are show to illustrate Cher's stories about moving out of the house as a teenager and moving in with Sonny. I've always wondered if Cher approved of that movie based on Sonny's tell-all book. Cher indicated that Georgia threatened to put Sonny in jail. Cher was in her teens and Sonny was nearly 30. I wonder how far Gerogia's threat went and if it was a real concern for Sonny. Interestingly, Cher talks about her anger when she finally ran away and back to Sonny, kicking out her bedroom window screen in what she describes as a dramatic scene.

Georgia eventually got used to the idea of Sonny and talks about how proud she was of Cher when she visited Sonny & Cher the set of Good Times.

The final word on spellings and dates (?)Dmlc2

Sarkisian as in Cherilyn Sarkisian. She was named for Lana Turner's daughter Cheryl combined with Georgia's mother's name Lynda. It's interesting that Georgia picks all her names based on women in her life. Cher was born May 20, 1946.

Even the special could not clear up the cloudiness surrounding spellings of LaPiere. In the beginning of the special, Georganne's name was spelled Lapiere Bartylak (no space, small P) and by the end of the special, husband #5 had his name spelled Gilbert La Piere (space and a big P). Gilbert's obit spells his name LaPiere. In any case, there are no two letter Rs in any of these versions.

Chaz Bono was born Chastity Sun Bono on March 4, 1969.

Elijah Blue Allman was born on July 10, 1976. (Why did he wear sunglasses throughout the special?)

There were things I missed that a one-hour special couldn't hope to cover: a sturdier timeline of when Georgia's family moved from Arkansas to Oklahoma to California. More Arkansas stories, more stories of Cher's grandparens. A more complete list of the husbands with dates and more anecdotes. I know Georgia married John Sarkisian twice but I still don't know which other husband Georgia married twice. She had 8 marriages and 6 husbands.

It's rumored Cher might do a mini-series about the family saga. Mom at least should get a book if nothing else. After all, we never did hear the awful cat story.
 
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More good stuff:

 


More Press Interviews for Dear Mom, Love Cher

ChermugOf course I took copious notes on the recent Cher special, Dear Mom, Love Cher (see the promo commercial here). But before I attack that information, I want to review all the press coverage for the special.

Of course the big bombshell of the entire buildup was the reveal of Cher's preteen mugshot for being arrested for stealing a car. Cher has told the story many times over the years, how it was basically a misunderstanding. But never have we seen this mugshot!! I am literally dumbfounded no media like TMZ has ever located this! I mean mugshots of celebrities have their own websites! And this is Cher we're talking about!

When my parents were driving out to attend Mr. Cher Scholar's graduation, my mom grabbed a copy of Cher's interview in USA Today with Edna Gundersen (total Fargo name). Cher talks about how the special started from a 16 minute video she made for her mom. This quote seemed significant:

"Cher marvels at her mother's playfulness, resilience, perseverance, and talent. Holt's mothering skills? Imperfect but loving and patient, Cher says. Cher describing her parenting ability as similarly flawed.

LenoThe Tonight Show

Cher and Georgia appeared with Jay Leno on April 30th. I loved Cher's jacket and hair wave. Georgia seemed somewhat frail and quiet. Cher talked about being the only dark one in her family. She also described putting all new music to Georgia's old vocal tracks.

Leno played an old Mike Douglas clip of Georgia singing and Cher and Georgia said the loves of Georgia's life were Craig Spencer (her long time lover during the nightclub and Grannys Cabbage Patch days) and Georganne's father John Southall. Leno called Georgia the original cougar.

EllenEllen

Cher, Georgia and Georganne appeared on Ellen on May 1st. Ellen said Cher has sold over 275 million albums.

I love, love, love Cher's wig on this episode and felt Georgia was more animated in her jean jacket on Ellen.

Georganne and Cher talked about how Cher was always the odd one in the family and how the album project went big when Cher got involved (because Cher can't do anything small). CherellenhatCher and Georgia lip synched a performance of "I'm Just Your Yesterday." Then Ellen gave all three women cowboy hats and you know how coo-coo I am for Cher in cowboy hats!!

Cher on Good Morning America

I thought Cynthia McFadden was going to interview Cher's family for the show Nightline and I taped about three nights of shows without finding it. Luckily CherWorld posted a clip of the interview McFadden did for Good Morning America.

Promo2I have my love-hate relationship with the softball/hokey questions of Cynthia McFadden but I have to say this was my favorite interview for this TV special.

Cher and Georganne talk about how pretty Georgia was but "she didn't even know it." Cher talks about the kind of Everly Brothers harmony she has with her mom.

Cher is also very honest about how tough she is but how crushed she gets when faced with criticism. "I am crushed and crushed and crushed and I still come back." I think I love this interview because Cher is obviously so relaxed and honest and happy-seeming. It reminds me of old 1970s and 1980s interviews.

AccessAccess Hollywood

Also from Cher World, another interview with the same outfits (press junket?) but a different interviewer. Shaun Robinson asks Cher about NBA player Jason Collins coming out. I love how Cher handles this question, with gentle dismay. This tone goes a long way. Again Cher's not being pissy or defensive but still venting frustration. Brilliant. Cher talks about how archaic it is to be still debating issues of sexuality. She asks, "How long do you have to wait to be who you are?"

In other news: I'm very thrilled to report that today my book, Why Photographers Commit Suicide, was named as a finalist in the 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards!! Whohoo!!

 


Honky Tonk Woman Review

ChergeorgiaI've listened to Honky Tonk Woman, the new album by Cher's mother Georgia Holt, (at left the two of them first photographed together in 1946), three times now. These were lost tapes from recordings made in 1980 with the Elvis Presley band. Cher's current band refurbished the tracks and helped Georgia to release the album last month.

I love the country feel of the cover. I downloaded the album from iTunes and so haven't seen what any inner CD packaging or recording details there might be.

I'm Just Your Yesterday: I can understand how Georgia would want to interpret this song in a mother-daughter duet. On the TV special, Dear Mom, Love Cher, neither Cher nor Georgia could remember recording the song. So this is Cher singing circa 1980? The Black Rose era? That would be incredible. I thought this was a new recording and I keep listening to it in order to catch clues to properly date it. Cher's vocal style has changed over the decades and I'm stumped as to why I can't sort it out. It doesn't sound like 1980s Cher. I love the harmony between Georgia and Cher and although they sound similar, (especially singing vowels like Ah and Ohs), Georgia's voice is very clean and neat. Cher is notably more earthy.

Honkytonk1I Sure Don't Want to Love You: I'd love to know who the writers were for these songs. A lot of them invoke "Daddy" which carries all those connotations of Fathers, Sugar Daddies and Honky Tonk Daddies. Definite barroom feel to it.

Movin On: Georgia can sure hit all the notes and effortlessly. This isn't gritty country. It's pop country. I've always heard Georgia describe this project as California country is that the same alt country we think of when we say California country these days? I'm not sure what California country was back in 1979.

Honkytonk2Las Vegas Blues: I didn't love this one. According to the short-lived Wikipedia page about the album, Georgia wrote this song. But it sounds too Vegas-hokey for me. More Daddys in the lyric. And unlike Cher, Georgia's vocals can get overpowered by the band.

I Bought the Love Love That You Gave Me: Great title and although this didn't stick out for me, I appreciate its honky tonk torch-like quality.

I Wonder Where You Are Tonight: This one seemed off the rails for me. A dissy up and down quality yet a little lackluster. Too enunciated and we need more crying in the beer.

Love Me Tender: This is one of my top two favorite tracks on the whole album. Georgia shines doing a simple ballad that seems tailor-made for her. The backup vocals warm up her sound. I strain to hear Cher doing backups but I think she's there. I love that Cher is doing backups for her mom.

You Can't Go Home Again: Sultry and 1970s sounding. Again, I think Georgia scores with quiet, particular ballads.

Homecoming Queen: Interesting in a faded-flower kind of way. And Georgia sort of owns this one with her lady-like demeanor and her hard-times-in-Hollywood persona. Allegedly Georgia wrote this song as well and I like it much better than "Las Vegas Blues."

Cryin' Time: My very favorite track on the whole album. Not just because  Sonny & Cher did the song as a single circa 1966 and it was included as a bonus track on the 1999 re-release of The Wondrous World of Sonny & Cher. Not just because you can really hear Cher doing backups strongly on this track. But because Cher and Georgia really sound great together here, better than the duet even. Also, the song is a more twangy country selection that seems like a happy compromise between Cher and Georgia's voices. I love it!

While listening to the tracks, I thought a lot about mother and daughter vocal differences. About genetics in vocal chords. About learned performance and what it says about the cultural time during which each woman developed her vocal style. Why one succeeded and the other did not. Beyond perseverance, beyond talent. Georgia's voice is pretty. Cher's voice is hip. Georgia can sing in a more "professional" manner but Cher's can emote.

I played the album for Mr. Cher Scholar who was a young 1970s country fan growing up in Kansas and is a current alt-country aficionado. He loves Mike Stinson and we've just discovered Stinson's 1960s alter-ego Sonny Throckmorton. We've been watching all the old RFD country shows like The Porter Waggoner Show, Pop Goes the Country (which I LOVE), and the awful Nashville on the Road. I swear Jeannie Kendall of The Kendalls is doing a Cher impression every time I watch her Pop Goes the Country appearances.

I was having trouble placing Georgia's delivery style. At first he said her songs sounded like Nashville pop of the 1970s but then he decided that the songs had more of a 1940s/50s country sound and that Georgia most reminded him most of Norma Jean, the original girl singer on The Porter Waggoner Show (before Dolly Parton arrived). Singers like Patsy Kline, Kitty Wells and Norma Jean had a very toned-down delivery, almost bland-sounding judging by today's sparkle and belting.

Mr. Cher Scholar and I talked a lot about Cher's "it" factor and what the heck that was. Cher isn't so neat with her notes after all. But fame requires an act of salesmanship (even Sonny would tell you), what many call sincerity or authenticity but what I prefer to call "soul," a kind of cool polish or (in the case of someone squeaky clean like Doris Day or Karen Carpenter), selling yourself as the genuine article (hip or square). Mr. Cher Scholar thinks it's a package of many variables that work together to create charisma.

Cher.com has some great artwork posted about the album. By the way, Cher.com is looking much better! Check out the browser tab title logo! Is this what Cher meant when she mentioned her new blog? It sort of reads like a blog.

And The Huffington Post talks about how the new album has charted. You can buy it on iTunes or CDBaby.

 


Happy Birthday Cher

CherloveI'm back! Just a day late of Cher's 67th birthday!

This graphic was very elegantly put together by the site CherLove,the ultimate site for great Cher photos.

The site Queerty, (Free of an Agenda, Except that Gay One), has a nice Cher timeline set up in honor of her birthday. Of course there are errors and it's fun to catch them:

  • Cher's mother didn't marry her father three times, only two times.
  • I never heard she was a Sunset Strip dancer but...
  • She didn't date Eric Stoltz but was seen out dancing with him during Mask filming.
  • I thought Cher received 60 million dollars for all three years in Vegas not $60 million for each  year.

I know Cher isn't too keen on aging but I visited the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch over graduation week and I bought a book of Waite Phillips' epigrams. Waite Phillips was an oil tycoon who gave away most of his wealth before he died, a huge chunk to the Boy Scouts for New Mexico adventurings. Btw, I found out that girls can now join the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch summer treks through their co-ed Venturing programs. Although I'm skeptical of the recent decision by the Boy Scouts regarding gay counselors, I wish I would have had Adventuring programs when I was a kid. Girl Scouts never did anything too adventuresome and I dropped out after one year. Maybe they should have invented FagHag Scout Camp for me. I would have fit in well there: hiking treks by day, glitter crafts by firelight.  

Anyway, there was one epigram in the book that reminded me of Cher and aging:

The best insurance against melancholia, depressions, and sense of futility in old age is the development of wide horizons and the cultivation of mental elasticity and interest in the world. Many of the happiest individuals in the world are men and women in their sixties, seventies, or eighties who have contributed richly to human betterment during their maturity and at the same time have cultivated activities to make retirement a pleasure. The older men grow, the more they should realize that it is only by putting the focus of their activities in some movement or activity greater than their individual ego that can attain reasonable peace in old age.
--
W. Beran Wolfe

So I'm sure Cher would think what a stuffy bit of crock but nonetheless, words to the wise.