Cher on the Cover of Ms. Magazine, 1976
Cher’s Twitter Fame Continues to Grow

Cher's Most Copied Looks, X-Factor, American Indian Appropriation

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Cher Style

This week I found a beautiful article about Cher’s "most copied looks" from the website Racked. However, I don’t think they even scratch the surface. But it's always nice to see how influential those Norman Seeff sessions were. It confirms my love of them!

Dolly and Cher

There are new reports that Cher will be on X-Factor (along with Dolly Parton and Rod Stewart). I think this is the third rumor of its kind over tenure of X-Factor. None of the other rumors have panned out; so, I’ll believe it when I see it.

Cher-dolly-hell-heavenDoes this Cher/Dolly/Rod combination remind you of anything? It should. It's the same line up (minus The Tubes) of Cher Special. Rolling Stone magazine must have been thinking this too because they recently found Cher and Dolly’s performance in the "Heaven and Hell" segment on that very same 1978 special. They name the sketch “now-infamous” but I think that’s a pretty big overstatement. It's still pretty obscure as wacky celebrity 1970s variety mash-ups go. But it's still pretty awesome! Watch it for yourself.

Peripherals

Cher-look-alikeWhat’s Cher’s choreographer Doriana Sanchez up to now? 

Is Cher’s Sarkisian family related to Steve, the USC coach who just got fired?

This reminds me, I saw Cher’s doppelganger on my employer’s website a few weeks ago. Doesn’t this nursing student from a bygone era look like Cher?

An interesting story that broke last week about Randy and Evi Quaid being captured in Vermont while trying to enter back into the U.S. from Canada. They've been on the run from "star trackers," court appearances and unpaid hotel bills in no particular order. I never did understand this story so I located a 2011 Vanity Fair article that catalogs their descent into Canada.

Cher-Sandy GallinInterestingly, the story includes two peripheral Cher characters: Evi once modeled for Chrome Hearts back in the day and the Quaids once lived next door to Cher's one-time manager Sandy Gallin. Read the full story. See Cher and Sandy to the right.

Lesley Gore died earlier this year (in February). Did you know she wrote Fame’s “On My Own” which Cher sang at Celebration at Caesars?

American Indian Appropriation

I recently came upon this picture below in a magazine. It’s of Paris Hilton at a 2010 Playboy mansion Halloween party. She's dressed in skimpy American Indian clothing. In the magazine, the column is about offensive Halloween outfits worn by celebrities. One reviewer called Paris “gauche” and the magazine says Hilton never apologized. This is all very interesting to me in light of last years gaff involving The Flaming Lips and a similar American Indian headdress.

Paris-hilton-sexy-costume-halloween-2010So we have to ask the following questions as fans of Cher:

  • Why is there no similar cultural push-back when Cher wears Indian inspired clothing at appearances or as part of her shows?
  • When did the idea of the sexy Indian woman come into play? Was it from Hollywood? Cher has exploited various ethnic identities over the last 50 years, the sexy gypsy being the most famous but not the only one. One of the more interesting facets of The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was its exploration of multicultural identities. But Cher had to be sexy within each iconic cultural role. Was that okay within the context of white, male-controlled TV of the 1970s? Is it okay now?
  • When did the male war bonnet suddenly get conflated with the sexy Indian woman?

I don't have the answer to any of these questions. My identification with the war bonnet is completely disconnected from American Indian cultural significance. This is one of the reasons why, I think, Anglos choose the label of "costume" or "outfit," because they're exposure to these clothes is limited to television and theater and "theatricals" involve "costumes." But many slurs aren't about ignorance and intention.

Which is why I'm interested in how it's perceived, and perceived coming from Cher particularly considering her ethnic look is Armenian and not fully Indian. At least not in the same way Sonny was fully Italian. Ideas of Armenian are confusing the issue.

      

Comments

Dishy

For one reason - Cher is doesn't have a 'mean' persona - she is always 'in on the joke' - one of the reason people over time have always related to her and loved her - she is not untouchable. I would bet that Bob Mackie appropriated the headress for Cher - I don't believe we ever saw a woman donning that kind of gear before her! And as you mentioned, Cher played EVERY stereotype as a femme fatale - that was her excellent acting and comedic timing allowing what could have been offensive to be seen with amusement and glee ...

Cher Scholar

Those are all good points. Madonna is a bit prickly with the press and fans....controlling.

tyler chitwood

Dolly Parton nabbed an Emmy for her appearance on CHER...Special.

Coolia

I think some people think Cher is part native american because of "half breed" so they think she has a right to wear it. Did Cher claim to be part cherokee back then? websites seem mixed on it: http://waitingtogetthere.blogspot.com/2013/09/chers-heritage-controversy.html


I see a lot of people still wearing these headdresses at music festivals. People criticize it but people keep doing it.

Cher Scholar

Thanks Coolia! That is an awesome link! I'm going to blog about it.

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