The C-Word, Best Foot Forward, Cher History and Thanksgiving

CherfeetI just spent an hour working on this post and my Firefox crashed. For the love of God! But my arms are shot and so it’s mostly lost forever. Here is a slim overview of what I said.

Cher scholar Robrt sent me a message reminding me about a good photo of Cher’s feet from the 1970s. I loved this photo as a child: the hair, the tan, the feet, the hand posture, the look, the accent over the E.

Cher scholar Michael sent me an email discussing the negative implications of Cher using the C word. I never got around to covering this last week. I was so wrapped up in talking about the ironic response. I do support people “taking back” negative word meanings. Gay and queer are a good examples of reclaimed words. Third wave feminists believe they can reclaim the words bitch, slut and whore, disemboweling them of their power to offend. However, not everyone agrees words can be reclaimed of their power to hurt. And when groups do try to reclaim words, this can cause confusion between culture groups. For instance, when gay men say something is “so gay” or when black men use the N word, many people can't understand the nuances of one group owning rights to certain words. However, I do believe language is always in process and undergoing change. I do think Cher meant to use the word pejoratively thought (much like Alec Baldwin last week when he used the f**g*t word). She meant the word to be insulting. In this case, we have to ask ourselves, why is this meaning assumed to be negative? Why is a woman’s va-JJ such a bad thing it can so easily be hurled as an insult by men and women?

I’m reading a book now by Kim Addonizio where she discusses writing about sex and the glam-box (my new term). She says the c-word comes from the Middle English word cunte. Middle English. Huh.

 Another friend also sent me word of Cher’s comments about Thanksgiving:

"Thanksgiving is a day to see family, eat food together and watch a movie...Not 2 celebrate the beginning of a GREAT Crime... We gave them Blankets laced w/ Smallpox,” Cher concluded.

This is interesting to me in light of my raised consciousness while working at the Institute of American Indian Arts last year. Some hot button issues in that community, (issues mainstream American is completely oblivious about), would be Thanksgiving and wearing their ceremonial clothing as costumery. I don’t know how Indian activists feel about Cher’s representations as Indian over her career; but I do think that since she has that history of costumery, because she claims Indian heritage, this is a positive statement from her about American Indian consciousness and makes available a high level of public awareness.

Lady-Gaga-The-Muppets-Holiday-Spectacular-will-air-on-November-28-for-ThanksgivingSo after I questioned Lady Gaga’s ability to do variety TV last week, she goes and does a Thanksgiving special with the Muppets. I had no idea and didn’t see it. Was she any good? The ratings were bad according to reports. I wonder if American might be suffering brand confusion with Gaga (similar to what American experienced with Cher between her Vegas shows, Sonny & Cher on TV and the Allman & Woman and Black Rose products and tours). Gaga did topless photos in V Magazine. She releases a meta-single called “Applause” and then does work with the Muppets. Is she an adult or all-American act?

Am loving the new Cher bio. Am very impressed with the copious amounts of research and interviews Howard has done. Am learning a lot and finally, another Cher historian who cares about surname spelling!

For next week: Cher on Vivement Dimanche -- see the clip on Cher News


New Book on Cher Dolls

DollsCher scholar Tamara Lorenz Hampton has produced a book about one-of-a-kind outfit creation and over 10 years of doll art and collecting in her book The Fabulous World of Cher Dolls.

The book is intended to help serious collectors "determine what they have" and "how to display, decorate, and create" for your dolls.

The book is on sale for $125 on Lulu, a price that probably reflects the full-color production of an indie book.


Recap of Woman's World Press Tour

943273_10201522820973247_1967374274_nThe Accolades:

After decades of dissings, then surprised condescension at her success in the 1980s, then the 1990s of affected interest with the turn into occasional accolades and credit, the excitement of this round's interviewers is palpable. I’m chalking it up to the inarguable facts of her career piling up and The Cher Show kids finally finding their asses in interviewing seats. It’s truly extra-ordinary and Cher is responding with her grown-up voice and is downright verbose in her responses.

One of my favorite pile-ups of accolades was from SoSoGay,

“Before Beyonce, before Gaga. Before Rhianna and before Katy. Before Britney, Christina, Cyndi and Celine. Before Whitney and Mariah, and before Madonna. Before colour television, before the Vietnam War, before man walked on the moon. Before the decimalized pound. Before everything, before time immemorial…There was Cher….this shimmering vestibule of unrelenting fabulousness….her sparkling tsunami.”

Ed Brody, the author, tells me Burlesque was amazing and to get over myself. I laughed at that. I wish I could. But that's the cross a scholar bears.

Here's more overview of the love:

  • A Cher fan said she was coolest person ever since he can remember (Watch What Happens/Andy Cohen)
  • Andy Cohen said as a kid he watched The Cher Show and "when she came down the ramp, life, hope, goose bumps, gave me fairy dust, inspiration" came too. He said Cher was putting to bed all the kids in America. (Watch What Happens/Andy Cohen)
  • Anderson Cooper said he grew up adoring Cher—and his mom (Gloria Vanderbilt) said Cher was her fantasy daughter. Kelly Ripa is also a fan. One caller said he had to get high to talk to Cher (Watch What Happens/Andy Cohen)
  • Dan Taylor called her the female artist of rock and roll, the iconic lady (WCBS).
  • On Sirius/XM radio's Studio54 channel, the hosts Marc Benecke and Myra Scheer were very excited. (I just got a new car so have free XM for 3 months or something--whohoo!). In their intro, they played “The Shoop Shoop Song,” “Believe,” Turn Back Time,” and “Woman’s World” clips. On the Town Hall interview with Cher, (the inaugural), Myra noted that she was Steve Rubell’s executive assistant at Studio 54 in New York City. They called her major star, a guiding star, a role model with 250 world-wide awards in music, TV and film, including a Golden Globe, an Oscar, an Emmy, a Grammy, and a hit song in every decade “since 1910” Cher joked. At the first break, they played “Take Me Home” (and noted the song was on the Studio 54 album). The next break “Turn Back Time.” The next break “I Found Someone” (and here a salamander crawled up our faux-bedrock wall and stopped to listen). The next break “Believe," “Strong Enough” next and during the final break “Women’s World.” Many of New York’s straight men asked questions during this interview and I love how straight men in NYC love her. You don't see this so much in LA and the Midwest.

Candidness: Cher seemed so much less guarded in her face, body, and with her words.

  • The New York Times said what they used to say about her in the 1980s, “In this age of rigidly controlled star-bots, no topic seemed to be off-limits (except her relationship status).”
  • She appeared on The Today Show with Savannah Guthrie, (perky like Katie Couric) and was so nice and comfortable in her PJs. After the interview, Guthrie gushed about Cher to her co-anchors, calling Cher an unassuming charmer. I was impressed how easily Guthrie could kid with her.
  • On Z100, the DJ played “Does Cher Care” asking Cher irreverent questions about Paula Dean (Cher feels she’s not misunderstood, just wrong), Sandra Bullock’s new movie trailer: is it overexposed, will it be good? Is Cher even interested (Cher said it looks cool), about the never-ending cupcake craze (Cher said it sucked to begin with and prefers Hostess cupcakes), should Snowden be punished or kicked out of China/Russia? (Cher said this was above her pay grade).
  • Andy Cohen launched CherMaggedon with a plethora of games, including Truth or Cher—the Truth question being who her greatest lovers were (She said they’d all been exceptional. Andy said “That’s a list!” and she answered, “Not a long list but a good list.” He got her to admit Tom Cruise in the top 5 when prompted). In the Dare, Andy Cohen quoted Moonstruck and asked Cher to slap him while saying "Snap out of it." In another segment Gypsies Tramps and Tea, Andy Cohen asked for Cher’s opinion on: Elvis (didn’t know him), Whitney (didn’t know her), Nick Cage (he’s crazy but I love him), Meryl (my idol), Phil Spector (he’s crazy and only paid me $25 for a year’s work), Michael Jackson (I have TMI!), Tom Cruise (He wasn’t a scientologist then and they were hot and heavy for a minute), ever having a lesbian lover? (who hasn’t). She said she stole a horse when I was 13 and took it to Santa Ana. If she could meet anyone? She’d ask Jesus “Dude, what’s the deal?” Her favorite decade was the 80s (so much fun, could go naked swimming). On her bucket list? (I thought she said to build Balobgese house but is that right??). Her best movie role was Moonstruck. Does she have a boyfriend? (The moment anyone knows, you don’t have one; so she keeps that on the low down now—that's a great answer actually). For the Jackal of the Night: Cher picked Senator Ted Cruise because he’s an a-hole who doesn’t like gays or foreigners. According to Andy, the show said "Cher" 29 times – which was a record.
  • During Andy Cohen’s Aftershow, he asked her what sent she would use for a scented candle (Uninhibited); she says she watches CNN/MSNBC. Anderson Cooper made a surprise appearance and said Cher calls in all the time to help people but low key (that she did so with Hurricane Katrina). They asked her about the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage (about time, she said) and they tried to play Kiss, Marry, Shag with her (with Quaid who she’d say she’d marry and Nicholson & Cage but she never finished the list.) They ran a Hair Chertrospective at the end.

Cher was great fun through all these shenanigans.

  WomanssingleThe New Album:

  • On Live Chat NY, Cher said the video wouldn’t be released until September (which is very strange since a video might have helped the single). Cher said the newspaper wig was her wigmakers idea and kinda a nightmare. She said her favorite songs on the album are “Lie to Me” (a Pink song), “My Love” (a future single), Take It Like a Man” (a future single), and Dressed to Kill.” She said she recorded “Woman’s World” in an hour (on Z100 she said the song sang itself) and she co-wrote the song “Lovers Forever” which is actually old and was written for the movie Interview with a Vampire. She said the album has dance, rock and ballads and she hopes it will generate three videos.
  • On Z100 Cher said recording is still scary and tenuous and she is not Cher fan, that recording studios are not her favorite place to be, that she feels more confident on stage (where I shine) because she feels she’s a good entertainer (vs. a singer).
  • To Andy Cohen, Cher said Lady Gaga didn’t like their duet but that she felt it was good. Cher said this was her best album and her best songs and she loved that she didn’t have to lower her keys.
  • WCBS noted that this is her 26th album. She said here it was very eclectic with dance, ballads, a country song, and some funky banjo in one song and a U2-sounding 9/11 song called “Sirens.”
  • On XM she talked about the writing of “Woman’s World.” As she said in "Believe"-era interviews, there's no overt personal connection to the song. She said the writer was a guy and his idea was that women are strong and now demand their rights. (In this light, I think the setup suffers from slight condescension, which isn’t the writer’s fault, but a generational interpretation, ex: we don't need men to tell us this.) Myra said the song was very “I Will Survive of the 21st Century.” (I thought that label should have been applied to the song “Strong Enough” with its 1970s sound). Cher said the song was like “Believe” in that she didn’t like the second verse, which was too similar to “Believe.” Cher said she won’t cry twice, which is why in "Believe" she added the more empowering line: “Maybe I’m too good for you.” She wants to show that women are resilient. Myra said although Cher didn’t write it, she owned it. Cher’s mom said that about her The Voice performance.

GypsiesorigOld Songs:

  • On Live Chat NY, Cher said she turned down “Turn Back Time” around 1000 times and then did the song in an hour. She said her favorite song of her own is “Song for the Lonely.” The interviewer said she loves “Baby Don’t Go” and Cher said that was a great song and very  definitive Sonny & Cher.
  • On Z100 the DJ said Cher has embraced change through the eras vs. musicians who say “this is the kind of music I make” and aren’t flexible. Cher said she gets bored and likes to try new ideas. Cher said she can’t think of anybody my age who is making records to get on the charts or anyone who performs onstage with no clothes. (She’s so funny!) They talked about “Believe” and auto tune and the vocoder and pitch machines. I get confused during such tech talk.
  • On WCBS, Cher says she almost threw away “Believe” although she thought it was a “beautifully constructed idea.” She talked about the first time she heard herself on the radio, for her song “Baby Don’t Go.” They were at her mom’s house where their managers were living (because they were all poor). They were in the living room listening to KFWB and had all been calling on all their phones to the radio station to get it played. Cher said it was an out of body experience with everybody screaming when the song came on. They said they all wanted to go to the Cadillac dealership with bag full of money and buy a Cadillac.
  • On XM, Cher said she hasn’t a clue about her longevity in the business. She agreed with a fan that she liked the “Walking in Memphis” video and was the first to play Elvis. (Like originally? Like in 1971, which is my theory that she’s been doing Elvis since then?)

General Music:

On Live Chat NY, Cher says she Pink, Adele, and Amy Winehouse; On XM she said she still has her favorite go-to song (but said it makes no sense) as Procol Harem’s “Whiter Shade of Pale.” SoSoGay reporter mentioned that her song from Not.Com.merical, “With or Without You” taps into that Procol Harem sound.

MaskMovies & Broadway:

  • According to Live Chat NY, Cher has no word on the status of Drop Out or Bet and Flo, movies once listed on her IMDB page. For her next movie, she seeks a non-glamorous role in an independent film. She says she will never do Shakespeare.
  • She also says she got her Silkwood offer on a Wednesday matinee of her Broadway show, Come Back to the 5 & Dime, and she liked doing a play, found it comforting. (Live Chat NY) She said Broadway was not easy but you get an immediate reaction. (XM)
  • According to Live Chat NY she’s still writing for her Logo show.
  • The DJ of Z100 told Cher he used to watch Mask over and over with his sister. On Z100 and XM, Cher said she was sick during the offer to do Thelma & Louise but that what belongs to you comes to you. She  regrets not being able to do it but feels it was meant to be “Sue’s” part.
  • Andy Cohen during his Aftershow asked Cher if she keeps in touch with the Mermaids daughters, Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci. Cher says they grew up and she hasn’t seen them lately. She said “Noni” went through a strange period but seems back on track and she remembers sneaking Christina M&Ms during the shooting when directors thought Christina was too chubby and banned them from her trailer. Cher said she loved the family-feeling of movies and talking to the tech people. She said she had a great time on Burlesque.
  • On WCBS, Cher retold the story about a crowd laughing at her name during the Silkwood preview (Nichols told her the previews were out and she went to a Tom Cruise movie in Westwood to see it with her sister and her manager, Billy Sammeth). She said it was organic laughter and therefore pretty painful. At the eventual premiere the audience clapped at her name in the credits.
  • On XM, Cher admitted not knowing how’s she’s persevered in a youth-oriented film industry. Myra calls her fearless. Cher said you evolve. Mark said she has communication with audience. Cher said she is likable. She said her most memorable moment was winning the Oscar. It was amazing to her since it took so long to get an acting job. She said Robert Altman was such a rebel. Mike Nichols told her when he saw the Saturday matinee about the character of Dolly that they couldn’t find anyone for the role before they found Cher and so they we were just gonna write her out; Mike said, “She’s a lesbian, but really lovely.” A fan asked if she would do more musicals? She said she wasn’t planning any but she enjoyed singing in a film.
  • One fan on XM commented on her sexy glamor and sensitivity in movies from Moonstruck to Jimmy Dean. Cher joked that she could multitask. She said, I am who I am for better or worse, a lot of worse. She said she likes play in her work and that sometimes she stops doing it when she feels she has nothing to offer.

Twitter & Star Fights:

  • On Live Chat NY, Cher admitted on Twitter it’s hard to read jokes and emotions, saying, “Words can’t see a smile, can’t get emotions." She said she tweets in the middle of the night like a vampire. To Andy Cohen she says she’s good with Madonna.
  • Andy Cohen asked her about Nicki Minaj throwing shade on her. She said people come and go. Snap!

Exercise & Free Time:

  • On The Today Show Cher says for free time, she sees friends, goes to the Bahamas, paddle  boards, goes hiking, or somewhere like Nepal.
  • On XM she talked about working out, working her “ass off” now because when you’re older it gets harder. But she was always into sports and running as kid, climbing trees. She had “so much energy.” Official exercise started for her during The Sonny & Cher shows where she took a dance class during their lunch breaks. She said you have to change it up to trick your body. The same exercise stops working. Now she does yoga, pilates, weights and the trampoline to music, bouncing, she says, makes her happy.

Outfits: Inlove

  • In the New York Times, Cher said her favorite dress was the Oscar Snub Dress: “If you could have seen it up close. It was cashmere, the beading was beautiful, they made earrings and the headdress was exquisite. It was impeccable. It was beautifully done.” (And Cher would know a headdress). She also stated “Camp is in the eye of the beholder.”
  • On The Today Show she said she doesn’t mind people hating what she wears.
  • On Andy Cohen she wore space platforms shoes and black and white geometric jacket and pants. Cher scholar Robrt Pela noted that this outfit matched the back cover of Sonny & Cher’s In Case You're In Love album. She stated her that her favorite outfits where the Oscar dress, and her first Indian “costume,” and the "Turn Back Time" outfit (Which one? The concert hole fit or the video V fit?)
  • On XM, a fan asked what her outfit inspirations were. She said her first inspiration was Bob Mackie. She loved that her friend said her hair on The Voice looked like a chicken from the 4H club. She says she has a  good humor about it. But she said the outfit and wig didn’t translate on the show (I agree: too many cuts and closeups). Cher said art should provoke conversation, not that she can say my hair was art, but she was going for Luxe Punk.

Concerts: Helen-Mirren

  • On LiveChat NY, Cher talked about her first live appearance in bowling alley and Sonny pushing her on stage. She said about her Caesars shows:  “They were very staid.” (New York Times) and that fans couldn’t afford the show so there was an older, low energy audience. She came to understand “you don’t get to decide how they’re gonna enjoy it. They get to decide.” She said on tour she saves her voice and doesn’t talk, lives like a nun.  She said in the 1960s people threw rings on stage, in homage to the fact she had rings on every finger (I did not know that.). She said “Song for the Lonely” is impossible to sing and she didn’t tape Caesars show. (Live Chat NY)
  • The New York Times was with Cher at the Marquee during a very long wig change. Manager Lindsay Scott was asked, “How much of his life is spent waiting for Cher to change her outfit and get trussed up?” “A good amount.”
  • In the Marquee video itself, Cher made a speech about when she was unc2ool and a has-been, “you guys have always been there.” Cher watched some drag queens/impersonators dance to a mix of her songs and she danced and sang along, smiling.
  • On Z100 she said she might tour next year. The DJ asked her about seeing all those cell phones now at shows. She said smart phones weren’t around yet during her farewell tour years.
  • During the Macy’s 4th of July Spectacular, I loved the long hair and the pants. Is that chain mail back in action? Mr. Cher Scholar made many positive remarks, (She looks cool here, looks younger, like the big hoops, she looks great). The women in audience really seem into it. Cher smiles a lot and throws out sultry looks. She did lip sync but in the bootleg pre-tape, you can hear her singing. She comments about dressing age-appropriate (not quite yet; age appropriate would be dressing like Helen Mirren above...can you believe they're less than a year apart in age?). She talks about her choreographer, Doriana Sanchez, and about getting free M&Ms vs Dr. Pepper backstage.
  • Cher announced she’ll be performing a Today Show concert on September 23. The hosts said to “expect a legendary crowd.”
  • Cher said her least favorite song to do live is “Jessie James.” She talked about touring with sonny in early 70s on the club circuit where they had to cook in our room but used Chastity in act; She used to lead the orchestra. (Watch What Happens/Andy Cohen)
  • On XM, Cher said hearing her records again, she felt they sound better. For live shows you need to speed them up because the audience needs excitement. She said singing live is a crap shoot. She said sometimes her musical director  Paul Mirkovich changes up arrangements. A fan asked if there was a drag queen better than she was? She picked Elgin Kenna and called him a genius artist.

TV Shows:

  • To Andy Cohen, she talked about Farrah Fawcett’s appearance on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. “She had tits and I didn’t” so Farrah got all the crews attention. She said one of her favorite things  with Sonny was the Raymond Burr blooper (long form) and on XM she said the blooper was “so us.” She also agreed she loved her West Side Story performance. She said there were 14 costume changes on her show with Sonny.
  • On WCBS, she said her appearance on The Voice was awful and scary. Before the show she told her mom she would either be the greatest reinvention of herself or it would be “get thee to a nursing home."

Family & Friends:  Hersonny

  • Cher said her mom would be a guest judge on RuPaul’s Drag Race and Chaz was great performing in “30 Minute Musical” (Live Chat NY), the episode spoofing Independence Day and Chas played the president.  (Watch What Happens/Andy Cohen)
  • Cher said Sonny’s funeral was very Italian with everybody cooking. “The only person not there was Son.” Cher said they didn’t sing to Chaz at bedtime, they read her stories. (Watch What Happens/Andy Cohen)
  • ON WCBS, Cher said her mom’s best advice was to never litter and that Cher has never seen Chaz better in his life.
  • On XM someone asked for Cher’s advice to new artists. Cher said entertainment and fame are so different now, everyone has an immediate clothing line (I wonder how Sonny would have operated in this era). Cher said Sonny instilled in her the idea never to believe in a no. She said she should have stopped years ago when all signs pointed to no, but like a bumper car she keeps going, it’s in her family DNA. She said far more talented people don’t make it. She hears friends saying older people should move over to give the kids a shot, but the women in her family are not moving out of the way.
  • On XM they asked her for her best personal and professional decade. She said all decades have had their over parts and have also spiked up. “They said I reinvented myself but it was untrue…I’m just me.” She couldn’t decide on a best decade, saying the 1960s were the beginning, the 1970s had the TV show, the 1980s had the movies and was the best decade personally.
  • On WCBS Cher said she was still working with Children’s Craniofacial Association.
  • In The New York Times, Cher said Robert Camilletti was her easiest relationship and of her two husbands, Sonny she was most attached too: “It wasn’t like anything before or after. And it wasn’t all roses. It was very Russian roulette.”
  • On XM she said her true love was Robert Camilletti and Ronnie Zimmerman was the one who could make her laugh so hard she cried.
  • XM asked her for advice for parents. She said I’m on twitter with your kids. She said it's hard to stop telling your kids what to do but you need to think of them as people and cut them some slack and do fun stuff with them. You're not just there to boss them around. But teenagers are crazy. You need to guide them more because you worry about them all the time. Her mom told her never lie, litter, or talk back. But she learned to drive when she was 11 and her mother assures her she was a mercurial child. "Chaz was an angel all the time. Elijah is like me."

Her Character:

  • Calls herself mercurial (Sirius/New York Times) and says her worst habit is worrying too much (Live Chat NY). If she could go back in time as superpower to meet an Egyptian whose name I couldn’t catch or to send the paparazzi into space (Live Chat NY). She said her biggest obstacle is her up and down moods and she works to stay in the center and not be over emotional (WCBS).
  • On XM she was asked if she would change anything she’s done. “How long do we have,” she asked and then said the truth would be too personal. She believes what belongs to you comes to you.

Plastic Surgery:

In the New York Times, Cher admits her limited movie offers might be due to her wrinkle-free visage, that her look might make it “hard to be anyone but Cher.” She said this idea “didn’t feel very good. But it was true. I get that. I understand that.” She was also asked about Chad Michaels allegedly having surgery to look more like her: “If it doesn’t bother him, it doesn’t bother me. I don’t feel creepy. I don’t.”

A Book: Ft

To Andy Cohen, Cher admitted she once wrote "a half-assed book." But before she write the bigger book, people have to die off. She said she and friend, Paulie, talk about it all the time.

Shy Kid to Superstar:

My iPod shuffle served up the Sonny & Cher b-side “Hello” during Cher’s big June/July press push. I was taken by how far she’s come in her confidence.

We've also come to a point of critical mass in her career, where no one (including Cher herself) can pretend this is her first album, movie or project and dismiss or ignore all the preceeding history. I love it when she talks about experiencing showbiz over so long a period of time and, as you can see, all these interviews reflect the breadth of her work, from live shows to TV shows to music albums to being a fashion icon. It's all here.


Reconfigured Cher Book?

I've was off from Cher Scholaring for a few weeks while I did some local book talks for Why Photographers Commit Suicide and then hosted some girlfriends for a Sarah Lawrence reunion weekend in Santa Fe. I talk all about it in my other blog, Big Bang Poetry.

AllWhile I was gone, this new Cher book popped up in our Cher Universe, All I Really Want to Do  by Daryl Easlea and Eddi Fiegel. Now these are the same two writers who put out the You Haven't Seen the Last of Me coffee table book on Cher last year through Barnes and Noble.

So is this book a retread of that one? A rehashed book with some fixes? Or a brand new book?

Disturbingly I'll have to purchase it to find out.

For an excerpt.

To buy.



Oh my God...three (THREE!) Cher books are on their way!!!

Now I love books. And I'm a Cher fan. So Cher books make me crazy!!!

Book1Available now: You Haven't Seen the Last of Me by Daryl Easlea and Eddi Fiegel. Found out about this book on the Yahoo list. It's only found at Barnes and Noble for some reason, not Amazon:

Daryl has also done books on Madonna and Beyonce. This looks mostly like a photo book. I just ordered it yesterday.







Female forceThe comic book Female Force Cher by Mark Shapiro is out December 27 on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.

Cher News blog commented astutely that Cher's 90s hair and 80s costume on the cover don't match. I totally agree. I am chalking this up to the artistic privilege of the comic-book artist but there's a nerdy part of me that looks forward to finding these anomalies throughout the comic.

This is what Cher scholars do.





It looks like a new biography is coming May 15, 2012, Cher: Strong Enough by Josiah Howard.

This is a mystery book and it promises to be somewhat slim at 240 pages but is promising some "exclusive interviews with Cher and those she has worked with on- and off-stage."

Get reading!


Rock Seen by Bob Gruen

S&c Ahhh, the sweet smell of almost-respect.

Entertianment Weekly's September 2nd issue includes a review of music-photographer Bob Gruen's new book of rock icons.

The snapshot review is titled "Legends on the Loose" and the five examples of representative legends chosen to showcase are Debbie Harry on Coney Island in 1977, The Ramones on their way to CBGB's in 1975, KISS posing for an album cover in 1974, John Lennon in Yonkers in 1975 and...wait for it...Sonny & Cher in the picture to the left taken on Lexignton Avenue in New York City in 1973.

Melissa Maerz calls the book "a disarmingly natural look at icons like Blondie and Cher before the era of the posed rock-star portrait kicked in."

Don't they look groovy?

But what a list of heavyweights to be included with. In the last decade, Cher's been making it into more and more of these lists of "legends." Like the theory of Starstruck, The Business of Celebrity suggests, it's all about who you're seen with.


Cher to Star in Comic Book

Dothefrancedance My cousin alerted me to the fact that Cher will be the star of a new comic book before the end of the year. Look for it from Bluewater Productions.

See what their Madonna comic looks like.

You can also peruse hilariously captioned screenshots of Sonny & Cher's early 70s appearance on Scooby Doo here:

Cher and Sonny running from The Shark God pictured above.


Standing Larger


I was joking to my husband that this week was Sex-Change Week!  Just to lighten things up, you know. Turns out there was no need. John’s been listening to all of Chaz's interviews with some astute commentary.

However over the past week(s), I seen a dearth of Cher-fans chit-chat on Chaz’s appearances. Not one comment on the Yahoo list about the documentary. Is that disconcerting? I hate to think so...but I am surprised. Although I understand, your generic Cher celebrity obsession does not equal a Chaz celebrity obsession. This is why we didn’t send Ceremony’s Hang Out Your Poetry up the charts. However, Chaz’s current transgender story is still solidly a part of the Cher story.  Honestly, my “peripherals” blog tag is just an ironic jest. Nothing is ever truly peripheral:

a) because everything Chaz or Elijah will ever do in their entire lives is still part of Cher’s story… but much more so this story because it represents loss for Cher.

b. because Chaz, in talking about his life, drops Cher-at-home tidbits. For instance, you learn that Cher once bought Chastity a Wonder-Woman jean skirt.  Which is an unprecedented look behind the curtain, a unique child’s-point-of-view peek into her private life. And I don’t care what you think you know about Cher’s private life. You don’t know shit. Cher’s a master of only appearing to be seen. Her interviews are like a Bob Mackie gown, you think you’re getting more skin than you really are. And short of a for-real Cher autobiography, this is as good as it gets.

Is the topic just too difficult for them? Let me explain my non-discomfort with the transgender topic. I used to live with my bff Julie in Los Angeles from 2003-2006. Everyone but our friends thought we were gay. My siblings and parents probably did too. We were on an Animal Planet reality show created by the Humane Society (where we won the adorable Edgar Winter Dog) and some viewers there even thought we were gay.  It didn’t bother me. Well it did bother me that I had such a distant relationship with my family that they didn’t know I had a crush on John Waite for 15 years. But mostly, it didn’t bother me because I thought of Katharine Hepburn and her heiress-bff Laura Harding living together and how everyone thought they were gay too…and that me being gay was probably a more interesting plotline than the love life I was living at the time…so let em run with it. 

But that’s really not the point, since we’re not talking about being gay. The point is, due to this conception about us, Julie and I had no problems talking about different kinds of sex and sexuality. As young Bitch/Bust feminists, this was just part of being feminist daily. We saw TransGeneration on Sundance. And for a while we really got into graphic surgery shows about kids and adults with unusual medical conditions. I’m not freaked out about surgical procedures anymore. So I don’t find transgendering or its surgery that disturbing, even if maybe I once did.

However, when Chaz story broke, I did think immediately “poor mom.” And poor all of us who will lose that little TV star Chastity forever. Which was an irrational thought;  because she existed and so will always exist.

The Poor Mom response was not irrational. A mom’s struggle, no matter what kind of major transformations their daughters will face, is harsh. And moms always get a large suitcase of guilt and loss to deal with. Most moms feel guilt; famous moms usually feel extra guilty.

While Chas was a daughter, she says she had an often rocky relationship with her mom. Cher herself has had a rocky relationship with her mother. Let me tell you, things aren’t always smooth sailing with my mom. Billions of women know this mother/daughter dynamic. Many, many mothers subconsciously discourage their daughters from self-actualizing in many ways for many reasons (their own fears, their own dreams). It’s so common it could be called natural. Except that it’s so painful. It feels structured to be painful.  And no one has yet invented an effective way to deal with it.

Even though Chas is now a man, he and Cher still had 40 years of that mother-daughter thang.

I’ve been watching The Judds reality show on OWN (I got accidentally sucked in last weekend). Talk about mother-daughter DRAMA. The episode I saw started with Mama Judd sobbing over Ashley Judd’s book and Ashley’s disclosure of her painful childhood. Mama Judd felt guilty. Winona Judd felt guilty. Mama and Winona tried to have a therapeutic moment together with a therapist; but the event fell apart over disagreements in their diverging memories of their traumatic few years living on Larabee Street in Los Angeles (it truly did sound awful). The session ended with Winona storming out because her mother “wasn’t hearing her.”  Sound familiar?

Add to that transgendering and it’s not surprising that the press has been relatively kind to Cher.  It’s mother-daughter drama to the hilt.

It’s hard not to be engaged by the documentary Becoming Chaz, made by the guys who gave us the gems of The Eyes of Tammy Faye, TransGeneration and Ru Paul’s Drag Race.

This week, Oprah and Rose O’Donnel talked to Chaz about it for an hour each. Cher’s sister Georganne even made an appearance to talk about her initial issues with Chaz’s transgendering and how her husband, Ebar, helped her along. In the documentary, Cher also says it was her boyfriend who encouraged her to see Chaz after some time apart. So interesting that the men in Chaz’s family circle were stronger about it. Maybe because they were gaining a team-mate. Did they think, “who doesn’t want to be a dude?” Oprah was fully understanding. Rosie tried to wrap her head around transgendering as a gay woman.

But David Letterman tried to get his head around it as Middle America. His show proved to me that sometimes ignorant questions are just as important as good ones. They clear the air. His anti-depressants question was such a question.

Cintra Wilson’s review and interview is another good example of being off the rails. I was on NPR with Wilson years ago talking about celebrity obsession. We had something in common: we both think celebrity obsession is bad for society. However, I felt Wilson was either grandstanding her view for some kind of celebrity-like attention or she was authentically off the rails about it. I felt the same way about  her 2000 book, A Massive Swelling: Celebrity Re-examined as a Grotesque Crippling Disease and Other Cultural Revelations (Can you see what I mean?). Her review and interview of Chas for The New York Times was no different. She asked the dumb questions: “Did the toxic culture of celebrity damage Chaz’s gender identity?” and “Did Cher’s almost drag-queenlike hyper-female persona somehow devour Chastity’s emerging femininity?”

It’s hard to take her seriously. First of all, Cher as hyper feminine? Has she seen Cher on a Harley? Was she around for the androgynous 60s? Or was that toxic too?

Toxic celebrity culture does not cause gender identity issues. It may cause body image issues. It may cause our distraction from society’s real problems. Aren't these things bad enough?  But Wilson’s theories are almost radically conservative in a way. In other words, wouldn’t life would be so much simpler without those dangerous moving pictures and pop songs? It’s good to get the dumb stuff out. So we can call it out for what it is.

Let’s be frank (no pun intended), people who are still anti-gay are not going to come around to an understanding of transgendering. Because these are essentially the same people who, in ancient times, would have drowned their own baby twins because twins were seen as being unnatural and unlucky. These people cannot tolerate anything unusual.

I devoured Chaz’s book in two days. He’s getting better at retelling the early stories. In fact, this book was more a complete story than the other two books, Family Outing and End of Innocence. There was a lot to digest but my favorite discussions were on gender tween-ness and society's massive need to see gender absoluteness in people. I also learned Cher’s fame takes a f*#@ing lot of work. And that everyone on Celebrity Fit Club was cheating with the Zone Diet. And that Chaz has returned to college. Which is really cool.

Oh, and I learned this too: I wanted Chaz’s childhood and the irony is he wanted a childhood something more like mine. Who knew?

Anyway, back to Mom. Because this blog is about Moms if it’s about anything, in the sense that I’m also the result of my mom’s not wanting me to turn into an adult Cher Scholar.

There’s a Rusty-Dennis-Mask lesson for us here. Wasn’t the take-home from that movie the fact that Rocky Dennis wasn’t so different from you and me, just that society treated him differently simply due to a roll-of-the-dice fluke of his DNA that made him look abnormal? Remember the ferocity of Rusty’s love in response?

What parent doesn't want a normal child? What parent doesn’t want to protect their children from an unhappy childhood?  Okay, maybe your mom didn't. But Cher’s mother did. Cher did. If I had a kid, I would. Chaz would too. It’s a universal desire. So everyone can sympathize with Cher (which doesn’t happen often).

Everybody has an opportunity to stand larger today due to this Cher story. Yes, this Cher story, this mother story, this daughter story. A celebrity sensation story is probably the smallest part of it.

Cher may not see it this way. Or maybe she does. Surely she must view this story as a mother before she sees it as an iconic celebrity. But my self-imposed job here is to look at this from an entertainment history perspective, 50-years down the line. This is a good trajectory for Cher, not a negative story. Why? Because it’s something more poignant and more modern and more full of humanity than the legacy she will have from a Bob Mackie dress, from “Turn Back Time” or Moonstruck or, God help us, “Half Breed” or even the legacy of Mask.

It’s obvious to me Chaz is standing larger. Gone is that tense, awkward wrinkled brow from all his previous interviews. I’ve been watching this worried furrowed brow since 1979 and The Mike Douglas Show all the way to last years’ Entertainment Tonight story. I have not seen the wrinkled brow all week. What I now see more clearly is Sonny. And what’s to complain about that?

As if by divine messaging, while I was typing this out the Joni Mitchell song “Let The Wind Carry Me” came up on my iPod shuffle (God speaks through my iPod, no?). This song couldn’t be more apropos for this moment. It’s a mother-daughter conflict song. The lyrics tear’d me up a bit because although the daughter in the song is different than Chastity was and she is different than I am…its not so different.

Papa's faith is people
Mama she believes in cleaning
Papa's faith is in people
Mama she's always cleaning
Papa brought home the sugar
Mama taught me the deeper meaning

She don't like my kick pleat skirt
She don't like my eyelids painted green
She don't like me staying up late
In my high-heeled shoes
Living for that rock 'n' roll dancing scene
Papa says "Leave the girl alone, mother
She's looking like a movie queen"

Mama thinks she spoilt me
Papa knows somehow he set me free
Mama thinks she spoilt me rotten
She blames herself
But papa he blesses me
It's a rough road to travel
Mama let go now
It's always called for me

Sometimes I get that feeling
And I want to settle
And raise a child up with somebody
I get that strong longing
And I want to settle
And raise a child up with somebody
But it passes like the summer
I'm a wild seed again
Let the wind carry me

Mama, let the wind carry Chastity. 
He is the proof God lives. And he is God’s gift to you.

(Chastity Sun, 1973)


The Burlesque Movie Book

LaTour_Educ_Virgin And FINALLY… FINALLY I received my Burlesque book! Jesus but this took effort and the patience of some higher power than me. Because I was DYING to get my little hands on it! My first order accidentally went to my old Redondo Beach address. And the forward didn’t work. Calling Amazon and the post office got me nowhere, the book was lost in postal space…so after  two weeks I just reordered the darn thing. I was a bit unsure what to expect. People on the Cherfreaks lists here and there were NOT raving about it…in fact they were complaining about the dearth of Cher pics in it.

The book is smaller than your typical coffee table book but I have to say I really like it.  It begins with a very generous 3-page introduction by Cher.  She talks about her first magical movie experience seeing Cinderella at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in LA and memorizing “A Dream Is a Wish Your Hearts Makes” so she was able to sing it for her parents on the way home. Very cute. She talks about coaching “this beautiful child” Christina Aquilera, Stanley Tucci (Cher agrees with Meryl  Streep…although Cher gives no last name, just Meryl…that Stanley never has a false moment in his performances). She calls “K-Bell” a fire cracker, Peter Gallagher wonderful and fun. Eric Dane full of charisma, and Cam Gigandet a sort of James Dean.  She talks about writing a scene from the movie and I wont tell you which one but it has to do with her mother and her friends. She says “They were all so beautiful and I was an ugly duckling” a comment which of course reminded me of sad things women continually say on Ru Paul’s Drag Race (of which I’ve been watching reruns I’ve already seen and been crying all over again!).

Cher’s essay reminded me again of how long her professional relationships have lasted. Not the situation of a nasty DIVA. She lists a long line of long-time compatriots, her agent, her managers, the professional advice of David Geffen, her makeup artist, her costume wrangler,  and the loooong-time assistant of many-trades Deb Paul. She also thanks newbies like the movie’s Director of Photography Bojan Bazelli (“I will never look this good again”), the movie’s wigmaker Carol Robinson and most incredibly her assistant on set, Jennifer Ruiz (“she’s the girl you want in your foxhole”).  It was a very generous of her to use the space to thank everyone.

Christina also adds a forward in which she calls Cher her mentor and working with her a “dream come true.” She ends by saying she thinks the film is something Etta James, Josephine Baker and Bob Fosse would be proud of.

Caravaggio-the-calling-of-saint-matthew And beyond that, the book is full of tidbits about the making of the movie.  Antin defines burlesque as he sees it, and the many stories of it taking nine months of chasing Cher “shamelessly” to make the film. He calls Cher “the coolest chick I’ve ever met."  Choreographer Denise Faye talks about how they created organic routines to match the storylines, set people talk about the dramatic look they were going for, inspired by the paintings of LaTour (1st above) and Caravaggio (at right), how they researched the “main character”, the burlesque lounge, and what inspired them. Designers discuss the specialized costumes and wigs, the use of Swarovski crystals, they symbolism of the color red, the use of monochromatic lighting for non-club scenes, the special Christian Louboutin shoes for Christina, the bartenders outfits, and even the zinc bar top. The book talks about who greenlit the movie, what producer gave it credibility, the makeup methodology, how the footlights work to serve the opening scene, how Steve Antin grew up in LA and particularly appreciated the sunlight at Hollywood and Vine. Even the news that Bob Mackie designed Cher’s “Welcome to Burlesque” outfit.  This book is like a Burlesque CliffsNotes.

Julianne Hough says “no detail was sparred and nothing is boring.” Alan Cumming says “If you like Cher, you’ll love this movie…this movie is Cher Christmas.”

It’s about time for some Cher Christmas!

What Shall We Talk About? the big day arrived this week and reviews are literally pouring in on Cher's Caesar Place show. I don’t want to read them until I see the show next week. I don’t even want to look too hard at the photos. I don’t want to discuss the new stuff until I see it. Which is extremely,  extremely hard!

In fact, for any of the other tours (there have only been three I’ve been able to see live in my lifetime – Heart of Stone, Believe, and Never Can Say Goodbye), I’ve never been able to resist. And I’m getting very, very excited about seeing the show and reading over everybody's thoughts. I just hope I don't get hit by a bus before I can see it! (I always think that right before new Cher product drops).

In fact, I don’t feel like talking about anything else but this thing I can’t talk about!!

But I did post my France pics and here are the Cher-centric ones:


Seine John on the Seine like that Sonny & Cher album back cover pic.
















Don't these chateaux entryways look like Cher's house?? 


Chercem Chercem2_2











I can totally see why Cher wants to be buried at Pere LaChaise cemetery in Paris. It's very goth. I can see her with a tomb not unlike the one above, but hopefully with some subtle half-breed design in the stained glass...hey, for the fans. 








Cher river, Cher valley, Cher county seat...lots of Cherness in the Loire Valley.

I can also take this time to answer a few Cher questions from the blog.

Jimmy wrote:

“AND, Mary, why haven't you digressed about the fact that these unlikely 3 would do something together so out-of-line for their personalities???? love and kisses-jimmy”

Jimmy is right. I could easily do an essay about the old 70s-variety format and how we just don’t get miraculous celebrity combinations singing medleys apropos of nothing like we did back in the day. It’s heartbreaking because I’d watch any show that could convince Bono to sing a Madonna medley with Barney and Tiger Woods. Who wouldn’t watch that?? It’s TV Gold.

Michael asked:

“Okay, so combining "she’s overdue a juicy boxed-set" and "It’s my dream job really"...How about you tell us what you would put in the ultimate Cher box? Anything you ever wanted on CD, DVD, books, whatever. I'm totally curious what you'd put.

There’s so much I could do as curator of a Chersonian Institute. Really, I don’t know where to start. Her video collection needs a serious overhaul.  More and more we’re finding amazing gems of foreign video clips for old Cher hits on the you-tubes.

I haven’t wrapped my head around what a good box-set of CDs would be. I know the mix I normally make my friends has too many non-hits on it to ever make bank. Other than the obvious of doing notes for the four-CD Warner Bros 1975-1977 re-release collection we're so overdue, I don’t know what other regurgitation of her greatest hits I would feel morally okay with dumping into the pile of too-many-already.

I would love to do a coffee-table book of photographs and essays compiled by various writers on Cher’s career and her cultural relevance. That would be the dreamiest.