Another Armenian Poet

Gregory-djanikianTraveling through my other obsession I found another Armenian poet, Gregory Djanikian. Don't ask me how I knew he was Armenian! He was born in 1949 in Egypt and now lives near Philadelphia directing the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania. That's not chump change.

Find out more about him:

- Bio on The Poetry Foundation (poem samples at bottom)

- Three Poems


Cher Obsession in a New Novel by Darcey Steinke

Sister_Golden_Hair_cover-193x300I've just published a recent interview with the author of a new novel, Sister Golden Hair, about a pre-teen girl named Jesse growing up in the early-to-mid 1970s. I talk to author Darcey Steinke, the daughter of a minister and a beauty queen, about how a celebrity-obsession with Cher works in the narrative and what Cher's "text" means vis-à-vis our struggles with ideals of beauty, role models and holiness. We also talk about the construction of her novel and depicting the trials of a teenager navigating issues of identity.

Great, fun interview!

Interview with Darcey Steinke, author of Sister Golden Hair

Sonny & Cher & Frieda & D.H.

For my novel I’ve been researching New Mexico history, artists and writers. You keep coming across D.H. Lawrence (who wrote Lady Chatterly’s Lover in 1928) as an icon of Taos, New Mexico -- this even though he only lived in Taos a brief time and made disparaging comments about his time there.

In any case, this below is a picture of D. H. Lawrence and his wife, Frieda, (who did go back to Taos after her husband’s death), and was taken in Mexico. It's a very famous and often used photo of D. H. Lawrence.

This is all to say this famous picture reminds me of another, quite obscure, Sonny & Cher photo below which was part of a Billboard ad for "The Beat Goes On."

Friedadh   What the

Cher Postpones More Concerts, Memoir Notes, Q&A

KidConcert Delays

I almost made a renegade trip to Lubbock, Texas, last weekend to see Cher's concert there. But then I found out it has been cancelled anyway, along with a slew of other November dates due to Cher's recent viral illness.

This has been the most dates postponed on a Cher concert tour that I can think of, a fact that is alarming some fans. Then Daily Mail broke a story about Cher having to wear a heart-monitor and it all sounds pretty scary so I asked Mr. Cher Scholar (who rates claims for Veterans Affairs and has a head full of medical knowledge) to tell me how alarmed we all should be and he said there's a danger of virus infections spreading to the heart. Cher-camp says it's all a normal part of recovery.

I first read about the postponed tour from an Allentown paper that called her tour "ill-fated." Besides the delay to the second leg, what the hell is so ill-fated about it?


But it all gets you thinking about mortality. So does the fact that Angelica Houston's two-volumes of memoirs are now out. Yes, Angelica Houston has unveiled her saga already.

I came across two blurbs about celebrity biographies that seem pertinent to Cher's possible look-back at her life. Young actress Lena Dunham of the HBO show Girls has a memoir already called Not That Kind of Girl. Referencing it in The Atlantic, James Parker says:

"So there's the id, the ego, the superego, and then there's the part of the psyche that writes the memoir. The latter function, in most humans, is inadequately developed until late middle age, which is why memoirs by young people are usually terrible. It's a syndrome, rather embarrassing: premature autobiography."

In an Entertainment Weekly interview, Angelica Huston also weighs in on memoir. Keith Staskiewicz says,

Many celebrity memoris are like bags of potato chips--mostly air and a little bit of salty stuff--but Huston wanted to avoid the anodyne politesse or, worse, self-delusion that can make for boring reading. "It doesn't necessarily have to be a confessional, but it does require a certain amount of looking inward," she says. "If you're gonna write a memoir, you have to talk about yourself. You have to talk about your feelings and you have to talk about who you are. Otherwise don't do it; it's a waste of paper. The trees could have lived."  

NPR on Believe

BelieveOn the bright side, last week I did find something I've been looking for for years. When the song "Believe" started to hit in the United States, I was living and working in Yonkers, New York. I'd hear the song on the radio when I drove home. It was both exciting and unusual to hear Cher's song with the other hits of the day, like Madonna's "Ray of Light," Whitney Houton's "It's Not Right, But It's Okay;" at least those hits were by somewhat older women, too. But then you had Monica, Britney Spears, and TLC. (See a review of 1999 number one hits). One day I was driving home and NPR was talking about the Cher/Believe phenomenon! Like in that breathy-really-serious-NPR way. I missed half of the conversation and for years I've been waiting for it to show up online in NPR archives. Here it is. It's worth a listen.

Halloween Q & A

Cher did a fan Q&A on Facebook on Halloween. There were almost 5,000 comments made and so many pages of questions I couldn't read them all. Cher answered maybe the first 30 of them. Highlights include the following:

Mary Pat Blockel O'Donnell: Hi beautiful Cher:-) Happy Halloween! Love u tons&what is your favorite memory of Chaz&Elijah as babies/and or little children at Halloween?or even teenagers?

Cher: My favorite - I have a couple of favorites. My first was Chaz's first Halloween and I sewed a cat suit, a little kitten suit and painted whiskers and it was so hard making the tail. And the other was when we all went out and Elijah wasn't old enough to walk and we had him in a devil costume and Chaz was the Fonz and we walked around the neighborhood. It was really fun. Halloween is for kids and it's fun when you have kids.

Kaylee Rudnik: Do you think there is any place that you can go without being recognized anymore???

Cher: Hell, and I'm not so sure about that. I'm pretty positive I will be recognized.

John Nicholas Ward: What is the secret behind ur eternal youth??

Cher: Makeup and childishness

Amanda Darby: If you could change one thing forever what would you choose and why?

Cher: I would change how people get along. I would make people get along.

Dean Menc: What is the best thing about being Cher?

Cher: I don't know. You don't have to wait in line.

Goran Srdija: Why u love Gaga and what's ur favourite Gaga's song? Xoxo

Cher:I appreciate her whimsy. And re-creativity.

Doug Wemple: Didn't David Bowie crash one of your house parties? Did hilarity ensue?

Cher: I don't think so. Andy Warhol did, crashed Chaz's birthday party with Keith Haring and hilarity ensued. I loved him, he was so much fun.

Leonardo Esteban Lizama Órdenes: Did you ever met Frank Sinatra? And if so, What was your fist impression?

Cher: I did meet him. I actually saw him on stage. I was following him into Caesars. I thought "HMM, he's old but he can really sing. It's amazing." He was cool.

Mike Scott Uetrecht: How has Rolling Stone never put you on their cover? Not even a review for CTTT. Disrespectful.

Cher: Well, you know, obviously I'm not their cup of tea. Never thought I was cool enough, certainly missed the boat on that.

Christopher Fox Tyler: Whats the fastest way for a man to win your heart/affection?

Cher: Oh - I guess being funny and cute doesn't hurt

Sara Oldani: Hi Cher have you ever thought of doing a concert in Italy? What's your favourite song inyour discography (either original or cover, whatever ) LOVE from Italy!!!!!!

Cher: I guess Song for the Lonely, if I had to be buried with something that would be it

Chad Eric: Happy Halloween Cher! What was your favorite memory of Halloween as a child & adult?

Cher: My favorite memory when I was a kid was when I was 9 and it was the first time I wore makeup. I was totally decked. My mom dressed me in this peasant skirt and she tied the belt so it didn't fall off, and she put on lipstick and curled my hair. That was the BEGINNING of the BEGINNING. I didn't want it to be over, I wanted to go to school the next day in my Halloween costume.

Bob Radmore: What is it like to be famous?

Cher: It's hard for me to say it. I've been famous since I was 18, so I don't know what it's like not to be.

Brooke Bryant: What is your biggest pet peeve?

Cher: iPhones

Nick LeBlanc: Hi Cher, what is your favorite city/place that you've been at in the world whether on tour or vacation?

Cher: Bora Bora

Guillermo Issac Trevino: Do you have a favorite Stevie Nicks song?

Cher: Landslide

Mark Carder: Hey @Cher What is your favorite HORROR FILM

Cher: I'm such a gigantic chicken. I was watching Hell House last night and I was afraid to look at it. I don't do well with horror films they make me terrified. One of my closest friends made a blockbuster movie and it was the Exorcist.

(It was mildly exciting to think Mr. Cher Scholar and I were watching The Legend of Hell House on TCM at the same time Cher was. I even decided to use some of the character names for a novel I'm working on. Mr. Cher Scholar and I also watched The Excorcist again -- Cher is referencing director William Friedkin there who, as we know, also directed Good Times -- and Mr. Cher Scholar and I decided we were kind of burned out on the gory parts -- although the special effects still hold up -- but we really got into the quieter, character development of the movie this year. In fact, I don't think the movie would be quite as frightening without the quiet, ominous soundtrack.)

Annette Eland: Do you meditate?

Cher: Yes

Raymond Donahue: Is it true that you & Sonny were neighbors with Farrah Fawcett ?

Cher: I don't think so

Michele McLey: A couple of question's first what to you like to do when your not touring? And will you do a tour DVD? Oh and please say you are doing another movie, soon!

Cher: Be grubby and go to the movies. Swimming and hang out with my friends. Just nothing, the same thing everyone else likes to do. It's hard to be grubby nowadays though, it's hard to be yourself.

Jennifer Fontana: Hi Cher! What is your favorite moment from your legendary career?

Cher: Ppppssshhhh. I guess winning the Oscar was pretty hard to beat.

Jason Andrew: Dear Cher, Once you are canonized as a saint, what will you be the patron of?

Cher: Lost causes

Sam Durbin:  If you could be any item in a walmart, what would you be and why?

Cher: I would be in Target

Sam Durbin: What CD is in your car right now?

Cher: MY CD. Because I'm singing tracks to the show, I rehearse. The CD that is in my car is boring.

Christopher Eklund: What is your favorite memory of filming Burlesque?

Cher: HMm. The song, Welcome to Burlesque. I was kind of nervous. No, it's not really my favorite. One scene I had with Stanley, and the makeup scene with Christina. I don't have any favorite ones. Maybe You Haven't Seen the Last of Me.

Lorenzo Morrison: Hi Cher. No Lady Gaga. No Madonna. I would like to know what do you you think about Annie Lennox! Is there a song by her you particularly appreciate?

Cher: She's a genius. Everyday we play "Take me to the River" and do our ab exercises to it.

Amanda Jean Bedwell: Is there anything you haven't done yet but you would love to do next

Cher: A million things I want to do. So many things. I can't believe I got this OLD and there are still so many things I want to do.

Dawn Decker: Will you ever do a meet n greet? The only thing on my bucket list is to meet you!!!

Cher: Oh gosh. Elvis, James Dean. There weren't many women icons when I was young with my mom watching old movies - there was Katherine Hepburn. But I identified more with Elvis and James Dean and I identified more with that. The women were more cute and I couldn't identify with them at all


HirshFinally, when we were talking about caricatures a few weeks ago, I forgot about a very famous Cher caricature done by Al Hirschfeld in 1974! 

Okay, I think the height thing is a little exaggerated there.

Cher Caricatures


UntitledThe caricature to your left is by Kerry Waghorn. I think it captures Cher's very specific attitude.

I was thinking about Cher caricatures today because I discovered the Georgia O'Keeffe museum is starting an exhibit of works by Miguel Covarrubias this month. Many of us already know of Covarrubias' famous caricatures from Vanity Fair such as OkeefeeGeorgia O’Keeffe and Greta Garbo.

I always wish I could find more (good) caricatures of Cher.

View the Cher caricatures on Google.

View the Cher cartoons on Google.

While I was looking for caricatures of Cher, I found this amazing site by a Quebec artist designing Cher on Playing Cards inspired by her songs. I wish they were for sale.

Correction: They are on sale! (Thanks for the link Cher scholar Dishy)

Unt2itledHere is a new cartoon by the same artist named inkjava.





And of course, the most famous caricature of Cher of all... Logo

I'll have to refer back to Josiah Howard's Strong Enough book to learn who designed it.


Cher in FLATT Magazine

FlattCher scholar Michael recently informed me that Cher did an interview for the new magazine FLATT. FLATT is a philanthropic arts organization that “celebrates creative entrepreneurs and contemporary philanthropic ideas.” I found my copy on eBay because I am two states away from a decent newsstand.

The cover is gorg and the interview was done by Christina Lessa. It was an exceptionally good one, too, and not just remarking on clichés about how Cher is an iconic diva. Lessa effused instead about Cher’s humanness and her status as an underdog and as a pioneer, how she always tends to steal the show (even still), and how she never looks like she’s trying. Yes, thank you! Cher herself talks a bit about singing with her mom, grandfather and uncle, her grandfather playing the guitar (love those stories!). Cher also talks about the dichotomy in her personality of being both loving and mean. She admits she has “a list” of at least one item she requires in a mate: he must be a good artist. She talks about doing a PSA for suicidal servicemen (so heartbreaking!) She also talks about discussing reality shows with Elijah and how she hates them. It even seems unlikely that she would like one with Elijah in it.

This is a big beautiful magazine with lots of amazing art and photographs. Surprisingly the magazine had two sections of poetry! “Poetic Narrative” by Marc Straus (with artwork by Bruce Robbins) was my favorite of the two represented. His were lyrics with a lot of juxtapositions of random lines. But there was  an undercurrent of a story about a father. These poems reminded me of William Carlos Williams as they were written from a doctor’s point of view. His poems also contained a large amount of scene-setting, some interesting lines like “Rivers drowned in each others’ mouths,” class issues touched upon in “He went to the suburb where/they judge your lawn,” and American critique: “He said that 90 inch drapes were 89 inches long./That one inch made America rich.” The other poet Jason Armstrong Beck was included with a poem called “Dust Storm” mostly a visual study.

Quite an impressive magazine but the typos drove me nuts.


Poem with a Sonny Bono Mention

SbsexyI love it when my obsessions collide. Poetry and Sonny & Cher. It rarely happens but when it does...happy day!

So I'm reading this great book of poems last week by the poet David Trinidad called The Late Show. It's a book of poems Cher would probably like because it's full of references to watching old late-show movies. The first poem, "The Late Show," is about Trinidad's memories of scenes from his favorite old movies. One poem is entirely about the film Penelope and ends with a reference to Turner Classic Movies. Another poem is just a creative listing of old movie titles. Yet another poem does the same thing with only Bette Davis movies.

One of my favorite pieces in the book is called "Hack, Hack, Sweet Has Been" and goes into depth about the making of What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and Hush, Hush...Sweet Caroline as well as briefly cataloguing all the horror movies Joan Crawford and Bette Davis did after Baby Jane.

And of course the poem "Watching the Late Movie with My Mother" reminded me specifically of Cher.

Trinidad's poems remind me of Frank O'Hara (think "The Day Lady Died") and he's also a Barbie collector. The final poem is about how the worlds of poetry and Barbie-collecting intersect. It's called "A Poem Under the Influence" and surprisingly it referenced Sonny. Unfortunately the poem is too long for me to quote in its entirety (it's over 30 pages!) but here is the pertinent excerpt:

"I remember that What a Way to Go! was on a double bill with That Man From Rio,

but don't remember how (or if) I responded to Jean-Paul Belmondo's homely good looks.

The Beatles (already a sensation: "I Want to Hold Your Hand" topped the Billboard charts in

February '64) would soon clue me in: contrary to popular sentiment, I thought Ringo was

the sexy one. Later: Sonny Bono and Bekim Febmiu (of
The Adventurers) turned me on.

believe I saw a photograph of the latter wearing a skimpy black bathing suit in a magazine.

Cher gets all the credit for being a Gay Icon but maybe Sonny had a gay following, too. It explains the Truman Capote come-on as described in the new Cher biography.

Anyway, Trinidad is strummin my life with his fingers when he talks about the cut-throat world of poetry and how this can in any way coincide with collecting Cher dolls.


Strong Enough Biography Overview

StrongBecause this book was so dense and illuminative, I'm going to have to take discussion and scholarship of it into sections, starting with her childhood and going through the decades, even dividing up the 1970s into several separate posts.

Why is this? Because this was an actual book of Cher scholarship. Made for a Cher nerd like me. And amazingly, like a real book of pop-culture scholarship, its scope was very narrow, primarily a review of Cher's life in 1975. Just one year! A whole book about one year!

Not only that, but the book delves into that solitary year and 29 episodes of a TV show most people don't even remember existed! How awesome is that? It's great for someone like me but most likely confusing for someone looking for a balanced biography of her life. The book's narrowness is not indicated from its cover. This is not a pop-star biography. This is more of an academic book. The thing has notes in the back for pete's sake. All pop-culture academic books have notes. 

This is not a criticism against other fine Cher biographies out there by George Carpozi, J. Randy Taraborelli, Mark Bego, and recently, by Daryl Easlea and Eddi Fiegel. These biographers may in fact have had notes for their books as well; but possibly they were not published due to constraints from a publisher or due to audience expectations. Notes aren't mandatory but they do provide a wealth of information for further studies.

But this makes this biography's title (and lack of a sub-title) all the more confusing. Why such an open title with no indication that this is not a mainstream biography? It would seem this just frustrates a more casual fan who isn't into reading the minutia of every single episode of a somewhat obscure (in retrospect) television show.

Josiah Howard is an excellent  researcher and reporter (something I admire and will never be; too shy). And as a Cher scholar, I fundamentally appreciate his efforts in combing through Cher artifacts, researching press clippings and conducting interviews with as many players as possible to throw a light on a year many other biographers pass through quickly. I would love to see this kind of treatment made individually for Cher's other television shows and specials, her movies, her videos, and for her albums and concerts.

Howard really brings to life the schedule of a television show, something J. Randy Taraborrelli also did well with his book on Carol Burnett (Laughing Til It Hurts: The Life and Career of Carol Burnett). I'm fascinated with the ins and outs of television production. You get perspectives from producers, stage-hands, choreographers, guests and regulars.  Gailard Sartain did contribute his experiences but uunfortunately (and noticeably absent) were interviews from Teri Garr, Martin Mull, and Steve Martin. Teri Garr and Steve Martin, in their respective biographies, have not really spoken in detail about their experiences working for Cher or Sonny & Cher. Not only did Martin write and perform on both The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and Cher but he opened for Sonny & Cher on occasion. Teri Garr appeared in The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Cher and The Sonny & Cher Show. I've followed their interviews and autobiographies for years and their silence or briefness on this topic is a little unsettling. You wonder if they are they all still friends.

Howard not only covers the show in detail but he puts his head around large-scale issues of Cher's tumultuous personal life, her hopes for the show (its focus on rock music), the reasons why variety shows started to falter in the mid-1970s (reflected in the issues that made her show a struggle to do: family hour, the political life of America, the show's competition). Howard documents sketches, songs and guests, detailing stories about production, the rise of Cher in the tabloids and other gossip boiling around that time.

So much food for thought. Next week, let's talk about how the book deals with Cher's childhood and her life in the 1960s.


My Sonny & Cher Mesostic

RrrSo one of the reasons I've been lagging at posting in the last few weeks is I've been finishing up a University of Pennsylvania MOOC (massive open online course) on Modern American Poetry.The class (attended worldwide by about 35 thousand people!!) was haaaarrd. Harder than the graduate poetry classes I've taken. Not only did it require hours of lectures and four essays but the poems were mostly experimental and difficult, starting with Emily Dickinson and going through head-scratching modernists like Gertrude Stein, the language poets and experimental conceptual poets. Our last essay tasked us with writing a mesostic poem.

A mesostic is similar to an acrostic poem (where a word spells down the left spine of the poem) exFin-ale-c06442-dcept a word gets spelled down the middle and the source text is a jumble of words from a "found" text. There's a complicated set of rules on how to select individual words from the "seed text" that has now been developed into a computer program developed for an experimental poet named Jackson Mac Low and used heavily later by experimental artist John Cage.

We were asked to find a source text and pour it into an online program called a Mesostomatic. The program would do the calculations and produce poems for us based on the formula. Since this is not typical creative authorship, it is called writing by "chance operations." Most people think this type of writing is hooey but some writers believe lovely art can come from chance operations (Jackson Pollock was one) and some fans of these mesostics call the program an "oracle" for the eerie results it produces. I believe humans read into all art something of themselves. If you want to see something, your mind will see connections. And that's the real oracle about it. But whether you believe in divine intervention or the power of the human mind, it's all fun.

Since I've been in Sonny & Cher TV Land for so many weeks, I decided to use Sonny & Cher lyrics. I also had to choose "spine words" for my poems, those words that flow down the middle. And I had to produce an essay "explicating" (reading meaning into) the output. Here's what I did:

"My source text is composed of three of Sonny’s three most popular songs (composed for Cher to sing: “Bang Bang” from 1966,  “The Beat Goes On” from 1967, and “I Got You Babe” from 1965), and one song lyric that was a collaboration in authorship that included Cher (a 1973 reworking of a Seals and Crofts lyric for the song “Chastity Sun,” a tribute to Sonny & Cher’s then-daughter Chastity—now Cher's son, Chaz Bono).

The spine terms I chose were BIOGRAPHY (because Cher text raises many questions of reinvention, identity, drag, authorship and autobiography); SONNYANDCHER (because the lyrics—and Chastity—were all “authored” in some way by Sonny and Cher); DAUGHTER (in light of Chaz Bono’s 2051624609_c4e89a63b7 recent gender reassignment and the fact that Sonny and Cher both conceptualized their child as a daughter); and the term POSINGATARTIFICE (“posing at artifice” because Sonny and Cher have consistently attracted controversy around the idea of “being artificial”). This final long phrase, however, seemed too much for the Mesostomatic and returned the least amount and the least sensical results.

Because “posing at artifice” produced no usable results, I made that the title of the completed set. I deleted the mesostics I didn’t like, added punctuation, a word or two (noted with an asterisk), and re-ordered them.

The results were very cryptic and I definitely used matrixing (a term from the show Ghost Hunters for the human tendency to try to make meaning from noise) to make my meaning. My biggest “ah-ha” moment in this exercise came with an awareness that being a fan (of anything including poetry) involves the same kind of matrixing.

The formatted poems are attached here: [13 KB]

In Section 1—Biography, I see black as dealing with being an outsider and a fighter, juxtaposed with the idea of Sonny & Cher music as light music for teenyboppers. The emphasis on rhythm connects to Sonny Bono’s emphasis on the rhythm section when producing albums. 

The next stanza refers to lines from “The Beat Goes On” and speaks to “times a-changing” in the mid-1960s. This stanza into the next continues with the idea of perseverance (“climbing, I got so tight”) and asks, are hits proof of value? I tampered with the line (changed his to make it hits…it was so close!), but you can find a feminist reading if you revert the word to “his.” The stanza ends with a kind of a confrontation of the 1960s term baby or babe.

The next stanza can be read as Cher’s image-making and costumery juxtaposed with her alter-ego as a activist tweeter, ending with the Sonny & Cher ethos of simplicity and togetherness.

Section 2 deals with Chaz Bono and his struggles in being Chastity (how she grew “Round”), how he altered his life and “his-tory” and gained “gROUND” in transformation. Stanza two deals with sexual identity and rage, ending with an emblematic sign of femininity/sexuality, the miniskirt. Stanza three brings God into the picture. I was surprised how many times the Mesostomatic invoked God from the text. I read this stanza as ‘God is Good,’ as an affirmation of sorts.

Section 3 is more universal and asks us not to over-intellectualize history and culture (good luck with that) and possibly is the machine's subtle dig at my attempt to make “posing at artifice” a spine word, although history has changed music by changing the means of production, creating a mass-production consumer culture, especially affecting young girls.

Stanza two says “I got this, baby,” an understanding of the hidden perils of innocence, who God ultimately loves, and how endings are beginnings. The third stanza is one that brought the most chills. We kiss Sonny goodnight (in death) and the stanza expresses a kind of one-ness between Sonny, God, and Chastity as all coming from the same source.

I included a coda of the scraps the Mesostomatic generated after each spine word grouping. Again God is invoked, along with will and hesitation."

So, the point of this is to show how explicating art takes work and some amount of matrixing and that randomly generating things can be pretty at times.

I created a page for this Sonny & Cher Mesostic (including youtube song clips of the source text and references) from:


Cher: Strong Enough and 1970s Variety Shows

Cher-strong-enough-josiah-howard-paperback-cover-artThe new Cher biography has finally arrived, Cher Strong Enough by Josiah Howard. From what Cher scholars have been telling me, this is an interesting read with a particular focus on the variety shows of the 1970s.

Which is why I'm holding off reading it for a few weeks, as freakin' hard as that is, because I want to finish watching the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour/Sonny & Cher Show shows so I have a good idea of all the minutia I might catch in this scholarly area. Then I can watch The Cher Shows if they are referenced in the book (although I only have a few of those and cut to a half hour at that). 

From two really juicy two backstage photos that appear in the inserts of the new book, I'm sure this is the right strategy (albeit obsessive and crazy). There's a photo of Cher being costumed in a big snake head outfit and one in a Shakespearean outfit. Those are from Vamp sketches in the same episode (#23, aired 10/6/72, guests were Tony Curtis and Barbara McNair). I know this because I just watched that episode two days ago! I was thinking how unattractive that Scheherazade snake outfit was and how beautiful the Lady MacBeth outfit was (one of my favorite costumes from the show). I thought it was ironic to see the worst and best in one Vamp segment.

I'm enjoying the show so much more this round than I did the last (second) time I went through them in the late 1990s. I think this is because I've watched so many foreign and independent films since then and am much more attuned to subtext and a slower variety skit pace (unlike the speedier skit comedy I was enjoying then on Mad TV).

My favorite thing so far has been Cher's impression of Mary Hartman (which I caught yesterday).

Van-elizabethWhen Cher was co-hosting for TCM and doing a night of war movies, she talked at length about Van Johnson who had a brief appearance in The White Cliffs of Dover. Which reminds me: why does Jimmy Cliff reference the white cliffs of dover in "Many Rivers to Cross"?

Anyway, I wonder if Cher remembers that Van Johnson made a cameo appearance on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (episode #26, aired 10/27/72 guests were Rick Springfield and William Conrad, "Headlines in the Papers" segment) where Cher buys Van Johnson in a Hollywood studio auction. I couldn't find a picture of the segment but here is a handsome shot of Van Morrison with Elizabeth Taylor.