Wig Art

Wig2MY MOVE IS OVER. Finally! Geesh.Thank god.

In 1977, I left Albuquerque in the middle of watching The Sonny & Cher Show (1977, age 7). Thirty-seven years later I’ve moved back to Albuquerque at age 44 and am again watching the show by way of TV Land's old airings in a Cher Scholar special request research project to find the Vamp episode that contains “Wine for Caesar.”

Cher’s new video coincides with my quest because I’m assuming Renate Leuschner created the amazing paper wig in the video. I’m seeing some amazing wigs again on the Sonny & Cher shows…not just by “Rena” as she went by in the show's credits, nor "Renata" as she went by in Celebration at Caesars or Renate Leuschner as she appears in the the  Wig1credits of some Cher movies (like Mask) and concert programs. This woman is a brilliant wig artist. I have many favorites re-watching the shows (some are not quite culturally appropriate anymore but that’s another essay). My all-time favorite (started by the prior wig maker on the show Jim Oertel), is the bun made up of many buns. I also love the wig of braids that look like the wig-equivalent of a jungle gym.


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.


Cher in New Diana Vreeland Documentary

VreelandMy cousin sent me news that a new Diana Vreeland documentary is scheduled to be released September 21. Diana Vreeland met Cher in 1967 and told her she had "a pointed head." However, it was Vreeland who introduced Cher to modeling in countless Vogue spreads from the late 1960s throughout the 1970s.

In the documentary trailer, Vreeland is credited with the idea of pushing a photo subject's faults, imploring her artists to "make that the most beautiful thing about them."

So brilliant.

And when legal wrangling with Sonny kept Cher off of television in 1974, Cher said it was these modeling projects that kept her afloat.

More information on Cher and Vreeland: http://www.elle.com/fashion/spotlight/fashion-high-notes-446376-5#slide-5

For more information on the movie and to see (clips of Cher) in the trailer:


How can we forget the following amazing collaborations between Cher, Vreeland and photographer Richard Avedon...

VogueCher doing one of many interpretations of Native American. Cher scholar Bruce points out that this photo is by Stephen Paley and not Richard Avedon, as part of the late 60s Jackson Highway album photo shoot. But it's super kewl so I'm keeping it up.





Cher 60sCher in 60s mod-mode.










Cher vogue 2Elaborations on hair poses.










  Cher70sFull 1970s awesomeness!










StaircasesMore elaborations on hair and some of my favorites, the staircase photos.









Bangs are Back Baby!


Two days ago I decided to get bangs. I only made the decision Wednesday because Mr. Cher Scholar was also going for a haircut. I'm starting a new phase of my life and this calls for a new look...at least in terms of hair...the front side of it anyway.

Ironically, Huffington Post put up an article about bangs that very same day and until yesterday Cher's photo to the left was posted at the top of the page.


The feature includes a lovely little photo gallery of over 100 famous ladies with bangs.


What the Reaction Says About Women, Class and Liberals

CherI’ll be offline for a few weeks. I’m wrapping up my five-year gig at ICANN next week in Los Angeles. It’s been an awesome experience and with many mixed-emotions I leave to refocus on other projects. Until I'm back, have a good two weeks.

Meanwhile...Cher has been ranting on the republican party in tweets for over a year it seems. It hasn’t been news. She’s been tapping into some rarely-expressed liberal anger as far as I’m concerned. She’s not debating, politicking or doing any public relations. She’s just venting. Last week her anti-Romeny tweet went viral before she had a chance to snuff the flame.

Cher scholar Dishy sent me the first news of it from The Hollywood Reporter:

"Thank God I got the half that thinks," she writes in response to an assertion that a series of tweets -- now deleted -- has cost her 50 percent of her fans.

Cher went on an anti-Republican tirade early Tuesday morning that went viral courtesy of the Drudge Report, and by noon she had deleted the offending tweets.

“If ROMNEY gets elected I don’t know if I can breathe same air as Him & his Right Wing Racist Homophobic Women Hating Tea Bagger Masters,” the entertainer tweeted referring to Mitt Romney, the Republican's likely nominee for president.

After some criticism -- some of it profane -- Cher tweeted: “TOO HARSH? That’s me Holding BACK! They care nothing about the POOR The OLD The SICK The HUNGRY CHILDREN & People striving 4 a Better LIFE ! –"

I then heard the tweet-storm discussed on The Stephanie Miller Show (Cher would be a super guest on that show!) and even Moveon.org posted about it: "The Words That Started A Twitter Storm: Cher’s Famous Tweet About Romney" where they quoted her apologizing, “Im not sorry 4feelings, but i was not kind.’

I haven't heard any fans trashing Cher over her initial comments and even my mother said she shouldn’t have apologized. There may have been personal reasons why she did.

In any case there are three issues at play here:

  1. Liberals and their Feelings: the Right (and the celebrity Right) is never apologetic about their angry feelings. See Ted Nugent as a most current example. Liberals are always encouraged not to take it into an angry place. That restraint can't hold forever.
  2. Girls and their Feelings: women aren’t supposed to get angry or express their anger. Women constantly get pressure to back down from their expressing their anger while the same expressions are seen as appropriate for men. (see the book The Unruly Women by Kathleen Rowe)
  3. The Struggle of the Lower Class and their Feelings:  Cher comes from a working class background; she has working class friends; she cares about working class people (as her tweets and comments have shown throughout the years). She expresses herself in a way that some criticize as being crude, low-rent (i.e. low class), “She talks like a truck-driver; she swears like a biker.” Comments when they are expressed in this way tap into this country’s deep-seated issues about class, especially when unruly (outspoken) women are the ones expressing liberal feelings about class. 

They try to shut her down. You go girl!


Plastic Surgery in "Joyful Noise" and Other Recent Books and Movies

Dolly1With Mr. Cher Scholar and our recent visitor, my Los Angeles friend Christopher, I've been seeing a lot of movies and discovering some interesting book-fare from watching Book TV.

Christopher wanted to see Joyful Noise because we both like Dolly Parton. I was hesitant because the trailers looked pitiful. But he talked me into it and I must say I enjoyed it much more than I expected to. You might chalk that up to lowered expectations but I would defend the musical numbers as fun, kind of like a gospel Glee episode. Also, Queen Latifah (who I love dearly but cannot continue to support her crappy movies) had an absolutely awesome performance in the movie in a scene where she chews her daughter out in a hotel elevator bank. And finally, you have to see the thing just to make some sense out of Dolly's latest plastic surgery.

Cher's usually our fall-girl for this kind of gripe to be sure. And how frustrating because this is a ridiculous no-win situation for our aging Joyful-iamwhatiam female stars. I heard my friend watching TV and saying about one star, "she really should get her neck fixed." But she can't win because if she "fixes it" we get this, the latest face of Dolly, which clearly doesn't look right. All through the movie, she had to overact to get her face to even work, and her smile resembled the face of The Joker's. Her lips didn't fully close! It was creepy. To stay-off the aging process, Dolly went right from pretty (if pancaked with makeup) to grotesque. Surely this wasn't the goal. In fact, this is a sure backfire.  I watched the movie thinking Dolly looked like a frail grandmother. She's Cher's age!

This insanity must stop. To see the beautiful Dolly Parton come to this.

SergeWe also saw the documentary Urbanized at the local Santa Fe art house. It was a fascinating look at how cities are thinking creatively about how to handle urban problems. The city of LA was noticeably absent from the world-wide cities showcased and citizens of LA could surely gain something from watching it. One South American mayor changed my whole idea about the usefullness of subways!

My husband and I also saw Gainsbourg (Vie Heroique), the French movie about Serge Gainsbourg. With animation, a puppet altar-ego, much music and beautiful surreal elements, I only wish Cher could have a biopic this cool someday. My favorite songs from the movie were "La Javanaise" and "Initials B.B."

Book TV also lured me into purchasing Justin Frank's Obama on the Couch: Inside the Mind of the President. Frank also covered George W. Bush with this psycho-analytic treatment. We learn how Obama's early childhood and lack of contact with his parents possibly shapes his behavior in the White House and with the Republicans. Ross-hollywood-left-right-440x668

Book TV also showcased a book I haven't purchased yet, Hollywood Left & Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics by Steven Ross. He explores in depth Charlie Chaplin, Louis B. Mayer, Edward G. Robinson, George Murphy, Ronald Reagan, Harry Belafonte, Jane Fonda, Charlton Heston, Warren Beatty, and Arnold Schwarzenegger and recounts that although the Left gets a lot of screen-time, the Right has actually made further inroads in Washington with their cadidates and policy. And at one point he says something like "because you're a celebrity doesn't mean you give up your citizenship." Very true. Sometimes I am critical when celebrities endorse candidates (more because I feel the clash of their celebrity brands working against the cause). But all citizens have the right to feel the passion and get involved.


Proud Mama Cher

10133920-smallI threw a small dinner party last week and could never find the time to blog. But last week was a good one on Dancing with the Stars. Chaz did a tribute to his dad by dancing to the 60s song "Laugh at Me" written by Sonny. Chaz even wore the fur vest. The cover version was odd in that it replicated Sonny's phrasing exactly...and included his spoken-word intro to Cher ("I never thought I'd cut a record by myself but I got somethin' I wanna say, I want to say it for Cher and I hope I say it for a lot of people").

Unfortunately, rumbas are boring. And although the judges always love Chaz's courage and find him inspiring, they said this dance was not his best performance. They said he seemed distracted. And yet they gave him his best scores of the season. Huh? In any case, he retained his spot as the lowest on board.

John and I just hope he lasts longer than Nancy Grace. I still don't fully know her story but she does not connect with the audience at all. She's in her own dance bubble. Last week Kristin Cavallari was booted off. My friend Julie surmised this was because she had that bad reputation from the show The Hills. I also thought she might be hurting by being confused with Chynna Phillips, who is good but John and I find her too perfect to root for. JR did the most moving dance last week and I was glad David Arquette didn't get kicked off because he seems so fragile, I worry he would cry. I've grown tired of Hope Solo but Ricki Lake continues to float like a dream.

Last week Cher tweeted that she would come sit in the audience to cheer Chaz and this week she did. It was movie theme night...full of songs that don't lend themselves to good dancing...especially the mission impossible song Ricki Lake was given, the Psycho theme. She pulled it off though. It was amazing. JR, Hope, Carson and David all did well but Chynna choked for some reason. I felt bad for her and thought she would be spared since she's one of the top-four best dancers on the show. Alas, she was booted off anyway. I hope she keeps on dancin' because she's a natural. John remarked that all the hotties have been voted off already. Is this an anti-hotti-conspiracy?

Cher's first few shots from the crowd looked stern (she tweeted she was nervous) but by the time Chaz finished dancing she was crying  and seemed to almost hesitate with the urge to stand up, which she finally did. The pictures tell the story. It was an amazing moment of pop culture. Cher in proud mama mode. So sweet and touching. Not a side of herself she gives us much (for reasons understood) but it pulls me heartstrings it does.

Apparently grandma Georgia, brother Elijah and step-mum Mary Bono also came. They got zero airtime. Cher sat next to ex-Mrs-David-Arquette Courteney Cox. To her credit, Courteney has been at every show. Every time they come on camera I think David, Courteney and baby Cox-Arquette made a very adorable albeit shaky family unit.

Chaz ended up moving up on the board when Carson earned the lowest score.

Cher's appearance became a media blitz in papers and websites all over the country. Even early-morning radio shows. It seems Cher sneezes these days and it makes headlines. It wasn't always this way.

Here's a typical story from US Magazine: Mom is moonstruck by her dancing baby!

As anticipated, Cher was in the audience at Monday's Dancing with the Stars to cheer on her son Chaz Bono.

Flanked by other family members (her mother Georgia, her younger son Elijah Allman and Mary Bono, Chaz's stepmom and the widow of the late Sonny Bono), the Oscar and Grammy-winning star, 63, chatted up the famous family of another DWTS contestant: Courteney Cox and daughter Coco plus Rosanna and Patricia Arquette (all cheering on David Arquette, whom Cher called "darling").

Beaming and watching intently throughout the night, the "If I Could Turn Back Time" singer got emotional after her 41-year-old son (the show's first transgendered contestant) performed with Lacey Schwimmer -- along with her mom and Mary Bono. "She looked so proud!!" a witness says. 

After the show, she lingered on set chatting with her family and other DWTS castmembers, and posed for pics with Chaz, Schwimmer and other family members.

So besides Cher, there were many other stars in the audience: Donny Osmond (who was on Cher's 1975 TV show with his brothers and on a Sonny & Cher Show with Marie), Dr. Phil (Cher's been on his show), Pee Wee Herman (Cher's was on his show too), Bruce Jenner and Mama Kardashian, Courtney Cox, Chynna's own Baldwin Billy, and Patricia and Rosanna Arquette (Cher and Rosanna both have a connection having both dated members of the band Toto).

The judges remarked that Chaz had improved and had fighter qualities (he danced to the Rocky theme). Judge Carrie Ann was crying too, saying she roots for Chaz because he's gotten under her skin.

On the results show, Susan Boyle sang "Unchained Melody" which reminded me of Cher singing that song as her first solo in 1965 as Sonny & Cher. That performance also showed Cher showing vulnerability. Like in her movies, Cher cries and we cry. Sure there's some art to showing us her tough chick side. But Cher seemed so authentic and moving rooting for Chaz.

Maybe there's a strategy in keeping that side of her rare like a pink panther diamond.

I'm just waiting for my friends to ask me why Cher is wearing an early-period-Madonna amount of bracelets, dread locks and an Indian blanket.

Cher Dancing With The Stars Cher







Cher...showing the gamut of emotions.

Cher's tweets after the show:


Last nite was GLORIOUS 4 me ! When Chaz 1st.decided 2 make the Transition I had fear,confusion & yes a little sadness,BUT LAST NITE I

I looked up at him brave! Giving 1001% & I thought ! U R BRAVE STRONG FEARLESS & LOVING PERSON BUT WHAT MOST IMPORTANT.. U R HAPPY !



That would be sweet!

Me So Sad and Cher, The Female Drag Queen

Front So here is a picture of our little desert oasis, our passive solar rental in the Eldorado area of Santa Fe. And the reason I haven't been posting is because I've been quite preoccupied digging us out of one snafu or disaster after another. This move sucked. Most majorly, our movers (Allied) tossed us aside for a larger client mid-move and we were without our stuff for a week and a half. When the apologetic driver finally showed up, I watched him move boxes upon boxes of Cher stuff into this ant-riddled house and I found myself thinking, who the hell am I?

This move.  It's been something else. We had a strange carpet stain that appeared in the living room of our old house in Redondo Beach mysteriously the day before we moved out.  The drive out was mostly calm, except for getting no sleep at the somewhat shady motel we stopped to rest at in Williams, Arizona. Then there are these ants, these very aggressive black carpenter ants we have found in our bed, crawling on us on the couch, running around in the bathroom, kitchen and dining room. No amount of product or professional extermination has deterred them yet.  Westside living in LA spoiled me for bugs.

Then we bought a dining table in desperation to have somewhere to sit until our furniture arrived and discovered one of the chairs was scratched. On the way to return it, we accidentally broke off one leg. Then we broke the living room ceiling fan. About five things I packed myself were broken in the move, including two of my homemade pots and a vase two girlfriends gave me back when I lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  My dad had to go into surgery suddenly this week due to a previous operation gone awry.  I’m sure there’s more bad news, I’ve just hit my mental capacity to keep processing it.

And I know, as they say, these are real first world problems. It's just the accumulative effect!

Paloma-Faith Coping mechanisms over the last two months: I just discovered Paloma Faith and her Want the Truth or Something Beautiful CD from seeing her appearance on Sundance Channel's Live From Abbey Road. She is fucking brilliant. I love almost every track. Her package, her lyrics, her arrangements, her awesome videos…perfect, perfect, perfect.

Before we left I also started watching episodes of Ru Paul’s Drag U on the logo channel. I have to say, Drag Race bored me beyond the first episode with its cattiness. But Drag U, I'm hooked. The first two episodes made me cry.  Okay, it’s possible that I am sentimental to drag, being a fan of Cher and all, one of the most famous female drag Queens in history. See, the word drag itself has been reinterpreted on this show to mean Embracer of Flamboyant Couture. And Ru Paul aims so altruistically to help a few of us hapless gals achieve the glory and confidence that dressing in drag can provide. Many women on the show are either insecure about their looks or uncomfortable with outward displays of femininity. The drag professors on the show (former Drag Race contestants) do what The Swan failed miserably to do: show these gals that beauty is all attitude. You can always slap enough makeup and wear something outrageous enough to kick-start that said attitude and feel, yes, powerful.

Two purposefully butch women in the first episode came to realize their power was not in masculine orDragulator feminine gestures, but in how they felt about themselves. I cried when I saw that. Another women struggled with what her mom might think to see her all slutted up. I cried when she came to realize only her opinion of herself was holding her back.  Btw, her mother thought her transformation was lots of fun.  Drag Queens know stuff.

Daren C. Brabham talks more about it in his online article "Power in Parody: Femininity 101 at RuPaul’s Drag U"

...the focus of Queer Eye was to make the straight man more suitable to a straight woman, to define the straight man’s identity and purpose in relation to his opposite-sex counterpart. The purpose of Drag U, however, is to make straight women better individually, to focus on self-improvement and self-esteem as a way to unleash an inner diva capable of doing anything, including attracting a man if she chooses.

This latter point is evident in Reyna’s transformation in the first episode. Reyna mentions her comfort wearing baggy men’s clothing because it hides her cleavage and femininity and allows her to avoid sexual harassment from men and to be taken seriously. She finds dressing feminine as a surrender of power. Yet RuPaul reminds her that he wears women’s clothes to feel more powerful, and that Reyna’s transformation is as much about attitude and confidence as it is about sequins and wigs. Essentially, to parody femininity in the exaggerated art form of drag is to identify the power embedded in the cultural performance of gender, and to distill that power and own it when the wigs and make-up come off. As the professors of Drag Ublur the boundaries of gender and sex so easily, and as they teach the contestants how to confidently play in this liminal space, they empower the contestants to take charge of their own definitions of femininity.

Plus the transformations are awesome and fun, too.

A recent article in the Vancouver Sun by Shelly Fralic called "Cher Grande Dame of Showgirls" reminds us of the power found in Cher's transformations with "drag."

Is there anything as radiant, and yet comforting and predictable, as the sun rising every morning in the eastern sky?

Well, yes. Cher, actually.

Cher’s a showgirl, the kind of entertainer whose fan base covers every demographic, from the casually dressed Las Vegas buffet crowd to high-rollers in diamonds and heels, from couples in their 30s to boomers wearing boas, from glittery teenagers to cheering sections of adoring gays.

Cher is all pop culture opera, an over-the-top modern day minstrel with a cute derriere and a big voice, and to say she was made for Vegas and backup dancers is to drastically understate the obvious, for nowhere does her confident campy persona fit so snugly as it does in the city of spectacle.

There is about her, and has been from the beginning, that rare magic fairy dust possessed by all great entertainers, from the Rat Pack of Las Vegas lore to Canadian chanteuse Celine Dion, for whom the Colosseum at Caesar’s was built.

Theirs is not flash-in-the-pan, flame-out celebrity, but something commanding and perennial and — like ‘em or not — it’s what keeps the turnstiles clicking.