What We Talk About When We Talk About Sonny

Sonny1A few weekends ago I was driving to Sedona for a girls weekend and my iPod shuffle served up the song “Snow Queen” by Elton John, a song Elton and Bernie Taupin (and others) wrote about Cher when she was in her Paris Hilton phase: all paparazzi and no respect. A grandiose idea occurred to me that Cher was a Proustian novel. Actually, my full thought was that Cher was a Proustian novel and Sonny was a Proustian character within it.

Proust is famous for long, stuffed sentences but there’s another aspect of “In Search of Lost Time” that applies to Cher, the long scope of the novel over a lifetime and how the characters evolve over the entire piece. In some places, characters seem admirable and plucky and other times pathetic and clueless. Considering Sonny in this context is a good exercise in understanding complexity. He’s not an easy character to define; and from different angles and according to different people you’re likely to hear different stories about Sonny.

Cher, other ex-wives and his children are probably most likely to see the positive side of him. Other colleagues not as much. It's like those difficult people at work whose children admire them and imagine them as heroes in the office. It’s awkward but it’s also life. People behave differently with different people, within and outside of their private circles.

From a scholarship standpoint, you try to see the whole picture. Typically, fans will disagree about this, but what good is sycophantism? It’s not really healthy for anyone.

There are aspects of Sonny that are completely underrated: writing unique cowboy songs, launching unlikely superstars from street waifs and providing them with the skills to sustain an entertainment career spanning over 50 years, parenting, a particularly personal show biz sense that predated reality television by 30 years. He was tough and smart, fashion-fearless and yes, like Cher has said, he had beautiful hands. He was a great cook, too. There's probably a lot more.

On the negative side, he couldn't sing well, his acting was a bit hammy and not everybody enjoyed working with or for him. I've been mulling over the pros and cons of Sonny all year as books and links about Sonny have come my way.

Congressional Speech

When my parents visited this summer, we watched an Al Franken correspondence dinner speeches from 1994 and 1996. At about 36:20 I shouted out “There’s Sonny” like I was 7 years old again. You see him prominently walking around with his wife, Mary. Were they late for dinner? Were they on Hollywood time?

Doing a search for the clip I discovered Sonny himself gave a speech in 1995 at a Freshman Dinner (as a newbie congressmen). It’s very bad footage but Sonny makes the other U.S. congressmen laugh. He breaks the ice with that joke about nobody knowing what he went through to be serious and he refers to Cher saying, “Remember the other woman? She wasn’t easy to shake when I wanted to peruse this career." Then he goes on to say that Mary is “way better looking than Cher,” taller and 33."

Wow. Why be so mean-spirited about your meal ticket, dude? He then talks about wining the Mayoral race in Palm Springs and how the guy he fired (that being the defeated mayor) is his gardener now. Huh. A power joke. He then said he had originally wanted to be a U.S. Senator (instead of a congressman) because the prestige of a Senator eclipsed the prestige of show biz and he admired the power and respect Senators received. Well, at least he's being honest.

With all humility he says he respects the job, the new environment and he is trying to learn. He talks about how he’s ironically learning a lot from Democrat Barney Frank: “The guy’s amazing…he does the best Shecky Greene I’ve ever heard, the best I’ve ever seen. Haven’t figured out what you do but it’s good.”

His outsider humor was very effective. He goes way over his allotted time. Says he was supposed to do 3 minutes but he does a half an hour. His demeanor reminds me a lot of Chaz.

Conspiracy Theories

A very thorough Cher scholar alerted me this spring to the self-published book Sonny Hit a Tree from 2015. There’s a conspiracy theory out on the Internet about Sonny possibly being murdered by political or international operatives. I’ve avoided learning about this conspiracy theory because, well…it’s an awful idea and I hate conspiracy theories.

But I felt, for due diligence, I should check this out. I read the 17-page tract on a camping trip to Conchas Lake last spring. Here's my review: do not buy this book. The conspiracy theory isn’t explained or even mentioned. Sonny is mentioned only once in an introductory letter addressing his widow Mary. The rest is a full plunge into the head of mental illness. One-hundred percent incoherent and rambling accusations that run the gamut from Saddam Hussein to Putin to the L.A. Police Department. It makes you fear for what kind of letters Mary Bono receives these days, let alone Cher. It feels icky on every level.

Just…don’t. 

LangstonSonny's Atmosphere

And speaking of self-published, one of the actors from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Murray Langston, also known as The Unknown Comic on The Gong Show, has published his memoirs, a much more coherent book called Journey Thru the Unknown. Yes, “through” is spelled “thru so you know it’s self published. That and the highly pixelated cover.

It’s a long book and not much of it concerning Sonny & Cher, although there are a few glimpses of the show, the social lives of the cast and what they all thought about Steve Martin, which was fascinating. However, Langston is crystal clear about his feelings around Sonny. He didn’t like him. In fact, Sonny makes it into his top 2 list of Hollywood’s biggest megalomaniacs. Langston also says he and Cher were on friendly terms for decades until Langston admitted publicly his true feelings about Sonny.

It’s never great to hear negative things about a loved one. And yet, Murray Langston does have the right to tell his own truth about a work situation. Interestingly, he did remain close friends with other S&C show alums, Ted Zeigler and Freeman King, until their deaths. And by now it's clear that the cast of the S&C shows did not cohere in an artistic or social sense like the cast of The Carol Burnett Show did. There are no show reunions, cast members are absent from DVD reissues. Steve Martin and Bob Einstein don’t talk at all about their experiences on the show. Teri Garr barely does.  It’s not like they’ve all been out trash-talking the show either. They haven't. But the silence adds up and might be one of the reasons the show has been undervalued all these years.

And the idea of Sonny as a megalomaniac is believable. According to Langston, Sonny always referred to the cast as 'furniture' and 'atmosphere.' Imagine Tim Conway or Harvey Korman putting up with this? And maybe a variety show with a duo is more crowded than a variety show with a solo. Maybe the cast never fully bonded for whatever reason. It’s also very possible that Sonny wasn’t on his best boss behavior. And to see him in this light is far from condemning him entirely. Assistants and colleagues have been slow to come out about this but you read stories in “Strong Enough” by Josiah Howard and from Cher herself. The existence of Cher Enterprises kind of speaks for itself. Sonny could be unkind in business. People are complicated, multi-faceted and not everybody had the same experience with your loved ones. Sonny has a very complicated legacy. Can we even get our head around it? It's Proustian.

I wouldn’t go as far as to recommend Langston’s book to Cher fans as the book is mostly not about the TV show era, but Langston has his point of view and it gives the story of the Sonny & Cher shows another perspective.

Sonny-deacon0darkSonny as a Cult Classic

I was a pretty synchophantic Sonny & Cher fan as kid, even after they divorced. But it was Aaron Spelling shows that eventually killed my fandom of Sonny. They were pretty bad performances....or so I thought. Lately, I’ve been searching for Love Boat episodes to capture his four appearances on that Aaron Spelling show. So far I’ve only come across his appearance with Marty Ingels (truly terrible) and his episode as Deacon Dark. As a kid I did like this episode. To me it was an obvious send-up of Gene Simmons in KISS, who Cher was dating at the time: the face paint, the long, protruding tongue, a human being feeling stifled by the gimmick of makeup.

As I was looking up the show’s air date, (March 17, 1979), I found a whole slew of articles about the Deacon Dark episode. In fact, for many Love Boat aficionados, this is their favorite episode. And it’s fascinating to read their comments. They have no context for the Cher/Gene Simmons reading at all. So they see more Alice Cooper (snakes) in the performance. They're not Sonny or Cher fans. They just like the episode for what it is!

There's no substitute for actually seeing the episode, but these are the two songs Sonny sings on the show:

"Smash It" and "Now That I've Found Sarah."

From The Deacon Dark Files:

"As you may or may not know, I am a huge fan of The Love Boat. I am such a big fan, I even watched Love Boat: The Next Wave. Yes sir, it's true. If I had to narrow down my favorite episodes, I'd be hard pressed because I just adore them all. However, there is one that keeps popping up in my forever clouded childhood memories that I think is probably the best episode. Ever.

On March 17th, 1979, Love Boat unleashed Deacon Dark on an unsuspecting audience. The Deacon is a culmination of Alice Cooper and KISS mixed with a whole lot of TV sensibility towards the then-current pop culture crazes. In effect, Deacon is thought to be a dark rock and roll soul, but underneath his satanic pantomime makeup, he's just dying to write a ballad….

I love every second of it and apparently I'm not the only one. Just today I discovered a Deacon Dark fan page on Facebook! The Deacon lives folks!"

"The Love Boat of Hate! Sonny Bono is DEACON DARK!" - this article links to Sonny’s  heated Palm Springs mayoral debate.

 From “Smash It”: The demented, the dangerous and the disgusting Deacon Dark:

“There’s not a lot of originality to be found here, of course — seems to us like the writers Joyce Armor and Judie Neer wanted to parody both 70s-era sensitive schlocky singer-songwriters and satanic heavy metal rock singers — and the costume and makeup people didn’t have to work too hard to come up with Dark’s garish demonic look either because they pretty much just ripped off KISS bassist Gene Simmons’s full face makeup. The writers also apparently threw in a little bit of Alice Cooper’s stage theatrics too, particularly because it involves fire (Arthur Brown could have been mentioned here too, we suppose).

Today, the demonic Deacon’s face makeup seems like it may have inspired or at least prefigured the black and white corpse face makeup favored by Danish black metal bands, or perhaps even the Insane Clown Posse’s Juggalo clown face….

We hear Backstrom’s alter ego being introduced as the “the demented, the dangerous, the disgusting Deacon Dark!,” then see him taking the stage to sing his hit song “Smash It!,” which you can watch at the clip at the top (we also learn during the episode that Dark is also known for two other songs: “Screaming Voodoo Devil Boogie Woman” and “Step, Step, Step On Toads”).

After the performance, Captain Stubing still appears unimpressed: “He’s no Jerry Vale.” (We should point out here that “The Love Boat” was one of the only hour-long American-made TV shows that consistently used a laugh track).”

“There’s also quite a few blogs online where clever writers have created entire backstories about Deacon Dark, including this one ...(read the entire thing though, it’s pretty great).”

It is brilliant. My favorite excerpt:

"The destruction of Deacon’s works continued down to individual albums and 8-tracks. The only account I’ve ever read of the “event” was in a old copy of Kerrang! magazine I found, uncatalogued, in the New York Public Library’s Chinatown branch. According to Kerrang!, readers reported strange winds would sweep their Deacon Dark 8-tracks out of their cars; that unorthodox rays of sunlight would melt Deacon LPs and that some albums would simply disappear. I know for a fact my dad owned a vinyl copy of Deacon’s third album, “Luvin’ The Coven,” but I’ve searched his stacks of wax again and again over the years, and the thing is just gone."

Deacon Dark has inspired Fan Fiction!! How awesome is that for Sonny. Who knew this episode had such a cult following. It’s pretty cool.

The Facebook page, well, I won’t spoil it. Just scroll all the way down and don’t forget to look in the photo album. It's full of fake album covers and allegedly historical photos. (Do not miss the Jerry Vale joke).

Okay I will spoil it.

Here are my favorites (click to enlarge). Just the funniest damn thing I ever did see.

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I found the fan fiction completely compelling and it's inspired me to ask you to compare this: Deacon Dark's “Smash It” to Def Leppard’s “Argmageddon It.”

Punk Rock Sonny

And finally, over the last few months we've been watching old 80s videos on MTV. Yes, when the moon hits the mountainside to reveal a keyhole after the thrush trills, MTV plays videos. We watched “Punk Rock Girl” by the Dead Milkmen and there was a Sonny reference.

Sonny-video-punkrockgirl


Cher Mags, Shows, Movies, Music, TV, Fashion, Merch

Linda_CherWhat a Cher year it's been, starting all the way back in January with "Prayers for this World."  It's a bit overwhelming and I can't believe I haven't blogged since Halloween! My own Fall has been crazy with three sets of house guests and the production of a new political poster for the my art action group ArtBrawl (we decided on a name last summer). We also recently launched a Facebook page that has been tracking our goings-on. Two weeks ago we started screen printing.

For Cher this seems like a critical mass era where she’s producing a plethora of new things, all while older work is getting re-evaluated constantly (her fashion, songs and movies).

Tributes  

Bob's Burgers did a tribute to Cher on their Halloween episode. Technically Linda is dressed as a "Cher-iff," a sheriff dressed like Cher (or Cher with a badge). 

Linda explains her costume as having “handcuffs, a badge and a body that just refused to age!” She also wears a diminutive cowboy hat. “OH, I LOVE her!” she says and then says to Bob, “Snap out of it! From the movie!”

Linda stays in her Cherfit for the whole episode. The outfit is basically the Turn Back Time V-fit with extra Linda coverage, darker stockings and the leather jacket and Cher’s own latter-day boots. I appreciate that the cartoonists put Cher in the original Turn Back Time V-fit and not the concert version hole-fit that everyone now associates with the song.

Some clips:

- Linda explaining the costume
- The family trick-or-treating

While searching for show clips I also came across this story about Ellen wearing the hole-fit version a few years ago. They're very different outfits and now when Bob Mackie talks about designing the Turn Back Time outfit I have no idea which outfit he's talking about.

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 Magazines

CloserCloser magazine came out with a Cher tribute issue in November which is pretty good. Some new pictures and stories inside. There have also been some new online articles about Cher like these on motherhood and retirement.

Cher scholar Tyler also located this Travel Girl article on Cher: http://travelgirlinc.com/cher-glamorous-gorgeous-still-going-strong/

 

 

 

Charity & Social Causes (Twitter)

Cher has been busy with social and charity causes. She's working with Ben Stiller and others to get supplies to Puerto Rico:

Cher also took part in an auction for veterans on Veteran's Day.

And (thanks to Tyler again) here's a found clip of Cher's interview at the One Young World Conference where she launches Free the Wild and talks about how she's been working with Bob Geldof's manager to launch the animal rescue charity. She talks about her fake fur and a few rescued elephants.  She also says the song "Walls" was from "Believe" producer Mark Taylor.

In the Twittersphere, Papermag has also offered "A close reading of Cher and Rihanna’s Twitter Exchange"

Cher Shows

Las Vegas: There's Las Vegas and then there's the original Las Vegas. I went to them both in the last few months. The older one is actually in New Mexico, an old west town rougher than Tombstone. Mr. Cher Scholar got his masters in archaeology there a few years back (which is why we live in New Mexico now). We took Mr. Cher Scholar's brother to The Plaza Hotel there to do some ghost hunting. Mr. Cher Scholar's brother even has ghost hunting gear. There also happened to be a Halloween party there that night.

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A few weeks later we went to the other Las Vegas where I finally saw the November 11th Classic Cher show. Our seats were not as close as the cancelled show seats we had in spring, but they ended up being better seats than I thought. Cher opened her monologue with "You've probably planned a long time for this." Tell me about it! I was shell shocked the whole weekend worried about a cancellation. Sigh. Sometimes I think I just want it too much. Cher talked about mid-era Sonny & Cher days working show rooms and living in Motel 6 like motels with Cher attempting to cook their diners in the rooms.

It was a great show. I particularly liked the new graphics for "Walking in Memphis" and "The Shoop Shoop Song."

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I really loved the faux Cher Vegas sign. So retro and fun!  

News about the show:

Broadway Show

There's a page for the Chicago shows of The Cher Show. It would be nice to see a bit more of the performers involved and a better logo. An article from Junkee on the show which captures a lot of her tweets related to it.

Cher Music

"Ooga Boo" is now for sale and when you buy through smile.amazon.com, money goes to charity.

Cher did an interview for the BBC ostensibly about her new song "Walls" but the interview is kind of fluffy and truncated before we get to discussing the song.

Music History

Cher scholar Robrt found this 2016 commercial that uses Cher’s 1967 song “It All Adds Up Now.”

Cher scholar Tyler found this clip of Cher lip synching her way through "I Found Someone in chain-mail-fit"

Cher Movies

It was announced that Cher will play the part of Meryl Streep's mom (in flashback) in the sequel to the movie version of Mama Mia.

OrgasmicMovie History

A great article about Witches of Eastwick seen from 30 later.

 

Television History

CbMy favorite Cher wig is the multi-bun. It's best seen on The Carol Burnett Show. Here's a clip of the sketch.

I heard news that the Get TV Cher shows were coming back. But there's no sign that they will air any new episodes. Last night they played the same Christmas show they aired last year.  This run of shows has been mildly disappointing.

But we can console ourselves with this: Cher scholar Tyler located an opening segment of Laugh In with Sonny & Cher. See Sonny in his groovy scarf. And wow! Some Cher eyelashes there! Cher also gets on a bike. Here's another Laugh In segment with Cher and Tim Conway.

And the full episode of Sonny & Cher on The Glen Campbell Show

And another tribute to Sonny & Cher on David Letterman 30 years ago!

Fashion Influence, Peripherals and Stuff

Ode to an Idol: https://www.image.ie/fashion/in-ode-of-an-idol-the-iconic-and-timeless-wardrobe-of-cher-88368

The New York Times ran a story about a republican mayoral candidate who happens to be a big Cher fan.

Cher is planning to release more Christmas merch on her site soon. See the products on her Twitter. It looks like the themes will be Chercophanie and Black Rose. You can still buy scarves, too!


Throwback Thursday

InterviewLiving in New York in 1982

Cher fans recently came across an old Cher interview with Andy Warhol from March of 1982 in Interview Magazine.

Remember back then Cher's career was in Nowheresville. This was on the heels of Black Rose and Las Vegas showrooms and Cher was part of the cast of Robert Altman Broadway play. In the interview, she had just offered a role in Silkwood. No one expected much of anything from her and it was amazing that she made the cover of Interview at that time. I loved the cover so much I had it hanging on my wall all through high school.

The piece is filled with a few glaring typos. (talking about the record "I’m Paralyzed" and mentioning Cher’s sister Jeannie). When asked about New York City's Mayor Koch, Cher says “I don’t know anything about politics…I don’t watch the news. I’m pretty unenlightened.” So in 30 years, we’ve seen lots of changes on that front. She’s now described as a news junky and Trump foil.

Cher-heardThe article also talks about her recently ended relationship with professional hockey player Ron Duguy and her current relationship with two men, young actor John Heard and music producer John Leoffler.

John Heard just died a few weeks ago of a heart attack at age 72. Cher’s tweeted her thoughts and picture presumably from the time she dated him.

The Witches of Eastwick

Cher scholar Tyler recently shared this interesting article on Witches of Eastwick in Racked.

It's a good article to see how millennials see this movie today. Be warned, it’s nothing they would recommend. They like the visuals and the fashion, but find the gender politics weird, (and outdated probably). They consider it something their parents likely saw on date night. Ouch! But you can’t argue with the plot flaws of the thing and the weak characters, such as Daryl who “doesn’t seem all that powerful, all things considered.”

The author proposes the idea that Cher, Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon flying might be about orgasms. Huh. Interesting.

Orgasmic

I sent the article to my Jack Nicholson-obsessed friend, (she of the Cher Zine 2 Cher vs. Jack Cookbook Cook Off) and she remembered having to see the movie with her Dad when she was underage and they were both terrified of the orgy scene from the movie trailer that never made it to the final cut.

Orgy2

Here are some retro interviews around that time:

Remember the weird floral couch interviews? In this one, Cher talks about working with Sudie Bond in two previous movies.

Another floral couch interview.

An interview in Germany.  Sonny & Cher here are called the first hippies in the world.


Cher in Television History

SonnychercarolNostalgia TV

So much good TV history stuff this summer, but I’m a bit frustrated with the ever-repeating reruns of reruns that is Sonny & Cher on GetTV. For all of you who didn’t kill yourselves to get this channel, you can rest happily. As a consolation, GetTV has provided a quiz on their website: Are you more Sonny or Cher? I scored as Cher: a free spirited, outspoken, wise cracker.

Over at the other beloved re-run channel MeTV there is a story about Classic TV Stars Who Are Still Touring and 10 Iconic Facts about Cher.

Carol Burnett Show

Cher scholar Tyler discovered this delectable early Carol Burnett Show episode with Sonny & Cher from the mid 60s. The full episode includes everything (the solo of "You’d Better Sit Down Kids" and the duet "Living For You," plus the big finale number) but Cher’s solo is missing audio.

 For that solo, you have to visit this other link. Carol Burnett introduces Sonny & Cher as part of a “wild, way out movement [hardly]. They country jam this groove-fest.

Cher comes across as a shy, morose teenager in these numbers and at one point actually creeps off the set. Sonny tries to be so groovy, but WTF is he wearing on his leg? Cher’s correct, though, he has very nice hands.

The big number (at mark 45:10) is really something to see. Cher in very shy and unsure as Carol Burnett and Nanette Fabray exhibit the kind of duo chemistry that makes Cher look like a big third wheel. It’s exactly the same shut-out that occurred in 1975 between Cher and Tina Turner, when Kate Smith looked like the third wheel in the big Beatles tribute.

Magic on The Cher Show

Another great find (thanks to Tyler) was this Cher Show appearance by magician Mark Wilson. Cher plays his assistant. It’s pretty cheesy by today’s standards, there’s a big overhead of assistance, lame jokes and is that Gloria Steinem in the un-enthused crowd?

GroovypadLove American Style

Truer than the red, white and blu-oo-oo! The full episode of Sonny and Cher’s appearance on Love American Style from January 1971.

It’s called “Love and the Sack.” I loved this show as a kid. This time I noticed how goofy and Mary-Tyler-Moore the set looks: a wicker chair, peace sign art, 1960s plants, and the ubiquitous guitar in the corner.

Cher (as April) is waiting for a surprise marriage proposal from her boyfriend Henry. A sack arrives with Sonny in it, postage due. Sonny says, “I mailed myself to you” as if that’s not a creepy-stalker thing to say. Stranger danger!

Sonny, who’s name we never learn, tries to convince Cher/April that life with Henry would be a mundane affair of track housing, missionary sex and too many babies. Meanwhile he has a motorcycle, a loft in the village with a bathtub sofa, (I looked that up and found nothing but a slew of bathtubs converted into sofas), and promises her a Turkish-bath honeymoon (I looked that up too).

So Henry shows up and Cher says “get back in the sack!” See, in the 60s, sack was a double-entendre. Anyway, Henry comes in and offers to take Cher out for Cock-a-doodle Chicken. (This show is so randy!) And bingo, all of Sonny’s predictions come true. Henry IS a stiff who wants her to be a baby factory. Henry calls Sonny a bag of soft potatoes and calls Cher/April a kook and a weirdo for having a man in a sack in her living room. Sonny tells Henry to offer Cher/April “Italian sausage.” I kid you not.

I honestly feel this skit shows a solid preview of Cher’s future acting chops.

Glen Campbell and Jerry Lewis

We lost both Glen Campbell and Jerry Lewis this summer. Cher worked with Glen Campbell back with the Wrecking Crew in the 1960s. He also appeared on Cher Shows; Cher appeared on Glen's shows, both with and without Sonny. Cher was also a guest on Jerry Lewis’ TV show and he appeared on hers, with and without Sonny. These are my favorite clips:

Cher and Glen do one of their last medleys (of many) together.

Jerry Lewis on Cher’s show.

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Turn Back Time

Cher made the Rolling Stone list of sexiest videos of all time.

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New Cher Projects, 2017

ChazSo my summer break was longer than usual. My parents came to stay with us for 5 weeks while waiting to move into a new house in Ohio. I’ve also been taking stock of my writing projects and realized I’m way behind in my self-imposed schedules. I don’t know how this will effect the blog.

But despite the big break, I’ve still accumulated so much good stuff to share. I’ve been working on some new scholarly projects that I’m excited about and will unveil a few (on Cher Scholar and Big Bang Poetry) over the next few weeks.

But as happens every summer, lots of Cher stuff has gone down.

American Horror Story

Chaz Bono has returned to the American Horror Story franchise this year as a one-armed Trump supporter and there are rumors that Cher will be making an appearance this season as well. The rumormongers:

- http://elitedaily.com/entertainment/cher-ahs-cult/2059844/
- http://www.konbini.com/us/entertainment/cher-american-horror-story-cult-cameo/
- https://www.queerty.com/cher-appearing-new-season-american-horror-story-evidence-speaks-20170831

The hate-crime, fascist stuff, not the clown, has scared me right off watching the new show on anything slower than 15x. When entertainment is that close to reality…I’m just a jellyfish I guess. However, I'm going to see Stephen King’s IT movie this Thursday and I’m sure that will be much more pleasant.

You can collect Chaz’s appearance on AHS #6 Roanoke which goes on sale for DVD and Blu-ray October 3.

ClassicClassic Cher

Cher started up her stage shows again. Here are the latest reviews on that:

Her show’s guitarist, Joel Hoekstra, is interviewed here: http://www.sarasotapost.com/great-reading/1362-turn-back-time-with-classic-cher

The Broadway Show

Cher’s new Broadway show had its open call in July and over 500 people showed up:

They predict a Spring 2018 opening: http://www.goldderby.com/article/2017/cher-broadway-musical-tony-awards-news/

Boovs2Two New Songs

Cher made an appearance on a children’s show called Home: Adventures of Tip and Oh and recorded two new songs.

Reviews speak for themselves:

Netflix Got Cher to Record a New Song for a Cartoon Because Netflix Can Do Anything Now

“Cher seems to be particularly picky about what she's recorded in the last decade. There was an album in 2013 (Closer To The Truth), a contribution to the soundtrack of her 2010 film Burlesque ("You Haven't Seen The Last of Me," by the acclaimed Diane Warren), a contribution to the documentary Cries From Syria, a duet with her mother, and a couple of unreleased collaboration (with Lady Gaga and Wu-Tang Clan). She has not been particularly prolific, and this might be considered her first dance floor jam in at least four years.”

Cher's New Trap Track

“To be a fly on the wall where this bonkers song was pitched to Cher... We’re still not sure how this track came to fruition, but we’re not complaining either: somehow the 71-year-old sells this campy trap song.” 

Yes, I had to look it up. Trap is “southern hip hop with ominous lyrics, double or triple time divided hi-hats, heavy kick drums and a Roland TR-808 synthesizer or layered synthesizers.”

Cher’s bizarre new song is the catchiest thing you’ll hear all day

“We love Cher. Not only for her amazing back catalogue, her brave fashion choices or constant trolling of Donald Trump on Twitter, but also because she still has the ability to surprise us with her music” and “gloriously psychedelic video.”

Cher Dropped A Demented Bop Called “Ooga Boo”

“It transcends traditional kiddie fare, however, with the demented electronic production, heavy lashings of auto tune and an annoyingly catchy chorus. It’s the not the comeback we wanted, but it’s probably the comeback we deserve.”

EarstockingsThe Animation Podcast review was hilarious.  (Thanks to cher scholar Tyler for the find).

Animation aficionado ElectricDragon505 had his mind blown by the cartoon, not because of the story or Cher’s appearance on it, but because of of her character’s design. He says it reminds him of a “drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket” or a mutated marshmallow. “What the fridge am I even looking at!” he cries. He likes the Boov characters and their bright, cold colors with flashes of hot yellows, oranges and reds but says the makeup is “even too much for a drag show.” Too much are the comically huge eyelashes and fishnet leggings because the fishnet leggings are even on Chercophanie's ears. (I would agree with that; WTF.) But ElectricDragon505 will even give the designers a pass on all that. What he absolutely can’t abide is a Boov wearing three bras because this forces questions about Boov anatomy that he just can’t face.

This all seemed like a great deal of news for an appearance on a Netflix children’s show, so I did a search for her last un-released but kinda-released song from January and oddly there were zero news stories or reviews about “Prayers for this World” on two pages of Google results except this short blurb:

“First new material since 2013 From a documentary that debuted recently, she is singing with the Los Angeles Children's choir. Absolutely amazing!”

My parents gifted us with Netflix. So I watched the Chercophanie episode last week.

The show is about an interracial or inter-galaxy friendship between a spunky preteen black girl (Tip) and an alien Boov (Oh). The episode is called “Chercophanie/Oh Man & the Sea” and it contains two 15 minute stories. I spent time bemoaning the short attention span of “young people today” as I was watching it and then realized I spent my own childhood binge watching 8-minute Loony Tunes cartoons.

Tip is playing pretend rock star and her friend Oh is playing pretend obsessed fan. By the way, we never played pretend star/fan back in the 70s. We played teacher, waitress, working single-mother, sordid soap-opera Fisher House community, salacious sex-life Barbie, TV news broadcaster, outdoor Missouri shipwreck, and novelist.

DG1ewsoU0AAGmzYBut anyway, Tip is full of artistic torment for fame and glory. Unfortunately, she feels a lack of desire to actually practice singing or guitar playing. But she wants legions of fans, like, yesterday! And she tries to make a big splash as a street singer. The humans hate her performances but the alien Boovs love it. By the way, all Boovs look like octopuses.

Tip loves to talk about “star power” and she calls her fans Tipsters. Cher descends into the scene as “a true star who knows how to make an entrance.” In fact, the show gives Cher’s Boov character plenty of funny entrances. She’s “a cultural enigma” they say but she’s never given the chance to tell Tip and Oh what her true passion is. Spoiler alert: it involves whale-shaped Ooga Boos…which finally explains Cher’s new song then.

StarpowerBut sadly, the public doesn’t care about Chercophanie’s passion and only wants to hear her “rockin voice.” There’s a very funny bit where Chercophanie cries and her massive mascara runs down her face. A makeup Boov rushes in to fix it.  

Chercophanie calls Tip “Twinkle Pie” and takes Tip and Oh to her studio to hear her latest track, “Ooga Boo,” and my parents left the closed-captioning on Netflix so I was able to decipher that confusing lyric: “Moi a tu.”

Tip is over-confident and when she finally hears herself play the guitar, she’s mortified, even after Chercophanie tries some funny production magic. A few times I laughed out loud at this stuff: Boovs crowd surfing, Boovchella. During performances, Tip likes to yell out “how many of you out there have faces?”

CherwhaleChercophanie tells her not to be worried about the reviews, just be you…because following your heart is “where you find true art.”

Fans of Tip, of course, hate the result of that sort of advise and abandon her new direction. One fan calls out, very disgruntled, “my expectations have been defied!”

Cher fans, you’ve been there.


Cher's Fashion Influence

 BurnettcherArticles continue to appear about the influence of one of Cher's past or present looks:

Makeup

You'll Soon Be Able To Shop Cher's Glitzy Eye Look From The Billboard Awards (Refinery29)

Hair

12 Celebrities Who Channeled 1970s Cher With Their Ultralong Hair (Pop Sugar)

Red Carpets

From Cher to Susan Sarandon, older women are making waves on red carpets (The Sydney Morning Herald)

My favorite wig

Burnettcher2For years I've been trying to describe my favorite Cher wig from the plethora of wigs seen on the 1970s variety shows. It is the Bun-of-Buns wig seen here screen-captured from The Carol Burnett Show, even lovelier encrusted with jewels. Cher scholar Tyler also mentioned that the dress she wore in this skit also appeared in this torch number, "He's Funny That Way" from one of her other variety shows. (She's wearing another version of Bun-of-Buns there!)

Speaking of Carol Burnett, I recently read her new book In Such Good Company about her show.

And thinking about Carol Burnett and Cher reminds me of Mary Tyler Moore and my Great Women of 70s TV meditations. We recently lost Mary Tyler Moore and my favorite tribute was from Cathy Guisewite of the Cathy newspaper comic strip, surprisingly because I never liked that strip. 


Gregg Allman's Funeral

FuneralCher attended Gregg Allman's funeral a few weekends ago and it was a much quieter affair than the one we remember for Sonny; but fans still managed to insinuate themselves along the periphery of the procession route and around the edge of the cemetery (see below). 

It appears Elijah was there as well, although not fully photographed or mentioned.

Some local coverage:

http://www.macon.com/news/local/article154086244.html

http://www.macon.com/news/local/article153863999.html

Cher scholar Robrt Pela also located this very sweet retrospective of Cher and Gregg visiting a high school in Buffalo in the 1970s.  The story probably gives us more insight into their relationship that any of the other retrospectives that have surfaced of late.

While I was at the dermatologist last week, I spied a recent People Magazine (June 12, 2017) obit on Gregg Allman with a picture of Cher and Gregg in lower right corner of the cover. The table of contents declared the article was about "Gregg Allman: His Live and Loves" of which there were a few, but the article was exclusively about his relationship with Cher, "the glitzy variety show hostess" who met "the hard rocker from Georgia with a howl soaked in Jack Daniels."

FansAccording to People, Allman spent 11 stints in rehab and became sober in 1995. His nicknames were Cooch and Gui Gui.  Not to be confused with Gris Gris (from "Walk on Guilded Splinters"). They met, as we all know, at The Troubadour in Los Angeles where Allman said Cher “looked like an Egyptian idol.” And Cher said “I never loved anybody the way I loved him." But that "Gregg needed more than my love.” (which is unfortunately the Boilerplate summary of a music star relationship: see Victoria Principal on Behind the Music discussing Andy Gibb for the most infamous version.)

The relationship started working, Cher said, “when he found out that I was a person—that a chick was not a dummy.” Incidentally, this is the same realization Gene Simmons was made to come to in 1979. Cher: transforming sexist rock stars, one man at a time.

As we know, 9 days after the wedding, Cher filed for divorce but reconciled. Allman later felt "out of place in Cher’s glamourous world” and filed for divorce but she was by then pregnant with Elijah and they reconciled. Then they made their 1977 album and on the tour for that they fell apart with finality.

The Country Music Awards opened this year with a moving tribute to Gregg Allman: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/country-music-awards-open-with-powerful-gregg-allman-tribute_us_5938f2e6e4b0c5a35c9bfb75

And Cher fans have been discussing their feelings (then and now) around Cher's relationship with him. Full disclosure: she was about to separate from Gregg Allman at the moment my older brother unceremoniously and gleefully informed me (at age seven) that Cher was no longer married to Sonny and I cried in a chair for an hour before moving on with my life. I didn't learn about the Allman marriage until I was old enough to read a Cher biography.

But Cher scholar Michael put it very nicely: "I'm happy that I come to Gregg through Cher because I'm not sure I would have found Cher through Gregg. Cher has recorded so much in her career. In the days of album credits, I learned who wrote those songs she recorded. Because of Cher I discovered Dylan, Donovan, Gershwin, Tim Hardin, Neil Young, Buffy Saint-Marie, and a long list of others. Cher may not think that she has made a musical impact, but I know I've been forever in her debt for my early musical journey."

I would agree. And would add that when I was 17 I went on a journey to locate from my local public libraries, every original version of a song Cher had covered. There were so many, I never finished. But it's an interesting exercise to think about other artists you discovered by being a Cher fan. If you need a refresher, take a walk through the writers list, album by album, starting with https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/All_I_Really_Want_to_Do_(album) and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Look_at_Us.

I can tell you this, I would never have tried to track down Edith Piaf's version of "Milord" or bought a Miriam Makeba CD in Paris had it not been for Cher.

 


Gregg Allman and Cher

GnaSunday morning I woke up to Mr. Cher Scholar telling me there was a front page story in The New York Times about the death of Gregg Allman, which was just very sad. It had been too tempting over the last few months to believe the reports that his illness had earlier been over-exaggerated. Apparently this was not so.

And although it is true that Cher fans don’t tend to be Gregg Allman fans and Gregg Allman fans don’t tend to be Cher fans, (as I bluntly stated last week), undeniably Gregg Allman was one of the major loves of Cher’s life and looking back over his life of surreal tragedy, (including the violent deaths of family and band members, suicides of ex-girlfriends--at least two--drug and alcohol dramas, all the way to a freak accident fatality on his biopic a few years ago), Allman was undeniably an emotional and physical survivor.

TwoAnd beyond the disparaging remarks he must have endured as Cher's second husband, (from the press and Cher fans alike), their one professional project,  Allman and Woman, continues to get a bad rap. A picture of Cher was placed prominently in The New York Times obit which stated, “the project was poorly received by critics and the record-buying public alike.” Technically true but the assessment could use a re-evaluation. Rolling Stone said the album “resembled an Ashford & Simpson-style effort.” Is that a criticism? I can't tell.

Is it a perfect album, no. Is it one of Gregg Allman's finest. Hardly. But it's full of sexual attraction, emotion and great musicians. And for the same reason Cher’s voice compliments Sonny’s, that same scratchy to syrup contrast works well on this record with Allman.

When I was eleven I found a library copy, (I can still remember the library’s thick plastic protective cover), and spent two weeks dancing to “I Love Making Love to You,” blissfully clueless to the song's meaning. I also felt their version of “You Really Got a Hold on Me” was comparable to Sonny & Cher’s and Cher’s performance of "Island" was duly heartbreaking. To invoke the ghost of George Michael, (ack! we’re losing so many!), listen without prejudice.

The Allman Brothers were groundbreaking in their lengthy improvisational performances but I liked the proverbial "radio edits" like "Jessica," a record I remember my brother playing quite often. I also liked both of Gregg and Cher's versions of "I’m No Angel" and Jackson Browne's "These Days" and The Allman Brother’s "Ramblin’ Man."

Cher-e-greggI have a friend who jokes that her life is so unlucky because she must have kicked puppies in a prior one. I hope Gregg Allman has paid off his karmic debts in this very challenging life and will be free for an easier one soon. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned from Cher over the last 40 years is that you can always find room in your heart to be friends with your ex-lovers, no matter what their travails or trespasses. Despite some disgruntled moments disparaging Gregg for his lack of parenting instincts, Cher and Gregg Allman eventually spoke well of each other and seemed to have stayed in friendly touch.

It's a very sad day when you lose someone who has rattled your heart so much.

The obituaries:

Some live performances from the Two the Hard Way Tour


Cher History: Marriages, Music, Hair, Movies and TV

ChergreggGossip

Cher's marriage to Gregg Allman was revisited by Inquisitir: “inside their whirlwind marriage.”

 

 

Music

And on the site AV Club, death-fuled songs from the 70s place "Dark Lady" in the same league with Barry Manilow's "Copacabana" and “I Don’t Like Monday’s” by The Boomtown Rats.

Death-songs

Speaking of their "Copacabana" video, watch some bad, unenthusiastic lip-synching and awkward dancing from a dapper and youthful Barry Manilow in that video. He even does a Cher-like costume change!

I love that guy. “Don’t fall in love. Don’t fall in love.”

They also list "Indian Reservation" by Paul Revere and the Raiders (see the stats article).

CherhairFashion

Is Cher hair still a trend? The article references Kim Kardashian but she just cut her hair.

Thanks to Cher scholar Tyler for this article on the Five decades of Cher outfits from CBS News.

 

 

 

 

 

R.I.P.

Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour producer Chris Bearde has died. Mr. Cher Scholar always snickers these days when the credits roll and his name appears as chrisbearde.

Cher-chris

Cher’s late-1970s manager, (before 80s-era Bill Sammeth), Sandy Gallin, (whom for years I thought was a woman) has also died.  (Thanks Cher scholar Michael for that link.) Another story from the gruesomely named Deadline.com.

Cher-sandy

This TV site mistakenly attributes Cher’s tweet about Bearde to be about Gallin.

But on the brighter side, Cher says her mom is doing better.

Cher80sMovies

I've been finding a lot of interviews on YouTube that were obscure since the 1980s. I will try to blog about them as I can. This is one of the best, a great German interview for Witches of Eastwick and Cher's Geffen Records era debut.  In it, Cher says she and Sonny were the first hippies in the world.

 

GlencTelevision

Cher scholar Tyler found this amazing bit of scholarship on YouTube, a fascinating medley between Sonny, Cher and Glen Campbell, a medley proving that when art is concerned, conservatives and liberals can get along.

 
You can also watch the full 1976 episode of Sonny & Cher on Donny & Marie

Dandm


On the Periphery of Cher

CherworldcovercloserAnd there was a slew of Cher crew news recently as well...

The TCM auction was held Monday March 27, 2017.

The show Making History made a Cher reference (Thanks Cher scholar Tyler).

Cher-rock-crewTwo related celebrity deaths occurred: and who would have imagined Chuck Berry and Chuck Barris would die in the same week? (Thanks to Cher scholar Janet for this pic of Chuck Berry on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.) It's my theory that Chuck Barris, besides connecting to S&C show alum Murry Langston, a.k.a The Unknown Comic, is the voice of the M.C. on Sonny & Cher Live.

Bob Mackie celebrated a birthday.

Diane Warren won a major award.

Fans were busy meeting Cher:

What It's Really Like to Design a Home for Cher (Architectural Digest)

And finally, there was a lawsuit over Cher's Closer to the Truth album logo design. Two stories:

I asked two local designers in my office to weigh in:

One said: “Clearly similar but hard to prove imo... that elaborately calligraphic style, and bodoni-like typefaces have been having a moment. That R though is exactly the same."

Another one said: “Yea, that’s a tricky fight when it’s a font. Mosaic Nadav's Paris is very specific beyond the average font and Cher’s design looks like they just let the font basically be the design but with slight changes. This being a mass distributed album that’s pretty lazy design… and yet designers do that all the time so I’m glad the Cher designer got called out on it.”

Called out but not successfully sued as it turns out: "Cher wins dismissal of lawsuit over album cover font" (Reuters)