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July 2007
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September 2007

Chastity in the 'Bloids

Chas Okay--so the big news this week is that the National Examiner rag supposedly published picture(s) of Chastity and they say she's now 300 pounds. I haven't seen the article or these pictures. Not because I'm particularly 'bloid-immune, but I am so slow in getting to the 7-11 that the 'bloids have "turned" by the time I get there and are on to other stories like mutant babies from the deep void of space (i.e. Britney Spears). Okay that was a bad joke. But I've never forgave Spears' remake of "The Beat Goes On" and it has fueled me with with a sense of insuppressible vengeance. So who knows how true or false the story may be. The fact that it's a story at all is the most interesting aspect.

We as a celebrity obsessed nation seem to be way more obsessed with Chastity Bono than other celebrities of her ilk and she's had multiple stories in the 'bloids. Why should that be? Because she's young, an older sister of sorts for today's self-abusing starlets? Because she's famous for being the only child of a mega-star-couple? Because she was a child star herself?

Elijah garnishes an occasional news blurb due to some lunkheadedly piggish comment he makes on Howard Stern. But these reports usually surface on Internet news and hardly compare to the national interest Chasity receives. Other children of stars--even if they have reality shows like Rod Stewart’s son--aren't such big stories.

Cher's stardom is huge, however, and works on many levels: her products, her fashion, her love life and life story (which is what the tabloids hook into). And it's been so long since the nation has had a juicy Cher tabloid story. Are we so desperate for one that we’re seeking it in her kids?

On the other hand, Chastity was a legitimate child star herself. But child stars don't automatically get stalked by the rags either. Do we get updates on how Adam Rich is doing? No.

Chastity has never "gone Hollywood" and doesn't act like wanna-be-back-so-desperately PR-machines like other child stars. Even those folks aren't getting this kind of look-what-happened-to-them coverage. It seems Chastity is a phenomenon larger than the sum or her famous parts. And if Cher is accurate in describing her purity (did she make a punny there?) and high standards, it’s understandably an upsetting situation to live with, hence some coping mechanisms may ensue.

Overeating isn’t the worst as coping mechanisms go. Can we imagine how disturbing it is to be stalked by tabloid photographers and not be getting paid millions for movies or albums to make up for the inconvenience? Chastity should get a Cher-stipend for her troubles.

I think we continue to gawk because we like Chastity. We really do. We just show it in a very modern and disturbingly ‘tarded way.

Least we forget how icky the 'bloid breed is, here's an excerpt from the memoirs of one particularly nut-jobby paparazzi who talks at length about trying to ensnare comments from bereaving family members after Sonny's death (which seems to have been a particularly frenetic tabloid time for the Sonny&Cher clan:


Outfit Watch

Redcherph I digested the content in the new Chrome Hearts magazine spread. Here are my thoughts:

The album stuff was news but what really stood out were Cher's descriptions of her kids. Chastity should be proud (although it’s hard to top The Simpsons prediction of a President Chastity—that was before rehab—but still, not too shabby). Cher’s words for Chastity: pure, values, honest, good, warm, loving, kind to animals, will help you in any situation, high standards. I sure wish my mom had a laundry list of attributes like that for me. And Elijah made it into the Sonny category of Readers Digest’s most interesting people. It was funny when Cher said Elijah is "just starting to be human." Because you know only great things can happen from there.

This "magazine" is really a catalog for Chrome Hearts merchandise and the interview was far from mind-blowing. In fact, its hipness hurts a bit. It was entirely too chatty just to get off the ground. And when they started discussing designers, my eyes rolled back in my head.

However, the photos were swell. Cher is very "on point" in them all:

  • Chromehearts21_3 I’m sort of tired of the Cher Goth font.
  • Cher is wearing lots of cross-purpose baubles, including the re-emergence of the waist bracelet.
  • The cover photos with the mirrors are playful but is that a closet, a store, a dressing room?
  • The back photo strikes me as very 90s (Sandra Bullock in Vanity Fair or something) but also very 70s in an Audrey Hepburn/Mary Tyler Moore way. Cher’s in her prom dress but tempers her inner-valley girl with a leather jacket.
  • I love the European backdrop picture with the saucy tongue (Kath and Kim say “it’s different, it’s unusual”).
  • Cher sports Goth hair – are we doing bangs or no bangs? This reminds me of her awkward yet gritty late 60s hair period when she grew out her bangs.
  • Glad the big earrings are back. No one looks better in big earrings. Cher pulls them off every time.
  • Not used to seeing Cher in so many baggy clothes. Will take getting used to but I’m all for it.
  • The candids are cute and – oh this is who that is! I think this illuminates the interviewer as her friend who everyone thought was her boyfriend for a few seconds a while back.
  • The Chrome Hearts backless t-shirt picture/poster is clean and good but my least favorite. I just saw Born Losers two nights ago for the first time and so I’m freaked out by this biker look right Cherrsad_5 now. Add Cher’s mean stare to it and I feel like I’m in trouble for breaking in on Cher while she's getting ready to get on a Harley and bust some knees. Also, too much makeup in this one.
  • The closeup photo is gorgeous – love the slash of red (these pictures are luxuriously colorful—appeals to my inner Renoir). Her bracelets are a bit Madonna-meets-mental-institution, but the pose is perfect and the makeup is soft and muted. Love it!!

Let us hark back to another great Cher photo, one I just found on Ward Lamb’s Jackson Highway page (which is always evolving, so check back often). This page is really the Bible on that recording session and its collateral materials, including this advertisement, her hip out, her hair blowing in the wind.

Now this is hipness I just love.


My Birthday Cake

Cake1 I had a weekend birthday bash in Palm Springs last weekend and aside from trip to Soak City waterpark, the gang didn’t venture outside our rented house. It was hotter than Hell so we staying inside to play video games (Guitar Hero 80s Edition, American Idol karaoke), boardgames (Redneck Life) and we put together an odd  puzzle with penguins. We cooked dinners and lounged by the pool.

Cake2_2 Not since my friends bought me S&C’s Greatest Hits (MCA) in 8th grade have I been so Sonny&Cherprised on a birthday with friends. Who but my compatriot at Ape Culture could have thunk up this birthday cake idea. And not only did it take a pop-culture-savvy and twisted mind to conceive (and I say that with love and admiration) but it required not one but two others in a conspiracy to Photoshop my face into this very turbulent scene of Brunschwig and Fils madness. Best not to mention the major supermarket chain that had to make some cake magic with this disturbing project.

I just have one question: does pink make me look fat?


Who’s Talking About Cher


So you know I reviewed Teri Garr’s book and basically said it was sketchy (as in merely a sketch of a tale). Then she goes and says something really juicy (and true) on Today THV regarding The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour joke-writing machine. Asked about the new musical version of Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, Garr compares the jokes between Brooks’ movie and the jokes from her day job.

Garr says you can find "musical qualities to the phone book if you have the right writers." Garr says even though the humor in Young Frankenstein is juvenile, it seemed "like Shakespeare" compared to the jokes she was having to say on "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" at the same time in 1971. She says that was "cheap joke city."

Garr is so "hit and run" with her candor. Why not just spill it all out. It would be like therapy.

Why was the writing so bad? The Carol Burnett Show skits were so much better. My non-Cher-fan friends will watch the TV show DVDs and come right out and say what Cher-fan friends can’t bring themselves to say: the jokes suck rotten. They’re not even bad in a fun way.

The production values – bling! The costumes – bling! The songs – bling, bling! So why couldn’t a practical army of writers come up with better jokes? The only jokes worse than S&C Show jokes are Cher Show jokes.

And I’d like to ask Steve Martin why? Steve Martin was a writer on early S&C shows. Then he goes on to one of the smartest, most successful stand-up comedy careers ever. He could have written a brilliant show all by himself. Was he hoarding all the good stuff? Or were the egos in the writers’ room that humorless that they passed up his brilliant material? I just don’t get it. The mark is so far between that variety show and his soon-to-break material.

It’s unfortunate he wasn't a bigger influence on the comedy quality because that show is mostly sketch-comedy, sprinkled with music. The weakness of the comedy will keep the show a kitsch/memory favorite (mostly due to the musical sequences) instead of a true classic like Carol Burnett.

Who knew? The Belefast Telegraph reports that "Dead Ringer For Love" is a song you can really work out to.


Battle of the Titans

Dusty Gay Spy lists Cher as one of the top gay icons. And for whom is this news?  Amazingly, she’s rated #7 of 10! Here’s my reworking of this list based on my know-it-all understanding of gay iconoclasting.

1. and 2. Madonna v. Kylie - This is a tie depending upon whether you’re European or American and is a ferocious flaming war of the Divas that will never die. I know this because a battle on the topic was often raging in the defunct Ape Culture forum. Who will win, we do not know; but their absolute domination in spirit and creativity in videos and live shows will keep them battling for the top spot for a while to come.

3. Cher – I believe Cher has surpassed Babs in the last ten years and is gaining strength.

4. Barbra Streisand – who would be at list top if she still had hits.

5. Shirley Bassey – for the gays with taste, as Margaret Cho's grandmum would say.

6. Dusty Springfield – ditto (speaking of Jerry Wexler...Cher’s Jackson Highway album was recorded the same summer with the same producers (almost) as one of the Earth’s greatest albums Dusty in Memphis)

7. Elton John – too fussy to be #1 and his latest songs are worse than the latest songs by Stevie Wonder.

8. Kate Bush – Well loved but a bit obscure for mainstream numbers.

9. Christina Aguilera – She’s so young yet and doesn’t have the I've-been-around-forever survivor-boost to be near the top of the list.

10. Britney Spears – Last because how long can fans survive that sinking ship?

Conspicuously missing from the list: Judy Garland who should hover either above Cher or above Barbra, I'm not sure. What do you think?


(You)Tubed but not Contained

Cherhair Some interesting links this week...a bootleg from the Love Hurts tour (which I have not seen in its entirety). Those dancers kill me...they twirl around forever, Cher shouts out "Love is a Battlefield" and then the shirtless kilt guy...WTF?

I actually had a discussion this week with a friend about who had the best 80s, female rock voice: Pat Benatar or Ann Wilson. (And don’t complain that I didn’t say Cher. We were talking about best voice for that 80s sound. I think Cher's voice is larger than that.) My friend saw Heart over the weekend and said Ann Wilson was amazing. But Pat’s voice is operatic and her songs seem harder to pull off to me.

Our Cher friend Tyler has a fantastic assemblage of Cher video history on his You Tube page:

Don’t forget to check out the his playlists, either. Tyler is the Cher video master! His latest playlist is full of all the commercials and infomercials:

Tyler reminded us all recently about when we all used to stay up all nite enduring endless infomercials to get Cher’s latest infomercial taped onto our VCR. I taped the first 5 seconds of twenty or so infomercials on the Ionic Breeze because I didn’t want to miss a second of Lori Davis exposing the benefits of her hair tonics. By the way, I LOVED those infomercials. Uninterrupted Cher, faux-science seriousness, clubs and kits. Loved it! Why everyone got so upset...I’ll never quite understand. Look for an essay on these infomercials in the next Cher Zine.

This also Reminds me, I posted my All I Ever Need is You essay from the last zine a week or so ago.

Tomm, the owner of the Yahoo! Cher list created a very fun Cher quiz online. You have to register to get your answers and results but it’s a quality test...and I’m not just saying that because I missed three.

So all of a sudden all these queens start pelting her with gum...

Uninhibited My title refers to a funny post on the Yahoo! Cher list this week by JefRey who was describing a Cher-attended Uninhibited perfume-release party at a department store. Someone asked Cher do her TV character Laverne, which she can’t do without simultaneously chewing gum. As soon as she said that, gum suddenly hilariously appeared as described.

I’d love to see a movie with Laverne, by the way. I envision her with Carol Burnett’s character Eunice and the In Living Color character Benita Butrell ("I aint one to gossip; so you didn't hear that from me") and I see them robbing banks as vigilantes for senior’s rights); but I guess three months of chewing gum nonstop would give Cher lock-jaw.

Anyway, I was like a patient elf this week waiting for my Chrome Hearts magazine to come. It didn’t. I went online to see what the dealio was yesterday and discovered that, to my absolute horror, the post office was claiming to have already left two notices! One on July 30 and one on July 31, my birthday. (This is Harry Potter’s birthday too by the way). It was now late in the day on August 1 and you know what that means. FINAL NOTICE!! None of these little yellow devils ever appeared on my Venice doorstep and I feared the worst, that the US Postal Service had already sent my birthday present to myself back to Japan!

I fell to my knees and cursed the Gods and made my boyfriend’s life a living Hell for about fifteen minutes while I moaned and ripped at my hair as he attempted to drive me to the restaurant Malo in Hollywood for my birthday dinner. (Which was very good, by the way. I love their corn on the cob and shrimp Diablo – very hot - I was crying by the end of it and not because fate was tormenting me with postal snafus.)

I ended up calling the post office just in time this morning to pick it up by hand. More about its innards next week.

For my actual birthday I went to see Atlantic Records: The House that Ahmet Built at the Egyptian theater in Hollywood. My birthday is Ahmet Ertegun's birthday too as it turns out. Harry Potter, Ahmet Ertegun and me. It was an Ertegun love fest, I have to tell you...with tributes given by Keith Emerson (geez, what a bore), 80s Cher-producer Peter Asher (very funny), R&B giant Solomon Burke (claims to have 87 grandkids), as well as songwriters Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller. The movie was very interesting (narrated by Bette Midler, the one of these things is not like the other in Ahmet's musical oeuvre) but the movie did not reference Sonny & Cher (except for two photos of them flashed up in reference to Phil Spector). The movie actually didn't discuss the ATCO label at all but did interview Jerry Wexler at length and talked about his involvement with Atlantic's soul artists including his disinterest in Ahmet’s more white, rock acts.

I wonder if Sonny’s interest in R&B was the link in the chain between Jerry Wexler's involvement on the Jackson Highway album. Otherwise, I’m not sure I understand why he bothered (along with Atlantic's main-players Tom Dowd and Arif Mardin ), forcing Cher to practically drive straight from Chastity’s labor room to the recording studios.

Well...I exaggerate.