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The Tour Book

Tourbook I have to say I loved the program so much I bought two. Recently I’ve heard gossip that the price of the tour book would go up from $35 to $40 and that Cher’s peeps wanted $50 for it but Caesars balked at that. I don’t know if any of this is true. In hard times, $50 seems mighty greedy; on the other hand I’ve bought many a lesser-Cher program for $35. So $35 does seem like a steal. I thought Cher was being generous.

Anyway, this “Vol 1” of a program is mostly a photo retrospective of Cher. Cherworld has some great photos (see left). Apparently, shots of the show have not been taken and published from the show yet. However, the Laverne pics are there. At first glance, I thought they were old TV-show shots and then I noticed it was Cher now. This is a new Laverne and the pics are great; Cher looks enthused.

New pics

  • I’m not crazy about the cover or the ad assets for this show in general. A boring logo on satin. Eh. Bette’s assets, program etc. are more colorful and playful.
  • But the pics inside the program are great. The “Goth on Couch” set show Cher both happy and wistful. She is showing emotion. It’s a good thing. Is that her old, 80s chainmail under that new moth-fit?
  • I love the wigs. I have mentioned that yet?
  • The new blonde pics must be my fav blonde pics of Cher (and that's not my favorite look). In these, she looks fresh but mature, her eyes stand out, and I love the outfit: rough lace and smooth skirt. The crazy, short-haired one is wonderfully whimsical, Cyndi-Lauper-esque, love the sweater. Cher in a sweater!
  • Red wig pic – love it!
  • The hat ones – eh. Love expressions but they are redundant.
  • Elvira pics – way cool – her lips dark and shapely.
  • In some new pics, the set is goofy-looking. Is Cher allowed to see the light of day anymore?
Old pics

This program includes a few 60s Vogue shots, new 60s candids (one in the backseat of car in some orange monstrosity-fit – not that that’s a bad thing), Cher holding Chastity during a birthday party – Cher with long red nails, Sonny is a crazy lady-face shirt, more of S&C in front of their awesome Carrolwood Holmby Hills home, Cher all hair in a yellow kitchen (is that kitchen in the Holmby Hills house?), a good current pic of Chas laughing, Sonny & Chas in the pool, S&C in a dressing room, Sonny with a cigarette dangling (love those Sonny cigarette pics – so Hollywood!).

I love, love, love the torch Cher in purple – it’s similar to Dynamite poster – or is it the same one?

Love the backshot of the S&C Show entrance. Chokes me up, it does. Also, love the hole-fit pic. Awesome.

Love the skit shots from the TV shows: Orphan Annie, Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVII (especially since I'm reading about them now in the book Abudnance.

Other stars: Geraldine, Bette (interesting choice, hmmm?), a BeeGee, Tina, Stevie, Gregg, Diana Ross and Elton John.

Question: who is the African-American celebrity in the lower left corner of the TV show friends page?

And here's a quiz:
1. On the movies  page – one previously shunned movie is now included; can you name it and name the still-missing movie?

On the albums page - (I always love the record album collage)
2. Can you name the two missing Cher solo albums?
3. What’s the single album cover that has been included?
4. How many compilations albums are listed? (including any re-release)
5. For some reason the Moonstruck soundtrack is included. Which movie soundtracks were released but not included?

The program also includes the lovely Bob Mackie sketches and some backstage photos, mostly of dancers not rehearsing with Cher.

The notes in book are well written by Josiah Howard, more so than other tour books. S&C’s program seemed to be full of fictions (I’d love to review that with anyone, for fun) and as I recall the Believe book had typos. Howard is a biographer of Donna Summer and author of a book on Blacksploitation Cinema. This is interesting as J. Randy Taborelli, who authored one of Cher’s biographies, also primarily concerned himself with black artists such as Diana Ross and Michael Jackson. This leads me to believe that lovers of R&B/Soul artists also dig Cher, which is very kewl.

Interesting accolades in the book
Cher defies classification, she belongs to an exclusive pantheon, she’s outdistanced her contemporaries.
A current list of her dominions includes music, TV, nightclubs, movies, and tours...a.k.a. she is a personality, singer, actress, attraction, and business woman. Did someone forget Superhero?

Interesting facts in the book

  • “You’ve Lost That Lovin Feeling” – Cher was the only female of five male backup vocalists.
  • Todd Everett (compilation producer and music historian) is quoted talking about "I Got You Babe": he mentions its “vaulting bridge and false ending” – yeah, would love to ruminate on this – the pause before the end restarts.
  • Again pointing out S&C had 5 songs on the top 20 – which apparently only The Beatles and Elvis achieved.
  • The Believe Tour had 121 dates; the Farewell Tour had 325 dates and lasted from June 2002 to April 2005 (by the way, her Vegas Run is now set to last 200 shows over 3 years).
  • Patti was on every tour since 1988.
  • Doriana Sanchez helped conceive the show and is listed as director and choreographer.
  • Paul Mirkovich is back as Musical Director, Mark Schulman on drums (only interesting to me because I felt he did very well), David Barry is back on guitars. He always cracks me up with his guitar-hero moves.
  • Popular with Cher fans, Bubba Carr is listed for choreography and as dance captain. My high school friend Nellie is a Vegas dancer and was once dance captain for a Harrah’s show she headlined. Do you think Bubba makes the dancers do weigh-ins?
  • Dan-o-Rama is back for clip remixes; they always do a great job.
  • Renate Leuschner is back for wigs again…she is a master at her trade. Never lets us down. Don’t forget she taught Teri Garr how to speak faux German for Young Frankenstein.
  • Liz Rosenberg is listed as publicist via Warner Bros. Is Cher still with WB? Liz, can you help us getting the lost albums re-released?
  • Surprisingly, sound is still run by Clair Bros in Lititz, PA, which is my parents very tiny hometown on the outskirts of Lancaster, PA, or Amish Country. Isn’t that funny a major technology company is nestled in Amish Country?
  • The Puppet Studio is in North Hollywood. I loved that Village People puppet. Have I mentioned that yet?


The Cher Boutique

Candle I did not spend my life’s savings in this store. It was a good store but not filled with the same wacky, fun items as the Barry Manilow store so I was able to keep some of my cash for a wedding dress.

However, the Cher Boutiques does sell the same cheap t-shirts that only last for one washing. The t-shirts sold in the theater lobby are actually a better quality. By the way, the items in the lobby are different than the boutique. So check them both out.

So, as you may have heard, Cher shares a store with Bette Midler. Is this fair? Elton gets his own store? Can Bette and Cher co-exist this way? My bf remarked that Bette’s items are more cabaret and Cher is more rock-chick. I know that idea probably is what Cher is going for but I honestly wish Cher would be more cabaret. Cher-fans circa the 1970s so loved her TV show cabaret, we can’t ever get over it?

The store was surprisingly neat and pristine. This is no” messy icon” store. Lots of expensive candles and jewelry that is not my thing. No potpourri rocks so we couldn’t exclaim as my bf’s mom once did: “I don’t want to smell Cher’s rocks!” You’d think that wouldn’t make sense but it kinda would.

My bf preferred the cool rock-chick Cher merchandise to Bette’s but agreed that Bette has better ads. Overall, the Barry Manilow store is more fun, more warm and fan-friendly. And he sells hilarious stuff like wine. Can we get some Cher booze? Manilow also sells purses made out of his old record albums. Bette did offer the Bette playing cards. I wish Cher had some of those.

I asked the elderly Cher store clerk who rang me up how sales had been going. He said they sell out every night. Mostly because 44k fans cram in before and after every show and they're looking for a keepsake. He called it crazy and insane. So busy “we wouldn’t be having this conversation” he said. I asked him if the Cher or Bette items sold better. Ever the politician, he said fans didn’t care, they all just wanted something. But that the CD and program outsell everything. He said they overstock every morning and restock the entire store every night. There were about 15-20 peeps in there when I was milling around. This was a Friday night when there was no show. I asked my Vegas-dancer friend Nellie why there was no show on a Friday night and she said Vegas casinos had all sorts of statistics about what night to go dark due to probable lack of sales; and common wisdom suggested Fridays were mostly traveling days for tourists still moseying into town.

This is what I bought (if I can remember – it’s all already been tagged, filed and boxed in the Cher Scholar vaults).

  • 2 tour books
  • The compilation CD – which is a complete rehash of The Very Best of Cher but with a new Vegas-ad outer shell. This is not quite scandelous fan-scam shenanigans however. The cover is very forthright about its rehashitude. The CD was not made for fans but Vegas tourists
  • A candle (total impulvise last minute grab)
  • 3 magnets: Chelvis, Half Breed and one of the springy ones
  • A keychain with the 60s logo
  • Three poor-quality but cool looking t-shirts
  • 2 glasses with leopard print bottoms that I can’t wait to serve my parents their beers in
  • And a water bottle – do Cher fans camp?


Cher Scholar is Very Happy

...Mostly to have so much new fodder for CherScholaring.

Spoiler Alert: if you haven’t seen the new Las Vegas show and don’t want to hear about it, for God’s sake click away!

I’ve broken this post into two pages because it’s looong. And I’m even shaving out comments about show news, the program and the Cher store until later. (I’m skipping comments about the Oprah interview altogether - it was ultimately disappointing).

But the length of this page is unavoidable. The fact is this show is a crucial point in the career of Cher for many reasons.

1.       It’s going to be judged against other major headliners at Caesars-famed Colosseum (my spell-check hates that coliseum is being spelled that way).

2.       It’s a theatrical show in Vegas as opposed to a touring concert and it will be judged based on this.

3.       Cher is 62 and she’s been around so long, expectations are now simultaneously both higher and lower for everything she does…and it’ll probably be this way from now on.

 It is, in Celine Dion’s words, a new day. And much pop-scholarship should ensue.

Continue reading "Cher Scholar is Very Happy" »

Kid in a Toystore

Kidinstore I am not even going to pretend I can talk about anything else this week but that fact that I’m going to see a new (hopefully new?!) Cher show this weekend in Vegas which means I’m expecting an awesome marquee and oh God….the Cher store – I can’t even imagine what Cher crap apropos of nothing I’ll find there! I am like a kid in a toy store, a toy store of all Cher toys!! Wait….I think I may be starting to hyperventilate. Don’t tell my mother!

My Pavlov’s dog response to Cher product is disturbing on many levels. Main thing being I’ll be 40 next year. I’m too old for this. I am a grown up, I swear it! I’ve been making the argument for who will be president next year for about 9 months now and I’ve stopped letting American Idol eat away at my life's precious hours. Surely, that proves something. (Although I do like the David’s a lot.)

To prove to you that I am a grownup with other interests this week besides the new Cher stuff (!!), here is a list of 10 other things I care about right now besides the Caesar’s Palace Cher Store:

  1. My processional wedding music. My bf nixed my first choice, “Jerusalem” by Herb Albert. I can’t do something as high-energy as I think he would like (I’m just too contemplative and low key) and I hate that Here Comes the Bride Wedding March. But don’t suggest I “process” to Cher music because that would make Cher Scholar’s mother cry.
  2. Although...I would like to find a dance re-mix of “Gypsys Tramps and Thieves” for the reception cos we need a good Cher song to dance to from the 70s...but I’m Cher-gressing again!
  3. Winning trivia last night at Kings Head pub in Santa Monica. We came and we clobbered. We squashed all the other teams the first time we played a year ago but we had a new team this time and I was worried that the Europeans on it would show up late. They’re on EPT you know: European People’s Time. As it was, we had the start time wrong and so at 30 and 50 minutes late, they still made it on time. And were very helpful to our clobberings.
  4. Ordering Audio-Visual equipment for my parent’s reunion & 50th anniversary in 6 weeks. My father and brother have made DVD home movies to show and my father made me record myself reading a poem my grandmother’s sister wrote which was a huge crisis for me because every time I played it back I got hysterical when I realized I have been developing Richard Nixon jowls. My bf eventually had to tape it for me.
  5. Showing my bf the great state of New Mexico soon, specifically Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We’re driving out from LA because we can’t afford airline prices right now...even with our $100 vouchers. He loves Arizona; just wait til he sees NM.
  6. Teaching our furkid Franz how to roll over. He’s acting very put out about it.
  7. Learning the brave new world of Microsoft Office 2007 products which are suddenly on my new work computer. I can’t find clippy! Actually to be honest with you, I’m happy clippy is dead. I just want to be able to find the Thesaurus again.
  8. My Dad’s birthday is Monday and I don’t think he’ll like the gift I sent him via Amazon. But really, he’s unnecessarily hard to shop for and he never tells me whether he likes my gifts anyway.
  9. I start a new ceramics class in June and the bf and I start yoga next week! Whoo hoo! Not even wedding plans can keep me from the mud.
  10. The Edgar Winter Dog’s birthday party is coming in a few weeks. I was thinking of either getting him doggie sunscreen (cos he’s an albino) or poop freeze that I saw in the Skymall catalog on the way to Paris.

I’m off the see the wizard. We’ll talk on the other side.

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

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

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

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


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
















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


Chercem Chercem2_2











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








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

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

Jimmy wrote:

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

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

Michael asked:

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

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

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

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


The Cher Show is Coming...The Cher Show is Coming!

Cheret Excitement is brewing for the new Cher show in Las Vegas (premiering in just 6 days). I’m very excited, speaking for myself. Although I must say gas prices have inhibited my ability to afford a plane ticket to Vegas for the weekend I’m going to see it. They’re off the charts. And I even have a $100 voucher. Big sigh. I may end up driving, which I enjoy anyway. I just want to use the damn voucher before it expires in two months. But I digress...

Also, this week Oprah filmed Tina Turner and Cher in her Las Vegas episode which is set to air on May 8. Set thee Tivos. Here's a link to some of the gossip about the episode which was posted on Cher World.

Other links this week

Chershow1_2In light of that, there was a funny blog post last week from The Cher Show, the episode with Tina Turner and Kate Smith and it reminds us how charismatic Tina and Cher are together. The blog post is funny, too.

Moveme And two good links were posted this week on the Cher list from Tyler. There's a new mashup!!! I love these! Cher with Snoop Dog! Here's the MP3.

And Gregg and Cher singing "Move Me" in concert.


The Bono Marriage Marketing Plan

Screenstars_2 Last year a PHD at the University of Southern California sent me a link to her thesis paper on how Sonny & Cher defined celebrity marriage as a marketing strategy. She uses Nick and Jessica as an example of a modern celebrity marriage that she says heralds back to Sonny & Cher. Although now I wonder if Liz Taylor and Richard Burton were also a couple-as-one-marketable-celebrity-entity, too. 

The copy of the paper I read was a longer, looser draft but essentially the same points were covered. The PHD student, Charisse L’Pree Corsbie-Massay, has now posted the essay on her website.

Her basic theory is that “the star couple creates its own marketing machine” which for S&C she dubs The Bono Plan. Star couples create their own unique celebrity entity. The marriage even helps solidify an individuals celebrity stature by giving them a safe-sex storyline and grounding their singular (sometimes scandalous) behaviors off-camera. Plus it’s all juicy biography material later on.

Okay, I’m making it sound more salacious than the theory really is. Although Corsbie-Massay  does quote someone named Dyer who says “Marriage is a perpetual tabloid scandal.”

Drawbacks of this plan include the fact that you have to let strangers into your private life, or some staged (in Cher's variety-show case) or edited (in Jessica’s reality-how case) version thereof. But the result is that the audience feels included somehow in your personal space. In any case, you need a constant medium to transmit your couple brand: for Sonny & Cher TV show and tabloids and for Nick and Jessica TV show and tabloids.

But then the PHD brings in the big guns: somehow this whole marketing plan ends up solidifying sexist  cultural norms regarding husband and wife roles. In other words, the wife usually gets slotted “in her place” attempting to submit to the husband.  When I think of this theory in terms of Liz Taylor, it’s interesting how hard she seemed to fight that exact subservience.

In Cher’s case, she could be feminist on the show with her suggestive banter, but be a proper wife and mother off-camera. In fact Corsbie-Massay credits Cher with helping to “spearhead the women’s lib movement” on air and I would agree with that assessment. Through image and attitude and the show’s opening duologue storylines, Cher made a statement of breaking out of subservient roles, no matter what the private reality of their lives was behind closed doors. In the draft I read, Corsbie-Massay says Cher's “role as a feminist icon is obvious.”  But here is where I think Cher actually gets short shift and is not often enough acknowledged for her role as a 70s independent feminist icon.

Corsbie-Massay provides a very interesting reading of Cher’s pre-variety-show biography with all it’s politics, counter-culturalism and early marketing strategies. And  her research weights on Peter Bogdanovich’s article from 1966 in The Saturday  Evening Post, one of the first scholarly-toned and critical piece on Cher. I know...Bogdanovich can be annoyingly cerebral and pompous, but the article is certainly worthy re-reading and an important piece on Cher, not only for the controversy regarding what it says about S&C but for that controversy’s impact on Cher and Bogdanovich’s relationship when he directed her in Mask.

It’s also interesting when Corsbie-Massay  discusses how S&C were different than Nick and Jessica, how they embraced their physical flaws and ethnicity (whereas Jessica and Nick tried to snuff theirs).

In the initial draft Corsbie-Massay also briefly discussed how Iranian women associated with Cher’s "swarthy complexion and powerful presence" and how they emulated her. I am dying to know more about this. How did their television show get to Iran in the first place? And Cher’s influence on women of color is also grossly under-evaluated.