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Cher is a Proud Armenian

Armenia Dyan Cannon tells Al Pacino in the movie Author, Author:

"You know how you can tell an Armenian? Their name rhymes with Armenian."

And it seems to be true. But on a serious note, what few people know about Cher is that, on her father’s side, her family was Armenian genocide refugees. They survived a World War I era genocide that 1 million other Armenians did not.

This week this note about a Cher interview on Armenian Dish Network TV appeared on the Cher news RSS feeds:

I'm wondering if this is the interview by Lusine Shahbazyan (hey, rhymes with Armenian) re-broadcast from one taped in the spring of 2008 for her Discovery show, the same one detailed in this 2008 Cher cover story in The Armenian Reporter:

I really enjoyed this interview written by Paul Chaderjian (again! rhymes with Armenian). Just being a bit worn out with the usual press questions asked of Cher these days, it was good to get something more focused on her heritage.

The articles shows pictures of her 1993 trip to Armenia, the same one covered in People Magazine by Susan Cheever, daughter of John Cheever. Cher traveled with The United Armenian Fund organization on a DC-8 plane full of humanitarian aid. She visited an orphanage, met with president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, and spoke in front of 1,000 students at Yerevan University among other things on a three day trip. What did she talk about to the president? The book "The Fourty Days of Musa Dagh." Cher also visited Echmiadzin, an Armenian Orthodox Church and gardens built AD 301 where she learned to cut Armenian stone.

Cher said the plane was rickety and they had to bring own food. She described the city of Yerevan as barren with impassable roads. Armenians told her to please tell America of their plight andCher replied regretfully, “Nobody in America would care.”

We're a bit self-involved.

Yerevan was once a prosperous city; but in the late 80s it had been taken down by an earthquake,the economic collapse of the Soviet Union, and a war with neighboring Azerbaijan (who had blockaded their borders). They were suffering 85% unemployment at the time, had sporadic electric power, and were starving due to high food costs.

Cher also reportedly visited Ankara in an effort to help lift one of the blockades. She said she felt proud to see Armenian strength and resilience in the face of having nothing.

The articles was also interesting in that it depicted the drama of doing a celebrity interview, from initial inquiry calls to the waiting room before the interview, all in minute detail – and with plenty of name dropping. To steal a security metaphor used at a Culver City party I went to this week: it felt like trying to get through a video game.

Continue reading "Cher is a Proud Armenian" »

Chastity Turns 40

Chas40 My parents are visiting for the first time in three years, first time since I've been living in sin with my bf--to help with wedding stuff. We're going to visit the place who may be selling us our program paper, visit the wedding site and getting the house fixed up a bit. So I'll be MIA here for the next two weeks. After that we have a store-load of links to catchup on.

It went virtually un-remarked on but Chastity celebrated her 40th birthday this past March 4. (I had to look that date up – for some reason I thought she was a April baby.) Like me, Chastity was born in 1969. I still recall how put-out I was the she was, in fact, older than me. I have no idea why that mattered to my 8-year old self. I must have felt she was America's little sister--since obviously Sonny & Cher were our fantasy hipper alt-parents.

Turning 40 is an awesome milestone--but even moreso if you were born in 1969. Myself, I always felt a bit charmed to have been born that magical year.Editor Kit Rachlis of LA Magazine in a recent "letter from the editor" spoke about what a historic year 1969 really was. She says

“2009 is the 40th anniversary of something significant...By any measure, 1969 was momentous. With Woodstock, the counterculture—a small bohemian movement scattered around the country—reached critical mass and found its emblem. The Tate-LaBianca murders  confirmed what everyone should have known: Violence and manipulation swam alongside all that peace and love.”

Kit catalogues the fury that was 1969: Woodstock, The Tate-LaBianca murders, first manned mission to land on the moon, the November march against the Vietnam War (more than 500,000—then the largest demonstration in U.S. capital history), and she even lists one of the most momentus but completely unreported events of that year – the invention of the Internet and the first message sent from a UCLA computer.

The company the coordinates the technical aspects of the Internet is my major employer right now; and the publishing revolution enables me to research news articles and encyclopedic entries on Armenia yesterday without going to a library, meet Cher fans for the last 10 years without having to wait for conventions, buy a new Cher CD release while sitting on my couch with my pajamas and slippers on, and blog about what I think of it to youse guys.

As Kit says “everyone on the planet has been affected by the Internet.”

And yet Kit tells the story of how disinterested the Smithsonian was in collecting that very first computer that sent that very first Internet communication-–for years the Smithsonian didn’t see its value!

Kit states: “In our mania to make predictions and sweeping pronouncements and top-ten come up with instant analysis, whether on TV or in blogs, we invariably reflect our blinkered view. We adhere to a conformity we’re not alert to.”

And then she quotes film critic Steve Erickson who says in the same LA Magazine issue

“…the most radical notion of all is that a great movie…is still great even if it has no audience.” 

We didn’t notice how great the invention of the Internet was and to some degree I don’t think we still fully grasp it even now. But in many ways, it is not our task to fully grasp it -- it’s just our task to playChubslut2 it out. 

My 40th birthday will arrive this summer. I am looking forward to it. I'm proud of my battle scars and I do feel wiser and stronger and happier and more appreciative of moments and less willing to put up with bullshit. I’m even more convinced today than I was when I was a little girl watching The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and thinking that Chastity was younger than me that Cher records are great, even though they don’t have a full-fledged audience yet and even though institutions and critics like the Smithsonian don't get it yet. ;-)

I’m 40 now. I know some things.


Ask Cher Scholar & New Expert Corner! has a new section: Expert Corner -- more details at the end of this post!

On Wednesday,  January 13, 2009 James Smith wrote: Cherhair3

My question is about Cher's wigs. I do consider myself a huge fan, but something that friends sometimes ask me about is her wigs, and I don't know very much at all. I really really find it difficult to tell with wigs… No matter how hard I look, I simply just can't tell if they're wigs or not.

  1. I know Cher's real hair is apparently long and black, so was it her real hair throughout the 60s and and 70s?
  2. If it was her real hair up until after the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, when did Cher start wearing wigs? Was it sort of late 70s, after her divorce?
  3. Was the black hair during her Geffen 87-89 period a wig? It is black but it just seems so big...
  4. The hair on the front cover of the Believe album, is that her real hair?
  5. Is it her real hair when she performs “Way of Love” during the Farewell Tour?
  6. I have no idea if you'll know this, but do you know how many wigs Cher owns? I know she has a special room for them, but how many of them are there?!

Cher and wigs: complicated, in a word.

Continue reading "Ask Cher Scholar & New Expert Corner!" »

Poem of the Week

CliftonNot sure if I’ll keep this poetry posting up but…

I found this when looking through my books for wedding ceremony poems.

"won't you celebrate with me"

Lucille Clifton was much honored on the east coast poetry circuit where I studied in graduate school.

Click the link to read the full poem:

Wow! What resilience!

"what i have shaped into
a kind of life? i had no model.


what did i see to be except myself?
i made it up
here on this bridge between
starshine and clay,
my one hand holding tight
my other hand; come celebrate
with me that everyday
something has tried to kill me
and has failed."


Flashbacks: Cermony, Alfie, MWARARS



Chastity's band of the early 90s, here's their video



Alfie Alfie

Cher's version of the title song in Alfie trailer:






The 45 download of Sonny & Cher's "Mama Was a Rock and Roll Singer"

I really don't see why the bother of listening to the "radio edit" of this song. I mean, if you get tired of the opus half way through, just turn it off.

What Cher was thinking when she recorded this rock opera is one of the Cher scholar mysteries of all times.


Cherabouts: Dancing and Concerts

Cherdance Seen out dancing

Like in the 60s and 70s, Cher has been spotted dancing.

From Access Hollywood:

"Cher Still Making ‘Em Weep!: And in real royalty news, pop queen Cher caused quite a stir Saturday night at the LIV nightclub in Miami – she even made the some of the crowd turn on the waterworks. “Nobody knew Cher was coming, but when she walked in, a group of female fans started hysterically crying… everyone recognized he,” a club source told the New York Post’s Page Six. But Cher didn’t let the fan frenzy stop her night. “[She] didn’t let Cherdisco any of it faze her,” a source said. “She was dancing all night and was so nice to all her fans.”

Look at those boots (pic to right from the 80s)!!

The story was also reported in the Miami New Times.

Cher was also spottedwith her bf at a Merle Haggard/Kris Kristofferson concert in Santa Rosa, California (Cher with Kristofferson below).

See reports and pics:

I was excited about this at first, thinking it would portend to the eventuality of a country westernCher_wells_arts album from Cher or a little ole western-flavored song on a Cher album. But alas, reports are that her boyfriend is the fan.

My own bf just downloaded a slew of country western songs for me a week ago, in between my own downloads of country-kitche. So Merle Haggard’s "Mama Tried" is bumping up against Barbara Mandrell’s "Sleeping Single in a Double Bed."

By the way, as I was groaning to my bf about his love of the Chiefs and the movie Heat, he had to remind me he’s been to two Cher shows (I have a feeling this will develop as a weapon in many future kerfluffles) and he doesn’t want to hear my anti-Heat whining every time the endless and posturing melodrama comes on, which is practically daily on TNT! – see…there I go again.

This being supportive thing is really hard.

I did agree to go to a Chiefs game. Sigh.

By the way, my furkid Franz was a winner last week. Won himself a free week at the spa ( kennel) and a March Madness jersey of his choice. He picked the Jayhawks in solidarity with his papa.


Auctioned Cher Will Need Home

A35-2474-0018a Bad economic times sometimes mean good wax-statue-buying opportunities for you: The Hollywood Wax Museum is selling off its curios.

To view auction items go to:

  1. Click auctions on the top menu
  2. Then choose "Spring 2009 Wax Auction"

Cher is #74.

Her description:

Multi-talented actress and singer Cher was crafted by Hollywood Wax Museum curator Ken Horn, who was her personal make-up artist for a year. He sculpted the head in wax with portrait painted in oil. Horn also custom-made a replica of her elaborate jeweled Oscar gown, originally created by famed fashion designer Bob Mackie. Measures 6 ft. tall.

Estimated sale price: $2000 - $3000

Like the only other wax figure I’ve seen of Cher (Madame Tussaud's in NYC): lame!

Cher Mention in a Joy Harjo Play

Harjo I love you know I really love to find Cher references in literature.

My bf and I went to see a play at the Los Angeles' Autry Museum of the West. It was basically a one-woman show (with funky musical accents added by the fabulous -- and fabulously sexy -- guitarist Larry Williams) depicting Joy Harjo's early life story. Harjo is a pretty major poet of Mvskoke Nation descent.

According to her story (which she said was loosely biographical), her father was an alcoholic who eventually left the family, her mother was a thwarted singer who clung to abusive husbands and Harjo herself struggled through life on her own.

The title of the play does the show no service; the story is much more realistic and gritty than Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light implies and is more about the identity and social struggles of a young native American growing up in the 60s and 70s with a harsh home life and a poetic soul.

Harjo seamlessly splices together musical moments with direct storytelling interlaced with Native American parables. Every parable works as an effective punctuation to points she is making about her struggles to find meaning in heartache and feelings of abandonment.

Line by line, sheer poetry. It was amazing to watch. At the end, Harjo passed out gifts for audience members, a gesture of thank you for coming. I felt a pressure in my chest, realizing the show was over. Than I realized, that was my heart spinning!

I was moved and inspired. Doesn’t happen every day.

I purchased Harjo's poetry collection The Woman Who Fell From the Skyand on the back cover feminist-powerhouse-poet Adrienne Rich descirbes Harjo's writing as "precise and unsentimental." And this was the power of her show. It was stunningly stark and the “Spirit Helper,” hollering, props and songs all served to say something deeper about her main points, instead of ornament them in a stereotypically new-agey way.

So about the Cher reference...Harjo describes an episode during her young adulthood, partying sometime during the 1970s outside with some cross-dressing Native Americans, which is an amazing image in itself. One "Navajo drag queen" is spangled out in a flamboyant dress and is drunkenly trying to celebrate the birthday of Cher. He eventually gets arrested and in avoiding arrest herself, Harjo meets the father of her children.

I'm not yet widely read on Harjo, but here is a poem from an anthology that I really loved, a poem that was also the title of one of her collections, She Had Some Horses

The last lines seem both Zen-sounding and still Mvskoke philosophy.

She had some horses she loved.
She had some horses she hated.

These were the same horses.

You need to read the entire poem to feel its momentum and strength.

Here's another review of the show which has left LA and is moving to other points across the United States.

Doubletakes: Impersonators, Covers and Album Art

Notes on impersonations

Yes, this 400 pound Cher requires a double-take, if not a spit-take. I actually applaud this interpretation, which shows no boundaries in embodying a Cher attitude. 

Notes on covers

Cher scholar Tyler found this remake of Cher's hit "We All Sleep Alone"  The fellow really enunciates every single syllable. I'm getting a contempo Christian vibe from him, although he calls himself a folk-pop crooner. It's pleasant enough with the teeth of the song as I'm used to it seem to have fallen out.

Notes on alternate album covers

Cher scholar JeffRey forwarded me some awesome photos of alternate album covers as seen out there in the wild. You may have seen some of these in used store record bins from time to time, if searching through those is your bag (it happens to be mine).

Gysy  Cher, 1971
I love the full photograph cover, you get so much more Cher face in your face. However, I can see why they’d want to add the hit titles as a selling tool, like they used to do before album-wrap stickers were invented.

Bestof  The Best of Cher Volume I
This came out in the early to mid-70s and tere was even a volume II. I love the picture of Cher talking on a phone. How normal is that? But green? Is this the alien import?

Golden  Cher's Golden Greats
This was Cher's first solo compilation. And you know I love that picture because I dedicated a zine to it. They're both interesting. One has Cher looking larger and more steely-eyed. The other is more demure. Both show off her awesome rocks and those happy yellow flowers.

What are your thoughts?