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Is This Cher?

ThischerHow tragic it is to be a Cher-collectible-completist. You have to buy crap like this.

The only interesting aspect of this CD release of This Is Cher is the timing of it; coincidentally this is the flagship compilation for Cher Zine 3.

And it has to be one of the cheapest re-issues of a re-issue I've ever seen. Not even a liner note or so much as an album-credit inside. Don't even expect a picture of Cher.

I should have known by the cover art which looks more like a karaoke release than a real Cher CD.

These crap-compilation/re-issues just junk up the Cher Universe.


Billy Sammeth Talks Smack about Joan and Cher

CherjoanGirls gangin' up!

So Cher's former manager, Bill Sammeth, dishes some dirt in his defense of being fired by both Cher and Joan Rivers. And it's very scandalous stuff.

However, I don't completely buy his story. And honestly, I don't know nuthin' upon nuthin' about Joan and Melissa Rivers so I can almost go there with that drama; but when you compare his story to the events of the Joan Rivers documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work...the timelines just don't jive at all. Plus, he never explains the complaints Joan and other characters had about his prolonged absences that occurred in the documentary. He doesn't address this issue regarding Cher's complaints either.

He says Cher fired him simply because she didn't want to pay him for his share of "Believe" royalties. Did she fire the rest of her staff around that time too? Surely, other employees benefited from all the "Believe" cash.

He also claims she faked Sonny's funeral speech.

Well, Cher is a good actress, I will give her that; but to be blunt, I don't think she's that pull off that tour de force, or be willing to bear being seen doing that unattractive funeral-speech sobbing. Her issues with Sonny were complicated to be sure. But I always go back to the fact that she was calling a truce with him of sorts in her last Rosie Show appearance before Sonny died. The show where Rosie hilariously told Sonny to "sit and spin."

Read Sammeth's story for yourself:

And you can't get around the fact that two of his former clients had the same complaint. Never good evidence on you.

When my husband's mother Donna coins a wise saying,  we call that a Donnology. When my mother Estelene coins one, we call that an Esteligism. This is one of my mother's favorite Esteligisms: if everyone disagrees with you...maybe it's you. Maybe.


Comic Book Drama


So you know originally this thing was due in December. Since then has canceled my order twice; so I contacted someone at Bluewater two weeks ago on February 13 (actually three people: the first email from their contact page came back undeliverable, the second guy was on vacation). I finally received an email from someone who said the comic would be out the next Wednesday February 15. Sure enough that day a blog post went up saying the comic was out and to check your local comic store or to buy one through As of today Amazon still doesn't have any copies and my comic store in Santa Fe had never heard of the comic. Rumors were spread that it had sold out already.

I'm not sure about that but check your local comic store just in any case. You can download a Kindle version from Amazon now if you're desperate. A dear Cher friend snared me a copy from the comic book store at Grand Central Station in New York City. And for that, many thank yous!!

What a mess this whole thing is, folks.

But the slight little thing is a fun retrospective. In true comic book fashion there is a surprise ending (with Chaz as a plot point). Cher is one of a kind, to be sure, but the artist seems to have difficulty rendering her. In a few of the drawings, she looks a tad Asian even.

At least they writer spelled her last name right. Some oddities: they show her as a teenager, not a baby, when she went into a foster home; and often throughout the pages, her hairstyles and clothes are confused between the 1960s and 70s.

I loved the album cover re-drawings. But she did not actually date Elvis. I also don't believe her divorce from Sonny drew out until 1979 (or maybe just the ramifications of it). Gregg Allman is drawn to to look more like Chastity and Elijah doesn't even exist in this comic-bipic.

What is that bottle doing in the picture of her singing "Turn Back Time"? Is she in the shower?

Here's a review:


My Journey with Whitney

CherwhitneyWhen it was reported yesterday that Whitney Houston had died suddenly in the Beverly Hilton Hotel (reportedly in a bathtub), everyone seemed surprised and sad (and a few even thought the news was a Cher-like Twitter joke). Brian McKnight appeared on CNN today scolding us all for jibbing at Houston when she was alive and struggling, but pitying and missing her now that she had died.

I've been rummaging through my own significant shock and sadness. For most of her career, Houston has aggravated me to be honest. But unlike other erratic-behaving stars like Michael Jackson and Amy Winehouse, I never expected her to die imminently. I just assumed, at worst, she’d end up as an old-lady addict. I always assumed, since she looked so utterly healthy and feisty all her life (give or take a drug-bender or anorexic appearance on a 30-year-Michael-Jackson anniversary special) that her body would take the pummeling and persevere. I also didn't ever take her for a suicide. Too proud.

Which brings me to my frustration and fascination with Whitney Houston over the last 27-something years. I was 14 years old when "How Will I Know" hit MTV in 1985. It was clearly a corporate-made video, so polished and different than the DIY-videos I was used to seeing on TV. The video was so colorful and playful with the paint splashes and Whitney skipping around so happy, bouncy and pretty. It was addictively refreshing and perky. I remember listening to the album Whitney Houston at my friend Mandy's house. My favorite tracks were the duets with Jermaine Jackson. Jermaine is my favorite Jackson and I loved the smooth sounds of "Nobody Loves Me Like You Do" and "Take Good Care of My Heart." The album was full of other hits: "You Give Good Love," "Saving All My Love for You," "All at Once," and “Greatest Love of All.”

Then in 1987, my senior year, the album Whitney came out. Another happy-go-lucky, colorful video of Whitney singing “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” It cheered my dark, depressed teen outlook. And finally she came through my city on a live tour. My friend Mandy and I saw her at the Muny Opera House in St. Louis. I was so expecting to see that happy, fresh young girl from the videos. When boys threw out catcalls, she took great offense and told us she wanted to be respected as a serious artist not a sex object. So self-serious. I was disappointed. My image was deflated.

And I didn’t enjoy the bombastic ballads and dance hits that followed, “Didn’t We Almost Have it All,”  “So Emotional,” and “Where Do Broken Hearts Go.” The performances and videos didn’t have the fun rainbow feel of the early video I loved. Whitney wanted to be seen as a confident diva now. She wasn’t dancing and flirting with us teen girls anymore; she was beholden now to no one but herself. I’m sure this was empowering to many young black girls. And maybe if I hadn’t first imagined her as the innocent, free-spirited teen instead of the now-irritated, knowing diva, I wouldn’t have been so irked.

In any case, she now wanted to be respected as a powerful, in-control lady. So in 1990 when I’m Your Baby Tonight  came out and she started dating the bad-boy Bobby Brown and suddenly, inexplicably chasing this kind of tough street-cred, I got really annoyed. Last decade she was the princess of soul from a gospel and easy-listening entertainment dynasty, not to mention the church; but now she’s sassy and urban from the rough streets of Newark. Right. I completely ignored the single “I’m Your Baby Tonight” and “All the Man I Need” (which I now can’t even remember).

I also ignored The Bodyguard. Have never seen it. Don’t like Kevin Costner and I know this is sacrilege but I prefer Dolly Parton’s much less bombastic version of “I Will Always Love You.” As for the single “I Have Nothing”…no thank you.

I did however love, love, love her gliding version of “I’m Every Woman” (Chaka Khan!) and I loved her version of the National Anthem in 1991 enough to buy the cassette single.

In 1998 I was living in Yonkers, New York, having just finished an MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. I remember first hearing the song “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay” from the album My Love is Your Love while sitting at a light on the Saw Mill Parkway. I thought what a catchy-empowering hook and (finally) she’s gotten a clue about bad boy Bobby Brown! We’re probably ready now to move on to the next phase of her life, sans Bobby, which I hope is a revisit of that beautiful, fresh-faced happy teen thing.

Not to be. Things got bad, very bad. Through it all, Bobby went to jail and there was this melodramatic reunion on his release, the 2001 Michael-Jackson special's alarming weight loss, the marijuana bust in 2000, in the early 2000s failing to show up for scheduled performances and being fired from an Academy Awards show, the attitude problems in her interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002 (“I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let's get that straight. Okay? We don't do crack. We don't do that. Crack is wack!”), her spat with Wendy Williams, the disoriented behavior on that international trip to Israel, and the final nail to her image being the 2005 reality show Being Bobby Brown. Her biggest enemy always seemed to be her own ego.

I don’t even remember Just Whitney being released in 2002, the holiday album in 2003 or I Look to You in 2009 (the first album cover where Whitney looked pretty haggard).

Going back to the beginning, I must tell you the song “Greatest Love of All” grated on my nerves. And everyone I knew used to make fun of the lines: “I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way. Show them all the beauty they possess inside.” The accompanying video included Whitney’s own mom, gospel singer Cissy Houston, and told the indulgent story of how a young Whitney was guided to be the strong, secure woman she grew up to be. It was full of empowerments: “I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone’s shadow. If I fail, if I succeed, at least I live as I believe. No matter what they take from me, they can’t take away my dignity. Because the greatest love of all is happening to me. Learning to love yourself, it is the greatest love of all. And if by chance, that special place that you've been dreaming of leads you to a lonely place, find your strength in love.”

None of which turned out to be a life-giving truth for Whitney Houston. Which is what grates me most of all. I had a friend in high school who exactly reminded me of Whitney Houston. She was beautiful and talented and full of false bravado. Piously righteous before suddenly capitulating to the demons of the hardest vices.

Whitney Houston was the soundtrack of my young life to be sure. All that I loved and was frustrated by. I took for granted what teens before me could not, that beautiful black people could be pop mega-superstars. And because in many ways I still take that fact for granted as right and obvious, I feel I can say how I really felt about Whitney Houston. Why gloss over the unpleasant truth in respect for the dearly departed voice? As talented as she was, I wish she had been the strong character she once convinced me she was. Or at least the happy, angelic sprite I always wanted her to be.