Cher's Angry Tweets, The Seventies: Glamour, Ratings & Concerts

Cherspecial2The New Year brings new apologies for the lag in blog postings. I've been on the new job for just about a month. No, I'm not teaching at my local community college. I'm continuing my day-job of web content specializin'. And I've been a bit more swamped with family reunion duties that I predicted. My novel-writing and blogging schedule has slipped all to hell!

But...I'm working in a communications department full of really interesting and creative people, our studio department has an animator and an award-winning director, our web team has two visual artists, two photographers, a competitive dancer and a soap maker. Similar to my experiences at ICANN, I've arrived just in time for a sweet web re-branding launch. It's been fun so far.

But anyway, time to move on to...

Cher's Angry Tweets

Cher made some tweets about Hitler and the cloud last month that hit many news outlets. My guess is the tweets were meant to be a joke but I didn't read into them too closely. These people made the attempts to sort it out:

  • PosterMediaite
    "It may not matter in 5 yrs, but Hitler Tweets are forever."
  • Tech Times
    "Our best guess is that Cher was expressing frustration with Apple's iCloud service. Or maybe she was commenting on the recent scandal involving nude photos of celebrities leaking from iCloud thanks to hackers." covers Cher's tweets about U.S. Congress. Cher Scholar's old friend Doug Wemple, who wrote a wonderful heart-felt story in Cher Zine 1 about coming out and his long, frustrating journey to try to see Cher in concert, gets caught up in the tweet sweep too.

Which all reminds me of the trailer I saw last weekend for a movie coming to my local independent movie house, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry. This movie reminds me so much of the situation surrounding Cher's tweets. The trailer chronicles the expression of anger from feminists in second and third wave actions and protests and how uncomfortable this made (and continues to make) some folks. People who disagree with Cher's politics consistently try to characterize her as a nut. It's not a new tactic as this film shows. Looking forward to seeing it.

Giddy Gossip

Lot's of gossipy stuff in the news:

Studio-margauxSeventies Glamour

Just finished the affordably-priced coffee-table book Seventies Glamour by David Willis. It covers all the icons of 70s style, including Margaux Hemmingway, who's photo at Studio 54 (not in the book) has forever fascinated me. She seems so "over it" and strangely comfortable in her pose.

SeventiesglamourThe zeitgeist of the 70s with its "tarnished luster" and the "complex broken mirror ball glamour" is covered. Cher is listed as one of "the beautiful people," a new version of the 1960s "jet set." She's listed in an uberclass alongside Liza Minnelli, Halston, Truman Capote, Divine, Hugh Hefner, Calvin Klein, Liz Taylor and Jackie O. Not too shabby. Although Cher is not cited as an influence or contributor to it, glitter and glam rock are discussed. Cher has one page dedicated to her with a picture of her Stars album cover of 1975 and the joyous color poster for Cher...Special in 1978. I found some groovy out-takes of that session online (above and below).

Cherspecial3 Cherspecial1  










Seventies Ratings

When I was working on my eBook about Writing in the Age of Narcissism, I came across an article by Lev Grossman called "The Beast with a Billion Eyes," Time Magazine, 2012. He said "for every minute that passes in real time, 60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube." And this was in 2012! He talks about how YouTube, like cable TV before it, has challenged network ratings, chronicling the tumbling numbers, decade to decade, from the 80s The Cosby Show to the 90s Seinfeld show to 2008's American Idol. He says, "Obviously No. 1 isn't what it used to be."

I often don't know what these ratings numbers mean. Are they talking about audience share, Nielsen rank or actual audience views. When people talk about ratings, they never use the same measurements.

For instance, allegedly, Carol Burnett averaged $30 million people a week in her heyday. But in 2004, Nick and Jessica Simpson won their slot with 11.4 million. But it's complicated by the fact that fewer people were watching TVs in the 1970s. There were fewer devices at least. I decided I need to make a list of Nielsen rankings for Cher's TV shows that covers all three dimensions: total audience, audience percentage share and Nielsen rank. So far I've only found this source that lists each year's top 30 shows:

The Sonny & Cher Comdy Hour 1971:

Rank #27, viewers: 12,544,200

The Sonny & Cher Comdy Hour 1973:

Rank #8, Viewers 15,424,600

In 1972 and 1974, they weren't in the top 30. Cher's solo show also didn't crack the top 30 in total. Nor did The Sonny & Cher Show of 1976-7.

TakemehometourA Topless 1979 Show?

When speaking to my cousin and Aunt a few weeks ago, they divulged to me that they saw Cher in Las Vegas during the 1979 "Take Me Home" tour. My aunt said she'll never forget it (in a negative sense) because the show featured scandalous topless dancers.

I started to say, "But I saw the show on TV and it didn't have...." and then I thought, well, of course it wouldn't.

Can anyone help me out there? Did Cher's 1979 Vegas show feature topless dancers?





Working Out With Cher

NewattCher scholar Dishy recently got me working out again with Cher's exercise tapes. He asked about locating copies of Cher’s old workout videos in the US. Very unfortunately, they're not available on DVD here. You can only get them in VHS and Laserdisc. If you wore out your VHS, you SOL. You can’t convert your tapes to DVD (copyright protections literally stop you from doing this) and the DVDs that are available in Europe won’t play on your US DVD players. (I've tried to use them on my computers and DVD-players).

I believe this is why Americans are so fat: Cher's fitness videos are withheld from us on DVD. It's bad enough our Twinkies are filled with corn syrup. We're doomed!

I have not played out my Cher fitness VHS tapes because I've only watched them once (while eating popcorn and sitting on the couch). I felt a bit weirded out to have Cher be my fitness guru and my celebrity obsession too. But Dishy inspired me to actually give them a try. For years I've been feeling under the weather and downright "stove up." Starting last January I've been working out on a treadmill. I was finally ready to work out with Cher.

I didn't want to invest in a step yet (in case I hated stepping) so I simply used a small step stool. My Cher bands were also MIB (where they'll stay) but I did have some bands from physical therapy a few years ago.

The Body Confidence (1991) video packaging is odd in that Cher's body is all in shadow. Isn't that what we're selling here: Cher's body? The video's Wikipedia page says that Health & Fitness gave the video 5 out of 5 stars and that it sold 1.5 million copies by December 1992 in the US (350,000 in the UK) and has become one of most successful fitness videos of all time. Wikipedia disclaimer, however, says these facts are not substantiated and may be deleted soon.

Before the workouts, Cher gives good pep talks about having a lifelong commitment to exercise (too late), having faith and courage and being willing to work. I really like her emphasis on putting in the work. I also like how she admits she’s not the best at working out and defers to trainers instead of trying to be the Queen Exercise Bee. She says exercise isn’t her profession and she seems happy to be the student. She says it's ok not to be able to make all the reps (that's good) and you start where you’re starting. She says you don’t want to spend rest of your life in a gym but there have been advances in exercising. (There actually been many more advances since the early 1990s—the whole Pilates-yoga fusion craze). She says you should aim to slowly get strong. Here's a clip.

Newatt1Part 1: The 38 minute step class is with Keli Roberts and Cher is over-outfitted in ruffles, a curly full wig up-do and makeup. She looks more like she's going out to party than attempting to work out. The videos are full of all women, no men, but there's a good feeling of female camaraderie.

There's always a Cher song to frame the tapes. For this one it's "Love & Understanding." The rest are covers of mostly 1960s up-tempo hits like "Born to Be Wild," "Get Ready," "All Right Now" and an 80s song thrown in, "Missionary Man." Cher provides many asides and smart-ass comments.

The class provides three workout levels. My step turned out to be too small and I couldn’t step over it. Longtime Cher pals, Dori Sanchez, Paultette and Angie can be seen as fellow exercisers in this segment, Paulette very demurely doing her moves. They don't show Dori Sanchez enough considering she's doing the non-step moves. You get a pulse check. Mine was within range but not spectacularly within range.

You can find grainy clips of this routine online.

CrunchesPart 2 is 10 mins of back and abs movements. They do mostly old-style abs crunches. This is too hard on my neck so I tried Pilates variations. Cher called the course concise and challenging. Most of the camera work was with Keli Roberts and Cher. Cher looked tiny her in a suspenders outfit. View a clip.

Part 3 is 32 minutes of buns and thighs. This was a tough workout of mostly standing work and squats. I used a chair ala Jane Fonda’s old-people's DVD workout, Fit and Strong.

I liked the step routine more than I thought I would and went online to see if I could buy or make my own step. Used ones are still going for $40-50 (too much). If you’re a carpenter, you can make your own; but I’m not and neither is Mr. Cher Scholar. One hilarious website showed you how to to turn four boxes of boxed-wine into a step. You use extra cardboard inside the boxes for support and many wrappingss of duct tape around the boxes. I seriously considered doing this, (thinking the drinking part would be fun), and then realized it would cost me just as much to buy a damn step. So I found one on Amazon for less than $30 that will work fine.

BodycBody Confidence (1992) is the second tape and according to Wikipedia, Health & Fitness gave it four stars. It has a better cover and plays scenes from the last video. They called video one award-winning but I couldn’t find anything online about which award it might have won.

You can get very affordable Gaim-brand workout bands in three strengths at Target. The video also advertised that you once could order extra bands from an 800 number at $9.98 (allow 4-6 weeks) from Tarzana, California. Send check or money order. Ah...those quaint days before PayPal.

Cher provides another pep talk about not believing in "no pain no gain." She says this tape will help sculpt muscles and burn fat. And don’t be too critical, you'll pick up the dance moves. She says she's never taken a dance class and is "just naturally good at my body." View a clip.

CherholeHot Dance is 38 minutes led by Dori Sanchez (Cher's tour choreographer). Cher is in another over the top outfit (her HoleFit, believe it or not) and another wig up-do. This is like Cher as Dolly Parton making an exercise tape.

The music on this tape is framed by "Turn Back Time" and includes different 1960s music covers including "Pretty Woman," "Dancing in the Street" and "You Got Me" with the 80s addition of "Addicted to Love." I know many fitness fans care a lot about the workout music. I used to but these days I kind of zone out and don't even notice if the music is amateurish. Cher's tapes are better than average for music.

This workout is full of good Cher-tattoo sightings. And one brunette has an over-the-top level of enthusiasm. Myself, I never could “double it up.”

BandsPart 2 is 45 minutes of Mighty Bands. Bands work like weights without the full gym. I found for this class you really need two bands of each strength for the standing routines. Karen Andees leads us through this segment and there are major sound issues and correction dubs. The music is so loud you can't hear the cues. You have to watch.

The cast is full of the old players including Mark Hudson doing music (I can't stop thinking about Chaz's harassment story when I think about him); manager Bill Sammeth, director David Grossman, costumes by Van Buren. The exercising girls were: Karen Andes, Angela Arnaud, Anita Morales, Trish Ramish, and Michelle Rudi (although I could swear her name was spelled Rudy on the second tape), Dori Sanchez, Paulette Bettes listed as stylist, Leonard Engleman for makeup, Renata Leuschner for hair. The song credits were not listed.

At the end of two weeks I determined I really liked these classes. Which is really too bad because I won't be doing them again. Although Cher was actually fun to work out with, I don't want to wear out my VHS tapes. I went online this week to find other step and stretch workout DVDs I can keep doing.

Getting to Know our Teachers

FitnesshollywoodKeli Roberts is from Australia and has worked with Kirstie Alley, Jennifer Grey, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Russel Crow and Faye Dunaway. She's a guru of step classes and has done over 40 videos. Her book Fitness Hollywood was popular and she's now a trainer in Pasadena. For more books and videos:

Dori Sanchez is Cher’s longtime live show choreographer. She was in the movie Dirty Dancing and works on the TV show So You Think You Can Dance. Her father was a ballroom dance teacher and she’s also worked with Shakira, Peter Gabriel and Jane’s Addiction. She credits Cher with helping her though a brain tumor episode in 2011.

AndesKaren Andees is a previous co-owner of a Gold’s Gym in Marin County and she writes about nutrition, balance, equipment, gym ettiquite, obsession with body and self-esteem. Her book, A Woman of Strength received mixed reviews. She now appears to be into yoga swinging at her San Rafael gym.


The exercise guru space is sure crowded but here are some other trainers I’ve come to like:

JoanieJoanie Greggains She is my first fitness guru. I worked out to her vinyl albums in the 1980s (literally the one on the right). She had a popular TV show called Morning Stretch and is still working on a radio show:

Denise Austin - I've come to really like her because she has a very friendly spirit and helpful website. She's very encouraging. I purchased her $5 video on walking from the back of a ceral box. Her Fit Forever program sounds suspiciously close to Cher's Forever Fit though. She started as a gymnast from San Pedro, California.

Ana Cabán is an LA Pilates guru who studied with Romana Kryzonowska. She has had studios in LA's Silver Lake area and in Miami. She was a dancer who injured her back and recovered with Pilates:

Christa Rypins is a former ice skater who developed chronic pain and came up with a program of somatic movement yoga called "Yummy Yoga" which is a fusion of yoga, Pilates, and meditation. This tape isn't fancy but it's the only thing that relieves my carpel tunnel and chronic neck pain. She runs the Intelligent Body Movement Studio in Murphys, California:

Tamilee Webb Yes I have a buns of steel video. Buns

Lara Hudson does those 10 Minute Solution videos. Often her Yoga is too fast for me but her Pilates video is popular. Fans say she gives clear and concise cues. She's a former acrobat and developed something called The Mercury Method which is again another fusion of yoga, Pilates and traditional training. She explains the difference between Pilates (non-nonsense muscle conditioning) and yoga (mental and spiritual well being with breath and poses):

Elisbeth Halfpapp and Fred DeVito (husband and wife) work at Exhale spa in New York City and have trained Heidi Klum and Cameron Diaz. They provide yet another fusion of yoga, Pilates and the Lotte Berk method which focuses all Pilates and yoga on a stable core. Their video has lot of core work and some mind-body balance. They care about alignment and working one position for a long time instead of “mindless reps.” It's very challenging and I like how these two trainers trade off:

MayaMaya Fiennes is Macedonian and a classical pianist who teaches Kundalini yoga classes. These are full of mantras and dextox yoga. I usually do this one twice a year:

I also found out today of all days that Namaste Yoga is starting their third season on FitTV channel (which I don't get anymore). I love this slower Ayurveda yoga (seems like there are a million types of yoga) with a big meditative quality shot beautifully and narrated by Kate Porter. The first two seasons are available on DVD:


Eu2 Eu











The European covers of Cher's fitness programs (but the DVDs don't play in the US)


Cher in the 1970s

CherengsteadCher’s life an career through the mid-1970s is what the book Strong Enough is about. It goes into the struggles the Sonny & Cher had from 1973 to 1975, including the fact that Cher grew up and Sonny’s fatal flaw was not recognizing the changes. Josiah Howard interviews witnesses to speak on how Sonny was behaving with everyone and the strain on the whole staff. He talks about their cancelled shows, what the tabloids were saying, the bloat (in many senses, including the title’s) of their last record album Mama Was A Rock and Roll Singer…

I appreciated how the book slowed down to really detail:

 - Cher’s appearances on award shows
- Cher’s Emmy and Grammy nominations and wins
- Details on their divorce (Cher used Lucy’s divorce lawyer) and how they behaved with each other at concerts
- How CBS and MCA responded to the drama
- How the lawsuits settled out
- Cher’s outings to concerts and parties
- Which major magazines she appeared on the cover of while she was a “newsstand staple.” We also learn how the tabloid The Star built itself on Cher stories around this time.

Cher's love life after leaving Sonny has been covered extensively through the years but this book goes into Sonny’s relationships with “models and dancers” and his long term affair with “secretary” Connie Foreman, how it was Sonny on his dates with Connie that actually blew open the story about his split with Cher. (See tabloid photos of Sonny & Connie)

The book also goes into more detail than I’ve ever seen about Sonny’s solo show and the press surrounding it. How they unfortunately tried to spin him as Chaplinesque. We also learn about Cher’s real reaction to the show. This biography is also the first one to deal with Sonny’s Mimi Machu scandal. And the first Cher biography to track more fully the struggles she had with her father at this time, although I felt there was a lot more to tell here. Did he work for Sonny & Cher (I heard he did), did he really try to make money off of his connection to Cher?

The book combs through all the starting players of Cher’s solo show, called simply Cher and not The Cher Show: George Schlatter, Art Fisher (and his affair with Sally Struthers), the head writer and the writing staff, set designer Robert Kelly (remember the Cher logo and the tongue set stage?), musical director Jimmy Dale, choreographers Tony Charmoli and Dee Dee Wood (I just saw that she did that unforgettable choreography for Mary Poppins), Ben Nye II doing makeup, her PR photographer John Engstead, producer Lee Miller, her unusual dressing room, the rock and roll guests she wanted on the show and who was unavailable, her sponsors. The book details the excitement at CBS during the first few shows with other stars and dancers dropping in.

We learn again more about the beauty regimen: about her skin problems at the time (due to pancake makeup, Kleig lights, stress and bad eating), her Christina Smith eye lashes, lighting tricks used to hide acne, her hair darkenings (from warm Armenian brown to black), her Minnie Smith manicures, Jim Ortel hair and Renata Leuschner (Rena) wigs.

The book also confirms CeeCee Bloom’s character from Beaches was based on staff-writer Iris Rainer’s experiences working with Cher.

We learn about all the skits (in fine detail), what skits never aired, which were “banked,” and how the show fared in the ratings and with the press as the weeks progressed. I found it ironic that CBS typically cut songs for original airings (famously for Raquel Welch, Bette Midler, The Spinners) and when the show finally re-aired on VH-1, the majority of the skits were cut out.

One thing I could never get used to was Cher’s move from the cut-up bitch on her show with Sonny to the hip-talking, ingratiating  nice girl on her solo show. "Far out man." "That’s cool!” This slangy, wanting-to-be-liked was ironically unlikable. Everyone seemed to prefer the stoic tough broad.

From the start, the show seemed to have dysfunctions built in: staff fighting, the star’s missed rehearsals and troubled private life encroaching on the schedule, inconsistent material, the show always suffered a lack of a strong point of view. Either because of this or encouraging the sense of something missing, often tapings occurred without a live audience.

Although her femme fatal characters were mostly gone, the show did profess power to the gals with memes such as “Girls are smarter,” women behind the men, and “Trashy Ladys” skits.

The book talks about how variety Shows were starting to decline around this time as detective shows were on the rise.

RockfordThis is why I find it interesting each time I hear a Cher reference on The Rockford Files (a show which I watch obsessively when I can):

I’ve seen two Cher references so far since I’ve been re-watching them on ME TV: one episode was about the cut-throat LA real estate business. A real estate agent tells Rockford that he just sold a house to “Cher and Gregg.” Interesting that viewers would know what that meant. Would they today? The other episode was about tabloid journalism and Rockford was hiding out at a tabloid on a private investigation on a burglary. Rockford bemoans the potential lack of privacy in hospital records and warns about the dangers of coming across “Cher’s last physical.” The tabloid office eventually burns down.

Oscars73Sonny & Cher presenting Best Original Song at the 1973 Ocsars; watch them present pretending to be couple-y.



Grammys74The 1974 Grammys appearance, Cher’s first public appearance without Sonny.









Camille Paglia on Miley Cyrus

CamileCamille Paglia: you love her or you hate her. She's outspoken and strident and I tend not to agree with her politically or critically and she was not supportive of Chaz's transgendering and has both been critical of Cher's plastic surgery and supportive of Cher's persona on occasion.

But recently my friend Christopher sent me a really good Time editorial by Paglia about Miley Cyrus' recent scandalous performance and it echoes many of the concerns Cher initially had. Her editorial also made many good points about the history of pop music and Madonna, as well:

"...the real scandal was how atrocious Cyrus' performance was in artistic terms. She was clumsy, flat-footed, and cringingly unsexy, and effect heightened by her manic grin.

How could American pop have gotten this bad? Sex has been a crucial component of the entertainment industry since the seductive vamps of silent film and the bawdy big mamas of roadhouse blues. Elvis Presley, James Brown and Mick Jagger brought sizzling heat to rock, soul and funk music, which in turn spawned the controversial raw explicitness of urban hip-hop.

The Cyrus fiasco, however, is symptomatic of the still heavy influence of Madonna, who sprang to world fame in the 1980s with sophisticated videos that were suffused with a daring European art-film eroticism and that were arguably among the best artworks of the decade. Madonna’s provocations were smolderingly sexy because she had a good Catholic girl’s keen sense of transgression. Subversion requires limits to violate.


But more important, Madonna, a trained modern dancer, was originally inspired by work of tremendous quality — above all, Marlene Dietrich’s glamorous movie roles as a bisexual blond dominatrix and Bob Fosse’s stunningly forceful strip-club choreography for the 1972 film Cabaret, set in decadent Weimar-era Berlin. Today’s aspiring singers, teethed on frenetically edited small-screen videos, rarely have direct contact with those superb precursors and are simply aping feeble imitations of Madonna at 10th remove.

Pop is suffering from the same malady as the art world, which is stuck on the tired old rubric that shock automatically confers value. But those once powerful avant-garde gestures have lost their relevance in our diffuse and technology-saturated era, when there is no longer an ossified high-culture establishment to rebel against. On the contrary, the fine arts are alarmingly distant or marginal to most young people today.


With their massive computerized lighting and special-effects systems, arena shows make improvisation impossible and stifle the natural rapport with the audience that performers once had in vaudeville houses and jazz clubs. There is neither time nor space to develop emotional depth or creative skills.

Pop is an artistic tradition that deserves as much respect as any other. Its lineage stretches back to 17th century Appalachian folk songs and African-American blues, all of which can still be heard vibrating in the lyrics and chord structure of contemporary music. But our most visible young performers, consumed with packaging and attitude, seem to have little sense of that thrilling continuity and therefore no confidence in how it can define and sustain their artistic identities over the course of a career.

What was perhaps most embarrassing about Miley Cyrus’ dismal gig was its cutesy toys — a giant teddy bear from which she popped to cavort with a dance troupe in fuzzy bear drag. Intended to satirize her Disney past, it signaled instead the childishness of Cyrus’ notion of sexuality, which has become simply a cartoonish gimmick to disguise a lack of professional focus. Sex isn’t just exposed flesh and crude gestures. The greatest performers, like Madonna in a canonical video such as “Vogue,” know how to use suggestion and mystery to project the magic of sexual allure. Miley, go back to school!

Read the full piece:

What Paglia does here is to maintain that sex has always been a part of pop music and that the raunchiness of Cyrus' performance wasn't the issue. It was the emptiness of it. She makes similar critiques of Lady Gaga. From the UK's Sunday Times, Paglia said that

Gaga is a "manufactured personality" who rips off her music and fashion from "Cher, Jane Fonda as Barbarella, Gwen Stefani and Pink." Paglia also disses the star's attractiveness, saying that "Drag queens, whom Gaga professes to admire, are usually far sexier in many of her over-the-top outfits than she is." Her sex appeal, or lack thereof, is quite a problem for Paglia: "Furthermore, despite showing acres of pallid flesh in the fetish-bondage garb of urban prostitution, Gaga isn’t sexy at all – she’s like a gangly marionette or plasticised android. How could a figure so calculated and artificial, so clinical and strangely antiseptic, so stripped of genuine eroticism have become the icon of her generation? Can it be that Gaga represents the exhausted end of the sexual revolution? In Gaga’s manic miming of persona after persona, over-conceptualised and claustrophobic, we may have reached the limit of an era…"

This is the enduring issue I have with Gaga, not her unsexiness (do we all have to be sexy?), but her flatness, how her artistic gestures are shallow and blatant. I just don't get a message there.

I like how Paglia compares the vapidness of shock for shock's sake between the pop and the art world, and how both fields need something to play against, "subversion needs limits to violate" like Madonna's transgressions against the Catholic Church. Likewise in the art world, if there is no establishment to rebel against, rebellion seems valueless.

I'm also interested in Paglia's concerns about arena shows and how computerized elements "make improvisation impossible and stifle natural rapport." I hope Cher keeps in mind a balance between cool technology and bling-bling effects and allows a spot of unplanned-out intimacy in her new show, understanding the fact that she is beloved to her fans and she could sing on a stool in a pretty dress and charm us all well enough. She is truely much more than "packaging and attitude" (or trust me, I would be bored to tears and would have jumped off the Cher wagon years ago) and defines, all by herself, the "thrilling continuity" of pop music's lineage. I hope someday she takes ownership of that.

She's also naturally sexy (sister to sister, you're time-tested) and thankfully doesn't need to bump and grind a teddy bear.


Help Cher Save the Elephant

Billy Cher is asking her fans to help her save Billy the elephant from the LA Zoo. She has offered half-a-million dollars to help get him released to an animal sanctuary in San Andreas, the Performing Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).

Like Cher I love elephants and have my own diminutive elephant collection (that I will be unloading at a garage sale next spring). And similarly, I dislike zoos and circuses. So joining this effort seems like a done-deal for me.

Billy is an Asian elephant. You can tell by his little ears. This is an African elephant (dressed like an Indian)...

African elephant

Cher said, "Billy has weighed heavily on my mind for many years. I would give half-a-million dollars for his release to the place that Bob Barker talked about (PAWS). LA Zoo holds Billy hostage! LA Zoo has abused him until all he does is rock back-and-forth, alone."

She continues, "Go to this site: Earth in Transition. 14 Elephants have died in LA Zoo and Billy has spent almost all of his 27 years in a tiny space. Think! You are all so smart and kind, please put your heads together! I've just signed a letter that will be read Downtown tomorrow. Boycott circus!"

This is a continuation of Cher's efforts from 2009.

How you can help:

I'm not a resident of California anymore (although that doesn't need to stop you from contacting local legislature there) but I did donate some cash to the cause (which was super easy via PayPal).








Wig Art

Wig2MY MOVE IS OVER. Finally! Geesh.Thank god.

In 1977, I left Albuquerque in the middle of watching The Sonny & Cher Show (1977, age 7). Thirty-seven years later I’ve moved back to Albuquerque at age 44 and am again watching the show by way of TV Land's old airings in a Cher Scholar special request research project to find the Vamp episode that contains “Wine for Caesar.”

Cher’s new video coincides with my quest because I’m assuming Renate Leuschner created the amazing paper wig in the video. I’m seeing some amazing wigs again on the Sonny & Cher shows…not just by “Rena” as she went by in the show's credits, nor "Renata" as she went by in Celebration at Caesars or Renate Leuschner as she appears in the the  Wig1credits of some Cher movies (like Mask) and concert programs. This woman is a brilliant wig artist. I have many favorites re-watching the shows (some are not quite culturally appropriate anymore but that’s another essay). My all-time favorite (started by the prior wig maker on the show Jim Oertel), is the bun made up of many buns. I also love the wig of braids that look like the wig-equivalent of a jungle gym.


Happy Birthday Cher

CherloveI'm back! Just a day late of Cher's 67th birthday!

This graphic was very elegantly put together by the site CherLove,the ultimate site for great Cher photos.

The site Queerty, (Free of an Agenda, Except that Gay One), has a nice Cher timeline set up in honor of her birthday. Of course there are errors and it's fun to catch them:

  • Cher's mother didn't marry her father three times, only two times.
  • I never heard she was a Sunset Strip dancer but...
  • She didn't date Eric Stoltz but was seen out dancing with him during Mask filming.
  • I thought Cher received 60 million dollars for all three years in Vegas not $60 million for each  year.

I know Cher isn't too keen on aging but I visited the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch over graduation week and I bought a book of Waite Phillips' epigrams. Waite Phillips was an oil tycoon who gave away most of his wealth before he died, a huge chunk to the Boy Scouts for New Mexico adventurings. Btw, I found out that girls can now join the Philmont Boy Scout Ranch summer treks through their co-ed Venturing programs. Although I'm skeptical of the recent decision by the Boy Scouts regarding gay counselors, I wish I would have had Adventuring programs when I was a kid. Girl Scouts never did anything too adventuresome and I dropped out after one year. Maybe they should have invented FagHag Scout Camp for me. I would have fit in well there: hiking treks by day, glitter crafts by firelight.  

Anyway, there was one epigram in the book that reminded me of Cher and aging:

The best insurance against melancholia, depressions, and sense of futility in old age is the development of wide horizons and the cultivation of mental elasticity and interest in the world. Many of the happiest individuals in the world are men and women in their sixties, seventies, or eighties who have contributed richly to human betterment during their maturity and at the same time have cultivated activities to make retirement a pleasure. The older men grow, the more they should realize that it is only by putting the focus of their activities in some movement or activity greater than their individual ego that can attain reasonable peace in old age.
W. Beran Wolfe

So I'm sure Cher would think what a stuffy bit of crock but nonetheless, words to the wise.


Cher in New Diana Vreeland Documentary

VreelandMy cousin sent me news that a new Diana Vreeland documentary is scheduled to be released September 21. Diana Vreeland met Cher in 1967 and told her she had "a pointed head." However, it was Vreeland who introduced Cher to modeling in countless Vogue spreads from the late 1960s throughout the 1970s.

In the documentary trailer, Vreeland is credited with the idea of pushing a photo subject's faults, imploring her artists to "make that the most beautiful thing about them."

So brilliant.

And when legal wrangling with Sonny kept Cher off of television in 1974, Cher said it was these modeling projects that kept her afloat.

More information on Cher and Vreeland:

For more information on the movie and to see (clips of Cher) in the trailer:

How can we forget the following amazing collaborations between Cher, Vreeland and photographer Richard Avedon...

VogueCher doing one of many interpretations of Native American. Cher scholar Bruce points out that this photo is by Stephen Paley and not Richard Avedon, as part of the late 60s Jackson Highway album photo shoot. But it's super kewl so I'm keeping it up.





Cher 60sCher in 60s mod-mode.










Cher vogue 2Elaborations on hair poses.










  Cher70sFull 1970s awesomeness!










StaircasesMore elaborations on hair and some of my favorites, the staircase photos.