She was covered in furs from head to toe. Only her face could be seen. With a deep voice, she sang a slow song with sensual emotions. Soon, the song came to a stop.
Suddenly, the silence broke dramatically into a fast tempo song with a strong beat and the strobe lights started pulsating to the strong rhythm as she threw off the furs with as much drama. Under her thick furs, she was dressed or rather under-dressed in an ultra-sexy revealing gown covering as much flesh as the amount of flesh she was revealing.
Before, Lady Gaga, before Madonna, there was Cher.
I was 17 and wasn’t really so exposed to American TV at that time, well, certainly not to something quite as outrageous as Cher. It was the mid-70’s and my TV was still black and white. I didn’t know who she was but I was riveted to the screen. That was my first exposure to the Queen of Flamboyance herself. I learnt the pronunciation of ‘Cher’ – same pronunciation as the word ‘share’.
For a couple of years, Cher, the solo show after she ditched the Sonny in Sonny and Cher, was on TV. I remember looking forward to the weekly shows just to see how she would do this dramatic striptease. After that, the singer disappeared from my radar but not before she taught me a couple of things: firstly, she taught me what teasing the audience means and secondly, she taught me that naughtiness and flamboyance can be so stylish and classy.
In 1983, she came back into view with the movie, Silkwood. I watched the movie, not for Cher but rather because I was in an anti-estab period in my life. Cher wasn’t even the star of the show – Meryl Streep was. But it didn’t matter. All I wanted was to walk out of the cinema cussing at authorities.
Then came Mask (1985) which catapulted Cher into the limelight with awards at Golden Globe and Cannes. Okay, now I knew that she could act. This was followed by Suspect (1987). And then Witches of Eastwick (1987) which I watched more because I was a reader of John Updike’s works and a fan of Jack Nicholson.
The movie that did me in and made me a fan of Cher, surprisingly was the lightweight romantic comedy, Moonstruck (1987). It was a beautiful movie and Cher with her big hair against the huge New York moon was on the poster.
I was moonstruck by the exotically beautiful Cher as the Sicilian widow Loretta and the brother-in-law to be, Ronny played by the darkly handsome Nicholas Cage. I was in my mid-twenties and struggling to find myself. What I did find was that I was a die-hard romantic – I have since longed for a full moon as big as the one in the poster so that I can fall deeply and madly in love…but alas. The bravado with which the couple threw caution to the winds, going against societal mores and correctness and blaming it on the full moon struck a chord in my heart. Unfortunately, I’d never really found my full moon until…..but that is another story.
….it is not the number of years; it is
the youthful spirit of being alive…..
In recent years, as age caught up with me and as I pondered on old things and old memories, Cher has surfaced again and again like a friend from the past. The accessibility of the internet made catching up easy. Her ageless beauty and undying flamboyance brought back so many memories as I listened to her old songs like Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (1971) and Believe (1998) http://vimeo.com/18735772.
News of her FTM* transgender daughter with Sonny Bono (Chastity Bono now Chaz Bono) and her acceptance of her also made me respect her as a mother. And the outrageous costumes she donned when she performed on her tours kept me watching her on the computer.
When a gay friend of mine timed his holiday to Sydney so that he could watch her performance over there a few years ago, I realized what a gay icon she is. I’m beginning to understand why.
This year she is touring North America with Dressed to Kill and judging from the promotional clips <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2615995/Cher-turns-time-recycling-stage-look-four-decades-ago.html>, the title of the show is not an exaggeration.
Looking at her zest for life at 67 and the way she is able to re-invent herself, it is a great inspiration for all mature people. The big 6-0 may seem to be more than half a century to many but to Cher, it is not the number of years but the youthful spirit of being alive. There is only one Cher in the whole world but in our own ways, we can live our lives true to the same spirit.
*FTM – female to male