By Alex Wiggan
She’s a style icon, an award winner, a trendsetter unafraid of wearing anything (or almost nothing) and she’s had a string of hits longer than a pension day queue at the post office. She’s no stranger to the flamboyant side of life, she knows what it’s like not to fit in and her outlandish attire has caused many an eyebrow to raise and then drop off. No it’s not the muffin bluffin’ expert Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta aka Lady Gaga that gets a boy weak at the knees, the gal who gets gents trembling at the tibia is actually original dark lady Cherilyn Sarkisian/LaPierre/Bono/Allman, aka Cher. With just one name (legally changed in 1975) glamour-pop icon Cher has been belting out hits across the decades for so long now she’s practically a pub jukebox. Famed for her daring and imaginative costume choices, Cher has transcended the boundaries of time, held back the onset of wrinkles and has done so with more decorative wigs than a fancy dress shop. She’s the only female artist to have had a top ten hit in five consecutive decades from the 1960s onwards and she’s been hitting headlines long before Lady G started strapping pork chops to her breasts in the name of fashion. If you want the sassiest showgirl, the brassiest babe and the most outspoken, most dynamic, most expressive star of them all, then Cher’s the gal pal for you.
Ever since she stepped out of the shadows in the 1960s Cher has been the ultimate showstopper and over a career spanning forty-five years she’s sold over 100 million records and weaved her way in and out of each era with more glitz and glamour than a drag queen’s tiara. In the 60s she was a hippie, in the 70s a disco chick, 80s a rock rebel and in the 90s and beyond a pop princess. Along the way she’s been married, divorced, married again and divorced again and has had a number of failed high-profile romances that have been echoed throughout some of her biggest hits. Some romances may have knocked her, others may have caused much heartache, but she’s always remained strong by slipping on a fresh wig and taking to the stage ready for her next number. It’s this gutsy attitude that has kept her ever the constant professional and made her one of the most dedicated divas of them all. Her farewell tour (don’t worry she’s still around) lasted for three years, which in gay years is practically a lifetime and her star status has seen her command the screen in films such as Mask (1985), The Witches of Eastwick (1987) and Mermaids (1990). In Mermaids she even got it on with the ultimate bear, Bob Hoskins, which is nice work if you like ‘em short and hairy! She’s also no stranger to the homosexual cause (her daughter Chastity came out as a lesbian at the age of 17) and she’s been very vocal about the hardships us homos face. Of course this has given her countless gay points on the official Gay-O-Meter which has only increased over time thanks to her loveable self-deprecating humour and that fishnet ensemble she wore whilst straddling a cannon during the ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ video. With more netting than the deck of an ocean trawler Cher not only rocked out in an outfit that looked like it consisted of two strips of electrical tape, she also gave drag queens the world over endless inspiration.
Without Cher there would have been no Rusty Dennis, no Loretta Castorini and no Alexandra Medford. There would have been no ‘Half Breed’, no ‘Take Me Home’ and no ‘One By One’. Meat Loaf would have had to sing ‘Dead Ringer For Love’ solo, Jack from Will & Grace would have had no one to obsess over other than himself and Bob Mackee would have had countless dresses clogging up his rail. There would have also been no Cher fitness videos, no tattooed ass, no long running TV show with Sonny Bono and twenty-three countries would have been robbed of having ‘Believe’ as a number one song in their charts. Cher is like the big sister you always wanted and the fag hag that you just can’t stand to be without, all wrapped up in high heels and a leather jacket. She’s iconic, she’s practically immortal and whenever she’s near we’re in ecstasy. Stars may come and go nowadays, with most abandoning their careers for quick distractions, but Cher was built to last and so for her as long as there’s music playing the beat goes on.
CHER & CHER ALIKE:
* Cher kicked off her career as a backup singer, before releasing her first solo recording ‘Ringo, I Love You’ in 1964. It bombed. However being the ultimate professional Cher soon got over it and in 1965 she became an overnight sensation with Sonny Bono when the pair released ‘I Got You Babe’. She was just 19 years old.
* As well as sharing a musical career with husband Sonny, the musical duo also appeared together on TV programme The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. During the third season their marriage hit the rocks and they were divorced in 1975. Three days after the divorce was finalised, Cher married rock musician Gregg Allman, but then reunited with former husband Sonny for two more seasons of their show.
* Whilst appearing on stage alongside Sonny, Cher disguised her nerves by directing putdowns at her husband. It worked and she soon became known for her sardonic humour.
* Talk about having the ex-factor, as well as marrying Sonny Bono and Gregg Allman, Cher dated Warren Beatty, had a fling with Elvis and was romantically linked to Tom Cruise, Val Kilmer and Gene Simmons!
* At the age of 17 Cher’s daughter Chastity Bono came out as a lesbian and then in 2009 Chastity announced that she was a transgender individual called Chaz. In 2010 Chaz’s transition to becoming male was made legal.
* Cher is dyslexic and presumably wonders (just like everybody else) why the condition is so damn difficult to spell!