Dear Cher Scholar: My housemate has broken the rules in our sharehouse by letting his fat, Scottish boyfriend move permanently into his room. This uncouth squatter has rubbed salt into the wound by giving me tinea via our shared shower. I'm a fairly easygoing person, but I draw the line at fungal infections. Would I be over-reacting by demanding this unhygienic, selfish bastard leave the house immediately?Yours sincerely, Scaley Toes
Dear Scaley Toes,
First of all, Cher Scholar had to visit Dr. Koop.com to figure out what Tinea was. Turns out it's a form of ringworm, most commonly known as athlete's foot. Since it has taken Cher Scholar a year to get back to you, you're probably a human petri dish by now. Change your socks daily and find an over-the-counter medication for yourself. As for the fat, slobbish Scot, he sounds awfully familiar. Is your roommate's boyfriend Fat Bastard, by any chance? That can't be good. You are very right to draw the line at fungi. You may as well be living at the Y for all the trouble you're having. Cher wouldn't live at the Y, I tell you what. However, Cher did play a slob in the movie Silkwood, causing her Meryl Streep roommate to complain that spaghetti had been abandoned so long it was, in fact, growing cooties. Cher also played a slob in the 1969 movie Chastity. In this movie, she loved leaving faucets running all over the house for no good reason. And during a trip to a whorehouse in Mexico, Cher's character discovered living conditions she didn't find very spic and span, at one point breaking down in front of her lesbian lover, screaming "You stink! This whole place stinks!" If only there had been some Lysol handy, everything might have worked out. In the movie Mask, Cher threw a beer stein across the kitchen, breaking a nick-nack shelf. And Sonny & Cher lived with monkeys in the movie Good Times. I wouldn't recommend this, though. Monkeys tend to stink and they try to run your life. In any case, these days Cher probably lives with a fleet of maids who keep her sconces and incense burners dust free. You, on the other hand, live in squalor. Therefore, you would not be in err to kick your fungi-riddled roomies to the curb the way Cher did with Gregg Allman. The next time your roommates return from their European concert tour, make sure their clothes are sitting outside your gated compound. The morale of the story: living with people is a hard business. Although at one point in 1974, Sonny, his girlfriend Connie and Cher cohabitated a house in Bel Air, they ended up battling it out in the courts and in the tabloids by 1975. My advice to you, start building your own house in Malibu with your own infinity pool to bathe in, free from the tidal waves of Scottish fat bastards.
Dear Cher Scholar: Here in the United Kingdom we have a music program on the BBC called Tops of the Pops. In the Christmas edition we were treated to seasonal greetings messages from various celebrities. Completely unprovoked, Cher's Christmas video message to the viewers ran something like"Top of the Pops. My best Christmas present was a Rolls Royce. I gave it back!" Well, thanks for that insight you materialistic bimbo—now come and clean up the mulled wine I just puked over the Yule log. Any suggestions to prevent future festive fallout? Paul
I'll make you a deal. You talk to Elton John over there and we'll stage an intervention with Cher over here. And because I know you're going to get absolutely nowhere with Sir Elton, I have no intention of even starting to think about my intervention. Cars, motorcycles, houses, shoes, chain mail, yes Cher probably has warehouses full of crap but would you have preferred her Best-Christmas-Present blurb to have been a lie? Like "world peace as experienced in 1975 when we all joined hands with John and Yoko in Central Park?" You're so cynical, Paul; you're just not cynical enough! Most celebrities are materialistic. That's why they're there—because they wanted to be rich and famous. Not exactly the sentiments we seek in Christmas cheer, surely; but at least Cher doesn't pretend to be more righteous than she is. As Chris Rock once said "I'm not saying it's alright, but I understand." I have to respect her honesty and am glad she didn't spew some contrived response such as: "the best Xmas gift I ever got was a fan letter from a seven year old Craniofacial kid, thanking me for footing the bill for her 9th reconstructive face surgery and who's family I hosted (along with hundreds of other CCA families) on a summer trip to Disney World. Aren't I special? I help people!" Let me tell you, over here in America, we hear the song "Step into Christmas" ad nauseum every year and I want to puke in my Yule Log, too. But I don't. Because that whole Yule log thing just isn't my scene. I propose we call a moratorium on Christmas gift giving, Christmas moral posturing and counter-posturing lest we forget what Christmas is really about, (no, not moral superiority over other religions). I'm talking about dysfunctional family suffering. In the meantime, the best Christmas gift you could give the rest of us would be some compassion for the limitations of others, understanding of the human condition, and finally grasping the idea that Christmas brings out the worst in us all. Jeesh!
Dear Cher Scholar: I am 44 and have very similar features to Cher throughout the years. As she started getting plastic surgery, the features I didn't like on myself were gone on her and now I think she looks better than she did as a teen! Is it possible to get the name of the plastic surgeon who did her face-lift? Lorin
Honey, even if I did have the name of a good plastic surgeon, I would destroy it in my Hasbro Easy Bake Oven in an effort to prevent you from spending your hard earned money on nose splints. Let's start by taking an inventory of things that look like they've changed on Cher. She has fewer wrinkles now than she did when she was in her 40s. Her once thin lips are oddly puffier. Her post-Mask nose is of a smaller version than her TV nose. And her teeth are now straight. So, the features you are referring to must be your nose, lips and teeth because wrinkles are a very pedestrian cosmetic problem, not solely attributed to Cher. Let me first say, Cher's plastic surgery is grossly overblown. She has not had nearly the number of rhinoplasties as Michael Jackson and putting her in his category is unfair. And yet, from the outside looking in, it can be said that plastic surgery always did seem unnecessary for Cher, our Queen of kick-butt-love-me-as-I-am-ness. Let hear it for the beautiful flaw. Perfection is over-rated. It has a strange way of turning promptly into ordinariness. Read Dr. Suess' thesis "The Sneetches" for a definitive theory on this issue. Also, consider the line from Cher's cover of Patty Larkin's "Angels Running:" "There is nothing less than perfect in a less than perfect world." You have your own demons to fight, not Cher's. So doing what Cher does will not resolve your personal insecurities. She does what she does and says "If I want to put tits on my back, it's nobody's business but my own." Fair enough, but it reminds Cher Scholar of an old saying her mother used to use on her: "If your friend put her tits on her back would you put tits on your back, too??" Cher Scholar always thought Cher was very beautiful with her larger nose and crooked teeth. If you agree, affirm the old Cher, version 1.0, and stay put. You should look like you. Save your money for fun things like a cruise or a trip on The Orient Express. Consider it a kind of plastic surgery on the soul.
On a personal note, Cher Scholar has a crooked nose, which has bothered her even since an old boyfriend lovingly pointed it out to her over 10 years ago. That is it bothered her until she noticed Harrison Ford had the same malformity. This proved to Cher Scholar that you can be a sex symbol even if you have a grossly crooked nose. If Harrison Ford got plastic surgery would Cher Scholar do it too? Hell no! She would just track down another celebrity with a crooked nose. I'm not changing, god dammit!
Dear Cher Scholar: I know this really great guy. He goes to school with me, and he's like my best friend. He's like the only person who really understands and accepts me for every unique thing about me, including my fixation with Cher. He has liked me forever, and I like him now too. However, I don't really want to be tied down right now, and I'm the worst person in the world when it comes to committing to one guy. Also, I'm afraid we'll break up two weeks after we start going out, and then I'll hate him forever because I'm such a jealous person sometimes. Another thing, we do this thing together called Odyssey of the Mind (it's totally impossible to explain). Anyway, I've determined through my experiences (which are considerable) that it's never a good idea to date a guy on my team. I'm not real sure if I want to go out with him or not. What do I do? Cherilyn (Yes, that is my real name)
What? Who are you kidding? Honey, you won't be finding many other Cher-positive boyfriends out there. Take this one!! Take my word for it: most men who like Cher are gay. Cher most likely turned straight men against her when claimed men were just a luxury in her life, not a necessity. I can see where that could be misconstrued as insurrection. Men are so sensitive. Now according to their website, Odyssey of the Mind is a school program which fosters creative thinking, problem-solving, and creating confidence through projects that range anywhere from building mechanical thingamajigs to interpreting literature. It sounds like a real fine program. It also sounds like dating someone in your OOTM group could be detrimental to maintaining that nonjudgmental, non-emotionally hazardous atmosphere you need when learning life skills. On the other hand, I can't imagine you will be finding another guy out there who is committed to creative problem solving and doesn't think it's royally stupid to be a fan of Cher. You may think Cher Scholar is reckless in discouraging proven school programs for the sake of Cher-accepting men; but you may not realize, at your tender age, how rare Cher-acceptance is in a mate. Also keep in mind, dating is no life sentence. If he tells you it is, he's a psycho. Let him waste away in Margaritaville. Think of this relationship as a Val Kilmer/ Gene Simmons romp instead of a Sonny Bono ten-year plan. But hear me now: I've never heard of a heterosexual male who didn't love to lord his superior taste in music over his Cher-fan girlfriend. If there is such a tribe, tell me where would one go to find them?
Note to reader: Cher Scholar's Ape Culture Co-editor Coolia would like to advise the reader that her boyfriend-to-be is probably gay and just doesn't know it yet.
Dear Cher Scholar: I am 13 years old and I am totally crazy about Cher and Elvira, Mistress of the Dark. Unfortunately, I can't go to any of their appearances or concerts (in Cher's case) because of school/lack of money/parental disagreement. By the time I'm old enough to have no school or parent restrictions, they will both be over 60 and will probably have given up show business altogether! What do I do? Anonymous
First of all, I don't see much of Elvira now so I don't know what to tell you about her future in show business. I suggest you contact an Elvira Scholar. As for Cher, it does seem, at first glance, as if you are facing a race against time; but I would almost swear to you that Cher will still be available for general viewing after she's 60. I would almost bank on it, unless she gets hit by a truck or dies in a plane crash. Let's not think about that. Think instead about me, a sentimental seven year old. My life's one simple innocent dream was to wait until I turned 16, get my drivers license, and drive across the U.S. of A. to Television City where I would finally see The Sonny & Cher Show as part of a live studio audience. My parents didn't understand this life quest. To them, fanship without knowing a celebrity's political party was just pure folly. But it didn't matter at the end of the day because The Sonny & Cher Show was cancelled that year. However, twenty-two years later I was able to simply take the train down into Manhattan for a Cher book signing at Barnes and Noble. And this will probably happen to you, too. Just as there are no television show tapings these days for me, there may be no concert tours any more for you. But she's got another book in her, I bet. And there will be other appearances: guest spots on talk shows, the occasional odd concert. Cher didn't meet her own idol — Audrey Hepburn — until she was over 40 — at an awards show. The trick will be to get a ticket to these rare events. But tell your sad story enough in the next ten years and some TV producer, fan club or Cher Entouragean will send you one out of pity. Another option: keep working on your own parents. Seriously, with all the scary music out there today, Cher is comparative bubblegum. I know no drug addicted alcoholic petty thief Cher fans and I've been around them for almost 30 years. Win your parents over with Cher's catchy catalogue of songs. Stage Cher Musicals in the backyard. Host a Cher retrospective movie night. Okay, it didn't work for me either. The point is—Cher will be around for another decade or two.
Merriam, I Suspect your question stems from the fact that either you're not dazzling people with your verbal repertoire at parties or you are training for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. But honey, if I've learned anything from my ten years of boring office jobs, it's this: you don't have to be smart in this world; you just have to pretend you are. So learn to pretend you know big words. Pretend you're a lawyer like Cher was in Suspect, or an accountant like Cher was in Moonstruck. Pretend you're a rich American heiress, a waitress, a janitor, a sculptress, a secretary, a biker-mom without gainful employment, a superstar or a hooker philosopher. Your vocabulary will evolve in ways you least expect. But although all this pretending sounds like great fun for the next executive management meeting, you might want to rethink the whole vocabulary strategy anyway. Take Cher herself, for example. She's more of a visual than a verbal person. If a picture speaks a thousand words, Cher's wardrobe says a lot. Why learn a thousand words when one wacky wig will do? Think of creative ways to say "you snubbed me for the Oscar." No one but academic geeks will be able to understand your big words anyway.
Now that's a tough one. Cher doesn't have any pet history that has been well documented, aside from the odd dog or cat mentioned here or there. Her Academy Award was allegedly in place as a doorstop so her cats could roam from room to room. I bet those cats most likely marked poor little Oscar. Cher's never made a dog buddy movie like K-9 or Turner and Hooch, so it's difficult to say what kind of chemistry she has with dogs. And dogs in her movies have been very peripheral, such as Scoongie in Good Times and the yellow lab in Mask. I think Kurt Russell had a dog shadowing him around in Silkwood. And in Moonstruck, grandpa had lots of dogs. They were out of control. He fed the menagerie right from the table until Olympia Dukakis'character Rose barked, "Old Man, if you give another piece of my food to those dogs, I'm gonna kick you till you're dead!" Some people just have no patience with your very special relationship to your five dogs. But if grandpa had been a celebrity, Rose would put up with his rascally dogs. People also put up with celebrity dogs, like the allegedly difficult Mr. Winkle (www.mrwinkle.com). Offhand, I don't know how to prevent your male dog from humping your guests but to convince your guests they're witnessing some spectacular and entertaining (and completely non-embarrassing) event as Anna Nicole did when Sugar Pie started humping that inanimate defenseless teddy bear on The Anna Nicole Show. Sycophants would be more than happy to have Cher's dog hump their leg. All you have to do is convince your guests they've been "touched" by some Buddha dog or that your canine pal is a reality TV show dog and soon-to-be famous. This will most likely not work. Basically, there are dog people and there are dog-hating people. And dogs always pick the latter to sexually molest. It's just their passive aggressive way of letting you know they're horny enough to do it with a tree. It's only slightly less embarrassing than your guest finding copies of Playdog or Pentdoghouse under the couch.
Dear A. M. Fund,
This would be a good question for Loretta Castorini, Cher's accountant character in Moonstruck. If you're Cher Scholar, prudent money saving tips make your eyes glaze over and your eyelid sequins fall off. Words like aggressive and emerging growth, international value, and money market funds make your wacky wigs frizz. But here are some tips if you must have them. Participate in your company's 401(k) plan and contribute as much as you can. If you want to avoid bagging groceries when you're 80, you simply must pry that platform shoe money out of your own hands. You're supposed to keep your emergency money in a separate savings account. If you're Cher Scholar, all your money is emergency money. Tragically, you'll be penalized if you try to get your 401(k) money out before you're 59-and-a-half years old. You'll feel like a little tyke again when you march up to your financial advisor and proclaim, "I'm 59-and-a-half years old today. I want my money now!" In the meantime, put in whatever money you don't plan on seeing for a while. Pretend your sending money back to relatives in the old country. Take full advantage of available company matching. It's free money. According to the website pensionconsultant.com, "Stocks might be scary, but over the long run they perform best, by far. Unfortunately, more than two-thirds of 401(k) money is in low-yielding bond or money market funds, where it grows very slowly." Stick with an out-performer like the stock market index fund (the S&P 500). If your company plan doesn't include this option, pensionconsuoltant.com says to "urge your payroll professional to have one added. Every 401(k) plan in the nation should include a stock market index fund." According to pensionconsultant.com, "taking advantage of your 401(k) means you shouldn't end up having to rely on government programs like Social Security," which will mean tough times for Cher Scholar and Olivia Newton John Scholar because we haven't had much expendable income lately for such things as retirement investments. You see, our scholarship overhead is so high. If you're Cher Scholar, you are probably fighting a great urge to cash in your 401(k) to get the original 45 of "Ringo I Love You" or a set of 10 Farewell Tour tickets for each absolutely final performance. Or you may want to cash in for that extremely rare 1977 MIB Sonny & Cher Theater in the Round play set listed on eBay, an item listed as being in very good condition and one that comes with piano and bench, vanity, three-legged stool, two spotlights, TV camera with stand and "look through feature," hand-held microphone, and three (count 'em, three!) play areas! If you were Cher Scholar, you might consider this type of purchase an investment, along the lines of a Beatles lunch box. Although if you were Cher Scholar, you would never part with it and the fruits of the investment would never pay off. Rather, the Sonny & Cher Theater in the Round would become a burden for your heirs, like all those mansions for the Rockefellers. Cher Scholar's father tells her she should not be worrying about a 401(k) but instead saving up three months of living expenses in case of an emergency. Cher Scholar complains that he has been telling her to do this for ten years and for ten years she has not been able to do it. Cher Scholar's father says if she didn't buy so much Cher crap, she might be able to do it.
It doesn't seem to, but I swear it can. You may be surprised to hear this, but Cher Scholar by day is actually a trained and certified poet by night. And let me tell you, without poetry there would be no songwriters and nothing for misunderstood artists and bi-polar college students to do. I know what you're saying, when you listen to Diane Warren Cher songs, you guess poetry just doesn't matter. But although there isn't much poetry in "Love and Understanding," poetry can be found in other Cher songs. Take these lyrics from "Taxi Taxi":
Take me to your meditation
Take me to your door
Show me love's sweet revelation
Lying on your floor.
That a meditation could be lying on a floor—'now that's a surreal metaphor by Todd Terry and Mark Jordan. Here's a deep thought for you to ponder from Patty Larkin in the song "Angels Running":
There is nothing less than perfect
In a less than perfect world
So we have a surreal metaphor and a piece of Zen philosophy. Next, Sonny Bono pulls off another kind of poetry, the profound statement of surprising simplicity. From one of his last great songs, "Somebody":
Someone told me long ago
Cher, you just can't see
You miss a forest looking for the tree
When I think about it now
It's very true you see
'Cos everything I want is next to me
Cher herself even penned a line or two worthy of real poetry in her 2000 album Not Com.mercial. Although in a poetry workshop, she would have been advised to edit that "Bob Dole's useless arm" line. First thought isn't always best thought, as it turns out. She would have been told that this line distracted from the work the rest of the song, "Lady from San Francisco," was doing quite well. Never be so enamored of your own writing that you won't sacrifice a line that's upstaging the rest of the poem. But there are a few crystal moments of Cher writing, including this mind-bending gem from the controversial "Sisters of Mercy":
The karma train waits for no man
but God waits for us all
So, girls and boys, we have proven that poetry exists, but does it matter? Poetry has arrived, but does anyone else show up? I believe more people would attend poetry readings if Janet Jackson were there at the podium to rip off a breast panel at the very end. Poetry would sure matter then, by golly. But Janet's not there for poetry, sad to say. So, does a positively beautiful but unnoticed act of poetry matter? Ask yourself this: does a negatively evil but unnoticed act matter? Does one man's hatred spread into a philosophy of hate which begets a cult of hate which begets one act of terror, causing the death of thousands and exacerbating the fears of millions? Can one small bit of bad will build enough momentum to topple sky-scrappers? I don't see why one small act of poetry can't do the inverse.
Dear Cher Scholar: I have recently been working with a guy we'll call Mr. X. For me, working with him is a total pain in the ass! Every time I ask him to do something, (and I am above him on the ladder, so it's fine for me to do so), he comes back with sarcasm along the lines of "No way! What, you thought I was planning on working today?" Funny guy. He does eventually get around to doing the said task, but it's like pulling teeth. I've spoken to other women at work who have similar experiences and frustrations. The interesting part is the guys love him. They say, you ask him to do something and he does it. Hmmm. The other wrinkle to this, and why I'm asking you, Cher Scholar, is that Mr. X is gay. And since you are Cher Scholar, you obviously have plenty of knowledge of gay men. I know there are angry-man-hating lesbians out there, but it never occurred to me that there were angry-women-hating gay men out there, as well. Or do you think that this is a simple, boring case of a man who can't handle working for a woman? Britt Knowlton
This is an interesting question. When you think of sexual harassment and male chauvinist pigs, you usually think of heterosexual men, don't you. I wonder how many instances of harassment and discrimination against women by gay men there really are. In reality, harassment and discrimination moves in all directions, across all races, nationalities and sexes. Which is a sad, sad thing. Everyone is always positioning for power. Cher has been harassed by the most chauvinistic of them on any day in the rock-and-roll biz, starting with the infamous slimy record producer Phil Spector. In the early 60s, he asked Cher in French to sleep with him. Without missing a beat, she answered him in French: "for money." She had a smart mouth, Sonny used to say. And she used it to cut some men to pieces. Spector backed off and they even became friendly. But Cher was living with Sonny, a chauvinistic sort of fellow himself. He dictated where Cher could go, what she could buy and what movies she could watch. He thought, as husband, he should be unquestioned. Cher felt her personality being squashed and she left him in 1974, falling right into the arms of a gay man, allegedly a harasser of women as well, wouldn't you know it. Cher handled him, somehow. And eventually dumped him for sexist pig Gregg Allman who used to say women had only two uses "to make the bed and make it in the bed." Cher left him in 1978 and leapt into the arms of crass but tongue-in-cheek sexual objectifier Gene Simmons, there all but ending her string with chauvinists of one degree or another. Cher probably had the most difficulty with Sonny, the least crass but probably most traditionally chauvinist of the bunch. Cher simply out-crassed them. She struggled with difficult men in her movies as well, fighting non-stop with the little-liked Peter Bogdanovich, director of Mask. Cher's even covered sexism in a few of her songs: from 1969's "Do Right Woman" to 1987's "Working Girl" ("she's just a pawn in the struggle") to 1996's "It's a Man's World." When Cher left Sonny and David and Gregg, everyone thought she was a dumb broad. No one listened to her, record execs tried to dictate what music she could record. Eventually, she had to fire people and leave labels, and only work with people who could respect her authority. As you know, show biz is a dirty biz where people get ahead by playing mind games. Life is a constant battle and struggle with jerks. Try organizing the girls. Tag-team insult the guy. He hits you where it hurts to be a girl. Hit him where it hurts to be a boy. But if he gets a reputation for being trouble, hopefully no one will want to work with him. He may get ahead anyway, just like David Geffen. Sometimes jerks get ahead. And I have no simple platitude for that.
Dear Cher Scholar: What the hell was Cher thinking covering U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"? Surely she must know that she is covering an anthem song of arguably the best band on the planet. And this is a band who has gotten where they are largely due to their incredible live performances. To attempt to cover this band is a futile exercise — you'll never do them justice. It didn't work for the Pet Shop Boys in the 90s and it didn't work for Cher on tour, and it wont work for anyone else. It's like trying to recreate the Mona Lisa. Why waste your time? U2 Fan
Sugar, don't get your Bono in a snit!She covered "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" because she found a spiritual connection to the song—being a spiritual, physical, musical nomad and all. Being that money and fame ain't the answer and all. At least she didn't lip synch it. Classic songs will be covered. And lots of great artists did covers: Elvis, Sinatra. You must come to terms with this as the fan of a megaband. Do you think I appreciate Britney Spears'cover of "The Beat Goes On"? This is simply just something we must endure, my friend. Think of The Beatles, arguably the best band on the planet, and everyone who covered "Yesterday." Cher never covered "Yesterday," but she did cover "Hey Jude," "Something" and "Gotta Get You Into My Life" all on one album! Why would she do that? Because she feels like it, that's why. Even with 43 Bono, the original Bono, songs under her belt and 10 Bob Dylan covers, Cher has many more covers on almost all of her past 35 albums. Cher is the Cover Queen and Tom Jones is the King. Together, they rule the kingdom of covers. Due to their respective variety shows, they were able to cover songs weekly for years and largely bypass even their most famous lounge cover act competitors. Tom Jones and Cher covers are super when they each choose the right material. They're both getting old but they're both still hip enough to pass muster and sometimes record some groovy covers. Jones did a great version of Prince's "Kiss" and Lenny Kravitz's "Are you Gonna Go my Way" and Cher earned a Grammy nod for her cover of Amber's "Love One Another." She also does a great cover of Patty Larkin's "Angels Running," Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" and Miriam Makeba's "The Click Song" which Cher sang in the Niger-Congo Xhosa language. Both Cher and Tom Jones have a combined following of old fans and new hipsters and are able to pull off both the old and the new covers. Some of Tom Jones more pitiful efforts are "9 to 5" and "Take It To The Limit." Cher actually does do a good cover of both "Take It To The Limit" and "Those Shoes" by The Eagles. But her worst covers include "Sittin'On the Dock of the Bay," "Honky Tonk Woman" and "Listen to the Music." And since your band is not in her list of worst covers, I don't see that you have anything to worry about. Hey, did you hear? Tom Jones is working on a cover of "Sunday Bloody Sunday."
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