Chering: Thoughts on the Dark Lady and how she came into our lives
I am not a parent but I was a child in the 1970s and the relationship between Cher and her first born, Chastity/Chaz Bono always fascinated me. Cher put young Chastity on TV which seemed like a cool mom thing to do. In the 1990s, Chastity came out and Cher was reportedly upset at the news, which was uncool but a human reaction at the time. Then Cher snapped out of it and appeared on the cover of the Advocate as the proud mother of a lesbian daughter. In the 2000s, Chastity transitioned into Chaz. His mom, already an icon in the LGBT community, amped up her activism. Of course, because they are famous, this relationship feels more compelling than it should, but it also sums a universal parent/child dynamic. When you’re little your mom is the most beautiful glamorous lady in the world. Then you get older and discover that she may have a few flaws. You seek to define yourself outside of being your mother’s child. And then you get comfortable in your own skin and realize that your mom keeps growing too.
— Rhonda Riche, editor, Femke
The first time I set my eyes on Cher was on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (1971–1974). The thing I loved about her right away was that she was charming and goofy. She was long, exotic and glam in her crazy Bob Mackie glass beaded creations. Her flat belly was always exposed. She licked her lips after every Sonny dig. Her long hair flipped back and forth every second.
When she sang she always sounded to me like she was on the verge of turning into a cartoon donkey. She was utterly mesmerizing. She also had my family schnozz, just like my mom and Aunt Cindy … and the one I’d grow to have.
—John Webster, designer, Sissydude
I don’t know how we got a hold of the tape, or how we even had a way to play VHS in 2003. But somehow the four of us ended up in Josie’s living room, pressing play on Cher Fitness: A New Attitude and following along in hardly contained excitement. We were teenagers who by all accounts should have been filled with self-doubt and a fear of standing out. But there was no hesitation here. It was a spark we saw in each other: this ability to not only accept a challenge, but to gleefully sprint in its direction. There was something magic about fully committing to something so ridiculous. It’s a lesson that tugs at me now whenever I get absorbed in daily life: There’s nothing more important than surrounding yourself with people who don’t ask, “Why?”, but “What legwarmers go with my sheer leotard?”
— Erin Hug, playwrite and improvisor
Half-breed, it’s all I ever heard
Half-breed, how I loved to hate the word
Boy, did I. I also hated the words squaw, Pocahontas, Hiawatha, and Paki. They hurt when they were said to me. When Cher sang “Half-Breed” in 1973, she became my woman. I would bend over, pull my black T-shirt up my face to my hairline, and quickly stand up, the T-shirt flying backwards up over my head. Twisting my arm around my back, I’d check the length. Was my hair as long as Cher’s? I famously flipped it over my shoulder. Cher was beautiful. I started to sing.
— Kim Latreille, publisher, Femke
Photography by Ron Galella/Getty Images, used with permission