Thursday, September 27, 2007
Cher and Cher alike
Where is Cher? Isn't she doing anything to upstage Britney for a couple of days? Come out, Cher! I had the chance to interview her - during a period where I started to become the diva interviewer du jour of the gay regional press - when she released a self-written album that nobody listens to today. She was HUGE at the time. And when she called me from her cell phone, en route to the Hollywood Bowl for some rehearsal, it was pretty exciting. I wasn't even much of a fan, especially when held up some friends of mine, but I did like "Believe" and was curious to see what she was made of. I love that she felt one of my questions was completely absurd (it was!). Anyways, Cher fans enjoy this full version, and likely unseen until now, of the Cher interview!
PS - I just learned that eccentric ol' Vincent Gallo is selling copies of the issue of HX Magazine in which I interviewed him for $75 or more, autographed. So I'm gonna post the never seen big fat Gallo piece with some details about his going eccentric on me (well, his film's distributor at least) circa Brown Bunny. For the record, he's a pretty great conversationalist, and uses a lot of superlatives. It's a shame he goes all eccentric on people.
By Lawrence Ferber
We believe in life after love, love after sex (well, so long as his breath doesn’t stink) and CHER. And because she knows we’re hungry while awaiting the official March 2001 follow-up to Believe, the diva’s decided to share an intimate set of pre-vocoder recordings: not.com.mercial.
not.com.mercial’s creation began in 1994, when Cher absconded to Miles Copleand’s castle outside Bordeaux for one of his bi-annual songwriters’ conference/collaborations. There, having always scribed poetry, the never-aging diva learned to set her writings to music. And after collaborating with songwriter Bruce Roberts, Timbuk 3’s Pat MacDonald, and Letterman’s band, she had an album’s worth of songs which touched on her WWII vet grandfather (“Fit to Fly”), a period during her infancy spent in a Catholic orphanage (“Sisters of Mercy”), one of her daughter’s ex-girlfriends (“Disaster Cake”), and the tragic loss of Kurt Cobain (“(The Fall) Kurt’s Blues”).
Dance fans take note, however: Believe it’s not. Instead, think Joni Mitchell, with plenty of guitar strumming and campfire spirit, not to mention a personal and impassioned Cher we’ve not heard before. In fact, it’s such a Cher we’ve not heard that Warner Brothers wouldn’t touch it, so Cher’s selling the disc herself through her official online store/site - www.cher.com – and ARTISTdirect Network’s www.cherdirect.com. And she believes that…. Well, you can read below for that, as it was with great pleasure that Cher gave yours truly a call (keeping a “troop of 70 people waiting” while doing so) to discuss her album, her acting, and love.
Tell me about not.com.mercial in a way you haven’t told anyone else.
CHER: “I was actually listening to it and what I realized is that I’m not so sure it’s a very good album. It’s kind of like stories that are song instead of stories that are told. I’m just not sure how musically important it is. I just think the stories are very interesting and worthwhile, but I’m just not sure like if I were a critic, I’m not so sure how I would critique it… We did the whole thing in 2 days with the guys from the Letterman band – we were just making demo. And it was kind of like a garage thing, you know what I mean? It was a studio but it was very do it yourself kind of deal.”
Did you write the poem to the song?
“I actually wrote the bodies and the ideas pretty much before we put them to music and then while we were doing the music sometimes I would have to change them… mostly the essence and majority of them, like ‘(The Fall) Kurt’s Blues’ is exactly the way I wrote it. ‘Sisters of Mercy’ is pretty much exactly the way, and a lot of them are pretty much exactly the way I wrote them.”
What sorts of poems and feelings and thoughts and stories didn’t make it to the album?
“There was one, a really great one but we never finally finished it. It was called ‘Obviously Caucasian’ that I wrote about my son. Because he’s running around like some guy from East LA and yet he’s this blonde haired, green eyed, palest person you ever saw, so I just wrote this song about him with this really cool guy named Bink who was at the castle, but we never really got it together. There’s another song I wrote about myself called ‘Phoenix’ that I got the words, but never quite could pay enough attention to get it into real song form.”
Tell me about “Disaster Cake.”
“[Chastity’s ex-girlfriend] Heidi was in a really bad place and she was staying at my house – this is after they broke up and she was staying with me and just headed for a really bad situation, so I wrote ‘Disaster Cake’ about Heidi. She heard it when I first did it – she thought it was funny.”
I guess it is kind of flattering, isn’t it?
“The words weren’t things I hadn’t already told her exactly. We did this whole thing – she said ‘what could you possibly know? You’ve never even seen the Grateful Dead!’ I just thought that was very amusing, so all the things I told her were things I had told her – they just weren’t rhyming.”
Sisters of Mercy is about growing up in an orphanage with nuns?
“Well, I didn’t grow up there. I spent some time there, I’m not exactly sure [how long] because my mother doesn’t really like to talk about it too much, it might have been anywhere from three months to 6 months to 8 months. I’m not sure.”
Were there lesbian nuns?
“I have no idea – I was a baby.”
Are any of the songs dedicated to Sonny?
“The last one he wrote – ‘Classified A.’ In 1970.”
I read that Believe was “repaying” gay fans by being such a dancey, high energy album. Who is not.com.mercial repaying?
“Actually, that was a portion of it. And the truth is not.com.mercial is not really for anybody specifically – it’s for myself. One thing that I’ve noticed about myself, and gay people that have been my friends, is that we’ve both been through emotional turmoil in our life and so I think that they can quickly access emotional values.”
What sort of relationship do you have with Chastity now? I understand it’s close, but do you approve who’s she dating?
“We’ll, it’s none of my business. I actually happen to like Stacey a lot because I think she’s really good for Chaste, I think she’s a really nice girl, but my mother couldn’t tell me what to do, I can’t tell either one of my children what to do.”
Who has better taste in girlfriends? Elijah or your daughter?
“Oh God. (pause) I’m trying to think, it’s kind of hard because Elijah is into quantity right now, so it’s very difficult to pin him down with girls, and Chaste is very monogamous.”
What about your own taste in relationships?
“You know, I don’t have taste in relationships, I just like people and think that you come in contact with people you’re supposed to be with and you learn something from them if it’s a moment or ten years.”
Are you dating?
“No, I’m working. Not that I’m not going to – very soon! – but right now I start at about eight o’clock in the morning and I finish about ten o’clock at night and that’s kind of the way my life has been.”
Are you more of a romantic or a sleaze?
“Oh, I’m much more of a romantic.”
What to you is a romantic night?
“Oh. (pause) The movies always play some part in it. Cristal, the movies, popcorn, M&Ms and sex.”
Who’s been the best kisser in your films?
How did Nick Cage fare?
“I guess Nicky was OK. I don’t remember.”
Did you kiss Meryl in Silkwood?
“Meryl and I never had any relations because she was in love with Kurt so I was always kind of rebuffed.”
Was that upsetting? Could you get into that feeling?
“No, because truth was I was kind of like the little sister to both of them. My character was very non-sexual in a strange way. I had a girlfriend in the movie but all I ever did was get made up.”
Would you rather marry a gay man or another woman?
“Oh my god, that’s the most absurd question I’ve ever heard. It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the human being. It has nothing to do with the title, it has to do with the person.”
Have you fallen in love with women?
“No. I’ve had great best friends that I adore and love but no.”
Definitely a man’s woman.
“Definitely, yeah. I mean I love women and admire them and think they’re brilliant, but I’m definitely a man’s woman, or woman’s man or whatever.”
Have you been pursued by gay men or women?
“Not really so you’d notice. I’ve got so many gay friends, I’m always hanging out with them, we’re all very close, and I’ve got… every kind of friend you’d imagine.”
I’ve heard several people make the joking remark ‘after the nuclear holocaust there will only be cockroaches and Cher.’ Your response?
“I just think it’s adorable. It made me laugh so hard the first time I heard it. I think it’s great.”
Is Cher indestructible?
“Not really, but don’t tell anybody.”
What’s happening with the acting career right now, Cher? I heard something about a film called Breakers you were up for.
“It was a movie I was gonna do with Jennifer Aniston but neither of us liked the way the script came out so we both just walked away from it. Actually, I’m going to direct and star in a movie in the fall called The Enchanted Cottage. It’s about when you love someone, no matter what you look like, you’re beautiful to the other person and it’s kind of a fairy tale.”
How do you feel about your writing now that you’ve put songs to tape, and how will that attitude affect your follow-up to Believe?
“It really won’t affect it in any way because, look, I wrote the second verse to ‘Believe’ so it’s not like I don’t do it, it’s just not the main focus of my life. I rewrite all the movies I’m in – there’s moments in every movie that I’ve had to be able to change or readdress because I have kind of a strange speaking pattern. By luck or whatever people always allow me to make changes and stuff.”
Do you consider yourself a control freak?
“Oh… not really.”
So it’s more like customizing things to your capabilities?
“Yeah, I know when I really can’t say or do something. I’ve got limitations, I know that.”
Is there any recent creative conflict that comes to mind?
“The last conflict I can remember was on ‘Believe’ where they didn’t like the vocoder thing and I kind of said ‘you can change this over my dead body,’ basically. They were afraid people wouldn’t know who I was but I said eventually they will know who I am.”
Now everybody’s using that darned thing. I think they should rename it the ‘Divocoder.’
“Well, in England they call it the ‘Cher effect.’ I heard [Madonna use it on Music], I thought it was kinda cool.”
What was it like to have no conflict?
“It was pretty exciting.”
Did it spoil you?
“No, it was a one time deal, but I like conflict.”
It’s part of the artistic process.
“Yeah. Art is so in conflict, it’s like telling an oyster not to be in conflict – well, then you don’t get the pearl, do you?”
Another absurd question. Did you design the finale of your last concert – the big Believe number – to be the gayest moment in concert history, which it was? That’s going to be looked back on in 1000 years.
“(laughs hysterically) No, I never even think about that kind of stuff.”
Is the rumor true that you’re planning another tour?
“Well, I don’t know. I’m going to the Forum right now to rehearse the show, but then I go to London in November to finish my album and might do a small tour in June or July. [Right now] I’ve got a couple of concerts, and I’m doing this thing for the President in New York at Roseland on the 25th.”
Oh, the election. It’s looking scary. Your feelings?
“I almost would leave the country if Bush won.”
Me too. And the final cliché: do you believe in life after love?
“I absolutely do.”
No elaboration on that?
“No. It’s just simple.”