New Again: Cher
In New Again, we highlight a piece from Interview’s past that resonates with the present.
We’ve never seen an episode of The Voice, and probably never shall, but the show momentarily captured our interest when they announced that Cher would be performing on it this Saturday. We’ve met Cher quite a few times over the years—first in December 1974, at the Pierre hotel, where she discussed Sonny’s new solo variety show with Andy Warhol. Our favorite encounter with the songstress, however, is the below interview in 1982, when Cher appeared on our cover.
In Bed with… Cher
By Andy Warhol and Bob Colacello
THURSDAY, MARCH 18, 1982, 4:00 p.m.: Andy Warhol and Bob Colacello arrive at Cher’s duplex apartment atop the Mayflower Hotel on Central Park West and 61st Street, which she shares with her children, Chastity Bono and Elijah Blue Allman, their nanny, a cook, a maid, and a secretary, all of whom look and act more like friends than employees. While waiting for Cher to descend, AW and BC peruse the magazines on the coffee table: Vogue, Life, GQ, Architectural Digest. After a few minutes, the star beckons them upstairs to her bedroom, with its spectacular view of midtown at her feet. Cher is wearing black jogging pants, a black t-shirt tied up above the waist, white cardigan, white running shoes and purple headband. Her throat hurts, her skin’s broken out in reaction to her throat medicine, her nerves are wrecked from the strain of her first Broadway play, Come Back To The 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, directed by Robert Altman. AW and BC sit on the edge of her big bed and turn on the tape.
ANDY WARHOL: Cher, how is Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean doing?
CHER: It’s been doing great. I love it. I sure hate matinees though, God. I’ve only got one really good performance in me usually. The first one gets my best and the second one, I just give whatever is left. This is not the hardest I’ve ever worked but maybe it’s because I’m older now. This is the most intense I’ve ever worked. All my work was never really intense; it was just off the cuff.
WARHOL: I think you should do more of it.
CHER: Do you know what happened yesterday? Mike Nichols was in the audience at the matinee and it was the best performance I’ve ever given. I didn’t know he was there, thank God, I would have been shit. He came back afterwards and offered me a part in his movie and I didn’t really believe him. And then this morning they called and offered it to me officially.
WARHOL: How great.
CHER: With Meryl Streep. I’d play Meryl Streep’s girlfriend, Dolly, in the Karen Silkwood movie (Silkwood, 1983).
WARHOL: When will they shoot it?
CHER: August. I want to do this film more than anything. Actually, I came here to study acting, and all of a sudden I have this job on Broadway.
BOB COLACELLO: Do you think that’s why you feel it’s the hardest work you’ve ever done, because it is Broadway, because it is New York and you feel you’re under more pressure?
CHER: New York has got the strangest reaction to me. I woke up this morning and I was crying and I called my sister, and Debbie, my secretary, and everybody came up here—I was very hysterical. I love New York so much and it’s so different than anything I’ve ever experienced before. I’ve been in New York before but this is so different. I have so many friends and I can’t sleep and there’s so much to do and life is so, so too much for me. I was trying to explain to a friend of mine the other night how I’m not used to being highly exposed, because I never let myself be exposed. I can go in a room with 100 people and I never see anybody because I just don’t want to. And now I’ve been meeting the most wonderful people, at the Café Central, which is like my home away from home… like the guy who owns it, Peter Herrero and Peter Riegert and John Heard and Bruce McGill and Paulie and Elaine and Janice. … It’s all these people all of a sudden. And I met this most wonderful man.
WARHOL: Do you put [hockey player] Ron Duguay in that category of wonderful people too?
CHER: No. He’s not a bad guy; he’s young and he has a hard life to lead.
WARHOL: He’s cute.
CHER: A pretty face is a pretty face.
WARHOL: He’s more than a pretty face.
CHER: I don’t know that he’s ever going to be strong enough to outlive the whole thing that is going on around him.
COLACELLO: But that’s the danger of New York. Some people can’t deal with the too-muchness.
CHER: It’s a lot for me; sometimes it just overwhelms me. Sometimes I walk around singing on the street, it’s just crazy. When I met Ron I thought he’s wonderful. He and I are similar in one respect that he’s younger and I’ve gone through it for a longer time. We both came from small places to someplace where you became famous overnight. It’s really difficult to deal with fame and superficial people who think you’re beautiful, and girls who want to fuck you so that they can say, “I fucked Ron Duguay,” and somehow that makes them better or more legitimate or it gives credence to their existence.
WARHOL: Patti LuPone really liked him a lot.
CHER: There is something beautiful inside him. Actually, I met two men who are not only beautiful but also very talented. They are the most amazing men inside that I’ve ever known.
COLACELLO: Two of them? They’re both in New York?
WARHOL: I hope they have bucks.
CHER: No. I never cared about that anyway. I’m not destined to be a rich woman. I’m destined to be a woman who makes a lot of money and never has any. I’ve made millions and millions and millions of dollars and I just spend it.
COLACELLO: What do you spend it on? Bob Mackie?
CHER: The government takes almost all of it. My grosses and my nets—the only thing they have in common is that they’re both money. I just built this house in L.A. … here are some pictures but they don’t do it justice. I’ve been building this house for four fucking years and it’s so beautiful, and now I’ve decided I don’t want to live in Los Angeles.
WARHOL: This is a brand new house?
CHER: Yes, I bought the land. I gave the best picture to [songwriter and record producer] John Loeffler.
WARHOL: Talk about John Loeffler.
CHER: Yes, I know you want me to talk about John Loeffler.
COLACELLO: Who is Bob Loeffler?
CHER: He’s the most amazing man. He’s a writer and a singer. And then there’s John Heard who is absolutely amazing too. I just have met the two most amazing men that I’ve ever met in my life.
COLACELLO: And then you got a rash.
CHER: Oh, it’s terrible. It’s calmed down now. I’ve been to the doctor two days in a row for shots.
WARHOL: What is it from? Do you know?
COLACELLO: [looking at photos of Cher’s house]: This is beautiful, Cher. You should keep it. Don’t sell it yet.
CHER: I’ve got four million dollars tied up in that house and I don’t ever want to go back to Los Angeles again.
CHER: Because I love New York.
COLACELLO: They’re doing so many movies here now that I don’t know if it’s necessary for actors to live in L.A. anymore, do you?
CHER: I don’t think so at all, but I’m not an actor… actress.
COLACELLO: What do you mean, you’re not an actor or actress?
CHER: Somebody called me an actress the other night in a derogatory way and I was so proud. They said, “How can I trust you, after all you’re an actress.” It was so amazing.
COLACELLO: You never thought you were acting on TV?
CHER: No, TV is shit. Also, it’s been hard for me. I’ve been made a joke all my career life. I’ve been one of the most popular women in America and a joke and somehow inside of me. … Mike Nichols said to me, “You know, I should have listened to you when you told me you were talented.” Nobody’s got time to listen and I didn’t even know I was talented. Sometimes I’m still not sure. So I never thought about that. And then my private life got to be so much bigger than anything that I could do as a career thing that everybody just thought I was a total idiot. I am an idiot, but I’m not a total one. When I came here, people who I respect came to see my play and then, all of a sudden, they looked at me like a totally different human being.
WARHOL: Did you make up some of the lines in the play?
CHER: Yes. But Bob Altman lets you do that, he really does. I’ve never seen it so it’s hard to say how good it is. I watch all the other girls. Working with Sandy Dennis is the thrill of my life. I’ve never worked with anybody in my life I’ve liked as much. I learn something from her every single night. I suck up all the little things I see and I watch everything.
COLACELLO: Are you planning to do any more records?
CHER: I just did the record and heard the final mix yesterday. I wish I had it because I’d let you guys hear it. It’s the only thing I’ve ever done that I’ve really been proud of. That’s not true. I did a tape with Gregg Allman and I did another album called Stars that I love, but that’s it. This album is very good; it’s called I’m Paralyzed.
WARHOL: Did you produce it yourself?
CHER: No. I did one cut with John Ferry, the guy that does Olivia Newton-John’s stuff. He wrote the title song called “I’m Paralyzed.” I did the other stuff with a guy named David Wolfert who is wonderful. It’s really good. I was astonished when I listened to it yesterday. I listened to it with John Loeffler and his music is so brilliant I thought, shit, I’m really embarrassed to listen to it with him, but I wanted to ask him some questions because I had to make the final decision yesterday. So he picked me up and we went over to this really neat studio and listened to it and he said, “You know, this is very good, I’m very surprised.”
COLACELLO: Ahmet Ertegun is taking some people to see Laura Branigan at the Bottom Line tonight.
CHER: Then she must be good; there must be something there.
COLACELLO: Which label are you with?
CHER: CBS. When I was a young girl my mother and Ahmet were friends. My mother said, “I have a daughter who sings.” Two years later he signed Sonny and me and when I brought my mother down to the session he said, “Julia? What are you doing here?” She said, “I told you I had a daughter who sang.” He said, “Cher was the daughter who sang?”… Ahmet is wonderful. He is one of the most unique men I’ve ever met in my life and he’s the strangest man in the world. I mean he could sit down with James Brown or go out with Henry Kissinger and it wouldn’t even bother him in the slightest.
WARHOL: He can go out with me, too.
CHER: I love him.
WARHOL: I do too. His wife is wonderful.
CHER: She is the best. I was at Carly Simon’s the other day for tea. Mica Ertegun did Carly’s apartment and it is so lovely. It was so beautiful and so light. Carly is neat, too. I’ve met the best people since I’ve been here. In Los Angeles it’s so different. No one wants you to succeed, no one wants to say anything good about you.
WARHOL: Everybody puts everybody down to their face there.
CHER: It’s terrible.
WARHOL: At least they do it behind your back in New York.
CHER: The one thing about New York, people are either going to kiss you or slap you and I honestly think that that’s the better way to live… I’ve had cab drivers. The other day a cab driver marked my boots and it pissed me off, the stupid motherfucker; I was so angry. I had these beautiful boots that were too expensive that I got at Bennis/Edwards. My sister Jeannie bought them for me for Christmas, a couple of pairs and they were $585. We were on our way to Carly’s and I put my foot up like that to show my sister and the driver thought that I had it on the back of his seat. He came around with a pen and he said, “Don’t”—he hit my foot and put a pen mark on it. I said, “I didn’t even touch it, I just raised my leg like that,” and he said, “You couldn’t raise your leg like that,” and I said, “Bullshit you asshole, I did!” I got so angry. And then on the way back I was walking across the street and another cab stopped and the guy yelled out the window, “You go ahead,” he said, “I love you so much, you’ve given me so many hours of enjoyment, go ahead.” It’s always one or the other and there’s nothing in between. New York is very black and white. I like that. At least if you’re unhappy here you know it and if you’re happy you know it. In Los Angeles it never even occurs to you what you are. It only occurs to you to decorate your house and when it’s done to redecorate it because someone else had done something better in the meantime.
COLACELLO: And once a month go to a party.
CHER: Never. I never even bother to go to parties in Los Angeles. I never go out, I never do anything. It’s so strange; this is the first time in my life that I ever had a friend.
COLACELLO: Where are you from originally?
CHER: Los Angeles. L.A. is kind of like heroin, I guess. It seems like it would be a beautiful, quiet peaceful feeling and then it kills you.
COLACELLO: You were very upset about John Belushi’s death?
CHER: I really was. You know what pissed me off? I thought that if he was alive, I’d slap his face for being so stupid. It pissed me off so much. I thought this is not Janis Joplin time, how could he do that? It’s so stupid. John was such a wonderful person; I had some really good times with him.
COLACELLO: When we interviewed Mrs. Reagan last October she told us that her big program is a campaign against drugs. Would you do something like that?
CHER: I’m doing something next week about drugs. I believe there are some people who can do something about it and some people who can’t do something about it. I really know about drugs firsthand; I’ve gone through it. I think one of the saving graces is that drugs don’t agree with me, they just don’t. I’m treading in a real strange place anyway. I like to be who I am.
WARHOL: I’m the same way. I feel like I’m on drugs anyway.
CHER: When I was 14 years old I took two Benzedrine and was up for a whole weekend. I chewed the same piece of gum and when I came down, my mouth felt like someone had broken my jaw. I went to my mother and started to cry and I said, “Mother, I did this and I’m so unhappy. I feel so bad, am I going to die?” She said, “I hope you’ve learned your lesson.” And I swear to God I did. I wouldn’t take an upper. I’ve never had cocaine in my life and I would never do it because I’ve never seen anybody that I knew who had money who could do it that didn’t… And I never saw it do any good. It’s like a banana split. I never had a banana split and then all of a sudden I was older and when I’d tell people I hadn’t had one they’d say, “You’re kidding,” and so now I love the idea that I’ve never done cocaine. If I haven’t done it I couldn’t possibly miss it and I don’t want to get involved. I mean there are other things that I can’t handle in my life; I don’t want to add something else.
COLACELLO: You’re also talking about kids now, who are nine, 10, 11, and 12.
CHER: I know. I’m worried about my daughter. I really have great faith in her though. I just say this, “Chas, do me this favor. If you’re going to do anything, please come home and we’ll do it together because if you have to do something, I don’t want you to do it alone, and if I can talk you out of it, I will.” She’s so straight that I really don’t think I have to worry. She hates smoking. I think smoking is terrible. I don’t know why the government lets people smoke, it’s terrible. It’s killing us. Smoking, sugar and all this shit that no one cares about.
COLACELLO: Do you drink?
CHER: I drink wine. I never drank wine until I came to New York. I like it. I drink two glasses of wine a night maybe, not always, but sometimes. I guess that’s drinking.
COLACELLO: How do you calm down or deal with stress?
CHER: I go to the gym and that really helps me. I’ve been more stressful here. I’ve been so nervous with this play that my body chemistry was thrown off. I had to go to two doctors and they said my nerves have just totally fucked-up my body. Also I haven’t been able to swallow. I’ve got a hernia or something in my esophagus so I haven’t been eating. I’ve been running on empty. I’ve been running on nervous energy.
COLACELLO: Do you take vitamins?
CHER: Yes, but I almost choked to death on a vitamin. Bob Altman saved my life and that’s what kind of started this whole thing, so I’ve been taking liquid vitamins. But liquid vitamins are not keeping the weight on. Right now I’m okay, I’m not too thin but if I go too many more weeks without eating solid food I’ll be too thin. I’ve been drinking lots of fattening malts and shit like that to try and keep my weight. You’d be surprised if you don’t eat anything solid how quick you lose weight. Last week I looked like some Auschwitz victim.
COLACELLO: What about your records? Do you like playing them?
CHER: No, I like playing other people’s records. I’ve been listening to John forever. And I’m totally in love with Michael McDonald, I’m totally in love with Bob Seger, and totally in love with James Taylor and I listen to music constantly. I can’t listen to my own voice, I don’t like it. You see all your mistakes when you hear your voice. You see all your imperfections.
COLACELLO: What do you think of Mayor Koch running for governor?
CHER: I honestly have no idea what it means. I don’t know anything about politics and I don’t like to get involved because like everybody else I always go for the charisma of the human being and that doesn’t mean shit. They could be the most charismatic person in the world and make the worst politician.
COLACELLO: Do you watch the news on television every night?
CHER: I don’t watch the news. I’m pretty unenlightened.
COLACELLO: Do you read much?
COLACELLO: What are you reading now?
CHER: Stephen, my road manager, got me something that Truman Capote wrote, Music for Chameleons. I read strange things. My favorite book is Stranger in a Strange Land.
WARHOL: Do you keep a diary?
CHER: No, I remember everything; I keep everything in my head. I would be sued up the ass if I wrote what has really happened to me. That’s the wonderful thing. I feel like it’s a big joke. Everybody in the world thinks they know everything about me—nobody knows anything. I’m always truthful, but truth is such a weapon. So some day I’m going to write a book that’s going to make everybody crazy. I loved Shelley Winters’ book. I love Shelley Winters, too. I thought that was a wonderful book.
COLACELLO: Do you plot and plan your career move by move?
CHER: Never. I’m totally unmanageable. Ask my managers. I never think about it.
COLACELLO: Who are your managers?
COLACELLO: Could you conceive of not being famous?
CHER: Yes, but I have to achieve credibility before I do that.
COLACELLO: What is “credibility” to you?
CHER: Well, I’m starting here. Credibility is to be good. You must be good. That’s all I ever wanted—to be good at what I did.
WARHOL: You were good and you are good.
COLACELLO: You are a great comedian. Does being good somehow in your mind mean a great dramatic actress?
CHER: No, I know what it is even if I can’t express it to you. When I was a young girl, I was studying acting and I met Sonny. That’s what I wanted to be—an actress.
WARHOL: What you did on TV was great.
CHER: Yes, I don’t know. I want to be really special, I want to be really good. It’s not enough to be famous for me. Famous is empty so quickly, it’s not what people think it is. It’s wonderful yeah, but if you’re famous and you feel that you’re an artist inside and everyone thinks you’re just a celebrity, it’s really painful. I really want to be good. I always wanted to be famous because I thought that if I couldn’t be good I’d be famous. When I was eight years old I wanted to be famous and I had absolutely no idea of what I could do that would make me famous. Then, when I met Sonny we started to be…. I was never really good. I was just something different and I got to be famous for being different.
WARHOL: But that’s good.
CHER: When I was a little girl I practiced my autograph and someday when I was famous… By the time I was 12 years old, it was the same autograph I sign today, it’s the same autograph that I had down pat when I was 12 years old because I was going to be somebody famous. I wanted to be Audrey Hepburn.
COLACELLO: Who is good for you—in any field?
CHER: Audrey Hepburn is good for me, Meryl Streep is good for me, John Voight is good for me, Dustin Hoffman is good for me, Robert DeNiro is good for me, Marlon Brando is good for me, Richard Dreyfuss is good for me, Picasso was good for me, Gauguin was good for me, a guy I met walking down the street the other day that makes leather clothes is good for me. Michael McDonald, James Taylor, Michael McDonald is so fucking brilliant that I could be in love with him just because I love his music so much. It’s something that happens inside, but it never could do it for me. I know on stage some nights I’m good. I know it, I feel it. I’m 35 years old and I’ve never felt good about what I did. Maybe for a minute. I did all the parts in West Side Story once, it was a show that I did and I felt good then. I’ve had minutes, seconds. But seconds out of a career of 18 years is not enough to sustain anybody. And plus having to read—for the most part I’m thick-skinned in some places, but I’ve got holes in that skin and every time I pick up something that says something demeaning about me as a person or as a talent, it’s hard for me to live with that. And most of the time I think they must be right because if I was talented I would have known it by now; I would have proven it by now. But everyone has got their own time span. I think that maybe now I’ve got a chance to do something really worthwhile.
COLACELLO: You’ve got to get some solid food down.
CHER: Well, I’m going to have to go see this other doctor who is going to cure this thing that I’ve got. It’s actually physiological; it’s not in my mind. This morning I thought, Well I’m having a nervous breakdown and I can’t eat, I can’t sleep and I’m in love with two guys who I don’t know what to do with and I got a part in a movie with Meryl Streep. It’s all too much. So I called in everyone and sat there and cried. You know crying is just a release and I wasn’t really unhappy. So much happens to me in New York that I just can’t get it all out.
COLACELLO: Well, it just sounds to me that you’re finally achieving what you want to, which is getting into a career that is more satisfying.
CHER: That’s what my mother said. She said, “You’ve kept everything inside for so long and it’s coming out. Don’t worry about it, it’s all right.”
WARHOL: Your mother sounds great.
CHER: My mother is fucking amazing and she’s beautiful. You should do an interview with my mother sometime. She’s 55, my grandmother is 67. My grandmother had my mother when she was 12 years old. My mother was telling me about when she was little. My grandmother is an Indian and she was telling me about what she used to teach her to do, different Indian dances when she was little. We talked for hours yesterday. My mother and I haven’t gotten along for almost my entire life. We’ve always fought, we’ve not always talked, we’ve always argued. My mother is crazy and so am I, but my mother is very special.
COLACELLO: Do you have any Italian in you?
CHER: No, Armenian.
COLACELLO: Armenian and Indian.
CHER: And French.
COLACELLO: Armenians are like Italians, they’re emotional.
CHER: I guess so. I don’t know many Armenians. I met one of the most beautiful Armenian women that I’ve ever seen in my life last night. She’s a cocktail waitress or a bartender at a place called the Allstate. Her name was Suki or Sudi. She was gorgeous. You should take a picture of her. She looked like a man. She looked like the most beautiful cross between a man and a woman that I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She’s a friend of John’s. She had the most amazing face I think I’ve ever seen on a human being.
WARHOL: Where’s the Allstate?
CHER: The Allstate is a bar up on the Westside.
COLACELLO: Have you seen Steve Rubell at all?
CHER: I love him, he’s been such a good friend to me. I haven’t seen him a lot lately. I’ve been desolate lately, it’s really terrible. I was so unhappy. I was here for three months and didn’t have any human contact with a man other than being with Ron Duguay. I don’t mean it the way it sounds. I really liked him right away and then nothing happened and it was just like me, left standing there waiting for something to happen that just never did. That was kind of sad and I thought, Well, maybe in New York you have to be a little bit weary of men. You know, I was like the pretty girl who never gets asked out. I was meeting all these men and they were saying I was fascinating and everyone just assumed that I was too busy to call or something like that. So I was like sitting home.
COLACELLO: Or too famous?
CHER: Yes. And so I met John. And then all kinds of things started happening and I thought, Well, fuck it, I’m never going to meet anybody in New York. Everyone thinks I’m too famous or that I’m going to be certain kind of a woman that I’m not. Then all of a sudden in one week—
COLACELLO: Does it bother you to be alone?
CHER: No, I came here totally alone but after awhile I need…. I have a terrible father-figure complex. I enjoy men and men are so wonderful to me. Women are all right but men are amazing. Men are not necessities, they’re luxuries. You don’t need them, but they’re really wonderful. They’re like children, they’re the most interesting thing that can happen. The only things that are important are work, children and men.
COLACELLO: Not money?
CHER: As long as I can have all the clothes I want.
WARHOL: I didn’t go to the Night of 100 Stars but I saw you come out in a wedding dress on TV. That was beautiful.
CHER: I ended up on Halston’s with Elizabeth Taylor, Robert de Niro, Al Pacino and Robin Williams at maybe five, six in the morning. It was one of the most amazing nights of my life. Everybody was asking for my autograph. I couldn’t believe it. None of us could believe it.
COLACELLO: Halston and Elizabeth Taylor were asking for your autograph?
CHER: No, Halston wasn’t with Liz then, she was by herself. That was the night I met John. It was Valentine’s Day. And stars were asking for autographs. Everyone was asking for everyone’s autograph because we realized we would never be together like that again. I was either bumping into Marcello Mastroianni or Elizabeth Taylor or tripping over Orson Welles or having someone come up and tell me they loved my work. Jimmy Stewart told me he loved my work and I started to cry. It was a bizarre emotion-packed evening.
COLACELLO: I remember when I saw you at the Inauguration of Carter. You were with Gregg Allman then.
CHER: Before I met you, Andy, I was so afraid to meet you and when I met you I thought you were so gentle.
WARHOL: We met you in New Orleans in the airport. That was the first time.
CHER: There was another time when I actually meant to talk to you.
WARHOL: With Jane Holzer or something?
CHER: I think so. Yes, it was at Jane’s Thanksgiving. Remember that girl who passed out and peed all over herself?
WARHOL: Who was it?
COLACELLO: What year was it?
CHER: A long time ago. And Jane had that picture of the ocean that was moving. It made Sonny so sick he had to turn and sit with his back towards it.
COLACELLO: So, have you been shopping in New York?
CHER: I can’t afford it, I’m totally without funds. I have a little bit, but I can’t really afford to shop now. I made a deal with my business manager that I would either do the play and not shop or shop and stay in Los Angeles and go to Las Vegas to work.
COLACELLO: Did you like Las Vegas?
CHER: No. But when I go, my entourage is 35 people and we have such a wonderful time that it really has become fun. We put on a good show.
COLACELLO: You go once a year?
CHER: No, sometimes I go 10 weeks a year.
WARHOL: Didn’t you win a suit against some magazine?
CHER: Yes, Star magazine. It was wonderful; they had something like 12 lawyers, and I had my lawyer and his assistant, who was wonderful. We sued everybody. We sued the writer, all the publications. And the Star said, “We weren’t just singling out Cher, we’ve done this to everybody.” And the judge said, “Just because you’ve done it before and gotten away with it doesn’t mean it’s right.”
WARHOL: Yes, their stories are really peculiar. I don’t even know how they get them.
CHER: It’s damaging sometimes, it really is damaging. It really hurts you because then people want to like you but they think you’re so crazy that how could they possibly respect you.
WARHOL: Yes it’s true.
CHER: And then when they start writing constantly, people get sick of you and they think, “You know what? I don’t want to hear about her husband, I don’t want to hear about her boyfriend.” You can’t run around to each person in America saying “I’m not giving out interviews.” There’s not very much I can do. “Cher’s own story,” “Cher’s exclusive story”…”A friend told us that Cher was doing so and so.” I always hate that. It was like when someone in that thing that “reliable sources” had seen John Belushi’s arms. But they don’t have the balls to say who it was. I hate that because anonymity gives you the license to do anything you want to.
COLACELLO: This is just what Reagan has been saying for the past few days.
CHER: Diane Bennett once said… Gregory and I did a benefit and she said he passed out on stage of his drum set. I said, “You stupid bitch, he’s an organ player. Weren’t you there?” She said, “No, but a reliable source told me.” I said, “And then you printed it and didn’t even check it out.” I wanted her ass. I was furious because she had been doing really nasty little digs about us for weeks, and then she wrote this: He passed out over his drum set.
COLACELLO: Who was this?
CHER: Diane Bennett. She writes for The Hollywood Reporter in Los Angeles.
COLACELLO: Do you give out interviews often?
CHER: I had to for the play. I had something to talk about.
COLACELLO: Do you think 35 is a turning point, that life is half over?
CHER: I don’t know. My grandmother is 81 and when I asked her, “How do you feel?” She said, “I feel about 17.” I just keep getting older but I feel about 17.” When I was six years old I felt like I was 35 and now that I’m 35 I feel like I’m about 14 years old. My daughter said to me that the thing she likes about me most is that I’m so immature—like a kid. But it’s strange. Every so often my mind changes. I’ve always been so wrapped up in material things because I was so poor when I was little. And now I stopped wearing makeup to go out. And I know that I really like to wear makeup, too, but I also want to be able to not have to.
WARHOL: You look great without makeup.
CHER: When I met John he said, “You know, I like you better when you don’t wear makeup.” And that was really a bizarre thing for someone to say to me. I started wearing less makeup on stage, too. I used to go for an hour and put makeup on. Now I don’t. I still want to look really attractive and I still like to get dressed up, but it’s a terrible thing to know that you have to look a certain way for people to like you.
WARHOL: But you have to look poor in New York when you go out. Put on your poor clothes. That’s the look.
COLACELLO: You said your grandmother was 81; is that your father’s mother?
CHER: No, actually she’s my sister’s grandmother. She is not my real grandmother but she’s been my grandmother for my whole life since I was a baby. My one grandmother is 67, and my other grandmother is dead. My real grandmother goes to the gym four times a week and works out with weights. She’s crazy, too.
COLACELLO: Have you helped your whole family financially? Your mother and your grandmother?
CHER: Yes, but not a lot. I pay for one of my grandmothers totally. And I help out my mother. My other grandmother really doesn’t need too much help. My uncle is really terrific, he doesn’t need any help. I think my mother is going to move to my house in Aspen now because she hates Los Angeles. I wish she’d come here to New York to live. I don’t know if she’d like it. It might be a little too fast for her. John was talking about going to Los Angeles to live because it’s so easy to live out there.
COLACELLO: How much time do you spend in Aspen?
CHER: As much time as I can. Every year it just depends on what the year brings. I spent two weeks in Saint Tropez last year. It was like heaven. Everyone was so beautiful. I had to work in Monte Carlo and so I went early because I had never been there. I rented a yacht and sailed from San Tropez to Monte Carlo in a day. We stopped in the Mediterranean and I had all diamond and gold jewelry on and a cold bikini bottom. When we jumped in the water, the Mediterranean, we were drinking champagne and eating lobster… Mediterranean. It was the most amazing day I can ever remember spending. It’s heaven.
COLACELLO: Do you like Europe a lot?
CHER: I like Paris. I run around naked there. It was so wonderful, no one knew who I was and a lot of people go naked there. John told me New Hampshire and Vermont are beautiful. He’s going to take me on his motorcycle. I want to bring my motorcycle to New York but I’m afraid they’d kill me here.
WARHOL: You shouldn’t.
CHER: I have a friend Chuck who’s a Hell’s Angel and he’s going to drive me in the summer. He’s wonderful. He’s the most gentle guy I ever met.
COLACELLO: A gentle Hell’s Angel?
CHER: And what a gentleman.
COLACELLO: Why is he a Hell’s Angel?
CHER: Well, I don’t know but, he’s a gentleman first. I met a wonderful guy who wasn’t a Hell’s Angel, he was just a biker and he took me for a ride in the summer. I didn’t know him; he just came up to me and said he had a Nazi helmet on, tattoos all over his arm, and big spike things and I could just tell he was gentle. He said, “Do you want to go for a ride?” And I said, “Sure,” and he took me for the most beautiful ride. But he was driving a rigid frame and it was a little uncomfortable, but I did have a wonderful time. When I got back everybody was really furious with me.
COLACELLO: Do you think you could ever go out with a businessman?
COLACELLO: Do you see yourself as a wife who is having dinner parties?
COLACELLO: Do you want to be married again?
COLACELLO: You better never say never.
CHER: I know myself well enough to know that I could say no now, but next week I could marry a businessman and be giving a dinner party—but I doubt it.
COLACELLO: Why aren’t you ever getting married again?
CHER: I wouldn’t mind living with someone forever. I don’t really want to get married. I don’t see any reason for it. And yet I’m so romantic that every time I think I meet someone I want to live with them forever and ever. But I was so unhappy when I was married….
COLACELLO: You’ve been married twice, to Sonny and to Gregg.
CHER: I was happy the second time even though I was miserable. But the first time was so [long pause]… I just don’t want to be married. And that is the end of that question.
WARHOL: I was at the Sonny and Susie wedding in Aspen.
CHER: I heard it was wonderful.
WARHOL: Yes, but when the preacher said, “Now I pronounce you Sonny and Cher,” the audience went, huh?
CHER: Susie told me and we laughed ourselves sick. Susie is the best thing that ever happened to him. The best. He’s so nice since they’ve been together. He’s like he was when I first knew him. We can actually get along and have a good time now. We all spent a week here, and had a ball. We had such a good time. We should never have been married.
COLACELLO: It was sort of like you were married to your boss in a sense.
CHER: Yes it was. It was the loneliest time I ever remember in my life. I was never so alone as the 11 years I was married.
WARHOL: Didn’t you have fun when you were performing and all that? It must have been great.
CHER: You can’t live on that alone.
WARHOL: You were busy every minute and you didn’t have time to think of anything.
CHER: Sometimes you do. Sometimes you’d go home and you’re alone and then you have to think. Sometimes it gets real desperate while you’re performing—you can’t think of anything else. I mean I could work this play every night off of being married. There are certain parts I work off at different times in my life. And there’s one part in it that every night I work off of that part. It wasn’t Sonny’s fault, it was just that we were not the right people for each other. We should have been brother and sister… It’s crazy how people get involved.
COLACELLO: Didn’t it sometimes get to you to be singing those lovey-dovey words?
CHER: In the beginning it was different. I was crazy about him in the beginning. And I think he was crazy about me and then he just became crazy about Sonny and Cher. One thing Andy said was right. We were so busy. Then came the day when I said I just could not do this anymore and walked out. I was down to 98 pounds and couldn’t sleep. I was so unhappy that it just didn’t make any difference to me anymore.
COLACELLO: How old is Chastity?
COLACELLO: She’s in school in New York?
CHER: They both are. Elijah’s been in school since he was two. They’re both very, very intelligent. He has a genius IQ—a very bizarre child. They both are.
COLACELLO: How do they see you, the children?
CHER: Chastity is kind of like the mother sometimes in our relationship, but Elijah doesn’t understand it too much, he just thinks it’s funny.
WARHOL: Does he sing?
CHER: Like a bitch. He’s going to be the greatest singer of all time.
WARHOL: You can hear the voice.
CHER: He’s got his father’s voice, only it’s better. He’s like a little reincarnation of his father only better. And that’s pretty difficult.
COLACELLO: Do you ever see Gregg?
CHER: I spent New Year’s Eve with him. It was a wonderful time. Strange, I’m really good friends with everybody that I’ve ever been with. Even Sonny now. I think I always liked everyone that I’ve been with. Loved. I don’t know. I fall in love for about 14 months and then afterwards I love the person, but I just don’t want to be with them anymore. I move on. It always lasts some place between a year and two years and it’s usually about 14 or 15 months.
COLACELLO: Why do you think it’s like that? Because you’re selfish?
CHER: Oh, I’m selfish. God knows that. But I don’t know if that’s what causes it. I’m very giving in a relationship. All the men that were ever in a relationship with me thought that it was a wonderful thing. But I can’t stay. When it starts to get too intense I have to go.
COLACELLO: Too intense or too boring?
CHER: Well, I don’t know. When it gets to be you have to really make a commitment then I have to go. I can live with someone from the first day I meet them if I like them.
COLACELLO: And not be interested in anyone else?
CHER: And not see anyone else. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever been interested in two men and I’m blown away by it. John Heard is without a doubt one of the most amazing men I’ve ever met. And John Loeffler has the promise to be everything that anyone could ever ask for, or want. John Heard has the most amazing mind and gentle quality about him that makes me feel totally safe.
COLACELLO: At least they both have the same name.
CHER: I asked John if we could all live together like Kerouac and he said it would be fine with him.
COLACELLO: Which John?
WARHOL: Are you going to have any more children?
CHER: Maybe. I’m kind of old. Once you get older it’s hard to have them and still stay in shape. I hate it when parents say their children are beautiful. I don’t think Chas is beautiful. I think Chas is like me.
WARHOL: She’s going to grow up to be really beautiful.
CHER: I think she’s going to grow up to be something special. You know my mother told me once: “You know, you’re not the most beautiful, you’re not the most talented. You won’t always be the youngest, but you are special and there’s something more important about that.” Chas is like me.
THIS INTERVIEW ORIGINALLY APPEARED IN THE MARCH 1982 ISSUE OF INTERVIEW.
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