Cher turned 65 last week, on May 20, which I think is officially retirement age. She still doesn’t seem to have any plans for retirement, though; she is everywhere. I walked into Barnes & Noble last week and there she was again—her ageless face next to Christina Aguilera’s on the cover of the album from their movie, Burlesque.
In some ways, Cher’s agelessness and still-in-the-limelight-past-60-ness seems kind of deceptive. In May of 2002, Cher said that she would begin a three month tour that would mark the end of her singing career. When I was in high school, my mother and I clamored to get tickets to her final tour, dubbed Living Proof: The Farewell Tour. Even though I wasn’t a big fan of hers, I knew she was extremely influential, and this was my first and only chance to see her live.
Regarding the tour, Cher herself said, “There are two reasons people come back. Because, like the Stones, they're broke. Again. Or they're old divas who can't wait to be out among their adoring fans. But this, this truly is it.”
I'm not complaining. The concert was amazing. She performed my favorite of her songs, “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” and danced in a wig of blonde hair wearing a glittering, diamond-studded swimsuit. She rose up from under the floor to perform “All or Nothing” on a giant, automated white elephant. She and her dancers performed “Bang, Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)” inexplicably in tribal garb and with re-mixed tribal beats.
Both my mother and I were satisfied with the money we’d paid and that Cher had successfully said goodbye to the music industry.
But then she came around our city again. And again. Then they tacked on the phrase “Never Can Say Goodbye” tour, trying to pretend either that this repeated touring had been planned all along or that Cher just loved us so much that she couldn’t leave us. By the time Cher’s tour ended, she had performed for 3.2 million people in Europe, North American and Australasia and had grossed upwards of $250 million dollars. Her tour became the longest running concert tour in American history.
I guess it’s fine. Cher is one of the greatest performers of the last four decades and she deserves to take her final bow. And her next final bow. And probably one more final bow. But there is something to be said about rarity. Cher could have preserved the composure and decorum that she used through much of her career, as well as preserved her status as one of America’s living icons if she didn't over-expose herself so much.
Instead, with this concert tour, she proved that she was no different than aging starlets of centuries past. She would continue to perform long after she should have gracefully moved on. She donned the costumes that she wore in her youth long after she started having to Botox her face and lipo her ass to get into them. She rode that white elephant long after she’d hit the same cities three or four times and local newspapers started saying, She’s back!!
I’m not saying Cher should have stopped singing—her voice still has power and flexibility—but that she should have been doing other things like making movies, not continuing over and over again with this same show. In essence, she proved that she is no different than the stage mothers that push their little girls to dance and sing the same songs that they themselves performed as little girls—but Cher had the money and the plastic surgery to play both the mother and the daughter roles herself.