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“Cher” Day: Acknowledging October 17, 1975

“Cher” Day: Acknowledging October 17, 1975

Television

38 years ago today I got home from school and put on my wig, heels and false eyelashes and lumbered down to the basement of our split level at 15 Overhill Road.  With Bridget Sullivan, Ruth Shladovksky, Elayne Glick, and Todd Freneaux, I put on a first-rate Cher show in front of all the neighborhood kids and Elayne’s mom Reyla, who sat on the steps with a perplexed look on her face.  I doubt East Brunswick, unaccustomed to top-tier drag shows, had ever seen a production of this sort. Perhaps they never did again.

Cher photographed by Richard Avedon, circa 1971

The show followed the template of the real show and offered something for everyone.  We did the Laverne laundromat skit, I lip-synced to The Way of Love in one of my solo spots, and there were guest stars.  The performance was lucrative, fun and, at least for me, a sanctioned opportunity to cross dress and get paid.  To give you an idea how my parents felt about it, there were no photographs taken that day and when I set about with my troup to mount a sequel, my mother snapped—and I quote this verbatim because it is seared in my memory, “if you want to play Cher again you have to play a man first.”  This was terrible news indeed.  My mother and I dug in, which precipitated several weeks of terrible conflict.  I could not understand her position because, you see, no one had ever suggested that there was a problem with pre-pubescent cross-dressing.  For me it was the most natural thing in the world.

The upshot of all this drag drama was that we had to completely rethink the next production: the Cher Show became The Carol Burnett Show.  Perhaps to reduce the level of surveillance, or maybe because the vibe was now negative, we moved the entire operation around the corner to Bridget’s basement and instead of playing Cher or Carol any other woman, I played Barry Manilow (which, if you think about it, was kind of a clever “fuck you” to the grown-up world.)  Todd played Tim Conway.  Ruth starred as Carol.  Bridget must have been Vicki Lawrence and I lip-synced Could it Be Magic.  Overall being Barry was much less fun than being Cher, which is really not surprising.

Every year I like to acknowledge the anniversary of the show as a sort of personal coming out and because it is just kind of fun to make up your own holidays; so October 17th is “Cher Day.”

More Cher:

The Beat Goes On: The Story of a Boy and His Cher, Part One

The Beat Goes On: The Story of a Boy and His (Sonny) and Cher: Part Two

18 Comments

  1. kalvesta
    October 17, 2012 at 7:40 pm
    Reply

    Was I there for that? I think by ’75 Dad was gone so he wasn’t going to take a picture but Mom should have! I don’t remember it but I wish I did 🙂

    • David Munk
      October 17, 2012 at 11:13 pm

      Yes of course you were there! The whole neighborhood was! xx

  2. Jeff Cashdollar
    November 7, 2012 at 7:34 pm
    Reply

    I love Cher’s version of this song…she really has a great voice and so many people do not get to hear that. I wish she would make an entire album of songs like this…Love your Cher Day! I just saw Barbra and Jason in concert in San Jose the other night Great show…was excited that Jason was there. Bought his CD..loved it.

    When I was watching Barbra..I told my friend that she kinda of looked like Cher… They kind of look the same in the eyes, cheek bones, and nose. Just what we thought. Funny…two of the biggest Gay Icons and they have never worked together. Be great to hear a Cher and Barbra song!

    • David Munk
      November 8, 2012 at 3:10 am

      Hi Jeff. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. It means so much to me. I hope you’ll sign up for my newsletter so we can stay in touch! David

  3. Michele
    November 13, 2012 at 8:05 pm
    Reply

    What a beautiful interpretation of that song. It was a favorite song of mine. Thanks so much for sharing it, David.

    • David Munk
      November 15, 2012 at 1:51 am

      The world for you, Michele!

  4. Lori Shapiro
    October 17, 2013 at 3:43 pm
    Reply

    I remember the great shows you put on – I was there and never had so much fun! What a great childhood memory! I hope you are doing well!

    • David Munk
      October 17, 2013 at 6:34 pm

      Holy Shit! Lori Shapiro! So thrilled to hear from you. I remember you and your sister and mom so clearly. I’m so happy you remember the show and took the time to comment. Can you believe that jerk Jeff Dunham accusing me of spamming for posting this story about my childhood in East Brunswick on the East Brunswick page? Will the torment of dumb, straight guys from EB never end?

      Stay in touch Lori. David

  5. Lisa Moir
    October 18, 2013 at 4:48 pm
    Reply

    As always you deliver a great piece! I LOVED Cher. I used to run around my g-ma’s house singing half breed! Then it was Roller Boogie. Again I found myself roller skating in my Grandmothers pristine garage and pretend I was Cher. Now, I want to know who her Surgeon/s are? She looks Fantastic! Thanks for making October 17th Cher Appreciation Day! As for Jeff Dunham…Doesn’t he have anything better to do? Say like….Hang out with his Puppet or his new BFF Bruce Jenner? Wrong Jeff? If so, then I guess he may be just a frustrated writer who can not articulate a story as fantastic as yours! Your Blog…Your right. I would like to take this time as a HUGE Fan of this blog, to personally NOT invite Jeff back to this forum. Go find a sense of Humor!

  6. Lisa Moir
    October 18, 2013 at 5:05 pm
    Reply

    Perhaps that part in this piece where you had to be Barry Manilow left Jeff to be reminded…He lives in a shell! Safe from the past. Doing OK. But not very well!

    • David Munk
      October 18, 2013 at 5:20 pm

      ..no jolts no surprises. (and here’s my favorite rhyme): no crisis arises…

    • Lisa Moir
      October 18, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      I don’t know? You think he’s Ready to take a chance again?

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