In 1986 and 1987, I worked on the Martin Ritt film Nuts at Warner Bros. in Burbank. It was my first job out of film school and I was in a happy state of disbelief most days, unable to grasp my good fortune. Though I truly started at the bottom (as an office runner, a step below production assistant), I was only t00 glad to be a glorified gopher. My job was to ride a bicycle around the lot all day delivering things like messages and lunches. I found exploring the back lot exhilarating. As a child who grew up completely immersed in the history of studio films, I was filled with an almost religious fervor for the traditions and legends of the major studios. During the eleven or so months I worked there, I was simultaneously reading books about Warner Bros.’ history, which deepened the experience. Riding around the lot I could almost feel the presence of the great actors who had once been under contract during the Golden Era.
“It was almost too much for my young, gay brain having Streisand, Cher, Goldie, and Madonna orbiting around me each day.”
While I was there the studio was also filming The Lost Boys. I remember talking to Dianne Weist and telling her how much I loved her performance in Hannah and Her Sisters and seeing Kiefer Sutherland walking around in his vampire drag. They were also filming Bird on a Wire with Goldie Hawn, who I would see from time to time, and Mel Gibson, who once made my day by bumming a cigarette. (He was surprsingly short, but really sexy.) They were also filming Who’s That Girl and I remember the day the producer of our film, Cis Corman, brought Madonna to the soundstage to meet Barbra Streisand. But by far the most distracting presence on the lot was Cher, who was filming The Witches of Eastwick. It was almost too much for my young, gay brain having Streisand, Cher, Goldie, and Madonna orbiting around me.
I would pass Cher’s trailer every day and slow down my bike, hoping to catch a glimpse of the star, but it never happened. Finally, in desperation one day, I wrote a letter with the intention of slipping it under the door of her trailer, but I chickened out. Of course, I kept the letter and reading it over brings back so many of the positive and negative feelings about who I was when I wrote it.
I did get to work with Cher years later and I liked her a great deal. In honor of her 68th birthday (which she most certainly is not happy about), here is the letter I wrote but never sent; thought I still think she is “fucking cool” I see her now with much more compassion and complexity.
More Cher in Stargayzing:
Stargayzing Mix Tape: The Most Unbelievable Cover Songs of All-Time! #9: Chér’s Cover of Paul McCartney’s “My Love”
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