The Weekly interview: Cher talks new Vegas residency, political outrage and … emojis

Annie Zaleski

One of Hillary Clinton's most memorable lines at Thursday night's Al Smith Dinner went something like this: "Whoever wins this election, the outcome will be historic. We'll either have the first female president or the first president who started a Twitter war with Cher." Clinton was referring to how outspoken Cher can be on Twitter, especially this election cycle, when she's been tweeting missives against Donald Trump—using plenty of emojis, of course.

Around the same time as Clinton's quip, Cher was on the phone with Las Vegas Weekly, to chat about her upcoming new residency, Classic Cher, coming to the Park Theater starting February 8. During the brief chat, she shared info on what she wants to do differently from her last residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, what she's up to now music-wise and what's compelling her to be so politically vocal.

So why now is the right time to do another residency in Las Vegas? Well, I like the MGM a lot, the whole group. I like the corporation, and I've had great times there. Touring is kind of rough. And also, they built an arena [theater]. That, unlike my last gig there, I think is going to be a lot more fun, because arena theaters are just different than kind of opera theaters, which, you know, Caesars' was an opera theater.

What is the configuration going to let you do differently with the show this time around? Because it's an arena, it's not stuffy. It's just like a little arena. Caesars' [Colosseum]—it had everything. It had bells and whistles, too, but I think this is just going to be able to be a little bit more rock and roll, you know? You're supposed to tailor your show to fit your audience, but I never did (laughs). But you're supposed to. I'm trying to push everything a lot more, because this will be, definitely, the last time when this residency is over. I'll still be working, but I won't be performing anymore.

How are you deciding which songs make the cut and what the show's going to look like? It's hard, because when I started to do every song that I thought people would miss, there's so many songs. So now I'm just trying to do the songs that I know people would leave the theater going, "That was the song I came to hear. Why didn't you do it?"

That's hard, though, because every fan has a certain song they love. You could be there for hours. I'm trying to make a show that, if I went to see someone, I would want to see. If Celine [Dion] was doing her classic show, I would make sure I was going to hear the songs that I liked. I don't know what songs Barbra [Streisand] is doing, but there are your favorites that you want to hear, and if you don't hear them, you're so disappointed. I mean, there's a kind of a sadness if you don't hear stuff that you want to hear.

You have had such a long relationship with Vegas. As a performer, what is it about the city that really inspires you?

I started there. That was my first gig after I left Sonny [Bono]. It seemed to be a great fit. It's not like it's easy, because I have asthma—and I actually got it there, and so I can't really talk while I'm performing. I have to be babying myself, which I don't like. I have to not talk during the day on the days that I sing, and not talk too much on the other days, and just try to do what I usually do at home and then work out and invite friends up. Also, I can go home a couple times a week, so it's kind of half and half, home and the mansion.

At the same time, it seems that your voice has actually become stronger with age. What's your secret? I don't know. It's luck. I'm so amazed. I feel like Tony Bennett.

You went in the studio in August to record a couple songs. What is that for? Will they see the light of day anytime soon? Yeah. I've had this idea that I've wanted to do for years, and I don't think anyone's ever done it. I'm not sure why, but I don't think anyone's ever done it. So I'm working on that. I'm passionate, but it's going to take me a while, because I want to over-record in case people like it, and then I'll just have another record.

What's the idea? I can't tell you what the idea is, because I don't want anyone to know. I really want to do this thing and not have anybody know what it is, because, to my knowledge, no one has ever done it in all these years.

How is the Broadway musical on your life coming along? I know that's also been in the works. I was in New York. I met with Jeff Seller, who produced Hamilton, and my friend Rick [Elice], who wrote Jersey Boys. We had a read-through, and we made lots of changes and notes and stuff like that. I mean, it's written. We're just refining it. It's hard. You know, when someone's writing your life … I'm so definitive about what it is and what I want people to come away with.

The thing, too, it's kind of like Vegas. If people come to see it and it's not your life, then it's disappointing. If people come to see it and it's not about who you were, and it doesn't say who you were, then it's disappointing.

I know that you do collaborations every so often. Are there any other artists that you'd be interested in collaborating with? Well, I can't tell you about that, because then it would give you some sort of clue.

With the Vegas residency, is there anything specifically that you want to do differently from the one at the Colosseum? We're doing a lot of content, which allows you to project things that look like a miracle. You can project things to make them look real, and they're just amazing, the technology. We're relying a lot on technology. You can do things with [it] you cannot do in real time.

You've been particularly outspoken on Twitter, especially about politics this season. Why is it so important to you that you have been speaking out? I speak out about everything, but this is the most important thing to me, because I assume it's the most important thing that's going to happen in my lifetime, and for the rest of my life and way beyond. I've really had a fun time with my life, but for the kids that are coming, it would be the end of the United States as we know it. That might sound dramatic, but it's exactly on. I've done so much research—I research all the time—and you find out things. And sometimes you say them, and sometimes you don't.

People were so angry that they just built themselves a hole, and then they threw themselves in it. Sometimes you don't realize that, when you're angry and disappointed, it can get worse.

Do you feel like what you're saying and how you're speaking out is having an impact? Absolutely not (laughs). I don't think it is. But it doesn't keep me from doing it or saying it. I think I have more people now. If I didn't do it, then what would the good be? And sometimes, my tweets just don't make enough sense. It's really hard with 140 characters. That's why I use so many emojis, because, well, first, I like them, and I feel that they're very highly developed. Not all of them, but they're like hieroglyphs, you know? Also, you can save so many letters to try to say what you'd like to say. Sometimes I think I'm prolific, and sometimes I think I'm just an idiot.

You found emojis I didn't actually know existed, so I have to thank you for that. I enjoy your tweets. It's good, isn't it? It works. It works well.

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