Advocate Interview



She may never have agreed with her ex-husbands politics, but Cher herself says shes never been very political. So why has she put her career on hold to campaign for Al Gore? As the diva herself puts it, referring to George W. Bushs antigay record in Texas, What do gays need? A house to fall on their heads?
An exclusive by Anne Stockwell

With the presidential election just days away, Cher is speaking out about why shes voting for Al Goreand why she hopes gays and lesbians will do the same. In a one-on-one conversation with, the diva warns us that George W. Bush ran for governor of Texas by vowing to strictly enforce the states sodomy laws. What do gays need? Cher exclaims. A house to fall on their heads? Read on for part 1 of a two-part interview thatll blast you out of your seat and down to the voting booth on Tuesday morning. (Come back for part 2 on Friday evening, November 3.)

Youve said youre not a registered Democrat, so why do you think its important for you to be talking about this at all?
I said to Bill Clinton that I didnt vote for him, but if he was running again today, I would vote for him. I was really disheartened [in 1992]. I wanted to leave when the last Bush got elected. I was so over politics, I thought, This is not for the people. Its just for big business and big government, and so I really was disheartened. I heard [Reform Party candidate H. Ross] Perot speak, and for about a minute and a half, I was really excited. And then I thought, I just dont know what to do. And I didnt vote, period. And then, the more Ive learned about Bush I must say, I didnt like his father, and I really dont like him. And the more I read about himI read Molly Ivinss book Shrub [the veteran Texas political columnists take on George W.], and I went between laughing and being appalled. And then I heard that he ran in Texas and one of the strong statements that he was using as a way to get votes was that he was going to uphold and prosecute [people under] the antisodomy law in Texas, and I thought, well, thats just gay bashing. I just think hes intolerant. I dont like anything he stands for. I think if youre a rich old white guy, hes probably your man.

How is Bush convincing people that hes a compassionate conservative?
I remember his dad saying something about a kinder, gentlersome other Bush bullshit. It seems to run in the family.

Why do you think gays and lesbians need to vote for Gore?
First of all, I think if youre a woman or if you have any friends that are women or if you have any sisters or daughters, then you probably want your children or your girlfriends or your best friends to have the right to choose what happens to their body. And secondly, I remember a time when it was against the law to be homosexual in this country, and I imagine that nobody I know wants to go back there. I certainly dont want my daughter ever to be I remember when I was a young girl, my friends were afraid to say it, not just because they didnt want to come out of the closet but because they didnt want to go to jail. I remember being at a party when I was a young girl that got raided because it was a gay party.

The cops came?
Oh, yeah.

Bush had one meeting with a group of gay people.
Probably the closest he ever came to gay people in his life. Maybe Halloween, where he saw somebody in drag and ran the other way screaming and yelling into the night.

He said he was a better person for having had this one meeting.
I guess he doesnt want to be a really good person and have two.

Why are people having a hard time choosing between Gore and Bush?
First of all, the Republicans have, what, $12 for every $1 of the Democrats, and hes got this name, and I think the Republicans would do anything to get back in office. He doesnt tell the truth, and I think when someone lies really bigpeople dont expect someone to lie really bigand I think if you can lie big enough, you can kind of bullshit the people a lot of the time. And I think if people are more interested in watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire than really getting information, then thats what you get. You get another Bush. You get a son of a Bush.

If Bush is elected, this will be the first time in a considerable while that well have a Republican Congress and a Republican president.
And I think that all my gay friends, they better run for the hills. Talk about intolerance. I didnt even know there was a sodomy law on any of the books anymore. And when Bush ran for governor, if thats one of the things he was saying that he was going to enforce, I meando gay people need a house to fall on their heads?

Lets talk about Ralph Nader.
I think hes great for the environment, but he knows that what hes doinghe knows theres a huge difference between Bush and Gore. Someone said Green with envy, and that strikes a chord in my heart.

Why are people convinced that if Bush is elected, theres not going to be a big difference?
Because theyre uninformed. Doesnt anybody realize that he thinks that [conservative Supreme Court justice] Clarence Thomas is the end-all, be-all, and wants to get three more just like him [on the court]?

You directed a segment of the original If These Walls Could Talk, which dealt with abortion in three time periods. Choice is an issue very dear to your heart.
My mother almost died from an illegal abortion when I was young. What are we going to do [if abortion becomes illegal again]? I have children, I love children, but I have to have the right to decide what happens to my body. Nobodys walking in my shoes, nobody knows what I have to do to support my children. Nobody knows what poor women need to do who cant afford to have another child, or a 12-year-old girl that cant afford to have a child. It just amazes me. I saw Jerry Falwell the other night. He says he has weekly conversations with Bush, who assures him that if he can deliver the Christian Coalition, that Roe v. Wade is out the window the first chance he gets.

There was also that window into Bushs intentions when he flamed John McCain with all those right-wing messages in the South Carolina primary.
I guess that politics is a heartless game, but this guy wants to win at all costs. I think its all about winning. Truth be known, I think he wants to be commissioner of baseball more than he wants to be president. Someone just throw him a ball, so he can be entertained.

When Bush says hell end the bickering in Washington, how do you figure he can do that?
He can shut up.

Have you spoken to Chastity at all about this election?
Yeah, Chas is out working right now. And Ive been up since 4 oclock in the morning giving radio interviews all over the country. Ive been trying to catch peoples drive times.

You appeared on BET Wednesday night to talk about the election. Is the African-American vote especially important this time?
Black people are the ones, I think, that are going to have to pull us out of the fire. Because their vote could actually deliver Gore a victory.

What do you have to say to people in those swing states, like Michigan and Pennsylvania and Florida and Oregon? Do you have fans in those states that you want to talk to?
I believe that first of all, a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for George Bush. And, yes, do I think that Ralph Nader has done unbelievable things for the environment? I do. And do I think that he should be on a special advisory commission for the environment because he knows a lot about it? Yes. But you know, my friend Eddie Begley Jr. has been a Green Party member for a long time. He quit it because he cant stand what Ralph Nader is doing to Al Gore.

Does it seem to you that Nader has a personal vendetta against Al Gore?
I dont understand why. He knows that theres a huge difference between the two of them.

One reason I wanted to talk to you is that Nader seems to be capturing very young people. You have in your heart, you understand, that spirit that makes young people want something better, that makes them rebel. What do you have to say to them?
I understand that. Look, I am the oldest teenager in the history of the universe! Im a child of the 60s. Im so rebellious, if someone tells me to do something, its the exact opposite of what Im going to do. But the truth is, there is a huge difference between someone who wants to drill up in the Alaskan wildlife refuge and someone whos been actively championing the environment all of his career. If you dont like him, theres still a huge difference, and if you realize that the Republicans are now paying for the Nader campaigntheyre paying for spots. I dont think theyve ever done that before. Because they know that a vote for Ralph Nader is a vote for George Bush. So if you want to put George Bush in office, then vote for Ralph Nader. Thats all I can tell you.

Have you met Gore?

People say, Whos the real Gore? Who do you think the real Gore is? Whats your impression of him when you meet him?
Ive got to tell you something. I like him so much. Ive met people my entire life, and Ive spent a lot of time sussing people out. Its just what I do, you know? Ive done it my whole life. I really feel Hes kind of shy, and I think that thats why he doesnt come across really well. And hes kind of nerdy in that shyness because it makes him protect himself a little bit. But when hes comfortable, hes really funny. He made me laugh last night [Halloween] so much.

In his appearance on The Tonight Show?
No, he and Jesse Jackson and I were doing something, and they were trying to get the lighting correct, and after they finished, he said, Wait a minute! Am I in Jesses shadow? I dont want to be in Jesses shadow! And it was really funny, you know? But he was comfortable around us. I see him with his daughter; I see him with his wife. Hes a really good father. His daughter made us all laugh so much, telling us about a time when she made him dress up like a carrot on Halloween because she wanted her dad to be in the spirit. And she said this fabulous thing that he told her when she was 5 years old, something that Gandhi had said. She said of course she didnt understand it, but now its something that she really lives by. You could tell from the stories that she was telling that this is a man who has cared for his children and has been a good father and been a good husband.

This is a man who I believe is a caring person. Do I believe he is perfect? No. Do I know anybody who is? No. Do I believe that he would work his ass off for this country? Yes. I mean, look, what have I got to win? What do I give a shit who is the president? What do I care? It doesnt make me richer. It doesnt hurt my status. I only care because it helps the people that I have to care about over the 36 years that I have been working in this country. I dont want fucking Bushs fucking 1%! I am one of the 1%! I dont want the blood money! If me getting a tax return that I dont deserve is going to mean taking food out of someones mouth or keeping them from getting health care or keeping them from getting a good education or keeping old people from getting prescriptions, its just no-good money to me.

Why do you think when people see George Bush and Al Gore, they say Bush is the one I like. Hes the likable one. Gores the one who exaggerates?
You know what? Ive known an awful lot of people in Hollywood that people thought they liked, and if people really knew them, they wouldnt like them for a second. Some people are just able to be phony. Some people are just good at it. Some people are just actors. I think Bush is in the wrong business. I think thats the one thing about Al that hes not able to be. I dont think hes able to be phony. God bless his cotton socks, because if he was able to be a little bit more phony, maybe people would like him.

You know, someone said he wasnt very charismatic. And I said, I dont think Abraham Lincoln was very charismatic, and he had a face that looked like one of those dolls that you make out of an apple and you shrink it up. You know what? Everybody learns what he had to say, and he worked his ass off for this country. And when he got killed, half the country didnt even like him. So what is this, a fucking popularity contest? If you want charisma, go see a fucking Robert Redford movie.

Lets get down to it. Cher, when are you going to run for president?
Oh, babe, I couldnt run for president because I couldnt play the bullshit game. I dont like politics; I dont think politics works for the people enough. Im still angry from the 60s. I want to see people get a fair shake. And at least I feel that were headed in the right direction. I mean, shit, we were in the crapper! What was that fucking trickle-down stuff that never trickled down? Have we lost our minds? Does nobody remember eight years and one day ago, when we were in the fucking toilet?

Its like people want to hear some happy fantasy and then go right back there.
There is no free ride. When Clinton said he wanted to pay down the national debt, people werent that ecstatic about it. But you know what? What we dont pay for today, we pay for double tomorrow. And Bush can promise us this pie in the skywhich is exactly where were going to have to go to eat it.

Have I forgotten to ask you anything? Any other curse youd like to heap down?
No. You know, God bless [Bush], I cant say a kind thing about him. And I know that if he gets elected, Im going to have to leave this fucking country. But I dont care. I dont like him. I dont think hes a kind man. And I dont like that. I dont trust someone who cant smile easily, and a smile comes to himhe forces a smile out there, and I dont care how carefully its posed, its a pose. He doesnt have a genuinely smiling, happy, open face.

Will you be talking more to young people about why they should vote?
Id like to be able to just go and talk to some young people at a rally, but unfortunately, Im going to probably curse [when I speak], and theyre going to string me up by my nuts if I do.

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