Interview: Cher Isn’t Old Enough to Be an Icon — Well, at Least According to Her
Fast forward to the present, and Cher is selling her Malibu home featuring a climate-controlled room for all of her wigs, which have played a massive part in many of these iconic looks and beyond. It’s not something you put in your home unless you really, really love wigs (or, you know, are really, really rich). But as it turns out, there’s a reason Cher is so emotionally attached to them.
“Once upon a time…” she laughs before recalling her time on The Sonny & Cher Show. “My [real] hair was as long as it was in the intro, but then I would have to jump from that… to five other [looks between skits],” she says. “When we first started doing it, no one could handle my hair.” Thankfully, Cher eventually met German hairstylist and wigmaker Renate Leuschner, who would become Cher’s master of quick-change hair for the show.
The desire to instantly change from one hairstyle to another would stick with Cher for the remainder of her career. “When I’m on stage, I make my costume changes in about two minutes, and everything gets whipped off. If I couldn’t wear a wig, what would I do?” If you were to ever suggest simply pairing the same hairstyle with multiple outfits, Cher would probably clutch her metaphoric pearls.
But the story goes far beyond that. The one time Cher wasn’t allowed to wear a wig, her real, very precious hair paid for it. “When I did Mask, the director said, ‘You can’t wear a wig. You have to dye your hair because I will know if you’re wearing a wig.'” She remembers wanting the role badly enough that she went along with it, which she would end up regretting big time. “I had black hair, and he wanted it to be red, so when I came out of the [hair salon], I had black hair with big red polka dots in it, and I was hysterical.”
As you probably already know, you have to bleach hair that dark in order to then dye it red. For anyone with naturally dark hair, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. Cher’s hair was so damaged she had to see another hairstylist she calls a “hair doctor,” who told her she could save Cher’s hair but not without drastic maintenance. For a while, Cher ended up having half wigs made by Renate, but eventually “I was wearing a full wig, and I’d cut my hair into a white-blonde crew cut.” She recalls going to said director’s birthday party, where he’d seen the new look and guffawed. “I said, ‘This is what I had to [do], ruin my hair, so you could think that you would know better than I could.’ I didn’t say to shove it, but boy, I wanted to.”