My Passover with Cher
I first performed this in my solo show, Dani Live! My Life In Leg Warmers, in May, 2003 in Los Angeles. It was first posted here, in April 2011. It has been refurbished for your listening pleasure, and is dedicated to Passover and Cher.
I invited Cher, Baruch Hashem, to my parent’s house last year for Pesach. It had been on my ‘to do’ list for quite some time, but well, you know how it is. Life just seems to get in the way, and shit is put off for yet another day. But I finally moved it to the top of my list.
I knew I was taking a chance, and there weren't any guarantees. I didn’t know if she already had Seder plans. My invitation was last minute. I didn’t even consider that she might be too tuckered out from her first of several farewell tours. I tweeted her anyway.
She immediately tweeted back an enthusiastic ‘yes’ and a few other niceties, all under 140 characters. For those that don’t know, Cher is quite the social media maven. Thus began a conver-tweet-sation.
She wanted to know what color the Yarmulkes were that we were going to be wearing during the service, so she could color coordinate with her wig. The woman is always thinking production values. I told her that reformed Jews, which we were, didn’t usually wear Yarmulke’s. In fact, I told her that my family was so reformed we were practically Catholic. She tweeted back a laughing emoticon and LMFAO.
Cher & Uncle George
When the day arrived, Cher drove up on her beloved Harley Davidson. That’s my Uncle George in the red jacket, and his sons, my cousins, Damian and Jeff. They waited down the street from just in case she got lost.
I was surprised that Cher arrived solo, as she likes to take her sister, Georganne LePiere with her to social events. I did tweet her that she could extend the invitation to her son, Elijah Blue. She said that he was still mourning the break up of his band, Deadsy.
My dad took Cher’s leather gloves, and put them in the hall closet, with our coats. It had been a long trip, and Cher wanted to freshen up before dinner, so she excused herself and went to the restroom.
She emerged ten minutes later wearing, what can only be described as, a Bob Mackie Yarmulke original. Sequins, glitter... It was a beanie masterpiece. I thought it looked more like a tricked out sailor’s hat, than a yarmulke, but it’s Cher, I was not about to split wig hairs.
Yarmulke or sailor hat?
We hung out in the family room until the eggs were hard boiled and my sister-in-law put the finishing touches on the Charoset. Cher really has the gift of gab. She regaled us with stories about the preparations for her new tour, her Lady Gaga duet and her charity, the Children's Craniofacial Association. She really impressed my family with her knowledge of current events when she brought up a new report, claiming that there was flame retardant in mother’s breast milk.
My parents treated her like one of the family, more so than they did with any of the boyfriends that I brought home. They can be so judgmental. I know that my mother was biting her tongue, resisting the urge to tell Cher to put her hair up and get it off of her face. The woman is constantly riding my ass to do the same.
I didn’t know how long Cher was going to stay once dinner was over, so I took the opportunity to show her my Cher doll, that I’ve had since 1975. I think she was truly touched, because I saw a tear roll down her wrinkle-free face. The Cher doll was barefoot. I had lost her shoes, or my brother ate them (one or the other) oh, so many years ago.
Cher excused herself, again, to make a costume change. When she returned, she joined us at the dinner table, and we started reading from the Haggadah, or prayer book. We went around the table, taking turns reading passages, as we always do. When it came to Cher, her passage was heavy on the Rabbi names; Elazar Ben Azarya, Raban Gamliel, and it tripped her up. In all fairness, I'm sure she had never heard of the Rabbi's, unless of course she had attended Pesach at her friend Bette Midler’s house. I didn’t ask. I didn’t want to pry. Cher did her best and we left it at that.
A few pages later, I looked over at Cher, who was sitting next to Uncle George. I thought she looked a bit uneasy. George still hasn’t gotten the memo that those natural deodorants really don’t do shit, and I thought Cher was reacting. But then I realized that it wasn’t George at all, it was the multitude of glasses of wine we’re told to drink during the service. It can be unsettling to a non drinker, which Cher is. My family wouldn’t know since there aren’t any non drinkers in the whole lot.
I leaned in close, and assured Cher that, in no way, was she obligated to drink. Unfortunately, my mother didn’t buy any Manischewitz because there’s never been a need (even my 10 year old nephew drinks the real stuff). However, being the mensch that Cher is, she threw back that wine like one of the drunken sailors in her, “If I Can Turn Back Time” video.
When I was a kid, my favorite part of the Seder dinner was reading the four questions, which are always read by the youngest at the table. I held that title for many years. I had no idea what I was reading but I didn’t care, as long as I was the center of attention. And then my nephews arrived. The lord giveth, and the lord taketh away.
My youngest nephew was all set to read, when my dad suggested that we give our half-breed guest the honor. I thought it was a lovely gesture. I searched Cher’s punim, trying to get a read on how this last minute casting had affected her. Her face was still. After a few seconds, Cher gently pushed her chair back and stood up. Traditionally, we stay seated and read, but it was clear that Cher had something else up her sleeveless dress.
She walked to the front of the dining room and presented my family with a gift I know I won’t soon forget. A private concert, singing an original reinterpretation of her 1974 smash hit single, Dark Lady, from the album of the same name, in honor of Passover.
Press Play now and follow along.
PHARAOH'S SLAVES TRIED TO FLEE,
AND I CAN RELATE BECAUSE I LEFT SONNY.
MOSES SAID, 'HEY, LISTEN BRO’,
DON'T YOU THINK IT'S TIME YOU LET ME PEOPLE GO?
THEY WANDERED AROUND FOR 40 YEARS,
WHY SHOULD THEY KVETCH, IT'S SHORTER THAN MY CAREER.
THEY ARRIVED IN THE PROMISED LAND,
MORE BURNT OUT THAN THE ALLMAN BROTHER'S BAND.
WHY IS THIS NIGHT SO DIFFERENT THAN THE ONES THAT CAME BEFORE?
WHY DO YOU DIP HERBS TWICE AND EAT ONLY MAROR?
WHY DO YOU SIT RECLINED AND EAT THIS FUNKY LOOKING BREAD?
IF IT WERE UP TO ME, I'D ORDER IN INSTEAD.
THE FOUR QUESTIONS THEY HAVE TO ASK,
BITTER HERBS? I WAS OVERLOOKED FOR MASK.
NO TIME TO LET BREAD RISE THEY HAD TO SHAKE A LEG,
IF THEY BELIEVED IN CHRIST THEY’D BE EATIN’ CHOCOLATE EGGS.
TEN PLAGUES DIDN’T GO THAT FAR,
BOILS AND FROGS, HE SHOULD’VE CURSED THEM WITH EPSTEIN BARR.
IN THE END THEY ALL RECLINE,
WHAT’S THE BIG DEAL IT’S HOW I LAND JOBS ALL THE TIME.
WHY IS THIS NIGHT SO DIFFERENT THAN THE ONES THAT CAME BEFORE? WHY DO YOU DIP HERBS TWICE AND EAT ONLY MAROR?
WHY DO YOU SIT RECLINED AND EAT THIS FUNKY LOOKING BREAD?
IF IT WERE UP TO ME, I'D ORDER IN INSTEAD.
Speechless I know. A little pitchy and were those nerves shaking her voice? Who cares, it was a delightful surprise.
We settled back into the Seder and Cher joined my dad in lighting Yahrzeit candles, in memory of loved ones that had died. My Dad lit one for Nanny and Cher lit one for Sonny and her youth. He poured a glass of wine and opened the front door for the prophet Elijah. Cher started to say something about Deadsy, but my dad looked in her direction, "No, Dark Lady, not your Elijah."
Dinner was officially over, and it was time to look for the Afikoman, which is sort of a Jewish hide and seek, using a piece of Matzot. Whoever finds it, gets a cash prize. When we were kids, it didn’t matter who found it, because everyone cashed out. After a few years of this, no one tried all that hard and it took the fun out of the whole game. Sort of like how it doesn’t matter that your kids soccer team sucks and places last in the tournament, trophy's for all!
Cher wanted to play. She loves games. One of her favorite games is Wise and Otherwise. And she likes cash. I’m embarrassed to say it, but she was also drunk off her tattooed ass. No one seemed to mind if she participated, so she and my nephews scampered off to look for the big cracker.
A few minutes later, we heard a commotion coming from the basement. “No. Let it go. It’s mine. I found it.” I couldn’t tell who was screaming, but there was definitely a ruckus.
We ran down to the basement. Cher was acting all meshungina. She was physically pushing my nephew up against the wall, her long and luxurious nails, digging into his little ten year old chest. She was trying to pry the matzot out of his snausage-like fingers. It was a scene alright. She was schvitzing, her mascara was running down her face, her beanie had fallen to the floor, and her wig was cockeyed on her head.
My older nephew tried to pull Cher off of his little brother, but she was going mental. My guess is that this is exactly why she doesn’t drink. Finally, Cher released my nephew. He started screaming, “Hasbeen! Vegas shlock! Lori Davis Infomercial Hawker!” That was a low blow, rude and uncalled for. After all, she was our guest. I shooed my nephews up the basement stairs.
The next thing I knew, Cher ran up to my dad, sucking wind, and planted herself firmly in front of him. She grabbed his arm, and dropped a handful of matzot crumbs into his hand and waited. Needless to say, we were all confused and disappointed. How could something so beautiful and right turn out to be so ugly and wrong.
I didn’t want to admit it, but the people of the town were right. She is a gypsy, tramp and thief. But my dad, forever the gentleman, was not about to break from tradition. He fished out a twenty dollar bill from his pants pocket and slapped it down in Cher’s waiting hand. "Shalom, Cher, Shalom."