a monthly look at the faces
that have made history


Legendary ladies with single names have always been around—Cleopatra, Madonna, Beyoncé. But when it comes right down to it, there's only one Goddess of Pop, and that's Cher—the single female recording artist to have No. 1 hits in each of the past four decades. Not only does she have a Grammy, an Emmy, three Golden Globes, and an Oscar to her credit (she's a Tony away from an EGOT), she long ago cornered the market in feathers and fishnet to become one of fashion's true eccentrics.

Now 64, the self-proclaimed poster girl for cosmetic surgery is back on the big screen this month in Burlesque. No, it's not her life story. The movie tells the tale of a small-town girl, played by Christina Aguilera, who travels to Los Angeles to win a job at a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer (guess who?). Plot twists and ballads ensue, but then this headliner is hardly a stranger to larger-than-life cinematic moments: The California-born Cherilyn Sarkisian trumped Meryl Streep to receive a Best Actress nod at the 1988 Academy Awards for her role in Moonstruck, in which she played an ugly duckling transformed by love, lipstick, and a good pair of tweezers.

More than just a re-sculpted face, a pretty midriff, and a Bob Mackie dress, Cher has also become a one-woman cottage industry. Since getting her start as a 16-year-old backup singer, she's released exercise videos, a diet guide, and a perfume, as well as skincare products. But it's her frequent walks on the sartorial wild side that keep her a household name. Love or hate her goth, punk rock, cowgirl, and showgirl getups, she's always been a provocateur par excellence, embodying that time-honored philosophy: If you've got it, flaunt it. Then add to it, and flaunt it some more.

—S.S. Fair

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