Like Dancing with a Hurricane

This post has already weathered a number of incarnations. From celebrating a couple of tough women to hating their mangled faces to reveling in the independence they represent. I may still not know how this is going to end but it begins with yesterday’s Oprah show. The stage was set in Las Vegas and the show began with a sequence of clips celebrating the musical careers of Cher and Tina Turner.

Did you know Cher is the only female performer to have top ten hits in every decade since the 60’s? I didn’t but it doesn’t surprise me. From my perspective, it does seem like she has always been there.

It felt something like flipping through my mother’s forgotten album collection and I was too curious to stop looking. I haven’t been an avid fan of either of these ladies so I won’t be able to dance with you over their accomplishments. What I began to see, however, is the role these women played as touchstones. That too seems to be something stretching across generations.

When Cher claimed the stage with electric blue hair, she was the picture of celebrating who you and where you are. Who can’t fall in love with that? She sat down to talk to Oprah and I was struck by her soft and quiet responses. I think this has puzzled me before, this quietness that’s as solid as stone and says I’ll hold my ground against any of them. Oprah’s appreciation of Cher’s daring is present throughout the conversation. I think my mother, who completed her entire education at St. Wendelin’s Catholic School and Ohio Dominican College, secretly admired that brazen sexiness too. My mother would never admit it, but Oprah is now reveling in it. Her eyes are on fire throughout the interview as though she now has electric blue hair.

I remember Cher’s attempt to turn back time in the 90’s. I didn’t care much for the music but knew I wanted to be able to rock like that when I was 50, if that’s what I decided to do. As a young woman just starting college I wasn’t sure I’d have my own internal combustion engine. That’s what I saw in Cher, unbridled horsepower.

Next on the show was Tina Turner. Apparently these two women first performed together nearly 30 years ago and would sing “Proud Mary” together one more time for Oprah. Tina, now 68, sat next to Cher for a chat amongst girlfriends. Sonny and Ike were mentioned as only one event of their long careers. Oprah asked about the money either of them owed to their exes after the break-ups and Tina turned to Cher to ask, “How could you have owed Sonny anything?” These were two women who knew they had it and now wondered how they ever doubted themselves.

In this celebration of two larger-than-life divas, this was a perfect “every woman” moment. Cher spoke about her stage fright and how daunting it was to consider dancing on stage with Tina Turner, “it’s like dancing with a hurricane.” There is something more natural about Tina’s raw power. Read the rest of this entry »