Cher Without Sonny: Can the Show Go On?

Cher Bono sits in the coffee shop of the Aspen Highlands ski resort, clicking her long purple fingernails, but otherwise without makeup. Her marriage to Sonny finished, her television future unsettled, she has come here for a week’s vacation with her sister, a secretary, a maid, a nanny and Chastity, her 5-year-old daughter.

“Sonny and I have been together since I was 16,” she says, “so we’ve been more than husband and wife. It’s like husband, mother, brother, sister, daughter, father. To break up something like that is a hard thing. We’ve been married for 10 years and I couldn’t tell you in 10 hours how I feel about it. But I don’t think there’s anything that will make me dislike him, ever. There’s a bond between us—even if I won’t speak to him. He’s always been the boss, and I’ve always done what he’s said because its always seemed to be the best thing. When I met him I was only 16 and he was 27, and he always guided the careers. We never argued.

“I’ve filed for divorce—there aren’t any grounds. The only grounds for divorce in California are marriage. Everyone says, ‘Aw, it’s a shame they couldn’t make it go.’ I don’t think marriage should be a success or a failure. I think that if people are married and would be happier with someone else—why inflict that kind of unnecessary pain on somebody and on yourself too?

“We’re just at a different place, Sonny and I. He loves to work. I do too, but my capacity is not as big. I want to play a little. It’s very strange. Since we’ve been separated Sonny’s been doing all these things—skiing, going to Acapulco and going out to dinner. I think it might be very good for him. Sonny’s a very regimented person. He got all his excitement and fun out of work and he never wanted to go any place. When we finished the TV show we’d go out on the road and work one-nighters.

“For the first year of the show I think I had 14 days off, and it made me very nervous. But I held up. I was much stronger than I thought and I have no temper whatsoever. But I broke out—I was a mass of pimples—there were changes starting to take place in me and I couldn’t understand what was happening. I told Sonny, ‘Something’s the matter, it’s too much work, I need a vacation.’ But Sonny knew I could do it, and we did it for the next year too. I finally said I can do this okay, but I’m not happy. That was the straw that finally made me reevaluate. I was 26—I’m 27 now—and I thought, I don’t want to look back in 10 years and think I’ve just worked my whole adult life.”

It was more than work that caused the separation. It was also David Geffen, the 31-year-old chairman of Elektra Asylum Records. Since her recording contract with MCA is about to expire, she is excited about the options open to her, presumably including the chance to cut an album on Geffen’s label.

“I’d like to spend four or five months and do something really fantastic,” she says. “David isn’t that crazy about the idea though—it’s like a doctor who won’t perform an operation on his wife.

“David is a jewel, I think I’ve found the two jewels in the world. I love David. He is such a private person—I call him Mr. Beige—he’s so upset by all the press. He’s used to dealing with it for all his people but not for himself.

“The network is in a real quandary. Sonny and I threw them a real hook. If I had my way about it the show wouldn’t be picked up for next year. I’d like to do a show on divorce, but the network is not so thrilled with the idea.

“Since we’ve been doing the TV show I haven’t had enough time to be with the baby, which makes me uneasy. We’ve taken her with us, but she should be getting more than the small, concentrated attention when we goof off or go to the park. Now, here at Aspen she’s not interested in playing with me all day, she just wants to know that I’m here. Chastity is probably the most loved child and the most well-behaved child, and she’s going to be good. She wants to take piano lessons. She’s got drums and she’s got guitars. She’s got a good sense of timing, good pitch and rhythm.

“Sonny wants to have her for half the time, but I think she is too young. He’s a good father, but I don’t think she should be split in half. There are some things I just can’t be pushed into doing. We’re going to have a big argument about that.”

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