Friday, September 5, 2014

"Keep Two or Three Mackies Backstage": Dressing Joan and Cher

This afternoon I was listening to some vintage interviews of Joan Rivers on Terry Gross' "Fresh Air." Joan was describing a moment when an overzealous fan ran up to the stage only to get sick and Joan had to leave the stage to change her clothes. Terry asked her whether she was prepared for such an occurence, and Joan responded that she always keeps "two or three Mackies" backstage.

Joan pronounced "Mackies" twice, both times as if the word were a marvelous, magical spell.

I haven't thought of Mackies much in recent years, but in the 1970s I adored Bob Mackie and his otherworldly costumes for Cher, first on the Sonny and Cher Show, then for the singer's solo Cher Show.

I remember discovering the magazine (tabloid, really) Rona Barrett's Hollywood, then Rona Barrett's Gossip, which I read as often as possible hoping to find a new image of Cher striking a different pose in one of her Bob Mackie dresses.

Sometime during that decade, I wrote to Cher, using an address I must have found through Ms. Barrett's assistance.

Weeks, maybe months passed, and then in my PEI mailbox I received a postcard, hand-inscribed to me, from Cher.  I'll always remember her signature, as it seemed to match the logo for her solo show. 

It also taught me that a star needed a unique autograph, so I began working on mine.  Yes, I use it on all my letters.

That decade also saw the debut of the Cher doll, which joined my Barbie collection, organized on shelves my father had put up on my bedroom wall.  The doll was a disappointment, really--it didn't look like Cher!--but I still displayed it and tried to get its knee-length hair into one of Cher's butterfly topknots.

Probably the last time I saw Bob Mackie was when I was flipping through the channels, coming to a shocked halt on QVC when I saw him selling sequinned sweatshirts instead of masterminding some slinky gown.  But then again, those sweatshirts may well support the time needed to imagine couture maribou. 

And as Joan Rivers told Terry Gross in that interview, she *never* turned down a job.  That's why she was able to keep her two-to-three Mackies backstage, no doubt.  I do wish she were ordering another three or four..


K.Line said...

Love this post! Do you not feel that Cher and Celine Dion are sisters of a sort, divided by generations? They even look similar to me - not in any way pretty, but so commanding.

I'm intrigued by your feelings for Ms. Rivers. I remember watching her in the 80s (before she turned her face into something otherworldly) and thinking she was very funny. But the last 2 decades have been so crass, IMO, Miss C. I would not want to speak ill of the dead, but I feel she should have used her talents to better effect. I think of you as having delicate sensibilities (for right or wrong :-)). I'm intrigued to hear your take on this.

Miss Cavendish said...

Hey, K.Line! I really like Joan Rivers the person, as when she's talking to Terry Gross about her life, her philosophies, etc. I greatly admire her for being in the business for so long, after some industry peeps tried to make her irrelevant, for her tremendous resilience following her husband's suicide, getting fired, going bankrupt, etc., and for reinventing herself with her jewelry collection (I always enjoyed listening to her talk about her jewelry because it showed a passionate side of her). Yes, definitely, much of her comedy was too vulgar/crass for my taste, but the woman herself intrigues me.

Miss Cavendish said...

And yes to the Cher/Celine connection, though I always feel embarrassed for Celine when I *see* her sing--she wears her heart too openly on her sleeve . . .

K.Line said...

I totally hear you and I've heard that she is compelling in her documentary. I also think she was always done wrong by (husband, Johnny Carson etc.). I should perhaps watch the doc. For sure, her death has prompted tremendous outpourings.