At 64 years old, more than 40 years after breaking into show business, Cher (real, little known name: Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere) remains an icon of the music world and pop culture at large. While her star power has waxed and waned over the years, she's back in a big way this Thanksgiving with "Burlesque," the musical drama in which she stars alongside Christina Aguilera.
In anticipation of the movie's Nov. 24 release, Cher opened up to Vanity Fair about her late husband, Sonny Bono, her daughter-turned-son, Chaz Bono, her childhood, and more (including the woman on everyone's mind this midterm election season, Sarah Palin).
Below, check out Cher's 12 biggest revelations from the interview, and read Vanity Fair's full profile of her in the magazine's December issue.
1. On Chaz Bono, formerly Chastity Bono: "She's a very smart girl -- boy! This is where I get into trouble. My pronouns are [expletive]. I still don't remember to call her 'him.' She's really cool about it—such an easygoing person. Because I've hardly called her Chastity since her brother was born ... If I woke up tomorrow in a guy's body, I would just kick and scream and cry and [expletive] rob a bank, because I cannot see myself as anything but who I am -- a girl. I would not take it as well as Chaz has. I couldn't imagine it."
2. On her roller-coaster marriage to Sonny Bono: "[He treated me] more like a golden goose than like his wife. ... I forgive him, I think. He hurt me in so many ways, but there was something. He was so much more than a husband—a terrible husband, but a great mentor, a great teacher. ... If he had agreed to just disband Cher Enterprises and start all over again, I would have never ever left. Just split it down the middle, 50-50."
3. On his view of their relationship: "He told me when we were together, 'One day you are going to leave me. You are going to go on and do great things.' He wrote me this poem, and I wish to God that I had kept it. He said, 'You are a butterfly, meant to be seen by all, not to be kept by one.' I wouldn't have left him if he hadn't had such a tight grip—such a tight grip."
4. On how her mother almost aborted her: "My mother told me once about how she got pregnant with me and didn't want to be with my dad; she was just so young and inexperienced. My grandmother said, 'You have a bright future.' She actually suggested an abortion, so my mom was in the doctor's office—a back-alley doctor—getting on the table. And then at the last minute she said, 'I can't do this. I don't care what happens—I can't do this.' "
5. On her mother's eight marriages (three were to Cher's biological father) and many men: "Our life was so chaotic, just one insane moment after another ... They were all artists and models and dancers. I remember, once, my mother saying, 'You should have a stable future' and blah, blah, blah. I said, 'I don't think I want a stable future if it's going to be like our neighbors'. I don't want to be like them.' "
6. On her family's history with drugs and her decision to stay clean: "It's weird, because both of my children had the same drug problems as their fathers -- same drug of choice. My father was a heroin addict, and my sister's father was an alcoholic. But it jumped us ... I didn't not do drugs because of moral issues. I tried a couple of drugs, but I never felt good out of control. I have the constitution of a fruit fly. I can't do coffee, but I can do Dr Pepper."
7. On why the rich should pay more taxes: "I would be willing to pay a lot more taxes, because I make a lot more money, but I don't want to give [government officials] more to just [expletive] things up more. ... It really should fall on people like me to get together and do things to help the people in this country. If you're not worrying about how to put food on your table, you [should be] worrying about why other people don't have food on their table. I remember a great America where we made everything. There was a time when the only thing you got from Japan was a really bad cheap transistor radio that some aunt gave you for Christmas."
8. On former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin: "I got so obsessed with [C-SPAN] that it was kind of interfering with my life. Sarah Palin came on, and I thought, Oh, [expletive], this is the end. Because a dumb woman is a dumb woman."
9. On aging: "I think Meryl [Streep] is doing it great. The stupid b***h is doing it better than all of us! But I don't like it. It's getting in my way. I have a job to do, and it's making my job harder."
10. On her stamina: "It's not an easy job ... You just have to make it look easy. But also, it's just a job. I'm not doing anything that's monumental. I know what I do is kind of a tonic for people. I'm either dying in my house or onstage."
11. On how she's remained relevant in Hollywood for so long: "I feel like a bumper car. If I hit a wall, I'm backing up and going in another direction. And I've hit plenty of [expletive] walls in my career. But I'm not stopping. I think maybe that's my best quality: I just don't stop."
12. On being an outsider: "Sonny and I still aren't in the [Rock and Roll] Hall of Fame, and it just seems kind of rude, because we were a huge part of a certain kind of music, and we lasted for a very long time. I have so much of everything that I want that those things don't usually bother me. It bothers me a little bit more because Sonny was a good writer, and we started something that no one else was doing. We were weird hippies before there was a name for it, when the Beatles were wearing sweet little haircuts and round-collared suits. The Rolling Stones were the only ones who understood us. People hated us here; we had to go to Europe to become famous. We influenced a generation, and it's like: What more do you want? Actors don't take me that seriously, either. So I always thought, I'm not an actor; I'm not a singer; I'm somewhere in between. And I've always felt like an outsider, so it doesn't bother me anymore. I like that status, truthfully."