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.' "