The dust and glitter still haven’t settled since Cher came to Provincetown to stump for Hillary Clinton this past August. Even come October, stories of Cher sightings are told around town with the same glee and wonder as a glimpse at a UFO full of aliens dressed by Bob Mackie or Bigfoot in smart white palazzo pants, a pale peach blouse, and a silver sequin belt. Cher’s fame is of mythical proportions, and her visit to Provincetown came with all the excitement of a vision at Fatima or Lourdes. (Oh, Hillary was great, too.)
For six decades Cher has dominated American pop culture, earning fans whether she is singing with Beavis and Butthead or winning an Academy Award. With diehard fans across the spectrum, she is a particular favorite of the LGBT community, which feels a kinship with her for a variety of reasons, something that she herself expressed in return while here in Provincetown. So it’s particularly auspicious at this moment in Provincetown for a gay man and a lesbian to express not just their appreciation for Cher, but their downright obsession with her in a new show titled CHER-ing, starring drag queen Thirsty Burlington and comedian Jennie McNulty.
“I put my name in for a ticket when she came to Provincetown,” says McNulty. “I didn’t get one, but I kept telling people I might be seeing Cher, and some blonde lady!”
McNulty didn’t get off the waiting list, but her co-star Thirsty (a.k.a. Scott Townsend) was there. For over 20 years he’s been impersonating Cher with such spot-on accuracy in voice, movement, and look that Bob Mackie said Thirsty is the best he’s ever seen. And he’s seen a lot of Chers! And on that day Townsend got there early, claiming a spot as close as he could get, gripping onto the railing in front of him like he was on the incline of a roller coaster waiting for the drop.
Cher, in a way and in part, has taken Townsend around the world. The makers of the film Thirsty, a biopic about Townsend now making the film festival circuit, wrote the movie because they were so taken by his impersonation of her. And now Townsend is in London making an appearance with the film at the Raindance Film Festival, returning just in time to hit the stage with CHER-ing at the Post Office Cabaret as she brings her Cher across the pond.
McNulty knew from the moment she met Townsend in 2006 they were Cher soul sisters. The L.A.-based stand up comic had her first Provincetown gig at the Post Office Cabaret just before Thirsty’s and would stay night after night to watch her show. Once, while hanging out after hours, they learned something about each other neither had told many people before: they both had kept Cher scrapbooks since childhood. And they make an appearance in the show.
“I first saw Cher on The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour when I was in fourth grade,” says McNulty. “At the time I had long, dark straight hair just like her! So I felt a connection. She was the first woman to be funny and cool, to be funny and sexy. I just have always loved her bad assness.”
The two talked about Cher so often, comparing ticket stubs from concerts they had attended, quoting Moonstruck and Mask, flipping their respective long hair in that same way with a deep staccato “Woah,” that they one day thought of doing a show together all about Cher. The show debuted the summer of 2015 and was a big hit, as there certainly are not a shortage of Cher fans in Provincetown. If you love Cher then you will love this show, the duo attest. And while they both claim to be Cher’s biggest fan, every once in a while they must admit defeat.
“I used to think I was Cher’s biggest fan until I moved to West Hollywood,” says McNulty. “And then I was like ‘OK! You boys win!’”
CHER-ing with Jennie McNulty and Thirsty Burlington runs at the Post Office Cabaret, 303 Commercial St., Provincetown, Friday, October 7 at 10 p.m., Saturday, October 8 and Sunday, October 9 at 7 p.m. and Tuesday, October 11 and Wednesday, October 12 at 7 p.m. For tickets ($25) and information go to the box office, call 508.487.0006, or visit postofficecabaret.com.