She belongs to the elite club of celebrities instantly knowable by one name. And as it turns out, I Got You Babe singer Cher doesn't even have a middle name. But if she did, it could well be Danger – or at least Adventure!
"When I was nine years old, I decided I was going to run away from school, like, go on an adventure," Cher recalls. "I hopped on a freight train with my friend. I had no idea where I was going. And we just rode this train until my friend started crying because it got dark. So I called my mum and she was like, 'Cher! What have you done?'"
Now 77 – and with a career of almost six decades behind her – Cher hasn't stopped having adventures.
What's her latest one? A Christmas album.
Last month, the popular songstress, who shot to fame in 1965 as one half of the husband-and-wife duo Sonny & Cher, released her new album, simply titled Christmas, and she smiles as she acknowledges it's yet another freight train on her whirlwind journey through life.
"Different freight trains, different time," she laughs. "It's like, when I did this album, I had no idea what was going to happen with it."
Since her highly publicised divorce from husband Sonny Bono in 1975, the Moonstruck actor has had a well-documented string of younger A-list lovers, including Val Kilmer and Tom Cruise. Her latest squeeze is music executive Alexander Edwards who, at 37, is 40 years her junior.
"He's special," tells Cher. "No matter what happens, I love being with him. He makes me laugh and we have fun."
Indeed, this Christmas album – her first in five years – was inspired by her beau.
"It was Alexander who talked me into singing again when we met because I was ambivalent about it," she tells. "He brought me some songs and helped me see that now is the right time."
Releasing the album in the lead-up to Christmas is bittersweet timing for Cher. Her beloved mother – singer, actor and model Georgia Holt – died on December 10 last year, aged 96.
The pair had butted heads when "strong-headed" Cher was young, but they spoke fondly of each other in subsequent years.
"We were poor – really poor," the singer recalls of her early years with seven-times divorced Georgia. But that didn't matter come the Yuletide season.
"My mum always managed to do a good job. You know, like, she saved her money. And mostly that went into our Christmas time for my sister and myself. You don't have to have a lot of money to have a fun time at Christmas."
This holiday season, Cher says she'll be honouring her mother in a special way.
"I have two recipes of my mum's," she tells. "My mum's cornbread and also her cheesecake. I remember when she made it for the first time when I was a kid and I was like, 'Mum, you've got to make this every year!'"
Cher became one of the first female musicians to defy the age barrier in 1998 when, at 52, she released Believe, which went on to become her best-selling album ever.
This was at a time when women over forty in the pop industry were viewed as well past their prime.
Cher wasn't having a bar of that – and it has now been 25 years since the title track hit number one all around the world.
She recalls how she was struggling with the sound of the single until she saw a boy on a TV show singing through a synthesising machine called a vocoder.
"The vocal sound was so amazing, so different," she says. "I'd never heard anything like that ever in my life!"
The song has taken its place on Rolling Stone magazine's list of 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and just like Believe, Cher has also aged remarkably well.
When asked the secret to looking great in her seventies, Cher says, "Good genes! It's in my family genes."
She adds, "I don't feel my age, so maybe that helps too. I like to think young and keep up with new trends. I have lots of young friends as well as old ones too. But I'm not trying to be younger than I am – I'm just enjoying life."
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