Fans Gather for Cher Convention


Monday, July 17th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6


CHICAGO (AP) — Move over Trekkies, a new fan-fest has landed.

More than 500 diva-worshippers came to Chicago for a two-day weekend convention in honor of Cher. Cher Convention 2000 drew Cher impersonators, wannabes and outright look-alikes from across the country to a downtown hotel Friday and Saturday.

The gathering at Chicago's Congress Plaza Hotel, which resembled conventions for fans of Star Trek, comic books and sports teams, was organized by three fans who found each other through Cher's Web site.

``I've been a fan for years and we all thought it would be good to get together with other fans,'' said Kim Werdman a real estate manager from Arlington, Texas, who served as convention president.

Cher wasn't present although organizers had expected her to attend. While the event featured kitschy karaoke performances, Sonny and Cher album covers and other memorabilia, it also had a serious side.

Proceeds from the sale of T-shirts, photographs and other keepsakes will be donated to the Children's Craniofacial Association, a Dallas-based support group, Werdman said.

Cher is the organization's honorary chairwoman. In the 1985 film ``Mask,'' she played the mother of a boy who was born with craniofacial deformities, and the singer has since been a benefactor for people who suffer from the disorder.

Since Cher was a no-show, her fans had to settle for the next best thing — impersonator Wayne Smith. Sporting a beaded pink gabardine pants suit, Smith belted out a rendition of ``I Got You Babe,'' the 60s hit duet by Cher and then-husband Sonny Bono.

Smith handled both ends of the duet, mimicking Sonny's whiny tone and Cher's husky vibrato by himself. ``I'm schizophrenic,'' Smith joked.

His audience included male and female fans who sported Cher-like hairdos in black, red and purple hues.

Cher fan Troy Lynn Hershman was dressed more conservatively, but said she's every bit as devoted.

``I've been a fan since I was four or five,'' said Hershman, 33, of Houston. ``But I've never been to any of her concerts. I just watch her on cable.''

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On the Net: Cher's Web site: http://www.cher.com

Children's Craniofacial Association: http://www.childrenscraniofacial.com