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Becoming Cher is a drag at Lips

Staff Writer

Becoming Cher isn’t easy.

Especially if you’re a man.

But that’s what Richard Fernandez, a.k.a Franchesque Richards, does about four times a week (five if he does the Sunday Gospel Brunch) at Lips restaurant in Oakland Park (Click here)

On Thursday, May 15, the supper nightclub with female impersonator entertainment will go into overdrive…or overdrag…with “Never Say Farewell — Tribute to Cher,” with three “Chers” including Richards, Alexis Couture and Shelly Michaels held in anticipation of the singer’s concert at BB&T Center on Saturday and her birthday next Tuesday.

“I probably would say I’ve been [impersonating] Cher for about 23 years,” Fernandez says. “But the last 10 years, I’ve been serious about it. I don’t think I even wore eyelashes back then. Drag wasn’t so serious then. It’s very serious now. It’s so mainstream, so popular and so polished.”

The tribute is a fundraiser for Smart Ride (Click), a two-day bicycle ride from Miami to Key West set for this November that will raise money to help people with HIV/AIDS. The benefit quickly sold out, so organizers added a second drag concert for this Sunday, May 18.

“The first time I saw Cher, I must have been 11 or 12 years old,” says Fernandez, who grew up in Huntsville, Ala. “It was ‘The Sonny and Cher Show.’ (Click) There was something about her. Her costumes were so eye-catching, and it was all so risque, you know, for back then.”

Since then, he says he’s admired Cher for changing with the times and staying relevant as an entertainer for five decades and counting.

His favorite Cher song is “If I Could Turn Back Time.” (Click)

His favorite Cher movie is “Moonstruck.” (Click)

His favorite Cher fashion moment is the Bob Mackie translucent, black-beaded gown she wore in 1988 to accept an Oscar for “Moonstruck.” (Click)

But for the illusion of being Cher, he says it all goes back to the songs.

“To do Cher, you definitely need the hair and costumes,” Fernandez explains. “And you need an ability to relate to the songs. If you can’t relate to the songs, you can’t do Cher.”

“Never Say Farewell — Tribute to Cher” will begin 7 p.m. Sunday, May 18, at Lips, 1421 E. Oakland Park Blvd., in Oakland Park. There is a $10 show cover charge and a $15 food minimum. Call 954-567-0987. (Click)

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