Abroad With Cher 

"I'm fascinated with Cher. She's an icon," Hugh Busby says.

Busby's "The Cher Show" opens at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center on Friday, December 5th, and while this photo exhibit is certainly Cher-tastic, there is an 11-inch twist.

Inspired by a Will & Grace episode during which the character of Jack brought his Cher doll to dinner, Busby took the identical doll — '70s era, created by Mattel and adorned in a fabulous figure-bearing-and-feathered Bob Mackie gown — on a trip with him to Rome. And, then and there, he propped her up in front of the Vatican to take her picture.

He wasn't alone. Busby was leading a group of students from the University of Memphis, where he teaches in the art department. "I took her to the Vatican, and I almost got in trouble," Busby remembers. "I was shooting on holy ground, and suddenly, the Swiss Guards surrounded our group and asked what we were doing. I thought I was in big-time trouble."

No harm, no foul, and all hail Cher, it turns out. After that brush with the law, Busby went on to shoot Cher all over Italy, Chicago, New York, and at Memphis landmarks, such as Graceland and the Lorraine Motel. "Normally, people laugh and say that's a great idea," Busby says.

For the exhibit, there will be 18 photos framed and matted and all for sale. The muse/doll will make an appearance at the opening.

And, in case you were wondering, Cher has never known check-in luggage. She always goes carry-on. "Of course, of course," says Busby.

"The Cher Show" opening reception Friday, December 5th, 6-9 p.m. at the Memphis Gay and Lesbian Community Center, 829 S. Cooper. The show runs through December 15th.

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