Gary James' Interview With Cher Impersonator
Uncanny. Unbelievable. Incredible. These are just some of the superlatives used to describe Heidi Thompson as Cher.
The look, the voice and the charisma is immediately apparent as Heidi delivers a medley of Cher's hit songs in nightly performances of Legends In Concert at The Imperial Palace Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. Just for the record, Heidi is a Central New Yorker, born and raised in Rochester.
Q - Heidi, how did you get from Rochester, N.Y. to Las Vegas? Where did you catch your big break?
A - I moved to Las Vegas in 1973. My parents had just divorced and my mother wanted to be near her sister in Las Vegas. So, I drove my brother, sister and mother from Rochester to Las Vegas. I did not stay long at first however, because I wanted to perform my original Rock music, and L.A. was a better place to pursue a singer / songwriter career. I was a starving artist for several years in L.A. and then decided to make some money. A car accident in 1981 forced me to move back to Las Vegas. After re-grouping, I decided to shop an original musical play to the Las Vegas Hotel showrooms. I also was asked to write a commercial jingle for a friend of the family who owned a beeper company. My play came very close to being presented to the top producer in New York, Mr. James Neederlander, Sr. My connection in Las Vegas, the owner of Brunswick Records, set up the meeting. Unfortunately, he soon got very ill and passed away. My play is still in my closet at home, along with piles of other scripts for film and television. Writing songs and scripts is my strongest talent. Finding someone to produce them is my weakest. As for my jingle for the beeper company, it was so successful that I now own Golden Song Productions with my husband, Gene Sironen. We have written and produced over 200 jingles for clients that include top Nevada Hotels. Golden Song Productions is now moving into the writing and production of original songs and scripts. As for my introduction into the Cher business, I had an act with my husband called Thompson and Sironen. We had a one week job at the now extinct Marina Hotel on the strip, which turned into over two years. In our act, we did songs from famous duos. Sonny and Cher was probably the most popular portion of our act. We started out singing the song "I Got You Babe". As time went on, we added props like a Sonny Bono wig that Gene wore. I started sounding and acting like Cher. The producer of the Legends in Concert at the Imperial Palace in Las Vegas saw our act and asked me to portray Cher in his show. I've been doing an impersonation of Cher for almost six years now.
Q - Because of your resemblance to Cher, what's the worst experience you've ever had?
A - I have reddish plum brown hair and do not look exactly like Cher out of the wig and make-up. The worst experience I ever had was after a show once. I was in my Cher costume shaking hands outside a showroom. An ex-stage hand motioned for me to come over to where he and his wife were standing at the bar. He said that I had slept with him and it couldn't happen again. I thought he was either high or had a weird sense of humor, so I chuckled. His wife said "That's not funny" and slapped me across the face. It was a shock! Anyway, I think he must have been having an affair with a dog and saying it was me made him look more desirable to his poor wife! I let her know he was lying. Then I asked if he was high. At that moment, she got scared and they left the hotel. They never came back. I sent them both certified letters saying that I would press charges unless I got an apology in writing. I never heard from them. That experience was awful because I was a newlywed at the time and my mother had just passed away from cancer. I guess some people don't care what type of effect they cause on others.
Q - Have you ever met Cher?
A - Never. I would like to though. I love her, especially as an actress. If we do meet, I hope it's after I've stopped impersonating her and have moved on in my career.
Q - You had some involvement in the Kentucky Country singing group. What was that all about?
A - Kentucky Country was a young singing group that starred in Splash at the Riviera Hotel. I wrote three songs for one of their albums. I have written songs for many artists but have yet to find the right artist who could have a hit with one of my songs. Maybe a publisher would be handy.
Q - You knew at the age of 7 that you wanted to be a singer. How did you know that? Who inspired you?
A - I knew I was a singer actually at 4 years old. I just knew it. No one inspired me. I just knew it.
Q - Since you perform as Cher every night, can you even begin to imagine what problems the real Cher must encounter before she even goes onstage?
A - The real Cher probably has less problems on stage than off. When you are a superstar with a big budget, you can have it exactly how you want it onstage. Also, she must have a make-up person, a hair person, a wardrobe person, etc., etc., etc. That would be a dream come true for me. Offstage, I can imagine how the lack of privacy would be a problem. I get people coming up to me all the time and I'm not a superstar...yet!