This past weekend Chaz Bono was spotted in the audience of two Broadway musicals: Pretty Woman and The Cher Show, which of course is about someone named Cher. He went backstage to say hello to the three stars of The Cher Show. The musical is packed with so much Cher that it takes three talented actors to play the Gay Icon. It also portrays many key figures in her life: Sonny Bono, sequin procurer Bob Mackie, wacko record producer Phil Spector, husband number two Greg Allman, director Robert Altman, boyfriend Rob “Bagel Boy” Camilletti and her mother Georgia Holt. Yet, Cher’s son, Chaz, is mostly missing from the story. He is mentioned; referred to as “Chaz” as a baby, even though it would be 40 years before he began his transition. Bono was Chastity Sun Bono when he was born, named after the 1969 film Chastity, which was produced by his father and in which Cher, in her first film role, plays a bisexual woman. In The Cher Show he is only seen as a baby wrapped in a blue blanket, with no other stage time.
Jarrod Spector, the actor who plays Sonny Bono recently said:
I can’t speak with authority on that, but I know that Chaz’s story is bigger than a cameo. This show is about Cher and I think that’s an entire other story that deserves its own attention. I think the effort was made to respect Chaz’s journey without putting too much emphasis on it, but without being disrespectful. I think the effort was made to call the baby Chaz the whole time.
Chaz Bono came out as trans in 2009 and underwent gender confirmation surgery the next year. Bono says of his acting career:
Acting is a job where you have to be comfortable in your skin to be able to do it. I’m a fairly hetero-normative guy. I was like that when I was in a female body, and therefore to play a woman — I couldn’t do it. I lived my life before being really in my head and completely disconnected from my body. I didn’t like what was reflected in the mirror, it wasn’t me. It wasn’t how I saw myself. So, there was a huge disconnect with myself physically. Now, it’s about being able to pursue the life I always wanted to have, but I wasn’t able to because I was in the wrong skin.
Chaz has been busy as an actor, with a regular guy roles on the daytime soap The Bold And The Beautiful, the hairy web series Where The Bears Are, plus American Horror Story: Roanoke and American Horror Story: Cult, where he plays a rabid Trumper. Up next: Adi Shankar’s Gods And Secrets on HBO.
In 2011, he was a competitor on the 13th season of Dancing With The Stars, partnered with pro Lacey Schwimmer. This was the first time an openly transgender man starred on a major network television show for something unrelated to being transgender.