The Virtues of Chastity

Cher was a whole other thing

Naylor says it was apparent that Chastity was a no-budget venture. "They were obviously strapped for money," he recalls of the shoot. "They had a tiny crew and Cher arrived in a pickup truck looking like she hadn't bathed in two weeks. This was not Lana Turner starring in Madame X, believe me."

Sonny eventually swung a deal with B-movie schlock house American International Pictures, which dumped Chastity onto the market in late spring 1969. According to Sonny's autobiography, the movie did big business in Idaho, but bombed everywhere else. In an attempt to save the picture, AIP rush-printed a new Chastity poster with Cher's head grafted onto the body of a more buxom lass, but to no avail. Even with bigger boobs, Chastity was dead.

Sonny and Cher were broke and, with their furniture still in hock, forced to sit on the floor of their Bel Air mansion. The duo hit the road to pay Chastity's bills, playing the sleazy hotel lounge circuit, a gig that led to their rebirth as television superstars when a CBS-TV exec caught their new Vegas-style routine. Somewhere in between, Cher gave birth to a baby daughter and, for some reason, the couple named her after their recent flop of a movie.

Chastity was Sonny and Cher's final attempt at playing counterculture hippies, an image they jettisoned in favor of the slicker, more network-friendly personas they sold in the '70s. It's amusing to watch them take one last shot at dissidence before packing it in and selling out, and even more fun to watch Cher traipsing through our sunny backyard in beatnik threads. Like the trailer for the film warned us back then, "Chastity's not a girl, she's a whole other thing!"

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