The gothic-style rendering is a portal through which fans must enter if they want to purchase her new album, Not Commercial--a disc available exclusively on her Website starting November 8, and true to its name, it marks an interesting departure for the ageless diva.
Featuring Cher's own compositions, it's a walk on the dark side--another makeover for a star who's been as successful as Madonna in re-inventing herself.
But this isn't just a new hair color. Among the choice cuts on her upcoming collection: A reflection on her lack of concern for a homeless woman ("Our Lady of San Francisco"), a diatribe against nuns ("Sisters of Mercy," spawned by her childhood spent briefly in a Catholic orphanage), and "The Fall," an ode to the memory of Nirvana's late frontman Kurt Cobain. (To put it in perspective, Cher's first single, recorded in 1964 under the name Bonnie Jo Mason, was called "Ringo, I Love You," a mash note to the Beatles drummer. Ah, how times do change.)
Pre-orders are already being taken at www.cher.com, where fans can also snag must-have souvenirs like a cappuccino mug or a silver, zip-front Believe jacket.
A sample of Cher's no-mercy attack on nuns--in which she complains the not-so-good sisters "weave their web of lies around you,"--can be heard, provided the listener is at least 18 years of age. (The album comes with a not-appropriate-for-kids warning label.)
"It's very un-Cher like," she told the Los Angeles Times. "But if people really knew me, it is very Cher. But it's so [expletive] dark. I have to put a sticker on it. I don't want kids buying it. I write like I speak--not exactly like a sailor, but colorful."
To be sure, this isn't the Cher of the Grammy-winning dance single, Believe, and certainly not the Sonny chick of the "I've Got You Babe" years.
In fact, some might suspect it's not the Cher that anyone is much interested in, except maybe Cher. But she's aware of that.
"I don't have any expectations," she told the Times. "I did it for myself, so I'm just sharing it with people who might be interested and don't really care what reviewers think."
She had been writing poetry for years, but never used it for songs until 1994, when she created the album. The now 54-year-old singer attended a writers' workshop in France, hosted by Miles Copeland, manager of Sting and founder of IRS records. She had already written the poem to Cobain and, while at the seminar, collaborated with established songwriters, Bruce Roberts and Pat MacDonald, to come up with more tunes.
Upon returning to America, she almost immediately recorded them, with the help of members of David Letterman's Late Show band.
And six years later, the arrival of Internet music marketing has finally opened up her dark side to all.
But, just in case nobody's buying it, she's already at work on a follow-up to the glossy-pop disc, Believe, set to hit traditional record stores next March.