Gazing out of the window of her seventh-floor hotel room, Cher looks misty-eyed as she surveys the bustling London landscape beneath her.
Struggling with a cold, the singer sighs and quietly admits she longs for a normal life, away from the harsh glare of showbusiness.
“I don’t remember the last time I went out,” she says.
“I am not happy. I like being an artist and really like being creative but I love my freedom too. However that’s one thing I have lost.”
Wearing a tiny mini-skirt – at 67 – it’s hard to imagine Cher as “normal”. Especially with her small army of “people” in an adjoining five-star suite.
Not to mention a £500million fortune, an Oscar and countless fans.
But as she coughs through our interview – her small frame perched like a sparrow on the edge of a sofa – it’s hard not to feel a little sorry for her.
“I would love to just go to Victoria and Albert museum and wander around the exhibitions,” she sighs. “It’s one of my favourite places but I just can’t.
“I lived in London twice and loved walking around the city. But not now.
“It’s hard for me to wear a disguise because people have seen me in every hair colour and style imaginable. Everyone’s got a phone camera as well.”
Some may have little sympathy for a woman who appears to have it made.
But it’s easy to forget that since being propelled into the limelight aged 19 in 1965, Cherilyn Sarkisian has worked hard at staying there ever since.
The California-born star found fame in singing duo Sonny and Cher, going on to marry Sonny and giving birth to daughter Chastity – born after four miscarriages – in 1969.
After coming out at 18, Chastity told her mum she wanted to be a man and underwent gender reassignment surgery in 2009.
A year later her name was changed to Chaz, now 44. Cher admits she found it tough to reconcile in her head.
“I was really supportive as we had talked about it over the years. But I admit it was difficult in the beginning.
“It was hard for a mother. I had this one child and I was waiting for the new child.
“There was this part in between where you don’t know what you are going to have.
"You don’t know what your relationship is going to be. It was a scary period – the unknown is always really frightening.”
But in fact, she says, they’re now closer than ever. “Chaz is unbelievably happy. He just lost 85lbs – he was carrying around that weight almost as if it was his sadness but he looks so amazing.”
The hormone treatment also radically altered her daughter’s voice.
“That was the weirdest thing,” she says. “I called one day and the answering message came on and it was Chaz as a girl.
"I thought ‘oh my god, I am never going to hear that voice again’. It was a sense of mourning. I said to Chaz is there any way I can keep that and Chaz said I don’t think so, Mum.
“Now it doesn’t make any difference as I don’t feel a loss at all. The loss I thought I was going to feel, I don’t feel one iota.”
Listening to Cher talk in her soothing, low voice it is impossible not to be amazed at how much she is doing. As well as a new album, there are 49 dates next year.
“It’s absolutely nothing,” she says instantly. “It’s like putting my toe in the water. You have to remember that the last tour I did consisted of 350.”
Surely she gets worn out though?
“Absolutely,” she admits. “I was old when I did that tour and that was the longest tour any woman has ever done.
“Touring is really difficult, it’s lonely. Going from one city to another, the isolation is rough. The show is the fun part.”
It’s hard not to tear your eyes away from her long, long fishnet-clad legs nestling under the coffee table. They are, I swear, spectacular. And then there’s her incredible complexion – though the singer has admitted to having had a facelift.
Still, she works hard at maintaining her good looks with five-times-a-week sessions in the gym, while confessing she also takes an age to get ready. “Sure I work out and on show days you start getting ready very early,” she says, before adding dryly: “Put it this way, guys have it much easier.”
Ah yes, guys... It’s hard to speak to Cher without touching upon her tumultuous love life.
She first met Sonny – then Salvatore Bono – at a cafe in Los Angeles in 1962 when she was 16 and he was 27.
But after years of controlling behaviour they divorced in 1975. However, they remained friends and Cher gave the eulogy at his funeral in 1998.
Then there was a nine-day union with rock star Gregg Allman – father of her son Elijah – as well as an array of dashing toyboys including Tom Cruise (“I loved him... he was a terrific young man”) and Val Kilmer.
Cher insists she’s not on the look-out for husband number three. “I am not looking to get married again, I’m not desperate to,” she says.
There are reports she recently broke up with a mystery man but when I bring it up she fixes me with a “look”, adding: “No I am not single but I absolutely wouldn’t tell you anything about it.”
Undeterred, I ask if her cougar reputation is a fair one.
“I only dated younger men because they were the ones to ask,” she explains. “Older men don’t ask me out. Are they frightened of me? I don’t know. Older men never find me that attractive. It seems strange that a young man isn’t intimidated, but a older man is.”
Thankfully she giggles when I ask if she still gets marriage proposals. “Some,” she says. “But that’s usually a deal breaker for me.”
While a wedding is not on the cards then becoming a grandmother certainly is.
“I really would like to be one,” she beams. “It would be so great to have the fun part and then send the child home. I’m hoping Elijah may help on that front.”
We’re here officially to talk about Cher’s new album Closer to the Truth, her first in 12 years. Fans will love it although Cher is self-deprecating. “I am quite pleased and I am normally never pleased with my work, she says. “I wouldn’t sit and listen to a Cher record, its not that appealing to me.”
What’s her take, then, on her young rivals – stars such as Miley Cyrus, currently under fire for her videos and MTV twerking?
“Did someone just wake up and think women are being sexualised? Women have been sexualised since the beginning of time and every time women do something it’s deemed shocking,” she says. “What I did in the past was tame but it was still viewed as horrible at the time.
“At least now they are doing it on their own terms. Surely no one is saying to Miley, ‘do that’. They don’t tell Madonna what to do and order her to take her clothes off. No one ever tells me what to do either.”
You can say that again...
- 'Closer To The Truth' has moved up to #6 on the Canadian album chart this week
- Cher is on the cover of the latest edition of UK magazine 'Attitude':
Buy Cher's new US#3 album 'Closer To The Truth' from Amazon or Amazon UK and her record-breaking new hit single 'I Hope You Find It' from Amazon or Amazon UK.