"I THINK the longer I look good, the better gay men feel," said Cher, who clearly intends gay men to feel good -- forever! (Cher's resistance to excessive aging and the overturn of DOMA, has most gay people feeling really good right now!)

YOU HAVE to really love Cher to attend an event on a Thursday night where it doesn't begin until 1 a.m. (That's 2 a.m., in star time.)

Well, lots of people love Cher, and that's exactly what they did last week at Marquee, way downtown in NYC. Cher played her latest single "Woman's World" and was just generally fabulous. She looked great, spoke briefly, seemed shy (she is, actually!) and then went into her "performance." This consisted of sitting with the DJ, playing her song and -- again -- just being fabulous. It wasn't a terribly long visit, but everybody seemed thrilled simply to be in the presence of the one and only Cher.

But before she went to the DJ's booth, Cher watched from a balcony as a variety of drag queens paid tribute to the indestructible star. Cher was much amused and sang along to her old hits as the drag queens lip-synced. There were a surprising number of very young fans on hand, and they knew the lyrics of every Cher song, going back to "Dark Lady" and "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves."

Accompanying Cher, was her blond, glamorous longtime PR woman, Liz Rosenberg. She danced with Cher; Liz is a star in her own right. And a woman of infinite patience and surprising sanity. (She has also repped Madonna for more than a quarter century!)

And Cher did more than simply play her new single on Sunday. She belted out a batch of her songs at the annual Dance on The Pier benefit, celebrating Gay Pride Day. It became the event's first sellout in five years, and the star was rapturously received. The crush, the heat, the humidity did nothing to quell the crowd's enthusiasm or Cher's incredible energy. She still has a voice as solid and strong as it was in the good old Sonny and Cher era. (She didn't need the wild red wig, but it added to the fun.)

This performance bodes well Cher's coming tour -- which now even she makes fun of, as in -- will it be her "last farewell?" She says, "Probably not." Good! Cher was adorable on "The Today Show." She is so earthy and real and gets herself, and the whole crazy business of "being Cher." That's the reason she's lasted, and will be around for as long as she wants to be around. This woman won't ever be shown the door. She'll open and close it herself, thank you very much.

BACK IN 1997, a man named William Weathersby Jr. wrote me a letter from Westport, Conn., and he was seeking information for a book about the Pierre Hotel and its cultural social history from 1930 to the then present. Here is a story he told me as his favorite of all he had gleaned to that date. (I have always loved the Pierre Hotel until they let the great pianist Barbara Carroll go out of the famed Bemelsman Bar. But I don't think even Barbara would quarrel with her now replacement, the genial and wonderful Billy Stritch, who is filling the Bemelsman with the music we all miss.

Mr. Weathersby told this little story and I don't know if he eventually produced a book but it bears re-telling. It seems Tallulah Bankhead was living in a suite at the Pierre back in the mid-'30s. She was in her prime.

She called the night manager and met him stark naked, save for a pair of high heels. Tallulah was drinking then, World War II hadn't started, which caused her to be a teetotaler (she said) until Winston Churchill gave the OK in 1945. Tallulah flaunting her trademark cigarette in its holder, bellowed at the night manager: "We're having a party this evening and I want you to get every virgin off the floor!"

This caused the Pierre to banish her from the hotel for life. But plenty of people, from the Kennedys on, more than made up for this defection later.

BORN ON the 4th of July: Actresses Gina Lollobridgida and Eva Marie Saint, playwright Neil Simon, baseball's George Steinbrenner, musician Mitch Miller, President Calvin Coolidge and, and the infamous World War II radio propagandist, Tokyo Rose.

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)