Diva worship is a love-hate endeavor for gays. We love our powerful ladies, and we love them even more when they want to rip each other's eyes out. This fall, the stage is set for the biggest billboard chart catfight in herstory, with new CD releases from Mariah Carey ( Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel , August 25), Whitney Houston ( I Look to You , September 1), Madonna ( Celebration , September 22), and Barbra Streisand ( Love Is the Answer , September 29). So who will win this clash of cliched album titles? Let's look at some previous female fracases for some clues. *Madonna's album title changed from Iconography to Celebration since this article went to press.
Mariah vs. Madonna It all reportedly started when Madonna mentioned in a '90s interview that she'd "kill herself" if she had to write pop songs like Mariah's. Carey responded, "I really haven't paid much attention to Madonna since like seventh or eighth grade, when she used to be popular." Whose Glitter was ultimately Swept Away ? This one's easy: Longevity always rules. Winner: Madonna
Cher vs. Madonna No one's sure what prompted Cher to trash Madge on a British talk show in 1991. "I think she's unbelievably creative, because she's not unbelievably talented. She's not beautiful. She's rude. She's creative, but she's rude." Sounds like petty jealousy to us. We've loved every version of Cher, but when someone's chalked up more farewell performances than regular ones, it's clear the waning has begun. Winner: Madonna, by a bleached hair
Betty vs. Bea Despite rumors, Bea Arthur never used Betty White's Golden Girls dressing room as a toilet (nor did Betty retaliate with laxatives). That doesn't mean we won't repeat them. Now, sadly, we'll probably never know whether these comedy titanesses really despised one another. But who cares? We love both equally. Winner: Us
Joyce DeWitt vs. Suzanne Somers Tensions flared between the two when Somers refused to show up for work during contract negotiations on Three's Company . Even after decades passed the animosity never burned out. But if we compare the ensuing career of the girl in the Thunderbird to the girl just charged with a DUI in El Segundo, Calif., it's really not much of a diva duel. Winner: The Thigh Mistress
Liz vs. Debbie They were the Angelina and Jen of their day. Though it's a stretch to compare Eddie Fisher to Brad Pitt, his betrayal of Debbie Reynolds had the world up in arms. So who was the ultimate gla-a-adiator? Liz no doubt became the bigger legend (then thinner, then bigger), and Debbie gave us Carrie Fisher. But Liz was there when we needed her most, forming one of the world's first AIDS foundations. Winner: La Liz
Olivia de Havilland vs. Joan Fontaine The world's longest-running diva duel is between sisters Olivia de Havilland and Joan Fontaine and dates back to the 1942 Oscars, when both were nominated (Joan won and snubbed her sister). The 90-something actresses are still alive, proving that spite just might be the best medicine. Winner: Olivia, with two, count 'em, two Oscars