by Bambi Weavil
[photo credit: Ron Jaffe for VH1]
We recently sat down to talk with outspoken comedienne Margaret Cho, star of her new reality show on VH1 called The Cho Show. Cho, always an activist for our gay community, discusses why marriage equality is important to her, the crisis involving Governor Sarah Palin and more:
Bambi Weavil: How would you describe The Cho Show to people new to you and your work?
Margaret Cho: Well it’s a comedy show, it’s basically a sitcom starring real people. It’s really exciting and innovative, it’s a new kind of television show with a new, very multicultural, very queer family and I’m very proud of it.
BW: How did you meet your assistant Selene and The Glam Squad?
MC: I met Selene and I’ve known her for many years as a frequent collaborator, artistically we do a lot of different stuff together. She and I dance together, and I brought her in on my big dance show last year off Broadway, and I’ve made films with her… She’s somebody I’ve worked with for a long time, and in-between all that she’s been my assistant too. So she’s very helpful, and The Glam Squad are all guys that I’ve worked with. They are really, really funny, and I’m excited to have them all a part of this family.
[photo credit: VH1]
BW: How did your parents support you doing the show? Are they supportive?
MC: They were really excited, they just didn’t know how to deal with it at first. They were kind of scared and didn’t know what it was all about. Now they love it, and are totally excited… They were so excited to help me, that’s also a part of Asian culture is that your parents want to help you with your business no matter what it is. Whether it’s a liquor store or a comedy show, my parents were really excited at the opportunity to finally be a part of my work because they have never been able to before.
BW: With the Off The Grid episode on The Cho Show, (laughs) many of your lesbian fans can give you some tips on that. Are you going to go off the grid again?
MC: I think so, I think we need to try it again. We need some lesbians to come with us because they are the best at camping.
BW: I love the issues you tackle on your show — self-acceptance and realizing your beauty in this hyper-critical society. What can viewers expect to see in upcoming episodes?
MC: There is going to be a whole new episode about plastic surgery that’s coming up, and that’s pretty intense. We talk to some beauty icons like Kat Von D, and Joan Rivers, so that’s a really good one coming up. There’s also another one where I believe my vagina is haunted. That’s my favorite one, and that will be out in a few weeks. This week I do a hit single, and make my big recording debut, and I make a porn to promote it. So basically a sex tape and we do it in the vain of two girls, one cup, that’s me and Selene.
MC: It’s pretty outrageous. It gets more outrageous as time goes by.
BW: Does VH1 give you any guidelines that you can’t break? Or are they good about it?
MC: They are very, very supportive. They really are amazing, they let us do pretty much whatever we want, which is pretty outrageous. I’m very happy that we landed there because they are really good to us.
BW: And they are cross promoting it on Logo, correct?
BW: Very good. I know you are supportive of the gay community and I want to thank you for being so outspoken and true to who you are — you have been an advocate for gay rights and marriage. Now you have been deputized to perform marriages in San Francisco. Have you been asked to marry any gay couples thus far?
MC: I’ve married one gay male couple and one lesbian couple, and I plan to do quite a few more. It’s very tense right now in California because we are trying to keep this right, we’re trying to make sure we keep it and we’re going to make sure it stays and we’re voting on it in November. It’s pretty scary because even organizations outside of California, they are so homophobic and anti-gay, something like the Knights of Columbus who are not even in California, they are outside of California, donated $1 million dollars to support organizations who are trying to get gay marriage banned. It’s become such an important issue for people who don’t live in this state, and I don’t understand where they get off thinking they can do that. It’s so disgusting, people are so hateful. I have a lot of fear around what’s going on politically in our country, especially with this whole Sarah Palin thing. She’s so incredibly anti-gay, she’s fully in support of sending gay people to re-education camps in order to make them heterosexual which is disgusting to me. I think she is the worst thing to happen to women and to gays forever. It’s very frightening.
BW: I was going to ask you about Governor Palin because of the news breaking about “pray the gay away” that her church is involved in. Do you believe she’s going to face the same criticism that Obama received regarding Reverend Wright?
MC: She’s got to, she’s got to be held accountable for these real abusive agendas of human rights that she’s trying to promote and support. What she’s trying to do is send us back to the Stone Age when it comes to human rights and democracy. It’s a really grave situation and a real problem to hear somebody who is likely to become president because McCain is so old, you know he is going to be senile soon like he’s in a Prison Camp again, and she’s going to end up being President and then we’ll be screwed.
BW: You don’t think Obama can overturn the odds? He’s really popular right now…
MC: I want to, I want to. I attended the Democratic National Convention, I watched it all and I was so optimistic and excited about the country and about Obama and thrilled and now I’m scared. And now all of this Palin Mania has got me really terrified and I’m afraid of the Evangelicals in this country because they are so misguided. They don’t even read the Bible correctly, they don’t even know what’s in the Scriptures. They don’t have any understanding of what is Christianity, they don’t really know it’s their own view of what it is, it’s their own interpretation and that makes them just as bad, if not worse, then any kind of terrorist group any kind of fundamentalist terrorist group, they are a danger to our country.
BW: What was your experience like at the DNC?
MC: It was great, it was fulfilling and so tremendously exciting. It was the youngest convention I’ve ever seen and that was tremendously exciting and people were so excited that they were going to get their country back. And that’s all that they wanted, so I was hanging out with the HRC, and we all watched the Hillary speech together and was there with Melissa Etheridge, Cyndi Lauper and Rufus Wainwright, and it was so profoundly exciting. It was the biggest party and I was so thrilled to be a part of it. I’m just concerned that human rights will not win over bigotry, it’s scary.
BW: Do you think the gay community is becoming more apathetic, do you think it’s going to be so demoralizing that we aren’t going to be fighting as much?
MC: I think the gay community is going to be a major player in what happens in November. We are going to be a deciding factor, because they are using us to get people to vote against gay marriage, we have to mobilize and make sure we stand behind Barack Obama and we stand behind this new president and this new idea, and it’s vitality important that everyone get involved and I think that’s happening so that’s good.
BW: What are some of the non-profits you are currently working with?
MC: I am working with Equality California, that is a major, major thing for me. I want to make sure we keep gay marriage in California, that is a huge, huge thing for everybody that I know and for myself as well.
BW: What are ways that people can support Equality California?
MC: They can log onto equalitycalifornia.org and they can also look into marriage equality in their state. It’s not something that is happening just in California but all over the country.
BW: Do you plan to write any more books anytime soon?
MC: I’m starting to think about doing that soon, right now I’m focusing on television. I’m involved with a new television show called Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime next year so it’s a drama/comedy next year so that’s different and really cool. So lots of things happening.
BW: I know you are on a new tour called Beautiful, what can fans expect from this tour?
MC: It’s very funny, very raunchy, very crazy and very raw. Very exciting.
BW: Anything else you’d like to say to our readers?
MC: I hope people come to the shows, and [The Cho Show] is my favorite show to date. I’m very proud of it.
BW: Thank you Margaret for your time! For more information on Margaret Cho, her Beautiful tour and The Cho Show, check out margaretcho.com and The Cho Show on VH1 every Thursday at 11p.
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