Margaret Cho :: Is Nothing Really Sacred?
That’s the word that pops up when I think of this particular Margaret. Totally funny and just a little vulnerable, sweet and a bit scrappy, a fighter with a big heart. Contradictions yes, but all truly admirable qualities.
Intrinsically there is something about her so deeply intriguing. It’s like she has a big secret no one else knows and she totally likes it that way.
Lord knows, there is a lot going on in that beautiful spinning, swirling, twirling head of hers, the result of which, lucky for us, is a whole lot of funny coming out of her mouth.
I, for one, am glad she’s a friend to us in the LGBT community; well, more than that, actually; as she says, her bisexuality makes her one of us. We couldn’t ask for a better comrade. She is a staunch supporter and an outspoken voice who isn’t afraid to turn that wicked tongue on those who are less than tolerant. Like I said, just a bit scrappy.
She’s on tour with "Nothing is Sacred: Least of All This Mother," and the title really says it all. Seriously folks, there isn’t much that she won’t talk about, take on or poke with a stick - it’s all fodder. Just light the fuse and enjoy
the fireworks, because Cho is in the house!
I read that you grew up in San Francisco in the ’70s, which must have been an interesting place to learn about life!
I witnessed a lot of what kids get to normally, but up there I definitely saw a lot more than most. I attended gay prides and all of that so very early on and I grew up around a lot of very progressive people, gay and straight so it was really good. It was a great thing to have come from that and to have had a beautiful childhood during such a really important time for the LGBT community.
I always like to start by asking comedians if they had any specific things or people who influenced them coming up. What were yours?
I think probably a lot of it was based on the drag performers I saw early on and then later people like Joan Rivers, Richard Pryor certainly, then Paula Poundstone and Whoopi when I got to see her. It was really a great time for comedy then because there was so much of it going on in San Francisco.
Paula Poundstone is an amazing woman, so funny and so intelligent, it’s interesting to me because that’s a common theme with comedians I’ve interviewed - all that humor comes from a very intelligent, well-thought out process.
I don’t know, it’s either that or you have to be really, really stupid! (Laughs.) I don’t know which one of those is more responsible but it’s got to be one or the other! Maybe it’s just all about extremes...
Just before this I listened in on your web interview with Joan Rivers, you two are quite a pair.
I love her. She is really fun and so warm, loving and spiritual. She’s also very maternal, that’s an aspect of her that most don’t know - she is so generous and caring. I admire her so much and she influenced me a lot when I was coming up.
Do you have any other favorites?
There’s a bunch of them, Jim Short is a favorite, we’re on tour together and he’s who I do my ’Monsters of Talk’ pod casts with, he’s totally funny. There’s also Fortune Feimster who is really hilarious on ’Chelsea Lately.’ I love Chelsea too, she’s great and there’s Amy Schumer who is also really funny. There are so many that I am a big fan of.
What’s the tour been like for you so far?
It’s been good. It’s been really busy and kind of crazy because I’m also doing some other stuff in L.A., movies, and indie movie projects. I just did one of them with Joan Jett, which is totally cool.
Can you tell us a little more about the film?
The film was put out by her production company, Black Heart, and is a very strange look into the recovery culture, which ended up being something really interesting to learn about and be a part of. It was an even more interesting thing to work with Joan Jett, Bill Hanna, Sela Ward and Tom Arnold!
You must have an amazing person in your life that handles your schedule!
I do have help that’s for sure. It’s a lot sometimes, but it’s all such great stuff. A great deal of it is tied in with my social life too, even the podcasts. Most of them are with people who I have already known and have been friends with for a long time. It’s a really good thing for me and a way to stay connected with them.
Any favorite stories from this tour so far that you’d like to share?
My assistant just turned 30 and she got a body piercing called the "Marilyn Monroe." It’s a facial piercing to accentuate the area where she had her beauty mark. I’ve been around body modification and piercing for a long time and I am glad that I was able to go with her. She was so excited and I watched it get done, it was really a trip.
Your ink is beautiful, by the way. There’s an amazing photo of you with your back exposed featuring your tattoos it is really stunning.
Thank you. I do have a lot of tattoos and they all represent something that I was influenced by, people I grew up with. They are all heavily influence by primitives, that kind of imagery. It’s a tattooing and body art style that I find really cool.
I’ve never taken the plunge, I’m still considering it, but it’s such a difficult thing to choose the imagery.
That, and it’s painful too! (Laughs) I don’t really choose the specific images, I let the tattoo artist decide what is best. I have good friends in that community who have done my work, from all over the country, some in San Francisco, some in L.A. or New York. I’ve been fortunate, they’re some of the best in the world so I trust them with the process.
How’s the season coming with ’Drop Dead Diva?’ I have to tell you, it’s one of my guilty pleasures!
We just had our season finale. The show has been such a pleasant process over the years. I never expected it to go for such an extended period; in this business you rarely get to play the same character for that long. It’s been five years now, the cast and I have all become very close and have a really great time when we’re together. Now we’re just waiting to hear if we get to do it again next year! (October 25 News Flash: Lifetime renewed "Drop Dead Diva" for Season 6!)
Tell me a little about your experience with "Dancing With The Stars" - I hear that it’s intense and so physically demanding.
It was very demanding and totally hard. I think it’s hard for anyone to do something that athletic and I’m not really that kind of a person. I’m not somebody who has put that much importance in that type of stuff. It’s all about timing and agility, so to involve myself in that world was like dropping into the middle of a sporting event.
Normally I’m not that kind of physical, when I do exercise it’s usually only for an hour or so. With ’DWTS’ it’s like seven or eight hours a day, continuously, learning all the steps, it is really intense. I was right in the middle of my last tour to so my partner Louis Van Amstel came with me and we actually ended up practicing at venues before shows, on the bus, which was really difficult and crazy. It was great to do but let me tell you, it was really tough too!
Anything else coming up that you want our readers to know about?
I have an album coming up -- well, it’s actually two records that I’m combining into one. It’s recorded and all finished, I just have to mix it and figure out what it’s going to be. There are comedy songs and others from different genres. I recorded a lot of it in El Paso and some in Austin also; it’s really kind of Texas meets L.A. I’ll get back to it probably once I’m done with this tour... which may not be ’til next year... (laughs).
Thanks so much for doing this, Margaret, it’s been great. I can’t wait to see you in San Diego!
Please come, it will be great!
"Nothing is Sacred: Least Of All This Mother" is playing in Downtown San Diego at the Balboa Theatre, 668 Fourth Avenue on Thursday, December 5 at 7:30 p.m. For tickets and more information call 619.570.1100 or go to sandiegotheatres.org.
She will also be at the Wiltern, 3790 Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles on Friday, December 6 at 7 p.m. For tickets and more information go to wilterntheatertickets.com.