Sunday, March 11, 2007
Yet More Cho Rawness!
OK, Cho fans (a few of whom e-mailed me these past few days), I've dug out (so easy with Mac Finder!) another of my unseen, unedited, and hopefully offensive to even the jaded Margaret Cho interviews.
This was in fact my second interview with Cho, which took place at Manhattan's W Hotel in Union Square. It turns out my first interview, in 2001, was in fact over the phone. My, how the memory goes! That and my other Cho interviews may and will pop up here over time. Comments always welcome. And demands. Even demands with threats!!
PS - The photos of Margaret you see above and a few days back I snapped at Wed-Rock, an awesome gay marriage-related fundraising event hosted by John Cameron Mitchell here in NYC at Crobar a couple of years back or so...
The Notorious Co
By Lawrence Ferber
Korean-American comedian/actress Margaret Cho funneled a lot of personal issues into her 1999 one-woman show/CD/film, “I’m The One That I Want.” A series of confessions about drugs, drinking, eating disorders and deathly depression (much of it brought on during her TV series “All American Girl,” whose producers forced her into weight loss), Cho felt it wasn’t really a “stand-up” production. Her recent 37-city international live tour, “Notorious C.H.O.,” however, was, and returned Cho to the world of laugh-till-it-hurts comedy.
Raunchy, raucous and – c’mon, this is Margaret Cho, after all – queer as all heck, The Notorious C.H.O. was, like “I’m The One,” also turned into a concert film, shot at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre. And at New York’s legendary Carnegie Hall, the show was recorded for a companion double CD. In “Notorious,” Cho shamelessly ruminates on visits to Los Angeles S&M clubs, colonic irrigation, teen drag queen friends, lesbian turn-ons, gay men on periods, doing her part at Ground Zero (blowjobs for firemen and cops), and, of course, and her beloved mother’s “Ass-Master” fan club.
Speaking of, mom and dad make an appearance in the film. Is momma Cho really like we’ve heard? See the film, laugh till you cry, and find out!
To find out a few additional things about Cho’s recent doings, her show’s toe-sucking opening act, and the perks of immobilization, I sat down with Cho in her room at NYC’s W hotel.
So Margaret, do you feel the film captures your best performance or did you think ‘fuck, I wish we shot at that Montreal show!’
“The Montreal show wasn’t all that great, actually! I’m glad we didn’t shoot that one. Actually, I thought [Seattle] was a really good performance and a really good time to capture it, before I had been on the road for several months and gotten tired of it – which sometimes happens.”
So, as you discussed in Notorious, you spent some time in straight S&M clubs. Have you heard from people at the club since?
“They’re very flighty, these S&M people. They’re real flaky. So no. I told my master about [Notorious] and he was very excited about it but never went to see the show. Maybe he’ll come to see the film.”
So nobody’s suggested ‘let’s show it in the club and I’ll chomp on a clitoris while we watch!’
“Oh, they would! They have a big screen TV. They watch the Lakers. It’s totally like a social club. Because when straight people get together to do S&M they’re not like gay men – when gay men get together for S&M, that’s all they do. Straight people will do some S&M and then they’ll barbecue.”
And you can see their faces? That’s not gay!
“Yeah! I know, when you can see the face… who wants that? That’s not gay! It’s only hot if it’s a stranger!”
What does the film accomplish that the show didn’t?
“I think the film allows people to get closer to me without paying for the seats. Even if you did pay for seats you can’t get seats that good. I perform in these larger venues, everyone’s so far away and a lot of my work is right here (points to her face). It’s hard for people to see. And it accomplishes something for me in that I don’t have to go perform every place the film is shown, so I can still get my message across without having to do the physical groundwork, which is such a relief. I also can’t remember what I’ve done [after I’ve stopped doing it for a while]. A couple of months after I’ve done a show I have no memory of it at all. So if I go and do a retrospective I can [watch the film or listen to the CD] and remember things.”
What don’t we get to see in the film?
“You see the whole show. You don’t get to see me going back to the hotel afterwards and going to bed. You don’t get to see me talking to Vaginal Cream Davis, who was the opening act for the entire tour but unfortunately didn’t make it in the film. There was a prior commitment where we had another opener in Seattle, so we couldn’t bring Vaginal out. And it was the only show we didn’t have Vaginal, so it was a very difficult thing because to my Britney she’s my Justin Timberlake. Or vice-versa.”
Ah, Vaginal. Insane drag queen and punk band frontsperson. When I saw the show in New York, Vaginal yanked someone from the audience to the stage and “shrimped” them – sucking their toes - with whipped cream. Was that person a plant?
“No. Every night it was a different person and it was somebody who had no idea that was going to happen to them.”
What does Vaginal do if the person has really stinky feet with corns and toe lint…
“He likes that more! He likes it. The more raunchy the feet, the better it is for him.”
So afterwards he’d say something like ‘girl, I got me some mouthfuls, some cheese,…’
“Yeah. ‘I got some pieces of skin girl, let me tell you what I got.’”
What’s the grossest thing he, uh, ‘got.’
“Nothing, because the guys he picked were totally beautiful and would never have any kind of nasty feet. (laughs) Vaginal Cream Davis, I regret, is the one very essential part of the tour that is not in the film. Although in the DVD we have made a documentary about her, so that will be a nice extra to entice people to buy the DVD.”
Was it easy to convince your parents into appearing?
“Oh yeah, they’re such hams.”
Did you mom insist ‘let me say ass-master!’
“No, no. My mother is a little more reticent to be on camera than my father, who loves the camera. But my parents are so into being on camera and into the public eye, they love it.”
By the way, this is very random, but right behind you on the nightstand is this liter bottle of ‘Smart Water’ that has a hotel price tag of six dollars. What exactly makes it so ‘smart’ for six dollars?
“I don’t know. If you buy it you’re not very smart. (laughs) But you can drink the tap water here in New York. That’s why I love it here. It’s delicious.”
I had some tap water in Poland recently and got a little ill. But it could have been the heavy food or all the booze…
“Or the oppression. It could have been! You don’t know.”
You’ve been phenomenal about speaking with the gay press, Margaret.
“It’s not really conscious. I am so in love with so many gay men, and so many close people to me are gays or lesbians or transsexual. This is like my family, my home. So gay press to me is talking to my family, my friends. Speaking a language the mainstream press doesn’t understand. I love it.”
Have you ever been interviewed by a magazine that was clueless about the gay thing, like ‘you talk about faggots a lot.’
“Noooo. Maybe because I am also very careful about where I’m placed and what I would do and like to do. I haven’t come across that yet.”
Have you ever received stalker letters? Like ‘Margaret, we should be together!’
“No. I mean, I’m so stupid, so I don’t know. I just think ‘oh, they’re being nice!’ The only time I had really bad shit happen was when I was doing All American Girl. Some guy wrote me a letter from jail saying ‘I love women with big fat arms and you have the fattest arms I’ve ever seen. I want you to JERK ME OFF with your BIG FAT ARMS.’ That was a good one.”
The last time we spoke you admitted that some TV people were occasionally coming after you to do something. What have they been approaching you with lately?
“Just pilots that don’t really make sense or aren’t funny or good.”
So they never say ‘Margaret, we want you to do this but this time could you please lose, well, just five pounds?’
“No, no. It never gets to me, anyway.”
How about ‘we’re doing a pilot called ‘Chaser,’ and we want you to GAIN 200 pounds, you can eat all you want. It’s about chubby chasers and you’ll be the chased.’
“That would be so hot. But I think it would be hard to gain 200 pounds. After 50 you have to go beyond the comfort. Then you have to never move and be constantly eating.”
You know, I found a website for ‘gainers’ recently, in which members would post pictures of their expanding bellies and discuss ideal weights. Some listed ‘immobilization’ as their ultimate goal.
“That’s intense, immobilization. I think immobilization would be really difficult. There’s that one guy, he had the long braids and wore bed sheets because he didn’t have clothes that were big enough. I think Jerry Springer had to go ‘save’ him, they had to airlift him out of his house or something. And there was another woman who was 1,500 pounds, also on Jerry Springer – he’s a chaser – and she was talking about how upset she was and then her boyfriend came on and talked about how upset he was about it. My friend and I were watching and looking at each other, going ‘she has a boyfriend. I don’t have a boyfriend! She’s 1,500 pounds and has a boyfriend!’ And he was cute! Maybe there is something to being 1,500 pounds.”
So what’s next for Margaret Cho after the Notorious promotion?
“I’m going to take a little time off, then I’m going to write a new show. Then I’m going to write a film I’d like to shoot later this year. A feature narrative – not a concert film.”
What’s it about?
“I don’t know.”
It could be about a gainer working towards immobilization and then Jerry Springer comes in and saves them.
“That’s my dream! Something funny, we’ll see.”
We’ve got a little time left, so let’s play a round of word association. Anne Heche.
“Diaries. The Anne Heche Monologues – in Los Angeles they had a theater piece called the Anne Heche Monologues, a takeoff on the Vagina Monologues.”
“Like… she is tiny! And lovely.”
“I just have her shirt, I don’t know where to get her other clothing items.”
At Macy’s they have ‘em.
“I want to wear her whole outfit. I need a whole J-Lo outfit.”
“I hate tiramisu. I think it’s a disgusting desert – somebody spilled coffee on a cake. It’s nasty. It’s like penicillin, a big accident.”
“Rupert Everett. I don’t know why.”
How often do you get recognized in public?
“Pretty often, it depends. But it’s not intrusive.”
Have you ever been mistaken for anyone else?
“Anna Sui. All the time. ‘I love your clothes.’ I go ‘yeah, thanks, I worked really hard this year. A bitch of a season, but wait until you see spring.’ Or Lucy Liu. I have no resemblance to either one, I don’t think.”
What would you like me to title this article, Margaret? Everyone comes up with puns on your name. ‘There’s No Business Like Cho Business.’ ‘Fox in the Cho,’ which is a Belle and Sebastian reference.
“I love Belle and Sebastian. I’m really co-dependent, so I’m hoping somebody will call me ‘The Notorious Co.’”
I’ll do that then.
Check out all things Cho – and buy her CDs, videos, etc. – at margaretcho.com.