Margaret Cho is performing at the Chicago Theater on March 1.
With each of her live comedy performances and subsequent concert films, Margaret Cho continues to bolster her status as a descendant of Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor on the comedy family tree. Her latest comedy concert, the Revolution Tour, touches on a variety of subjects including the 'axis of evil,' her visit to the red-light district in Thailand, the new baby boom, and of course, her mother, to mention a few.
The Revolution Tour promises to be as brilliant, funny, eye-opening, and, well, revolutionary as her previous shows I'm The One That I Want and The Notorious C.H.O. I recently spoke with the award-winning author and celebrated gay icon about The Revolution Tour and her impending marriage.
Gregg Shapiro: In your previous show, The Notorious C.H.O., you referred to having self-esteem as 'an act of revolution,' and you said that the 'revolution is long overdue.' What is 'revolutionary' about the Revolution Tour?
Margaret Cho: It's about the way I want to represent my voice. I want to speak for people who haven't been heard, who haven't been spoken to by the media. I think that in itself is a kind of revolutionary idea. I think that what's revolutionary about it is that we don't have a mainstream that speaks to gays and lesbians or people of color or women, necessarily. We have so much entertainment out there that is directed at a particular dominant culture, which is both jarring and unfair. So, I think that it is a revolutionary thing, to draw attention to it and to speak loudly and feel as if that is OK.
GS: You are doing some university and college campus dates before taking the Revolution Tour on the road. What do you like best about performing in front of those audiences?
MC: I love it because it's very raw and fun and different. I think when you work and do places that are new. You have people that you're speaking to that are really impressionable and that need a voice, that's what I really enjoy. I do a lot of things for younger audiences. I especially do a lot of work with a lot of gay and lesbian groups on campus. That's really fulfilling.
GS: Why did you choose Chicago to open your tour?
MC: It's one of my favorite places to perform. My friend Bruce Daniels, who's a great comedian and actor, is from Chicago and he'll be opening for me. I'm just thrilled. I love it there. I always have a lot of fun. I think it's a fun city to be in and it's very interesting because it's very urban, but at the same time it's got this wonderful Midwestern quality. I like working there because the audiences are always awesome and I have fun.
GS: With the country on the brink of war, would you ever consider entertaining the troops at a U.S.O. show?
MC: I have so many problems with the way that the government is. I don't agree with going to war. I don't agree with so many things that have been going on. I think so much of the country is so completely at odds with their opinions about what's going on. But at the same time we all loved that movie, that Bette Midler movie, For the Boys (laughs). It would be fabulous. I love the Andrews Sisters and all that kinds of stuff (laughs), but I don't think that it would be something that I would want to do. I don't disagree with the people out there fighting. I'd love to help them out, but I do disagree with the military's attitude of 'don't ask, don't tell' and how they got rid of translators because they were gay. The way the government is about what they perceive as being these major allowances for the gays. Major political moves that are nothing, that are just lip service. The government now is so incredibly conservative that there's nothing there that has made me believe that it's gotten any better. But I don't want to victimize people out there that are fighting. They're all kids. My friend just had to go and say goodbye to his brother because he was going off to war. It's so scary. These poor babies, so I'm worried about them and concerned about all that's happening. It's a hard thing, very scary.
GS: Even with your high profile, you continue to perform in a vast variety of venues—from Carnegie Hall to LGBT Pride rallies to Sidetrack, a gay bar in Chicago. How important is it to you to maintain those kinds of public appearances?
MC: It's great. I do the laundromat. My friends here do a comedy night at a laundromat. I'll perform there; I don't care. I like working bizarre areas, bizarre open mic nights. I'm not a diva by any stretch of the imagination because I do some really nasty undiva-like things: I cut my own bangs, I buy used make-up off eBay. It's so gross. I'm really not divaesque. I'll tour anywhere; I don't give a shit (laughs).
GS: Are there plans for a movie version of this tour?
MC: Yes. There are two films actually coming out of this tour. There's one that's going to be a behind-the-scenes documentary. That's going to be like a Truth or Dare documentary, which I love. I've always wanted to do that. You'll have shots of me just lying down on somebody's grave (laughs). I don't know whose, just somebody's. Running around and being fabulous. I can't wait to do it. This is really going to be fun. It's called Belle du Tour. The other thing is a film of the actual show, which I always do and I love doing.
GS: If Todd Haynes or Martin Scorsese approached you about being in one of their movies, is that that something that you would consider doing?
MC: Well, of course Todd Haynes because he's my favorite. He's amazing, I love all of his movies and Velvet Goldmine is my favorite of all times. I would definitely be into him. I would love to do movies, it just depends on what the film is. I so enjoy doing my own work and like the fact that I'm very comfortable. I just feel like I really like what I do and know what I'm doing. So, I'm not really convinced that other parts out there are best for me. It's got to be written for me and they have to know who I am.
GS: I also wanted to congratulate you on your upcoming nuptials. Do you think that you will keep your wedding and marriage sacred or do you anticipate it working its way into your material?
MC: It depends. I feel like it's a very sacred thing. I'm amazed, I never imagined that this was going to happen. It's quite shocking, actually, to everyone in my life, because I always assumed that I would never marry. It was something that I had never really considered as part of my milieu, but at the same time I'm very much in love and unbelievably excited about the whole thing. The nuptials itself, will be completely perverse and horrifying. We're not actually exchanging rings; we're going to do some weird kind of other type of exchange. We're not sure what we'll exchange, but we'll exchange something that will upset both of our parents.
GS: Will you be having a traditional wedding, with bridesmaids, groomsmen, flower girl and such?
MC: We've got a drag queen flower-girl and I've got two bridesmaids. I've got a groomsman and he's also got a groomswoman, who is a drag king. The whole point of the wedding is so everybody can say something about it. The largest part of the wedding is, 'whoever opposes this union must now speak or forever hold their peace...' Because I know everybody's gonna have to say somethin'. We're gonna have a lot of fun. I really hate any kind of really traditional things like that. That makes me kind of sick. But I love him and I'm really proud to marry him, so this will be good.