Saturday, June 12, Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian and Gay International Film Festival, presents a sneak preview of Margaret Cho's Revolution. Part of Dyke Delicious monthly screening series. In collaboration with the Sundance Channel, the Gene Siskel Film Center, and Chicago Filmmakers. 8 p.m., $9, $7 for members of Chi. Filmmakers or G. Siskel Film Center. 164 N. State, (773) 293-1447.
If you don't know who Margaret Cho is, you've been living in oblivion and you probably haven't laughed in a really long time. If you do know Cho, you've probably seen her on TV and film, read her candid memoir I'm the One that I Want, or seen her live on one of her three sold-out tours. Cho is a multi-talented artist whose comedic timing leaves you laughing nonstop.
On March 1, 2003, Cho embarked on her 64-city Revolution Tour at the Chicago Theatre. The tour ended Dec. 8, but the Revolution seems to have just begun. The DVD will be released Aug. 17, 2004. But if you just can't wait, you can watch Margaret's 'Revolution' on the Sundance Channel in June as part of the channel's 'Out Loud' programming.
But saying that Cho is just a comedian is like saying that ketchup is only used on fries. Today, this American Girl has gone from comedian to revolutionary activist and is using every artistic medium to change the world. Margaret has been involved in many other new creative endeavors during the past two years, including her new clothing line High Class Cho, her multimedia Web site that includes short episodes on her travels and tribulations, and a new tour.
On top of it all, she still has time to take on a little Bush, President Bush that is. Pioneering a different kind of Revolution both on and off the stage, Margaret is dictating a message of love, equality, and truth. Clearly Margaret Cho has been in involved in some funny business lately. But she still managed to take some time out of her busy schedule to talk with me about identity, gay marriage, Jesus, and shitting!
Emmanuel Garcia: The name of this magazine is Identity [WCT's sister publication, where this article first appeared]. How do you identify?
Margaret Cho: I identify as an American, a patriot, a freedom fighter, a rock star, and a 'Metro Sexual'. I think that term is so crazy ... Metrosexual! It's just so like, 'You a gay if there were ever was one!'
EG: Culturally it is often difficult for minorities to come out as 'Metrosexuals,' especially since there is a lack of visibility for gay minorities in the media? What advice would you give someone who is on the verge of coming out?
MC: Well, I think the most important thing is to really just trust that it's our lives, that we have to live, and that our parent's lives or the environment [are] somehow in opposition to who we are. That's not our fault. We have to live our lives as we are; there's not really a choice in the matter. Life can be so brief and fleeting. ... I have seen over time losing so many people to AIDS and suicide because of this very reason, this inability to accept who they were. Nobody ever follows their own family values. After time you come up with your own set of values. Your identity is far more important than other people's opinion about your identity.
EG: Why did you decide to have your own weblog at www.margaretcho.com .?
MC: There are more things to do, to get accomplished. There's more out there to love about the world. There's also more to be angry about, and so I take writing as a tool, as an advancement, as a humanist, to really enjoy this experience. ... It helps me a lot, you know, if that writing helps others that's really great. I hope to be a source out there for news, for information.
EG: Have you considered writing another book?
MC: Yes! That would be something along the lines of what I do now [with my blog] ... essays, about politics, about life's issues, about people who I miss, about people who I love, about soldiers in Iraq, everything and anything ... topics that are funny, not funny. It's basically across the board.
EG: You are a newlywed, a big supporter of gay marriage, and even started your own online site, LoveisLoveisLove.com . What are your end goals?
MC: To lift the ban on same-sex marriage and the ridiculous idea that the government can use the constitution to discriminate against a group of Americans. We have to regard ourselves once again as the founding fathers of our nation and found our nation again! Put on your powdered wig and wooden teeth and LET'S GO 'cause it's totally about revolutionary war. This is like another leg of the Revolutionary War, not even a civil war, even though this does involve emancipation. We need to get back to the notion that we are all created equal and are deserving of equal rights in every way. We deserve that respect that comes with love.
EG: What do you think will be the outcome of the presidential election?
MC: Well, at this point it doesn't matter as long as Bush is out. I like John Kerry. I know that he can't really come out and support gay marriage as gay marriage. He can't say the words, for whatever political reasons, but I think he's reasonable enough. ... He's had a lot of experience talking like and being a very humanist figure. I attended an HRC event in the very beginning of his campaign where he gave a speech. He was quite eloquent—very, very generous and good to listen to. He has a lot of good things to say. We are going to have to push for gay marriage within his presidency. Regardless of who's in office, we are going to have to fight for our rights no matter what, that's for sure. I think that George Bush's term is over!
EG: In the process of doing all of your activism, do you sense some frustrations with the gay community?
MC: I think there is a lot of unity. Last night I did that show called Wed Rock: a Benefit for Freedom to Marry with John Cameron Mitchell. It was an amazing array of people performing, like bands like Le Tigre, Bob Mould, who's great, Sandra Bernhard, who's amazing, Alan Cumming, and Lou Reed. There was such an incredibly intense feeling of unity and joy that was there. To have such an amazing array of artists who represent that freedom and equality in so many different ways, to have this visual diorama of who we are as a community, is a really exciting one.
EG: And what is the future for you?
MC: I'm doing a tour with my opening act and the person who does the Cho/Daniels Report with me on my Web site.
EG: Bruce Daniels?
MC: Yes, Bruce Daniels! We will be touring before the election in the fall to get people motivated and voting. That's going to be exciting. He'll be opening and we'll be reporting from the road. We'll be doing a lot of different political events over the summer. We want to make our movie, which is a narrative feature (comedy). It's like a fag and faghag [version of] Dumb and Dumber in the works and on its way to be made into a movie.
EG: Your new tour is called State of Emergency. What can we expect?
MC: Just what's happening day-to-day ... what's going on. It all depends on what's happening in the news in the media, a complete picture of what America is doing. It will be constantly updated.
EG: You've had success with your tour and have a huge fan base. Would you consider going back to television?
MC: No. I really get a lot out of touring. I love it! There is something about that type of live performance that is, for me, not attainable anywhere else: an energizing force, a kind of glory that I wouldn't trade for the world. For me, it's all about truths and that's how truth is born—through that medium. I'm doubtful I would ever retire. It's weird for me not to do it for a week; I'm always doing it.
EG: What do you miss the most while you're on tour?
MC: My dogs, my husband [writer-artist Al Ridenour], my sense of being at home and having a home. But, at the same time, I've always been on the road. I've been on the road for like 20 years. It's just something I'm so used to.
EG: I personally loved what you wore to the Grammys last year. Tell me about your new clothing line, High Class Cho?
MC: We've launched the line. We are going to have a whole new look this coming fall. Right now we have a same-sex wedding dress. It's a dress you can wear to city hall! It's very appropriate for court and judicial settings. It's for everybody in any size.
EG: Will there be a men's line?
MC: It will eventually expand to include clothing for men. Right now, I'm focusing on women, but the whole line is expanding gradually. It's an artistic project also. A lot of the line is really about rehabilitating the idea of fashion and different ideas about feminism and incorporating it into a line that is interesting and easy to wear.
EG: Although we gays like to celebrate Pride all year long, in specific regard to Pride Month, what are you most proud of?
MC: I'm proud that we are taking on the government and we are going to Stonewall them. Stonewall 2! And it's personal. It's about bringing the issues to light, making it a big deal, and making it about the people. Even people who are not gay people who are not liberal agree that this is just another way to discriminate against other Americans, and it's unacceptable.
EG: What is your favorite quote?
MC: I have two quotes, 'Jesus said, 'be not anxious from morning until evening and from evening until morning about what you will wear''. Isn't that hot! Jesus said don't worry about it GURL—wear it all day. It's cool, go from day to evening.
EG: What is the second one?
MC: 'Jesus said, 'If you break forth that which is within, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you!''
EG: Wow, he got deep there!
MC: He DEEP! He shallow and he deep because he's the son of God and he don't talk shit!
EG: What was your favorite part of the Revolution tour?
EG: Your least favorite?
MC: Probably shitting, because it would be so physical that sometimes it would be hard to get up to just do that, because I would be so tired.
EG: Now, let's play a word association game. Give me your thoughts on the following: FCC.
EG: THE POPE
EG: GAY MEN
EG: Thank you for being you Margaret!
MC: Awww ... thank you!
See writer: www.emmanuelgarcia.com
This article also appears in the June Identity magazine.