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Margaret Cho: She's the One That We Want
2006-07-01

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By Emmanuel Garcia

Margaret Cho has toured all across America with her hit shows I'm the One That I Want, Notorious C.H.O. and Revolution. Now she is ready to incorporate her best pieces in one performance that promises to be funny all over again. Cho has been doing some funny business for 22 years, and is considered a comedic genius.

In a field dominated by men, Cho has been one of only a handful of women with a huge fanatic following. She has won numerous awards and has taken her show on the road extensively. Recently, Margaret married artist Al Ridenour and began developing projects not targeted for the stage.

In the spring of 2005, Cho produced an independent film titled Bam Bam and Celeste. The film follows Cho ( Celeste ) and Bruce Daniels ( Bam Bam ) on a wild road trip from the Midwest to New York City. The film has appeared in film festivals but has yet to be picked up for distribution.

Margaret makes herself available through her writing on her blog, which has been a constant presence for the comedian. Margaret Cho is scheduled to appear at this year's opening Gay Games ceremony held at Soldier Field on July 15. Her appearance will no doubt set the stage ( no pun intended ) for the citywide Olympic-style event. The following night, Cho will perform at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State, doing a mix of new material as well as material she considers 'classic.' This queen of comedy sat down to talk about dancing ( sort of ) , opening the Gay Games—and being an ass master.

Identity: The name of this magazine is Identity, how do you identify?

Margaret Cho: How do I identify? What? As like gay?

I: How do you perceive yourself as a person?

MC: I'm a full pre-op tranny.

I: What will be your role in the Gay Games? Will you be doing a funny sport?

MC: I'm going to be doing the opening ceremonies for the Gay Games, which is going to be great, and then I'm going to be doing a show at the Chicago Theatre the day after.

I: This is the greatest-hits show. What do you consider a 'classic?'

MC: I think anything to do with my mom or doing my impersonation of my mother; I think 'ass master' is a classic of mine that I haven't done in a long time. So things like that, just things from my older shows that I haven't been able to perform for a while

I: There is an art form to comedy. How do you consistently make the same joke funny?

MC: I think it's just about performing it and enjoying it and loving it. Just to keep writing in different places and make it just an exciting event, it is exciting because I haven't toured lately too much, it nice to be able to go back out and perform. I mean I haven't done it in a while. There are also a lot of things that I haven't preformed in a long time.

I: Tell me about Bam Bam and Celeste and the distribution angle?

MC: I'm done with the film and it's seeking distribution. That whole kind of mess I don't really understand, so that was a very difficult experience. I think I enjoyed making the film but dealing with the business side was really hard. It was a tough film to make. I'm glad that it's kind of on its way.

I: What was your role in the film and how was the experience?

MC: I was producer, and I wrote it and I starred in it. The process [ was ] difficult … . I don't know why it's different, why it's such a difficult process.

I: You're doing a clothing line and are very involved in dancing. How do these relate to your comedy?

MC: That's kinda of hit-or-miss. I dance and I make costumes for dancers and that's kind of whenever I have the moment to do it, but it's not something I can work on consistently. The dance thing is kinda of coming up and starting to take off. I do a show once a month called 'The Sensuous Woman.' It's a dance show and it's something that I would like to take on the road and develop more and really see where that goes.

I: You've gone through a physical transformation during the past few years, in terms of your weight. What's been the secret?

MC: Dancing really has helped me find a lot of peace with myself physically. I just enjoy the company of women and being around women, and the dance is really fulfilling that way and that's why I want to explore it more in my work. It's hard to connect it to my comedy but it's very entertaining.

I: How do you relate this to your fan base, especially now that you are doing things such as burlesque?

MC: I think it fits me really well. I don't actually do any of the dancing [ as ] I'm the host. In terms of burlesque there is a strong connection with comedy. I'm still a comedian throughout.

I: How do you develop new material that is relatable to people who aren't celebrities?

MC: I never stopped being real, I don't really live any real celebrity lifestyle and I'm not really that so it makes it easier. I'm a really down-to-earth person, so I'm not like a prima donna.

I: Have you been to any Gay Games?

MC: This is my first [ Gay Games ] , and it's going to be great. I'm sure that there were a lot of gays in the Olympics anyways, so every game was like a Gay Games. Anybody who works that hard on their body has to be gay, I think.

I: If you could induct any one into the LGBT Hall of Fame, who would that be?

MC: Probably George Michael for falling asleep in his car.

I: Throughout your career as an activist, what has been your most memorable experience?

MC: I think the most memorable right now was the first time I got an award from GLAAD, which was an incredible honor. I just really felt really welcome and overwhelmed by that recognition.

I: What message do you have for those who will participate in some way during this year's Chicago Games?

MC: It's amazing that we get to share this moment in history together. It's a moment in history in that our political power is really coming together and I'm really excited to share that experience. I can't wait!


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