The Austin Chronicle

From Rick Perry to Don Rickles: A Hot Cup of Talk With Kathy Griffin

By Sarah Smith, January 11, 2012, 2:14am, Qmmunity

Kathy Griffin: Can we do it now?

Austin Chronicle: Oh yeah, this is fine, I was just plucking my eyebrows.

KG: I just realized I sounded like an Eastern Bloc prostitute. Do it now or leave the cash on the table?

AC: Always get the cash first, right?

KG: Yeah, that's how I do it. When you say you're plucking your eyebrows, I instantly I think of Bruce Jenner. Here's what I know: I know that if you are plucking your eyebrows right now, then that means Bruce Jenner is somewhere in a mansion in Calabasas also plucking his eyebrows because he has about three left.

AC: Oh my goodness, it's like I have some kind of magical connection to him.

KG: Yes! And he has some aversion to eyebrows and I'm really fascinated with Bruce Jenner's face at this point. I am no stranger to the face-lift myself, although I haven't done it in a few years, but I am certainly not a stranger to looking at Bruce Jenner's face work because it's just stunning. It always looks very new, and he and Marie Osmond should maybe take a few days and recover before they go on television after their face work, or as I call it, "dental work."

AC: It almost seems like he's heading in sort of a Michael Jackson direction.

KG: Yes, and by the way, out of all the crazies in that family, he's supposed to be the normal one, I can't understand why Bruce Jenner, Olympic decathlete, I believe, would be overly concerned with that. The Kardashians have kept me busy this year.

AC: Yeah, they've just given a gift to all of us, and they just won't stop.

KG: I know! Also, you should know I'm kind of in mourning because when Michele Bachmann announced she was dropping out of the race – they said it was emotional for her, but let me tell you, it was a lot more emotional for me because I could count on her, on a pretty much weekly basis, to give me at least a few minutes of my act, and I could certainly count on her husband, Marcus Bachmann, who I assume will continue his campaign to pray the gay away. We'll be seeing if he's praising Jesus or what his plan is to pray the gay away, but I have to admit, I will miss seeing her on a regular basis. Unless, of course, we have Vice President Bachmann, which could also be comedically exciting – and morally destructive.

AC: Speaking of presidential candidates, I have to ask, we have all of these rumors in Texas that Rick Perry is gay, so I was wondering: Are you expecting to see him at the show? [Editor's note: We spoke with Griffin before her recent show at the Long Center.]

KG: Yeah, I'm expecting to see him with just a blonde Kate Gosselin wig because he'll be in disguise, and I'm assuming he'll be with – I always assumed Rick Perry would be one of those gays who maybe will be with an older guy that he calls "daddy," and then a young twink-y guy that he has some fun pet name for like Sunshine. So I'm assuming Rick Perry is going to be there with a pride flag. Am I wrong?

AC: I hope you're right, but he hasn't really been very open about it here.

KG: What's funny is I've of course been touring forever – I remember just getting a monster shock/laugh five years ago saying, "Hey, congratulations, you guys; you have the first openly gay governor!" Now that I've gotten to see him – and more importantly, hear his philosophy and his doctrine and his nonpolicy policies … I'm coming from a state where we had really a shameful governor. When we had our recall in California, and then people thought it would be cool to have the Terminator be the governor and now we're bankrupt – I have certainly not been scared off of making fun of governors, regardless of the fact that I'm actually in the state.

AC: That's good, I mean, we take potshots at Perry all the time ourselves.

KG: I'm just hoping that Rick Perry at least is gay, and if not, he can at least have an affair with his housekeeper like Schwarzenegger, and there can at least be a love child … .

AC: Well, if he's at the show, that should hopefully speed things up a little.

KG: He probably bought a big block of seats; he probably bought what's called a "golden circle"; those are the seats close to the house, close to the stage, and they also could have a double entendre. He might just come by himself and have himself a little cry. In either event, he's welcome.

AC: I'll definitely be on the lookout for Kate Gosselin wigs. It would be great to be buddies with the governor.

KG: Somebody is. I can't say I personally live in that circle, but he's got to be having dinner with somebody.

AC: And talking haircare with somebody – he's really, in the presidential race, at the top of the hair game.

KG: Absolutely, and he has a very specific stance. I kind of like his whole – it harkens back a little to the W "don't mess with Texas thing." I was watching the debates, and there is a way that Rick Perry stands that just makes me chuckle. He kind of sticks his chest out and puts his shoulders back, and he has a look on his face that does not inspire confidence, to me, in his intellectual capacity. That's all I'm gonna say. But it's fun to watch. You watch Michele Bachmann and she had pinwheels in her eyes, and then you see Mitt Romney trying to maintain his Ken doll appearance. I believe Rick Perry may have had a standing coach. Someone kind of like on America's Next Top Model, how they coach the girls; I think Perry must have had someone saying, "Here's how you stand; point your feet, stick your chest out and remember: We're all about the red meat and guns."

AC: I would love to see some behind-the-scenes coaching with Miss J, or maybe even RuPaul. … By the way, is there any chance that you'll be a judge on the new season of RuPaul's Drag Race?

KG: Well, I do those shows whenever I can; I'm on the road all the time so if I don't, that would be the only reason. It's so funny to me: I'll go on my Twitter and read twats from people, which I enjoy, and it's so funny to me what will get a response. I'll be on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno or something and think, "Oh boy, people are really going to see this and watch the show." Oh no. The people who are twatting on my Twitter are so much more excited about me being a judge on RuPaul or me being a judge on Top Model than if I was performing at the halftime of the Super Bowl. That is one thing that my peeps, if I can call the gays and the ladies who love them my peeps, are very excited about. That was very fun and I love Ru; Ru's a great guy – lady – guy-lady, and I like that show. I think there's a lot of heart. When they lip-synch for their lives, they really do. I mean, I was fucking blown away.

AC: Watching that show kind of makes me want to be a drag queen.

KG: Oh, absolutely! I got drag tips, and I'll go there – when I did New Year's Eve with Anderson Cooper the other night, I was not afraid of some glitter eyeshadow. I'll drag it out; I'll do the fake lashes; I'll get Liza on your ass real fast. … [Drag Race] kind of reminds me when Queer Eye was on and straight people ended up watching it because it was just really entertaining and really funny.

AC: I'm sure you've heard a lot, too, about the Law & Order: SVU appearance, because that definitely turned a lot of heads.

KG: Oh, yes. It's taking me so long to get the lesbians. I mean, those girls are tough to crack. All the times I had to do the Dinah Shore golf tournament – I'll do whatever it takes. Kissing Mariska Hargitay really set the lesbians on fire. I mean, I thought my intimate dinners with Suze Orman and her girlfriend would do it, and it helps, but a kiss with Hargitay goes a long way with the lesbians. And the straights! The straight guys enjoy the two-lady kiss thing. The Law & Order was a win-win because I got to kiss Mariska and I got to kiss Chris Meloni, so the gays were superexcited about that because of course they love him from Oz and always will, and the straights all want to be Chris Meloni, so yeah.

AC: The name of the organization that your character was working with – LezBeStrong – did they let you make that up? Law & Order writers aren't always good at the funny so much.

KG: You know what, the episode that they wrote for me was so cool because the way it started, two of the writers Neal Bear from ER and Dan Truly who's very, believe it or not, funny, they saw me at the Creative Arts Emmys, thought I was funny, and they said, "We want to write an episode of Law & Order for you," and I was like, "What?" "We think you can act and we want you to be nominated for an Emmy next year." … So they came to see me do stand-up in Los Angeles and it was the greatest thing; all of the writers came backstage; they kind of based it on the type of stuff I do in my act. It was really an honor, the way they did the whole process of getting the idea, seeing me live, writing the script, and then when we were on the set, they actually let me improvise a little bit, which – I will tell you, though, Christopher Meloni was not happy about that part.

AC: Oh no!

KG: He said they don't improvise and there was something actually sort of funny; the producer – not Dick Wolf, but this guy, Neal Baer – fucked with me and told me that when Robin Williams was a guest star on Law & Order, he improvised most of it. So when I improvised a little on Law & Order and Christopher Meloni looked like he wanted to rip my head off, because I was just ruining takes, basically, I said, "Well, I heard that when Robin was here, he improvised everything," and Meloni said, "No, he didn't improvise one word." Then I found out Neil had been setting me up because he knew it would piss Chris off. How funny, guys! That's great. Let the new girl take the fall! They actually did end up letting me improvise a little bit. But no, LezBeStrong is Baer's all the way. A similar thing happened when I got to be on Glee, which was such an honor, because normally I get in trouble for the shit I say, especially about conservatives, and then on Glee – like I said, leave it to the gays! – Ryan Murphy said, "I want you to come on and play a tea party candidate." And he actually said, "I want you to be a little more Michele Bachmann and a little less Sarah Palin," and that was just heaven, to finally be rewarded for my bad behavior.

AC: I guess if you keep doing it, people will eventually decide it's the thing, right?

KG: Well, or maybe that it's a fucking joke. Which would be nice, if some of these celebrities would come around: "Oh, she's kidding!" I'm friends with Don Rickles, and of course a great fan and admirer, and I've seen him in the environment of being around A-listers, and it's really great. They just bow down to Don, as they should, and I really like that the Hollywood community gets that he's kidding. I'm not quite there yet. I'm still working on 'em.

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