Kate Getty talks to the Notorious One
So many times my scrutiny is unscrupulous watching celebrities interact with press. Phony cackles with David Letterman, feigned compassion with Oprah, always so on; I wonder if they even know how to be real anymore, ever-concerned with the impression they make and image they portray. Thus, true identity is lost with flash photography and a publicist lurking in the shadows.
But not with Margaret Cho.
Cho is a real person. Refreshingly so. I expected to hear impersonations of her mother, her exaggerated, decibel-straining exuberance spotlighted in true dance-monkey-dance fashion. But she didn't try to be funny; she didn't try to be political. In fact, she didn't try to be anything except who she is: an artistic, conscious-minded American deeply interested in the betterment of society, fed up with the state of affairs in this country. Just like any of us.
"There is definitely a shift in consciousness happening in the world today. People are figuring out that being enlightened doesn't make us the minority anymore. We now stand for roughly half of this country. If you pay attention, you can feel the revolution coming," Cho said.
This shift from ignorance is the hopeful conclusion found from her increasingly political comedic pursuits. What started in the realm of sex-shtick taking on butt sex and blowjobs with the candid veracity of Pryor, has evolved into bonafide grassroots activism with legislation and education, rather than fornication, at the forefront of her message.
It's no longer about getting fisted by midget dykes, but rather, about giving the finger to the White House, being unafraid to sniff out the sticky oil trail Hansel and Georgie have left behind while not being too intimidated to stand up for gay marriage or to rally against racism. The truth is: Margaret Cho is one pissed off chick, restless but optimistic, and willing to do something about it.
"This government makes me an activist. George W. makes me an activist," Cho said. "I don't believe in conceding to apathy like the majority of this country is willing to do. They just follow along without questioning anything, hiding behind conservatism and religion as an explanation for their immobilizing fear of change. It's not safe or smart and it can't last."
In January of this year, Cho felt that right-wing heat first-hand. After making a joke ("I mean, George Bush is not Hitler. He could be if he fucking applied himself ...") at The Moveon.org Awards, her comments were happily taken out of context ( as "Raw Rage Against Bush") and posted on Matt Drudge's The Free Republic. Hoards of Republicans immediately jumped to the commander-in-chief's corner with such intelligent political rebuttals as, "Eat some dog like your freinds[sic] back home," and, "ARE MY SHIRTS READY? I'll have the number 22 with chow mein."
But Margaret kept her cool.
"It wasn't worth getting upset because these people aren't smart enough," she explained. "If I'm looking for a good fight, I just can't find a decent opponent who can come up with solid, factual arguments that are backed by research or by political knowledge. The good thing, though, about that whole backlash was that it showed the true face of conservatism in America: the lurking hatred, ignorance, 'patriotism' that is actually racism, bigotry, homophobia, and misogyny. That's what it's really about."
Fighting the status quo in this country has become quite the mission for Margaret. An everyday obsession. Her web log leaves no political pebble unturned, her website Loveisloveislove.com is a resource for equal rights and gay marriage, and her current tour, "Assassin" is more political than ever, tackling homophobia, war protests, and all civil liberties in general with the no-bullshit attitude so characteristic of the San-Fran native.
"I want people to laugh," Cho said, "But these days, people are afraid to laugh; they are afraid what they might do to them. And that is exactly how the government wants its people to be."
But not Margaret. See, she's just like one of us.
Margaret Cho will be performing Fri., June 10, 8pm, Bass Hall. $29.50-45