The multi-talented Margaret Cho takes a break from filming “Drop Dead Diva” on Lifetime to entertain live at the State Theatre next week. Michael Cook spoke with the fabulous comic about an unlikely meeting with Whitney Houston, bullying and her stint on “Dancing with the Stars”…
Michael: You’re a huge champion for the LGBT community and you’re coming to New Brunswick, where the suicide of Tyler Clementi occurred. What can we do in the LGBT community to ensure that bullying ends?
Margaret: That case is so horrible, and the sad thing is that no one wins at all in that situation. I think we need to educate more, especially in the schools. In Tyler’s case, he had asked for his room to be changed several times and it hadn’t been done. We need to be able to see the signs of bullying and know how to address it, and we need to show people that it will not be tolerated.
Michael: You play Teri Lee on Lifetime’s “Drop Dead Diva”.
Margaret: We truly are like a family on that show. What I love most about the show is the message; it’s that everyone is beautiful, no matter your size; It’s so much fun doing the show.
Michael: Speaking of being proud of yourself and body image issues, I just saw you in the amazing documentary “Miss Representation” by Jennifer Siebel Newsom.
Margaret: I was so honored to be a part of that documentary. The message is so incredibly important, and Jennifer and her husband (Gavin Newsom, former mayor of San Francisco & current Lt. Governor of California) are dear friends of mine. On the political front, Gavin is so honest and really believes in the rights of all people. He says what he means and is one of the few politicians that you can actually believe in.
Michael: You also did “Dancing With The Stars”, where you wore your infamous rainbow dress. Would you ever do another reality show like say, “Celebrity Apprentice” or one of your own following your life?
Margaret: You know, I really don’t think so. When I did “Dancing With The Stars”, it was almost like I was trying to get kicked off every week. I mean, I came out one week in a rainbow feathered dress dancing to Barry Manilow with a gay partner.
Now you have to remember, this was at the height of bullying becoming a big national issue, and I used the show as my platform to express my thoughts on that. And that is what I feel got me voted off. I found that “Dancing With The Stars” is not the kind of show where views like that are welcome. I guess Bristol Palin’s advocacy for abstinence is more welcome.
Now, I’m convinced that they are making “Dancing With The Stars” into the gayest show ever, which I love. They had Carson Kressley last year, Chaz Bono was the first transgender contestant, and Ricki Lake was on, who is an amazing advocate for the LGBT community. It’s great to see how things have changed.
One other memory I have of “Dancing With The Stars” is that Whitney Houston was there a bunch of times, she came with Brandy’s brother, and Brandy was on my season. I got to meet her, and I really thought she was ok. She was so lovely and so loved by the gay community. The loss of her is extremely profound, especially to the gay community.
Michael: You’ve collaborated with such artists as Fiona Apple, Ben Lee. How do you choose your collaborators?
Margaret: It’s really easy, since most of the people I’ve collaborated with musically are good friends of mine. It’s what we do when we all get together and hang out, so recording with them is very organic. For example, Fiona is a dear friend of mine and an icon; she’s one of the most creative people I know. Working with people like that who bring something fantastic to the table like that is the best.
Michael: Last year you got the “Lifetime Award” from LA Pride. How did it feel to be recognized by your community in such a monumental way?
Margaret: It was funny because when they told me I was going to be honored, I said “wow… lifetime”! But at 43 years old, I guess that is a lifetime. It was an absolute thrill to be honored by a group that I love so dearly and am so happy to be a part of.
Michael: What’s next for Margaret Cho?
Margaret: I definitely have some new music coming, I just have a ton of it and I’m trying to figure out how to put it all together. I’m also getting some new stand-up going, which will be what the crowd in New Brunswick gets to hear. I also have a few things happening that I can’t talk about yet, but stay tuned!
Margaret Cho at the State Theatre in New Brunswick, Sunday, April 22. Tickets at StateTheatreNJ.org.