Catching Up With Margaret Cho


By Phillip B. Crook

We caught up with Cho and asked her to reflect on her prolific career, growing up in 1970s San Fransisco, how Rue McClanahan once saved her life, and what she imagines Lance Bass tastes like.

What's your take on another entertainer who's become a rallying point for outsiders: Lady Gaga.
Oh, I love Lady Gaga. She's taking her talent -- which is considerable -- and creating something for people who feel ostracized. There's a universal sense of alienation, and she's tapped into that. I'm certainly a fan, but I think artists have always done that. Madonna and David Bowie -- there's a lot of people who represent that to me in music.

You became that representation when you wore the rainbow dress on Dancing with the Stars. But do you think ABC tried to control that statement?
That was weird. To me, it was very important to make a statement about the gay teen suicides. That show is so conservative, so it was hard to find a way to inject my own views and values. I decided to wear this rainbow pride flag. Yeah, we were probably voted off because we were talking about something a lot of people couldn't handle. But I don't care about a dance competition -- I care about helping a kid get through it.

When you look at gay activism from your childhood in the '70s and the kind of more commercial, Glee-esque activism we have today, how do you compare the two?
That's the journey. Harvey Milk's message has grown from one person talking behind a podium to watching it on television. It's exciting to see, but it's discouraging that the arguments against it are still so loud. Living in Georgia now, I have a very different take on conservatism. Atlanta is progressive, but once you leave the city limits, the attitude changes significantly. Homophobia is casual and accepted, even though there's such a cultural presence of gay voices in the media. And they don't even see their homophobia as a problem -- they just want to 'protect marriage,' or 'protect the family.' It's a ludicrous argument. Why is my gay life a threat to your family? That still has not been explained to me after so many years of asking why. We still have to deal with these things even though Glee is so popular.

Speaking of Georgia, Drop Dead Diva starts its third season this month, and includes appearances from Wanda Sykes, Clay Aiken, Lance Bass, and Kathy Griffin -- which sounds like the gayest dinner party in modern history.
Pretty gay. And pretty great. I know Wanda and Kathy very well. Lance I actually met at Kathy's house years and years ago. And Clay is a new friend. I enjoy working with all of them.

Was there a moment when you found yourself sitting at Kathy Griffin's house meeting Lance Bass where you thought, Is this really my life?
I've known Kathy since she was living in a studio apartment in Santa Monica, so I've seen many versions of her house. When I met Lance, I didn't know who he was, actually.

Not an *NSYNC fan, I take it.
I didn't know! It was their heyday, but I was so indie rock.

If you, Kathy, and Lance were trapped on an island together, who would get eaten first?
I'm sure Lance would not survive. He's so tender and delicious looking. I would eat most of him. Kathy is much smaller than me. I could put away a lot of Lance.