Catching Up With Margaret Cho

6.6.2011

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.

Yummy. Ok, so Drop Dead Diva inspired me to play a game with you. I'll name a diva who has'dropped dead, and you tell me what comes to mind. Rue McClanahan.
I love Rue McClanahan! I did a Golden Palace episode with her when I was 18 years old and I had to sing 'Moon River' a cappella. I was so scared. Rue hummed the key into my ear very quietly so I would know what note to start on. It saved my life.

Bea Arthur.
I saw her pretty close to her death. I was leaving Dawn French's hotel room and she was coming in. She was very old and thin -- I think it was close to the end. In your mind, you think of Bea Arthur as a very majestic presence. She had the height, but not the breadth.

Bette Davis.
I think Bette Davis is everybody's favorite. She was great in so many incarnations. I loved her craziness toward the end when she was smoking on The Tonight Show, decrepit but still kind of hot. That is a movie star.

Divine.
I never met Divine. I know John Waters, and I really love all those movies. I can't believe I never got to work with Divine because I wish I had. It's one of my great regrets.

Liberace.
Liberace I would have loved. When I was little, I was very intrigued watching him. You had this very flamboyant, almost openly gay artist who had a huge female following. You see shadows of that with Clay Aiken.

We interviewed another diva for our Ladies We Love issue, Penny Arcade, and she said something about you that I wanted to get your take on. She said, 'When I look at people who are stars in the gay world -- Margaret Cho or Kathy Griffin or even my most beloved Joan Rivers, whom I adore -- all these people are always talking about their gays. And gay people accept that? When Kathy Griffin says 'my gays' I want to kick in the television. When Margaret Cho says 'my gays' I want to take an ax and smash the TV set. When someone positions herself alongside, and not with, I don't understand that. Nina Simone was with. Judy Garland was with. Barbra Streisand was not saying 'my gays.'"
I am gay. I agree with Penny Arcade because I would never say it like that. It's not about 'my gays,' because I'm gay. It's like when you have straight celebrities at a gay political function, and they say, 'Well, I'm not gay, but'' -- I'm always offended. Why do you have to separate yourself from the community? What is so threatening about being in the community? So, I think Penny Arcade meant someone else. She's thinking of Lucy Liu.

Margaret Cho's Cho Dependent concert film will be released later this year, and she will be receiving the Morris Kight Lifetime Achievement Award at L.A. Pride this Sunday, June 12, as well as riding in the parade and performing at the closing ceremony. For more on Cho, including upcoming appearances, visit her official website and follow her on Twitter. Season three of Drop Dead Diva will premiere Sunday, June 19, 2011, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime. For more info, visit the show's official website here.

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