Margaret Cho is like the Charlie Brown of comedy. Despite talent, a loyal cult following, and a knack for rocking a leather catsuit things never seem to go her way. She's had bouts with anorexia and alcoholism, career disappointments, and even had her crotch cleaned by a man-woman named Gwen (hysterically retold in Cho's inspirational one-woman show I'm the One That I Want). And although most recently she was kicked off Dancing with the Stars before Bristol "All-I-Can-Do-is-Shimmy-My-Shoulders" Palin, things are looking a little sunnier for Cho. She's about to perform a gig at Fillmore Miami Beach this Saturday and her most recent album Cho Dependent just nabbed a Grammy nomination for Best Comedy Album. We caught up with Cho and picked her brain a bit about tattoos, douchebags, and self-love.
New Times: How do you feel about the results of last season's Dancing with the Stars?
Margaret Cho: I'm really glad Jennifer won, she deserved it. After I left I was rooting for her. Because, you know, it was hard competing against the Tea Party.
In Assasin, you assume that Laura Bush's lady-part tastes like Lysol. Any assumptions on Sarah Palin's flavor?
I don't know, moose?
You were in the movie Face/Off. If you could trade faces with anyone, who would it be?
Kat Von D. Mostly because I think she's so pretty. Plus she has a wonderful line of makeup where she named a color a lip gloss after me called Marg.
When making the now defunct sitcom All American Girl the producers hired a coach to teach you how to be more Asian. How exactly would they do this?
We had a number of different Asian consultants come in from UCLA. Usually they'd be fired within a week for whatever reason, but they'd come in and check the scripts then come on set and decide whether what we were doing was authentically Asian or not. Which was kind of weird, because there's no such thing as cultural authenticity, people are just people as they are. Authenticity, as they were putting it, was just a politically correct way of...well, essentially being racist. They had these preconceived notions of what Asian culture was supposed to be like but, the thing is, we don't ask about the authenticity of whiteness on a white sitcom, instead their responsibility is just to be funny. So, yeah, the Asian consultants never really helped us in any kind of capacity because I don't think they knew how to help us. But that wasn't the only problem.
What other problems were there?
I don't think I was a good sitcom person. I don't fit into the mold. They wanted to base the show on my standup and my act is always super raunchy, super crazy, super gay, super political, and super wild and there was never a way to translate it into TV or at least what was happening on television at the time, you know, like Home Improvement.
And there was also the weight issues -- which you talk candidly about in your one-woman show, I'm the One That I Want. Walking away from an experience where you were judged heavily for your weight, how do you feel when you see other celebrities like Jessica Simpson and Khloe Kardashian being attacked for their shapes?
I think those girls are beautiful. They may not fit the Hollywood body type, but really, who has the right to judge them? When you criticize women's bodies there's millions of young girls listening or reading and thinking well, my body's like that or I'm fatter than that, so what does that make me? I get really depressed and concerned when I think about the effect. Especially with online celebrity culture, where women are constantly being attacked. I'm sure the people commenting don't have perfect bodies themselves. It's just nasty. I'd like to shelter everyone from it.
So you'd like to bring down Perez Hilton or DListed.com?
Well, not DListed. I was once Hot Slut of the Day, which I really appreciated! It was funny and great! I kind of want to be the Slut of the Year.
How does the All American Girl sitcom experience compare with your more recent experiences on Lifetime's Drop Dead Diva?
It's a different set, different feeling, different show. It's all about embracing and loving yourself and the joy we can have in our own bodies. In our society there's certain kinds of women who are visible and certain kinds of women who are invisible and this show kind of obliterates that and brings to light how all women should be visible.
Speaking of loving one's body, you've sure covered yours in quite a few tattoos over the past couple of years. How did this happen?
I'd been planning on getting a tattoo since I was 12. I was really close with a lot of people in '80s who were getting tattooed by Ed Hardy, who's actually a family friend.
He sold a lot of his books out of my parents' bookstore in San Francisco. So, they got to know one another.
So, was your first tattoo inked by Ed?
Yup! It was a large stomach and back piece.
What did it consist of?
I got Moran, my Korean, some cherry blossoms, a snake, all Japanese style. It doesn't have any particular meaning or anything, I just always wanted to get a tattoo by Ed. I'm mostly covered, and I'm not sure if I'm done, but they're hard to cover as an actress.
What do you think of the new correlation between Ed Hardy and douchebags thanks to people like Jon Gosselin wearing his clothing?
It's hard because a lot of that isn't Ed's fault. It's the way his line was marketed and I feel very proud of him anyway. He brought this kind of tattooing to America, and he's an icon not only in the tattoo world, but in the art world as well. But, yeah, it's unfortunate that he's sort of known as the guy who makes the clothes worn by the people on the Jersey Shore...although I do love The Situation. I think he's darling, a good Italian boy.
Yeah, I'm actually good friends with him. He's a very shy, sweet, innocent boy. Who'd have thought that a guy who does things like putting Angelina's dirty pad under her pillow would be such a mama's boy? I actually stole his necklace during a rehearsal [for Dancing with the Stars]. He broke it while dancing and I said I'd fix it, but instead, I just took it. And I'm not planning on giving it back.
You're an avid fan of the Broken Social Scene. What's your favorite album?
I love every album, although I guess I love You Forgot it in People the most. But I just love Kevin Drew. I love everything that guy does. I'm in love with him and that music and that band. I'm actually unofficially a member, but I've never played with them or even seen them. But Kevin and I started writing a song together and hopefully it'll be on my next album.
Favorite female comedians?
Wanda Skyes is probably my favorite, Sarah Silverman, Roseanne, Sandra Bernhard, and Joan Rivers who's a friend and tremendous influence. Her Twitter feed is really off the hook! And there's Kathy Griffin as well. There's just so many great, great woman out there!