Cho and tell
- Joseph Gallivan
- Portland Tribune - Features
Margaret Cho's ability to shock continues unabated. It's not that the focus of her new live show is on politics rather than the usual perverts.
It's that she's settling down and getting married.
Cho told the Tribune by phone of her plans to wed her fiance, 'original art terrorist' Al Ridenour, in their Gothic mansion in Los Angeles this summer.
'We're going to dress up as characters from F.W. Murnau's 'Nosferatu,' and instead of exchanging vows we're going to exchange blood,' she says.
What will Mommy Ñ the Korean-born mother whom she hilariously mimics during her shows Ñ make of that?
'Mommy will be very upset, but she has promised to sing some kind of a requiem,' Cho says.
When her new stage show, 'Revolution,' hits Portland, Cho's first business is, in her words, 'to spend a long time running my mouth off. It's my state of the union address.' The 34-year-old has discovered that politics is far dirtier than sex:
'What's X-rated is the House of Representatives and Congress. Everyone in government is exploitative and disgusting.'
The Korean-American takes on post-Sept. 11 racial profiling.
'This idea of who was American and who was not was entirely based on skin color and religion,' she says.
One of her new one-liners? 'To be a minority in America is to die the death of a thousand paper cuts.'
If a second gulf war kicks off, of course, she'll be updating her material on the road. Oddly, she doesn't yet have much of a take on Kim Jong II, the North Korean dictator who supposedly has the firepower to take out a West Coast city. She never has taken much notice of North and South Korea.
However, she reveals Mommy is currently in South Korea, buying silks and satins for a future Margaret Cho clothing line. 'She finds the world very confusing and bizarre,' Cho explains.
It's about to get a lot odder, because Mommy's future son-in-law founded the Los Angeles branch of the Cacophony Society, a risk-taking group of Californians that spawned the Burning Man festival.
'He makes mummies and corpses for a living,' Cho says sweetly. 'The first thing you see when you enter our home is a life-size model of a woman in a glass case. We call her Bubbles.'
Such American Gothic is deliberate. 'I've realized I'm a true Goth,' she says. 'I'm a straight-acting Goth but a Goth nonetheless. Al's helped me come out of the casket.'
She delights in the fact that she doesn't go out much and spends a lot of time on eBay researching her new interest, taxidermy. In the dining room, where she writes, she has a stuffed raven called Eustace, which she bought from an eBay seller called Antichrist, and a goat's head called Xerxes.
'Next to that is a huge obstetrical model of a woman's torso giving birth. It's my mandala,' she says. 'You used to be able to push this suede baby and placenta out of it, but it's from the 1960s, and the rubber's gone hard like a tire. Life and death can be found on eBay; you go into people's homes and rifle through their things.'
In her new show she tells of assisting at the delivery of a friend's baby, and says the experience confirmed she would never want to have kids.
But, she says, 'as obsessed with death as I used to be, I've become obsessed with birth.'
Cho says she's grown up. She's over wanting to be on a sitcom again, like the ill-fated racist-sexist-fattist 'All American Girl,' and she's over her last relationship, which comes under some scrutiny in the new show. Now she's dedicated herself to writing.
So she's working on a book, which she hopes to finish this summer.
'It's an anti-'Chicken Soup for the Soul,' ' she says. 'It's going to be horrifying stories taken from real life of my friends and family. There's a triumphant ending to all of them, because all life is terrible and beautiful. It's somewhat of a self-help book: It should be in the New Age section. It should be 'Conversations With Satan' Ñ that's what it feels like. But I'm not a Satanist.'
She hastily adds, 'Nor am I pagan. I'm Goth.
'It's the beginning of a new phase. At 33 you either crucify yourself or rise again. I think I've risen like a loaf of bread. I've risen yeasty and doughy to take over the bakery.'
As for the new husband to be, she's not intimidated by his alpha male status: 'We've very happy; it's a good match.'
Mommy is going to be so proud.