20 Questions: Margaret Cho

A cultural and political comedian, fashion designer and actress, Margaret Cho discusses a range of her talents and interests in this installment of PopMatters’ 20 Questions (just imagine her tenderly braiding a tall, furry animal’s hair while talking with us, here, very telling – you’ll see). A supporter of gay rights and recipient of numerous humanitarian awards, Cho’s “Beautiful” tour, launched in Australia, hits the States March 6th.

1. The latest book or movie that made you cry?

La Vie en Rose. I love Edith Piaf and Marion Cotillard in the role is genius. Piaf lived a brief and tragic life. The film is just gorgeous and so sad. There are lots and lots of crying opportunities in that film. I am also amazed at the way Cotillard really is able to transform herself from the young Edith to the old Edith. It’s truly a beautiful film.

2. The fictional character most like you?

I always really identify with Margo Channing, the Bette Davis character from All About Eve. Channing is the drag queen in me; she’s bitter yet romantic, strong but gullible, woman yet drag queen, all in one.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Oh, that is difficult. Maybe Prince’s Purple Rain.

4. Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars for sure. I have never seen anything Star Trek. I love sci-fi, but I’m more Star Wars-oriented. I’m totally obsessed with Chewbacca. He’s incredible.

I’m a bit of an insomniac, and so when I can’t sleep, I think about brushing Chewbacca, getting all the tangles out. I bet he is really tangled and needs some of that ‘no more tears’ spray. So I would use a wide tooth comb. I also think about braiding Chewbacca. Like two long, French braids on either side of his body. I bet he would look really good if his hair was braided.

5. Your ideal brain food?

Uh uh uh. Obviously I don’t eat it.

6. You’re proud of this accomplishment, but why?

I can do a 3/4 shimmy, which in my opinion is the most difficult belly dance move. I worked on it for years. I am very proud of it.

7. You want to be remembered for?

Everything that I do. For being a great comic, for helping out younger comics, for being a good student of comedy, for being a great mentor of comedy. I would like to be remembered as someone who can really make others laugh.

8. Of those who’ve come before, the most inspirational are?

Probably Madonna, then Björk, Roseanne, Rosie O’Donnell – they’re all very inspiring. They are all very different from one another, too. But they’re alike in that they’re true trailblazers.

I live by a Madonna timeline. When she was on the Blonde Ambition tour, I was just getting started on touring myself. When she did Truth or Dare, I was coming into my own as a comedian. When she did the Sex book, I was starting to headline in Las Vegas. By the time Ray of Light came out, I was also getting inspiration from yoga and becoming a mother — a dog mother.

9. The creative masterpiece you wish bore your signature?

I really don’t know. I like my work best! But besides me, I think I would have liked to be as great of a comic as Richard Pryor. He was incredible.

10. Your hidden talents . . .?

I can roll my belly, upwards and downwards. I can also twirl my tassels clockwise and counterclockwise to a beat. That’s very difficult, you know. I love dancing and I’ve found it remarkable that this old dog can still learn lots of new tricks.

11. The best piece of advice you actually followed?

Be so good no one can tell you ‘no’.

12. The best thing you ever bought, stole, or borrowed?

A video iPod!

13. You feel best in Armani or Levis or …?


14. Your dinner guest at the Ritz would be?

Chewbacca, of course. We would have baked potatoes with lots of sour cream and caviar.

15. Time travel: where, when and why?

Right here, right now because this is the best place and time to be in.

16. Stress management: hit man, spa vacation or Prozac?

Oh, spa vacation for sure.

17. Essential to life: coffee, vodka, cigarettes, chocolate, or…?

I would say all of the above — and lots of it.

18. Environ of choice: city or country, and where on the map?

City: New York or Los Angeles.

19. What do you want to say to the leader of your country?

Please get out of office, now.

20. Last but certainly not least, what are you working on, now?

My new tour, “Beautiful”, and traveling all over the world for the tour.