Margaret Cho is one of the biggest names in comedy, and has been a staunch supporter of the LGBT community throughout her career. A queer woman herself, she has busted through barriers, and made a career of creating smart, thought provoking and provocative art. It was recently announced that Cho would be a co-host for the new TLC late night show, All About Sex. We sat down with the multi-talented performer to talk about the show, her new stand up special, and the work she is doing to honor the legacy of her friend, Robin Williams.
AfterEllen: We were excited to hear All About Sex. How did you get involved?
Margaret Cho: They contacted me and I came in and it was a really good fit because it’s a show that I dreamed of having for years. I’ve always wanted to do a late night talk show focused on women’s sexuality and how to get the most out of it and applying my own experience to it, so this was a dream come true.
AE: You have a ton of lesbian bi queer fans, I think because you’re so open about your own sexuality. Do you think All About Sex is something that speaks to those fans? Will you be including us queer girls from time to time?
MC: I think that’s the reason I’m doing this show, it’s all from the queer perspective because it’s the only perspective I know. I happen to be very knowledgeable about queer sexuality because I served on the board for Good Vibrations for many years and I’ve lived a lifetime of very interesting sexual adventure, and whether that is about being queer or alternative. It’s not just queer issues that I represent on the show, its all types of alternative sexuality, which we will be exploring in great detail because there’s never been a TV show that focuses just on that. I think a lot of the ways that they’re drawing the show out is that I really will be talking about these issues and I’m looking forward to it because I think people have a lot of questions and I have a lot of answers!
AE: There’s a lot of social policing regarding women’s bodies and sexuality even within our own communities. I remember last year after Blue is the Warmest Color came out a lot of queer women were debating what the “right way” to have sex was. Why do you think there a need to put rules and regulations on sex?
MC: I think because inherently women’s sexuality has been viewed as a very dangerous place. It always has been really. Whether that’s sexism in the culture, or the ultimate mystery that’s the female body. There’s a lot of reasons why limits are put on our sexuality even by ourselves. So I hope with this show to guide women closer to orgasm; that’s my whole thing. I will try to use all my knowledge and experience to guide women to a place where they’re happy with their bodies and sexuality regardless of what that means. I think in a relationship it takes a different context, but when we’re talking about the relationship with sexuality with yourself, I think that’s the most important relationship and that’s what I hope to enhance.
AE: Also you just announced a new stand-up special, and you’re coming to NYC where it will be filmed. Your work is not only hilarious but very smart and topical. Is there a theme to your new show and what sort of issues might you be tackling?
MC: It’s really about the rising tide against women, it’s about my anger towards it and how we can cope with it as women and find a safe space to go nuts and really angry about it. So the show is called “There’s no ‘I’ in ‘team’, but there is a ‘Cho’ in ‘psycho.’”
AE: You’ve been doing beautiful grassroots work in San Francisco with the homeless community. What inspired you and how can your fans help?
MC: I was inspired by Robin Williams and half of it is that I could not stop grieving his death. I grew up in San Francisco, he’s the father of San Francisco comedy. He is someone that I have known. I think people didn’t realize the aspect of him that was a tremendous advocate and supporter of homeless people. Through Comic Relief, which is a small example of what he did, with Billy Crystal and Whoopi Goldberg, he raised a million dollars for the homeless and in every movie contract he had, he had a portion where a percentage of the crew had to be homeless. So he gave the homeless a dignified wage and work. I think that aspect of him hasn’t been sort of portrayed or blasted. So I was talking to Michael Pritchard who is a friend of his and mine and he’s a homeless advocate and stand up comedian, and he said, “Don’t grieve Robin, be Robin.” So I decided to have my own little Comic Relief on San Francisco street corners where I give people a meeting point. People who have and people who need. I have a simple mission statement. “If you have, give, if you need, take.” I go out there now with a big band, we play music on the streets, we play comedy, people bring food and toiletries and we distribute that to homeless people who come too. It’s gotten very big. We have support from the city so we haven’t been shut down, which is incredible. I’ve been doing this now for over a month and we’ll finish out with the last three events towards the end of the year and it’s beautiful.
People who want to help can do the same thing in their own city. I encourage people to help them wherever they are, whether it’s busking on the streets for them, whatever it is, take the idea and do it your own way. We have a GoFundMe “Be Robin” too that sort of fuels the project but people have contributed so much that I’ll be able to distribute the overflow to other homeless shelters across the city.
AE: So you’re doing all these really amazing wonderful things and I know that you’ve also written two books and I’m just curious, is that something you want to do again?
MC: Yes! That’s something that’s happening and certainly with this “Be Robin” project I have a lot of material to draw from over my last several weeks of street performing and meeting people who live on the street. There was a big storm in California recently so we’ve been focusing on sending me the GoFundMe cash to buying rain ponchos and distributing them, and not performing but getting out and giving socks and food and rain cover to homeless people.
All About Sex premieres on TLC, Saturday, January 10th.