Margaret Cho on living and working in Atlanta
One of my all-time faves Margaret Cho has moved to Atlanta because that is where her new hit TV series Drop Dead Diva is filmed. She’s come a long way since ABC’s All American Girl thanks to her overall fabulousness and a strong of hit stand-up DVDs and CDs. The release of her latest album, Cho Dependent, marks the Grammy-nominated comedian’s first full-on foray into music.
She talked to OUT.com about all that and more. Here is an excerpt:
Q. I heard you had an interesting experience at the gym you frequented in Peachtree City.
A. OK, this is the problem of Peachtree City: I would go work out every single day. And at the gym, I would be confronted with a stack of Focus on Family magazines, which offended me to no end. This is the organization that defeated gay marriage all over the country. This is the organization that is routinely responsible for this kind of institutionalized homophobia. Focus on Family is the worst thing to happen to America. In so many ways it is really terrible. So I would go to the gym, a bad thing in itself, going to the gym, and then have to be faced with a stack of Focus on Family magazines. So to combat this I would bring a stack of Advocates and Outs and Genre sometimes, and leave them out and put them on top of the Focus on Family. I would start my workout by putting Out, The Advocate, all of my favorite things to read on top. And then by the end of my workout, somebody would come by and put the Focus on Familys on top of the Outs and Advocates, and so it was just like this magazine fight. And I would escalate by bringing even gayer magazines. So that’s when I’d just pull out the Unzipped and all the porn, which, you know what, they asked for it. Since then, I have canceled my membership, but I left my magazines there. I think that that really was a good way to protest, but it was alarming how quickly the Focus on Familys would go back on top — like they were really on to it. I think I brought a fresh breath of gay air to the town, but now I’ve moved to the gayest part of Atlanta, so I feel much better now.
Q. You’re in Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime. What can you tell us about the evolution of Teri’s character this season?
A. I am on the show for the second season, and my character’s Teri Lee, who is the assistant of the lead character, Jane Bingum. So in my evolution this year, I just found out that I’m a private eye, which is really exciting. I don’t know what that means — we’re right in the middle of shooting right now — but we get our scripts in the next day or so, so we don’t even know what’s going on. So I can’t really tell you what’s going to happen. But I’m a private eye, which I’m very excited about.
Q. You also have Cho Dependent” coming out this month. Why a music album now?
A. Yes. My album Cho Dependent is coming out August 24. It’s this project that I have been working on now for two years. And it’s probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It’s really exciting to do music. I have a voice, actually. I was on tour with Cyndi Lauper, and I was singing with her, and she said, “Oh, you’re a singer. You’re a singer.” And I was like, “Wow. If Cyndi Lauper’s telling you that you’re a singer, you must be a singer.” So I was so inspired by that, and I went and collaborated with some of the greatest artists around. People like Fiona Apple, and Jon Brion, and Patty Griffin, and Ani DiFranco, and Grant Lee Phillips, and Tegan and Sara, and Rachael Yamagata, just incredible artists. I was really fortunate to be able to collaborate with the best of the best of the best. Especially big queer superstars like Garrison Starr and Tegan and Sara, which is, to me, so exciting, and Andrew Bird, and I’m really proud of it. It’s all comedy songs, so it’s all comedy, but in music form. I’m very excited because I’m kind of pulling out of stand-up comedy, but then the show that accompanies it, that I’ll be touring with, is all stand-up comedy and some songs. So it’s a combination of both, but it’s a lot of fun. I want to do sort of like an older diva thing, like you get into a Bette Midler mode, where, you know, you’re doing jokes, and then you’re singing songs, and then everybody cries. It’s just fabulous.