|BAY AREA REPORTER|
by Sari Staver
Margaret Cho says that life is going "really, really well" these days. There's her new show "Fresh off the Bloat," selling out in most cities, coming to the Castro Theatre on Oct. 21. Later this year, she's taking the one-woman gig to the UK and Europe. TNT recently ordered a pilot of a show she wrote, "Highland," now in production. "And I have a new boyfriend, and I am very happy," she said in a telephone interview with the B.A.R.
2016 was "really hard," she said. Cho spent time in an inpatient drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation program, and later lived in a sober living facility. Trump's win was "horrific," but it has provided material for her new show.
Although her new TV pilot is not yet scheduled, Cho said the show, which she wrote and produced with "Lost" alumna Liz Sarnoff, is timely and should be "very well-received." It's the story of a Korean-American family that goes into the cannabis business. Given the "booming market" for marijuana, and upcoming legalization in California, "we hope it will be a big hit."
Cho, an advocate for the legalization of cannabis, says she no longer uses the herb. "I smoked a lot when I was younger," she said. "I kind of reached the saturation point with it, but I'm still an advocate and love the culture" of cannabis.
Born and raised in San Francisco, Cho has lived in Los Angeles since 1991. She used to keep an apartment here, but now "stays in different places" when she visits. At one point, she lived in an artists' commune with 28 people. "I'm kind of old for that now," said Cho, 48.
She has "always identified as bisexual," which can be "a strange place in terms of the [LGBT] community. We're not exactly welcomed, and we're not exactly shunned. I've always been a part of the gay community," she said, explaining that her parents owned a bookstore that was at the "epicenter of gay life."
Her career took off in 1999 when her groundbreaking off-Broadway one-woman show "I'm the One That I Want" toured the country to national acclaim and was made into a bestselling book and feature film. In 2001, Cho launched "Notorious C.H.O," a 37-city national tour that culminated in a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall. The show was recorded and released as a feature film. In 2003, Cho had a third sold-out national tour, "Revolution," and in 2005, a concert film, "Assassin." In 2007, Cho toured with Cyndi Lauper for a Human Rights Campaign benefit.
When Cho's mentor Robin Williams died in 2014, Cho set up shop in various locations in San Francisco, raising money for the homeless community, as a memorial to her friend. In 2015, Cho filmed her Showtime special "psyCHO" in New York City, and the following year, released her album "American Myth."
Cho says a "highlight" of her life was meeting her "new boyfriend" Rocco Stowe, a Los Angeles comedian. "We've been together for six months, and it's been wonderful. He's very special."
When travelling with the show, Cho said she "keeps it pretty minimal because I'm cheap and don't like to spend a lot." She enjoys the crowds and is grateful for the warm reception she receives. While parts of the show are updated with political anecdotes, a lot of it focuses on Cho's time in rehab. Rehab was a "big part of my life" for the past two years, "and it wasn't always easy."
Touring can be exhausting, she added, but there "always seems to be something to look forward to," like a visit to San Francisco. "Yes, the city has changed, but I still love it. I just can't wait to get up there."
Margaret Cho's "Fresh Off the Bloat" plays the Castro Theatre on Sat., Oct. 21. Tickets for the early show are sold out; a few single seats are available for the 9:30 p.m. show ($59.50). Cho plays the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz on Fri., Oct. 20. The early show is sold out; tickets for the late show are $32-$47. Info: MargaretCho.com.