Margaret Cho Heads to Philly

After a six year hi­atus, Mar­garet Cho has a new al­bum, Amer­ic­an Myth, once again packed with so­cio-polit­ic­al state­ments, cul­tur­al ref­er­ences and, of course, lots of glit­ter.

After a six year hi­atus, Mar­garet Cho has a new al­bum, Amer­ic­an Myth, once again packed with so­cio-polit­ic­al state­ments, cul­tur­al ref­er­ences and, of course, lots of glit­ter. With songs like “I Want to Kill My Rap­ist,” it’s a good bet Cho hasn’t lost her act­iv­ist zeal. What she has gained though is the spe­cial co-host title for E!’s Fash­ion Po­lice and a stop over in Philly at He­li­um. I talked with Cho about her single and homage to the fallen su­per­mod­el, “Anna Nicole,” body im­age and the ab­surdity over the cur­rent “bath­room de­bates.” 

I wanted to start by ask­ing you about be­ing a product of the ’90s.  What you would bring back from the ’90s in­to today’s world if you could.
Oh gosh, you know zines? Re­mem­ber those? They were great. Of course they still ex­ist, there’s a huge sort of al­tern­at­ive scene and sort of web­sites and blogs have taken the place, but there’s something that was just so great about zines. They were all just so di­verse and funny and cool and in­ter­est­ing. It was a big, big scene and I loved that.

Did you have a fa­vor­ite back in the day?
I liked Ben is Dead, I liked, gosh there were so many, I can’t re­mem­ber their names now. I had Factsheet Five so I would circle all of the ones that I liked and get them in the mail. There was one about the little boy from E.T., grown up. They had this girl that was really ob­sessed with him, she was really funny. She was like, I for­got what it said, but something like, it was a zine about stalk­ing. I don’t know why I can’t re­call the names, prob­ably men­o­pause.

So why did you wait so long to make an­oth­er al­bum?
Oh, I was just busy do­ing oth­er stuff. I was tour­ing, I was work­ing on a show calledDrop Dead Diva, I was do­ing a bunch of oth­er stuff. But I make mu­sic all the time, it’s a con­stant in my life. Gar­ris­on and I wrote most of the songs on the re­cord, Gar­ris­on Starr is a won­der­ful sing­er song­writer, she pro­duced the al­bum, so we just had some time to do it, so we did it.

What’s your fa­vor­ite song off the al­bum?
I really like “Anna Nicole,” which is a single, the video is out now, it’s a story about Anna Nicole Smith, who was really the first wave of so­cial me­dia bul­ly­ing and get­ting trolled a lot. That was really hard for her, but she was quite the le­gendary fig­ure. My song is my ver­sion of “Candle in the Wind” for her and I love it. I love all of the tracks, I think they’re beau­ti­ful.

“Anna Nicole” seems like a rare show of re­spect and ad­mir­a­tion. We’re used to see­ing her gawked at or made fun of.
I think that’s im­port­ant. People were just so aw­ful about her and to her. It was just wrong and I think all of that really con­trib­uted to her death. And it’s really hor­rible. When you think about the im­pact she had when she first ap­peared in the ’90s, she was someone who was just so beau­ti­ful, but out of the Heroin Chic thing here was this wo­man who was large and so beau­ti­ful and I think she helped a lot of people un­der­stand the idea of ac­cept­ance of your body, a real body, a full fig­ure. That curvi­ness was so in­spir­ing to see that it was be­ing cel­eb­rated in the Guess ads. So her power as a beauty icon shouldn’t be un­der­es­tim­ated, I think she was really amaz­ing. 

Speak­ing of body im­ages, how do you feel about the con­tro­ver­sies sur­round­ing at­tempt­ing to make bath­rooms in­clus­ive to the trans­gender com­munity?
Well, I’ve been a part of the LGBT com­munity for many years and went through a lot of people’s trans­itions. This is my fam­ily.  And it of­fends me to think that people are ac­tu­ally afraid of a trans­gender per­son in a bath­room. That’s the most in­sane thing. Noth­ing has ever happened, an in­cid­ent where a trans­gender per­son has done any­thing in a bath­room. In­sane. I think Tar­get has the right at­ti­tude. They are com­ing out in sup­port of equal­ity and san­ity. But all of these anti-LGBT bills I think are a dir­ect re­ac­tion to the Su­preme Court leg­al­iz­ing gay mar­riage. We have a start to­ward equal­ity and that’s very threat­en­ing to ho­mo­phobic and big­oted people.

Philly. Good? Bad? 
Very very in love with Phil­adelphia. I’m furi­ous about Cath­er­ine Knott. I’m glad she’s go­ing to pris­on but it’s not for very long. Justice was not served be­cause her fath­er is a po­lice chief. When you have these ho­mo­phobic crimes, they need to be seen as hate crimes. I got in a real fight with some people about the Mum­mers. (laughs) The Mum­mers, I un­der­stand the tra­di­tion of it, but to use it to make fun of the trans­gender com­munity at a time that’s so dif­fi­cult and hard for us, is very dis­ap­point­ing. But I love ho­agies! 

May 19-21. He­li­um Com­edy Club, 2031 Sansom St. he­li­um­com­