Margaret Cho really digs the midcentury vibe in Palm Springs but it’s not the reason she’s returning to the valley this month. Cho is one of the main headliners for Outlandish, the fabulous Palm Springs Performance Series sired by former Logo TV titan Matt Farber. She takes the stage Oct. 18 at the Palm Springs Cultural Center.
The celebrated comedian-actor has generated plenty of buzz for her uproarious stage and comedy specials ever since she stormed onto the entertainment scene in the 1990s—to witness her embody her South Korean mother on stage is a downright orgasmic experience. Cho’s groundbreaking albeit short-lived sitcom (oh, ABC, can we ever forgive you?), All American Girl may have thrust her celebrity into orbit but it’s been Cho’s film appearances, large stage outings, and costarring stints in TV hits like Drop Dead Diva that helped make her a household name.
Well that, and Cho’s vibrant personal life — she’s been outspoken about everything from being Asian-American and LGBTQ rights to her own bisexuality. The GLAAD and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force honoree (among others) shares more with Palm Springs Life.
You’re going to be on Law & Order: SVU this fall?
Yes. I haven’t done it before.
And you’ll be playing a massage parlor owner I hear?
It’s quite heavy acting actually. It’s based on a real person and I had to research it quite a bit.
Research it? Does that mean you had to go into massage parlors and …?
I didn’t go that deep into it. But I did do a lot of research about it.
Let’s talk Outlandish. It’s a great performance series here and wonderful that you’re doing it. What can we expect?
It’s going to be fun. Lots of current events. Lots of talk about Trump. Lots of things about this impeachment; this thing that a lot of people had been praying for. It’s crazy how much there is to talk about.
As somebody in comedy, has it become more challenging to maintain that natural sense of humor during contentious political times? Or does the contentious stuff just fuel you?
You have to stay positive. As an entertainer you don’t want to get too serious yet as the same time there’s a lot to say.
PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OUTLANDISH PALM SPRINGS
I hear you have polyamore-fatigue — polyamore being the desire to be in relationship with more than one partner — and that you want to be single for the rest of your life?
That’s what I am hoping. I think that might be a fun surprise. It’s kinda like trying to look at life differently. We’re always looking for a partner but I have been partnered, for, like, forever, and it’s never worked. So for me, it’s, “Let’s not be partnered and see what happens.”
Does that mean you want to tap more deeply into the inner Margaret Cho?
Yes. And then feel like I can be that life partner for myself. I don’t know. It’s like that solo journey as you head toward the end of life. Not that I am there yet. I’m 50 but …
What’s the best thing about being 50?
I’m not so worried about anything any more. Life has a way of figuring things out. And now is the time to really live it [life] because a lot of the problems have been resolved and you’ve gotten a hang of being yourself.
You’ve spoken a lot about bisexuality — yours, others’. What do you feel is the biggest misconception about bisexuality?
That we are not necessarily a destination. That we—bi people—are a transition or a phase. We’re nothing like a phase. We are a real definition and a real place to be. Sometimes people say of bi people that it’s because they don’t want to come out all the way. But really, this is an actual identity. A real one.
Are people just not educated enough about bisexuality? What’s your experience of others understanding it?
Most people just question it and think that the [bi] person just needs to decide. You have to be one thing—gay or straight. And that somehow something needs to be fixed. And that’s the main point—that somehow it’s an immature decision to be bi.
So for you, what’s been the best thing about being in relationships with women — and with men?
With women, there’s a supreme power you can have. I think there’s a power that exists in same-sex relationships that is unparalleled and so complete and so perfect. With men, it’s just a different feeling of opposites coming together and forming a union. So, there’s really beautiful things about both sides.
So, for this fiery LGBTQ program, Outlandish, can you talk more about what the LGBTQ community could be more aware or doing more of these days?
We can be better at understanding young people who are in a new world of change and identifying. It’s about welcoming that. It’s about really exploring and understanding intersectionality, where fairness comes alive with race and gender. I think there’s a lot to say about that.
One last question. What’s some of the best advice you’ve been given about life?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You know, the truth of that is really powerful once you realize that everything is really kinda “small.”
Experience the vast smallness and small vastness of Margaret Cho at Outlandish: A Palm Springs Performance Series at 8 p.m. Oct. 19 at Palm Springs Cultural Center, 2300 E. Baristo Road. For tickets, visit outlandishps.com. Keep track of Ms. Cho at margaretcho.com.