Quid Pro Quo with Margaret Cho


Did you enter Vancouver is Awesome’s giveaway for two tickets to see Margaret Cho and meet her tonight at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre? Well, if you did you probably didn’t win and if you didn’t I have no pity for you because it means you’re not reading VIA as often as you should. Fortunately, you can still buy tickets.

I had a chance to catch up with Miss Margaret and ask her some questions about food, music, tattoos, and her new album Cho Dependent that came out on Tuesday. Here’s what she had to say.

On Cho Dependent you’ve collaborated with a range of talented musicians including Grant Lee Phillips, Ani Difranco, Fiona Apple and Vancouver’s own favourite musical saphic sisters, Tegan & Sara. What was that like?

They were wonderful and our song “Intervention” is great. It opens my album because I love it so much (so) I want everyone to hear it first. I love Tegan and Sara so much. We recorded at Bryan Adams amazing studio in Vancouver and spent 2 days working on the track, laughing, eating and talking non-stop. They are so much fun to hang out with and amazing artists. I am so blown away by their work and I love them. We are going to film the video for the song with Liam Sullivan directing in Houston where my tour and their tour cross paths and I can’t wait!

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Listen to the track here at SPIN magazine.

Vancouver is home to La Casa Gelato, famous for its insanely huge range of flavours. One of these is a kim chee concoction. Normally, I can get behind all East West gastro-marriages but this one confounds me. If I brought you some, would you try it?

I don’t know if I would like it because I don’t especially like kim chee that much. I eat it very infrequently. I like my mom’s, no others. Spicy/sweet things can be good though. I really like this one fancy dark chocolate that has chili flakes and salt in it. It’s spicy and really weird and good. I would try the kim chee gelato!!

Margaret on Chelsea Lately earlier this month.

You are a California Girl so you have the authority I am looking for here. The Beach Boys, Diamond Dave, or Katy Perry – what is the correct answer?

Well I love them all. The Beach Boys are classic, Dave is amazing and Katy is so cool.

You have some killer tattoos going on. As a NJG (Nice Jewish Girl) with serious commitment issues I can only look and wonder. How many do you have? What prompted this mass inking and are there more on the way? And most importantly, what did your mother say?!

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It depends on how you look at it. I have something around 50 or 60 small ones or about 10 big ones. They completely cover my front and back and arms and legs. I grew up around tattooed people, so my mother was actually expecting it. They were trying to convince my dad to let them tattoo me at 12, so my parents were not surprised that I did eventually get them. What was surprising to them was that I waited a long time – until i was 35. There is no more on the way – I can’t find any more space!

I can not stop listening to “Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros right now. (In my private fantasy, I see Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon doing a duet with Sissy Spacek singing backup.) Do you have any songs currently on the choPod that you’re currently obsessed with?

I am going through a serious metal phase with lots of Guns ‘n Roses, Scorpions, Ratt, Mötley Crüe. I am all about “Paradise City”. I think I have to do some metal on my next album and I really wanna collaborate with Slash.

The grass is green and the girls are pretty.

You’ve been very candid in the past about your body image and some personal issues you have worked through. A few years ago you were doing burlesque – are you still into it?

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I love burlesque, although I am not currently performing it. I may return to it at some point but I will always be a fan of it. I got into it because it was such a celebration of the female form, and I was also a belly dancer and there are a few crossover belly dance/burlesque people like myself and the amazing Princess Farhana who is one of my best friends and my teacher. Burlesque is a lot like stand-up comedy but in dance form so it appeals to me there too. I love to go see troupes wherever they are performing and the new movement is very exciting!

Provocative humour incorporating social issues is a huge part of what you do. What is the boundary? Is there such a thing as a line, and if there is, where do you draw it?

I don’t know if there is a line. I would like to think that there really isn’t. I think that if you have compassion for people, in general, that is enough for me. I don’t ever want to be mean spirited but I also need to feel that I have an edge. And ultimately, I just want it to be funny!

Margaret talks race in I’m the One that I Want (2000) and yeah … it’s really funny.