Interviewing Margaret Cho About Myself


Hi, kids! Like it or not, I’m now a full-blown content producer for Thought Catalog. The site has reprinted many of my articles in the past—mostly to howls of derision, waving of torches, much shirt-rending, considerable gnashing of teeth, and in many cases calls for censorship or even threats of self-censorship.

I wish you would calm the fuck down, but you may say that I’m a dreamer. I don’t care whether you approve of me as an individual, but if you refuse to give my ideas a fair hearing—this site is, after all, called Thought Catalog—then I have no choice but to consider you all a big bunch of meanies.

I first met comedienne Margaret Cho about a dozen years ago. She was about one of five people who showed up at a bar in LA’s Silver Lake neighborhood to attend a reading of my book Shit Magnet on Halloween in 2002. I also attended one of her shows behind enemy lines at Reed College in Portland shortly thereafter. And that was the last time I’d talked with her since yesterday. She’s always been nice and gracious and far more tolerant of me than many of you perpetually outraged social-justice hamsters.

That’s why I thought it best to turn my first Thought Catalog-exclusive article into a relatively gentle introductory piece whereby I use a Korean pansexual gay-rights activist and Obama cheerleader as a human shield. Perhaps she will be able to succeed where I’ve failed and convince you that although I may think differently, I am indeed a living, breathing, feeling, and perhaps even hypersensitive human being rather than the fire-breathing Golem many of you seem to think I am.

I didn’t intend for the interview to be mostly about me rather than her, but that’s the way the discussion went. I met up with her in Peachtree City, GA, where she was in town to film an installment of cable show Drop Dead Diva. We did a couple hours of catching up before I started recording.

Over 49 minutes, we covered the following subjects:

• Why she tolerates my existence
• Whether Quentin Tarantino based his screenplay for Natural Born Killers on my magazine ANSWER Me!
• My problems with Koreans
• Asian stereotypes
• What it means to be “pansexual”
• Public shaming
• The future of American race relations

The transcript below covers only the first three minutes of the interview. The complete audio file follows the transcript. Enjoy! And again—CALM THE FUCK DOWN! I mean it!

TC: You’re known as a liberal activist.

MC: Mm-hm.

TC: A feminist.

MC: Yes.

TC: Very pro-gay?

MC: Yes.

TC: Voted for Obama?

MC: Yes.

TC: Twice.

MC: Campaigned for Obama, actually.

TC: Campaigned for Obama.

MC: But then I got fired from the campaign because I, um, said some really rude things about Sarah Palin, and so I was, um, quickly…deleted.

TC: What did you say about Sarah Palin?

MC: Well, I said that I really don’t like her politics but I really want to fuck her.

TC: Wow.

MC: And, um, you know, I just, it was really rude. I shouldn’t say things like that about people, but I mean, you know—

TC: —it’s better than making fun of her kid.

MC: Well, I did meet, well Bristol, one of her children, much later, and I was so embarrassed to meet her, ’cause I’d said these horrible things about her mother.

TC: She’s got a nice set of “Bristols” on her, though.

MC: She’s a beautiful girl. She looks just like Sarah. She’s got the Palin face and she’s a gorgeous girl.

TC: Well, the thing is, I mean, there’s a whole “progressive” package there.

MC: Yeah, you can see where the apple does not fall that far from the tree.

TC: Well, I mean with you, like, the politics.

MC: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. For sure.

TC: So the first question is, why would you even talk to me?

MC: Well, I’ve been a fan of yours since, I would say, 1992 or 93?

TC: For [my magazine] ANSWER Me!?

MC: For ANSWER Me!, and I have all of the separate issues of ANSWER Me!, and then I also have the compendium much later when you put them all together in one big book, and then—because I always, I always really appreciated your voice. I mean, I felt like it wasn’t political in a way that I had experienced. It was—you were experiencing and relating all truth, that it wasn’t just one side. It was all sides, as you experienced it, and I appreciated that.

TC: ‘Cause we were talking earlier. I kind of have a “tolerance problem”—not me tolerating people—people tolerating me?

MC: We’ll, people get really mad at you. People get really angry with you, and I remember seeing you once you came to a show of mine at Reed [College] in Portland.

TC: Yeah.

MC: And, um, I think you were scared, because you were coming right into the epicenter—

TC: —belly of the beast.

MC: The belly of the beast, and you had already had a lot of problems in Portland because of your, I guess, image, but also things that you’d written—

TC: —actions.

MC: Your actions. You know, you also have incredible defenders in Portland like myself, like Chuck, um, who, you know, we’re—

TC: —Chuck Palahniuk.

MC: Yeah. We’re both, um, considered I guess, liberal people, but we see behind this idea of what people have about you.

TC: Well, he was easily the most famous writer in Portland, and what I admired was he was willing to say that I was a human being.

MC: Yeah.

TC: Whereas most people weren’t.

MC: But you’re a really profound human being, and I feel excited getting to hang out with you, but I’ve also been a fan for a long time, and I know that it’s hard, because people have a preconceived notion about what you do, and I feel like they don’t really know all the things that you’ve been through, they don’t know your entire story.

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