The Cho must go on: Margaret Cho’s psyCHO tour

chotayMargaretCho-054Margaret Cho was a comedian even before she knew it.

“As a kid, I was thinking all these things,” Cho, 46, recalls, expounding on her surprising childhood shyness, “and when I would say them, people would laugh. I was really confused by that.”

It makes sense now, of course. Cho, after all, has turned life’s ugly truths — from political injustices to homophobia and the gory details of her colonoscopy — into 20 years of comedy gold.

Luckily, for Cho, the world is still insane. Everything happens right in front of us, in real time, and we can’t turn away. And Cho, naturally, has something to say about that. You know, along with gun control, beheadings, the Amy Schumer movie shooting, rape, female comedian sexism and the “systematic slaughter of African Americans.”

Yes, Cho is still fearless. Yes, she is still notorious. She brought her psyCHO Tour performance to North Texas this past summer, but has recently announced her fall dates as well. And she’s still tearing down the world’s wrongdoers in the fiercest and funniest of ways.

Dallas Voice: The first time I interviewed you was while I was in college. And the world, it seemed, was less fucked up then.  Margaret Cho: It’s still being fucked up. Like, I think it was always this fucked up and we didn’t know about it because we didn’t have Facebook and Twitter to alarm us every single day. I remember when you really had to look for beheading videos. You couldn’t just start playing them.

How do you — and how should we — deal with the accessibility of… everything?  I understand that there are a lot of things that need our attention, and I think maybe pick your battles. Which causes do you really want to look at and think about? I just wanna get over police brutality. That, to me, is the most pressing issue, so my thing is dashboard cam. I’m so dashboard cam/body cam; that’s what I watch for hours on end.

Your upcoming show will assess some of the serious issues we’re facing today. How do you balance comedy and sociopolitical issues?  You have to find a truth there. For me, comedy or humor is often a coping mechanism. A lot of what I’m talking about is police brutality and the different sides of it that I’ve encountered and what I see happening in the media. As a comedian, it’s a kind of alchemy that’s really the magic, you know. Something so tragic and terrible as this systematic slaughter of African Americans in this country — how do you find some way to talk about that that isn’t totally depressing?

How do you? And moreover, how do you turn it into comedy?  It’s funny, because whenever white and black people fight, Asians and Mexicans don’t know what to do. ’Cause we’re like, “Are we white? Or are we black? We just wanna pick the winning side.” For me the joke here is the gradations of how we view racism. Everybody’s a human being, so it’s very hard to figure out how to talk about it, so that’s my take on it. And I have a lot of different things that I’m talking about in the show: gun control, and also different kinds of police brutality that I’ve witnessed.

Another comedian, Amy Schumer, whose movie was playing when a gunman opened fire in a Louisiana theater, is taking on gun control as wellIt’s great.

How do you think comedy can create sociopolitical change?  Comedy now is a major player in politics. A lot of people are responsible for this, but the main ones are Jon Stewart, Bill Maher, Hannibal Buress and Stephen Colbert — now Amy Schumer. These are people who are actually changing the way we feel about politics, about who is gonna be president, about race. Comedy can really shift the way we view everything.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Margaret Cho on coming out as bi, serving as ‘prime minister of the gays’

Drop Dead Diva, EP 504

Every season, the Lifetime series Drop Dead Diva goes out of its way to include a specific gay storyline for its lawyer character. This season’s episode, which aired last night, featured a pro baseball player who is hiding his homosexuality — even though it may get him convicted of murder.

Co-star Margaret Cho and executive producer Josh Berman sat down with the media to discuss the episode, gays in sports … and whether Cho is really the prime minister of the gays.

If you missed the first several episodes, you can catch up either on-demand or on iTunes. You can watch a clip of last night’s episode here. Below is a transcript of the chat with Berman and Cho.

Question: Josh, you tackled gay proms, gay sperm … was gay sports just the next arena that you needed to dive into for this episode?  Josh Berman: Well I think gays in sports is certainly a hot topic right now. We started working on this episode before it became such a prominent issue and getting such coverage in the news. So I’m thrilled that we are hitting this zeitgeist shed again with gay and lesbian issues. I do think that, you know, sports is one of the last frontiers where men and women feel they unfortunately need to be closeted. So it was important for me to address that issue.

Margaret, you’re all over this episode whether you’re helping Stacy with sperm donors or helping Jane with her case .…  Margaret Cho: Terri is always doing anything and everything. She’s kind of like a cross between like Alfred and Batman — she’s kind of like the enabler for everything. But what I really love about this episode is that it really talks about an issue that’s very timely, which is, athletes being able to come out of the closet. And I must note that there is a lot of sexism when it comes to this kind of stuff because Martina Navratilova came out as a lesbian over 25 years ago. Martina Navratilova came out when Reagan was in office. I really want to make sure that her contribution to sports, to the LGBT presence in sports, is really noted. And I’m really, really proud of this episode because it goes into the story about how we look at men in sports and we have to sort of have an idea of who they are and what they’re supposed to be. And I think sports in general is quite a homoerotic art form unto itself. So it’s surprising that there’s not more [athletes who are] out actually, but I love this episode because it really talks about some of these very current issues.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

OUT & EQUAL: Gala dinner is a highlight of the conference

Margaret Cho

Margaret Cho entertained at the gala dinner at the Anatole Hotel on the final evening of the Out & Equal conference.

Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns received an ovation talking about his experiences over the past year and encouraging people to get involved to help LGBT youth. Comedian Kate Clinton, who emceed the dinner, said that she attended Our Lady of Psychological Warfare.

Burns speech was appropriately followed by Northrup Grumman CEO Wes Bush in what was a highlight of the evening for everyone from Dallas attending the Workplace Summit. During his talk about protecting diversity, he presented Youth First Texas with a check for $20,000. The company’s commitment to diversity was demonstrated by their top level sponsorship of the conference and the large contingency they brought to Dallas including all elected officers of the company.

Clinton acted as auctioneer and brought in about $40,000 for Out & Equal student scholarships selling items such as a trip to Paris and Berlin and a $5,000 KitchenAid shopping spree. The printed program suggested this item for anyone who needs a new whisk.

The Turtle Creek Chorale began and ended the program, singing with Wilson Cruz, best known as Angel in Rent.

Cho brought the house down when she suggested her response to evangelical-types who tell her they object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds. She said she looks at them, smiles sweetly and tells them, “My argument to this is FUCK YOU.”

The conference ends Friday afternoon.

Click here for more photos.

—  David Taffet

Celeb sightings

This year’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit boasts a healthy amount of celebrities coming to town. From actors to comedians and more, Dallas prepares not only to host a slew of workshops on equality, but also rolls out the red carpet for these guests.

Meredith Baxter:  You’ll likely remember the actress as supermom Elyse Keaton on Family Ties. But she made a new impression by coming out last year. She speaks at Wednesday’s breakfast plenary session and follows up with a book signing at Nuvo, 3900 Cedar Springs Road, on Oct. 26 at 6 p.m.

Andy Cohen:  The senior vice president at Bravo has almost singlehandedly changed the face of gays on television. That extends to these parts with the new show Most Eligible Dallas.
The Watch What Happens Live host will appear at Tuesday’s brunch plenary session.

Rick Welts:  The name may not be as familiar but Welts made front page news this year in the New York Times. The former Phoenix Suns president is the first higher-up of a men’s professional sports organization to come out.
He appears with Baxter at the Wednesday plenary.

Margaret Cho:  The comedian has long been an ally to the LGBT community and continues in appearances at such events as this. She is part of the lineup for Thursday’s gala dinner hosted by fellow comedian Kate Clinton.

Wilson Cruz:  The actor redefined the queer image on television with his work on My So Called Life. Through his acting on stage and screen, Cruz has also become an advocate for LGBT youth. He appears with Cho and Clinton at the gala dinner.

For more information on these and other guests appearing at the summit, visit

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 21, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Out & Equal conference coming to Dallas in October

In working to create inclusive and non-discriminating workplaces, Out & Equal provides resources to companies and individuals to achieve its goal. The nonprofit makes a big splash in Dallas by bringing its 2011 Workplace Summit to the area Oct. 25–28.

Through workshops and panels, professionals in diversity initiatives, human resources and more will share their practices and strategies in having, literally, an out and equal work environment.

Here is a sampling of what will be offered throughout the event:

Leadership seminars set for the summit include “Developing a Strong LGBT Ally Program,” hosted by Dr. David M. Hall, author of Allies at Work: Creating a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Inclusive Work Environment. Another scheduled session will be “Implementing Transgender Inclusion: Comprehensive Programming to Ensure Workplace Equality,” with Ann Dunkin and Jamison Green.

A-list plenary speakers include Bravo’s senior vice president of original programming and development, Andy Cohen, and transgender actress Candis Cayne on Tuesday and the recently out actress Meredith Baxter speaking on Wednesday.

The Gala Dinner is just as star-studded, with appearances by comedians Margaret Cho and Kate Clinton and actor Wilson Cruz along with remarks by Hewlett-Packard President Leo Apotheker and Fort Worth councilman Joel Burns.

With more than 140 workshops planned, Out & Equal expects more 2,500 to attend. To register for the summit, visit

— Rich Lopez

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 2, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Margaret Cho, Andy Cohen to headline Out & Equal’s Workplace Summit in Dallas

If you didn’t know already, this year’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit happens right here in town. It’s gonna be huge. But then we just found out who the keynote speakers are and were kinda blown away.

Instant Tea has learned that the celebrity roster for the Workplace Summit will include actress Meredith Baxter, trans actress Candis Cayne, comedian Margaret Cho and Bravo’s Andy Cohen. OK, Cohen sometimes drives me nuts on Watch What Happens Live, but he’s kind of a big deal. The dude isn’t just a talk show host, he’s also Bravo’s senior veep of original programming and development.

So, go to the summit because of the work O&E does, but definitely stay for the primo gay celebs willing to come here for the event. Now that’s some A-list.

The summit will be Oct. 25–28 at the Hilton Anatole. To register, go here.

—  Rich Lopez

Paula Poundstone tonight at the Majestic

Poundstoning the pavement

We love our Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho, but Paula Poundstone was right there with them on the up and up. She’s carved her own queer comedy path which comes this way. We give her props for her stand-up, but she’s crazy hilarious each week on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me trivia comedy show.

DEETS: Majestic Theater, 1925 Elm St. 8 p.m. $31–$106.

—  Rich Lopez

Weekly Best Bets

Friday 02.25

Poundstoning the pavement
We love our Kathy Griffin and Margaret Cho, but Paula Poundstone was right there with them on the up and up. She’s carved her own queer comedy path which comes this way. We give her props for her stand-up, but she’s crazy hilarious each week on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me trivia comedy show. DEETS: Majestic Theater, 1925 Elm St. 8 p.m. $31–$106.

Sunday 02.27

Is that an Oscar in your pants?
One of these men (don’t forget Javier Bardem, too) will walk away with a best actor Oscar. You can watch that at one of many gayborhood watching parties, but first, listen to Dallas Voice’s Arnold Wayne Jones and David Taffet talk Oscar on Sunday’s Lambda Weekly on 89.3 KNON at noon. We predict Colin Firth wins. Yeah, we said it.
DEETS: Airs on WFAA Channel 8 at 7 p.m. Red carpet coverage at 6 p.m.

Thursday 03.03

Be Out of the Loop by being in it
WaterTower Theatre knows how to give a theater festival. The Out of the Loop festival returns with 11 days of shows. Faye Lane’s Beauty Shop Stories, pictured, is one of the opener shows and ends with a three-day run of Robert Wuhl’s Assume the Position.
DEETS: WTT, 15650 Addison Road. $10–$20. Through March 13.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright

Lone Star Ride hires new event manager

Jerry Calumn

Calumn returns to Dallas to raise money for three ASOs including one he once worked for

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer

Officials with Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS announced this week that Jerry Calumn has been hired as the new LSR event manager. He replaces Dave Minehart, event manager since 2007, who resigned to move closer to family in Iowa.

Calumn worked for the Resource Center Dallas from 1990 to 1998. He was hired as one of the first employees at the center’s current location on Reagan Street where he headed the education department and served as clinic manager.

Since then, he has lived in Los Angeles and New York where he had a varied career.

He helped create the American Academy of HIV Medicine in Los Angeles, which turned that area of medicine into a recognized specialty. The organization has since moved to Washington, D.C.

Calumn has also worked in marketing and communications and done consultation work for both private and non-profit industry.

In addition, he began a comedy career in L.A.

“I built a show around a word-of-mouth campaign,” he said, adding that he performed in a coffee shop. His show combined improv and stand-up. He said one day Margaret Cho showed up and they developed the first gay and lesbian comedy festival, which was filmed for Logo.

He left comedy for several reasons.

“The entertainment industry is the hardest, meanest industry,” he said. “Touring is hard. It’s a difficult lifestyle.”

Before leaving the Resource Center, Calumn rode in the first Tanqueray Texas AIDS Ride in 1998 that lasted seven days. That ride began in Austin and traveled through Houston before ending in Dallas.

“It made me an avid rider,” he said.

Calumn was living in New York doing consulting work and saw an ad for the event manager position with Lone Star Ride. He said he knew then it was time to come home.

“I was looking for an interesting opportunity,” Calumn said, adding that he knew he wanted to return to non-profit work.

“I love the energy and the focus of people who work in non-profit,” he said. “It’s about the connection and altruism.”

When he was in Dallas to interview for the position, Calumn had an opportunity to connect with a number of people he had worked with in the past. He said that under the leadership of Cece Cox, he saw vitality at the Resource Center that he hadn’t seen since John Thomas led the organization.

For his first year as event manager, Calumn said he plans to concentrate on the riders. He would like to give riders the tools they need to raise money and to enlist more people to participate in the ride.

“There’s lots of room for growth,” he said.

To accomplish that goal, he has already spoken to more than a dozen riders.

Last year, much of the fundraising was done using tools associated with new media.

“Having worked in so many different kinds of media,” Calumn said, “I bring that skill set to the table.”

Not only has Calumn been a vocal advocate for people with HIV for more than 20 years, he has lived with the disease himself for the past 17 years. It is that background and personal experience that LSR board members believe make him especially well-suited for the job.

“We’re sure Jerry will bring a renewed passion and focus to fighting the stigma HIV positive men and women face in all communities,” Ride Co-Chair John Tripp said.

Tripp said that Positive Peddlers, HIV positive Ride participants, had grown over the past two years and that he expected the group to have an even stronger presence under Calumn’s leadership.

Tripp complimented Minehart and everyone who worked on the 2010 ride. He said that non-profit agencies considered it a successful year if their fundraising broke even with the year before. Lone Star Ride has a 50 percent increase in the amount distributed last year.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 4, 2011.

—  John Wright