Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Interview With Margaret Cho: “I Had Nothing Against ‘Gay Mom'”

Margaret Cho rose to prominence in the 1990s as the protagonist of the first American sitcom with an Asian family, but after criticism of too many stereotypes and arguments with the network, All-American Girl ended after one season. Since then, the bisexual comedian has appeared in such series as “In the Body of the Enemy” and “A Deadly Call”, as well as “Sex and the City”, “30 Rock”, “Drop Dead Diva”. Recently “The Flight Attendant” causes frequent stir with very vocal and politically charged stand-up shows. We reached out to comedy icon and doggie Lucia Katerina, 53, over a video call, for her role in the comedy “Fire Island” (on Disney+ starting August 19th).

Of course, a movie like Ms. Cho, “Fire Island,” which tells a dedicated story about being gay and Asian in the United States, can’t go on without you. Was the role of the gay girlfriend of a queer group of men written for you?

One would think so, right? But in reality, the character was originally designed as a man. However, I do know comedian Joel Kim Booster, who wrote the script and played the lead, and as soon as I heard about his script, I got in touch and asked if I could be a part of the film in some way. That’s all I got right. And luckily a way was found.

As the film was released in the US, a feminist complained on Twitter that your character was just a one-dimensional cliché and that it was problematic that you were the only woman in the film…

I had to laugh a bit that someone would call a lesbian Asian-American female character a cliché. Because for my part, I don’t even know when I’ve ever seen it in a movie. At least not in mainstream romantic comedies. And that I am the only woman among all the men is very realistic in the context of this story as well. In any case, I was often the only woman in my gay circle of friends my entire life. Accordingly, I never had anything against the expression of a gay mom!

When did you find your place in this community?

Surely already in the seventies, that is, still as a child. My family had a mostly queer bookstore in San Francisco at the time, that was my world. So it was perfectly normal for me to be surrounded by homosexuals. What didn’t seem normal was that I hadn’t seen these people on TV or even in the movies. Quentin Crisp and Harvey Milk, drag queens, gay cowboys and lesbian college graduates were a natural part of my everyday life, but they seemed invisible to the rest of the world.

Did you already suspect that you too would one day identify as queer?

No, but many people around me were already convinced at that time. Even in my school some walls were written: “Margaret Cho is having a gay fight!” I didn’t even know that word then. Sure, this bullying was painful at the time, but later I could laugh about it and think to myself: Good that you all knew about it before me and told me about it.


Margaret Cho in “Fire Island”

Build: Picture Alliance

Later you were a real pioneer when it came to the representation of Asian and not least queer Asian Americans on screen, as emphasized by your young “Fire Island” colleagues Joel Kim Booster and Bowen Yang. How aware are you of this role model function?

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