Margaret Cho has precisely detailed every second of her first colonic onstage and written a rap song extolling the virtues of her vagina called “My Puss,” so her latest venture — a Saturday night chat show on TLC called All About Sex — is a logical next step for the hilarious comic with the gift for confessing everything. But the show (which airs at 11 p.m.) isn’t her only platform these days: Inconsolable about the death of her friend Robin Williams, Cho launched the #BeRobin campaign to comfort the homeless and will shoot a brand-new stand-up special this March. Rolling Stone caught up with her in a New York hotel bar to talk about everything from elevator fights to Joan Rivers to the secret to portraying a North Korean dictator.
Is it weird nobody has paid you expressly to talk about sex before?
Well, I do it a lot in my stand-up comedy. It’s something that has been a great adventure of mine and something that I take a lot of pride in. I always wanted to do a late-night talk show about sex in a very frank manner that had an educational bent, with something of a party atmosphere so nobody was ashamed. It’s sort of like conversations you would have with your older sister, or the school slut. Somebody that knew what was happening. We need that person out there.
And you’re on right after Sex Sent Me to the ER.
I’m so proud. What’s interesting about that show is when people come into the ER, they won’t tell the doctor what happened because they’re so ashamed. I want to let go of that shame and embarrassment. I think the most brilliant person at that was Dr. Sue Johanson. She was so direct and so no-nonsense about sex, it was really cool.
After seeing the burlesque show you did a few years ago, it’s clear you really are committed to putting every part of yourself out there.
My origins in sexuality were really difficult. I’m a rape victim, I was sexually abused as a child, I had really terrible experiences throughout my adolescence and a lot of shame about my body. As a response I just got really tattooed and open with showing my body, just to give comfort to anybody who feels body shame so they can see what a real woman’s body looks like. A woman who doesn’t diet, who doesn’t exercise, who doesn’t curb her appetite in any way — this is what that looks like. I feel sexy about it.
I want to put together a pissed-off group of really angry women who will go [to Nigeria]. We’ll get Oprah to charter us a plane.
There were a lot of sex scandals in 2014, and you were saying earlier you respected the Canadian women who came out about Jian Ghomeshi.
What’s so great about Canadian women is they came forward and said their names. It’s next-level shit. Canadian women can teach American women a lot about coming forward and honesty. We blame the victim, like with Janay Rice. I’m like, Ray Rice is an asshole, we have video proof, but people were blaming Janay, like why did she stay? Maybe they had Book of Mormon tickets. Sometimes when you’re in abusive relationships you want to get out, but “I really want to see Celine Dion, so I’m not going to jeopardize this.” My whole new stand-up show is about how can we stand up against violence against women. I’m going to film it here in New York in March. It’s called “There’s No I in Team, But There Is a Cho in Psycho.”