Although Margaret Cho's latest concert film, "Cho Dependent," will close Reeling: The Chicago Lesbian & Gay International Film Festival that begins Thursday, the comedian herself cannot make the 30th annual event.
She's on the road.
In "Cho Dependent," Cho performs her stand-up and musical numbers that riff on sex, drugs, rock and roll, politics, reality TV, "sexting" and her mother. “Cho Dependent” will be shown at 6 p.m. Nov. 12 at the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave. For more info, go to reelingfilmfestival.org
The San Francisco resident spoke with RedEye on the phone about the inspiration for the project which marries her comedic and musical skills, and shared her thoughts on gay rights, “Dancing with the Stars,” hot spots in Chicago and the gayest city in America.
Was there any kind of subliminal message you were hoping to send with “Cho Dependent?”
I want people to be addicted to me! [Laughs.] I’m hoping that they get hooked and dependent upon me for all of their needs!
What inspired you to mix comedy and music in “Cho Dependent?”
I’ve really been a staple backstage at music venues and shows and I’ve been around rock n’ roll as long as I’ve been around comedy. So, this was a wonderful opportunity to do comedy with people who are amazing musicians.
Are you likely to do this again at some point?
Yeah. My focus is always going to be standup comedy but I will always return to music. To me, it’s a great passion and I have a few songs that I’ve recorded for the next album, whenever that is.
Would you ever considering just recording a straight musical CD?
I don’t think so. I think that would be weird for me. I have, I think, what it takes vocally but to me I’m such a standup comic that it would be strange to abandon that completely. I’ve sung with different bands. I’ve sung with Fiona Apple and John Bryan and Grant Lee Phillips for a while but it’s still odd not to have a comedic element.
You shot this film in Atlanta, where you also film “Drop Dead Diva.” What do you like about the ATL?
I love Atlanta because it’s so gay! I was not surprised that it would be particularly gay there but I was really surprised for it to be that incredibly gay! It’s even gayer than San Francisco in a lot of ways. There’s a queer culture in Atlanta that’s so thriving and artsy and young and political and happening. There’s stuff going on every single night. I really love my life there. I’ve been living there six months a year for the last three years. I feel really at home there.
How’s it feel to have your film close out the festival?
I’m really proud. I got to come to [Chicago] for the Gay Games a few years ago and work there. It was such an amazing time and I was so proud to be there. I’ve had great experiences working in Chicago and it’s a great honor to have my show there. It’s a beautiful thing.
What do you enjoy most about Chicago?
I think it’s everything—especially the pizza. It’s a deep-dish delight! I love how Chicago is so unabashed about its love for food.
Do you have a favorite spot?
There’s this place where you get hotdogs and they’re like mean to you! It’s kind of down where the Lakeshore Theatre was. I forgot what it’s called but you get hotdogs there and they’re super abusive and that’s all part of it. It’s like they’re really mean to you if you don’t have your order right and ready when you’re ordering!
Have you been keeping up with “Dancing with the Stars”?
Yeah, I’m upset about Chaz [Bono]. I was really rooting for him and Carson [Kressley]. I love that he did it. That was a really good thing for that show to have so much queerness. I love Ricki Lake, too. I think she’s great. We’re all hoping that Ricki takes it. I think everyone is really interesting. J.R. Martinez is really great. It’s a very eclectic cast this year. What I appreciate about it is that it’s so gay.
Politically, are you satisfied where this country is headed in terms of gay rights?
I think it needs to get better. We need to have gay marriage in every state. We need to have many more laws in place to protect us against hate crimes. There needs to be more outreach for LGBT youth.
MIKI TURNER IS A REDEYE SPECIAL CONTRIBUTOR