2 min

Caught in a fagnet

'Love one another without restraint'

NOTORIOUS FAG HAG. "I'll eat pussy if they run out of what I really want". Credit: Xtra files

If you didn’t catch Margaret Cho’s hilarious live show in Toronto last November, do not fear. The film version of Notorious CHO, a follow-up to her previous hit concert flick I’m The One That I Want, is being released theatrically across North America on Fri, Jul 5.

Notorious CHO (a title inspired by the strong woman of rap Lil’ Kim, who named her last album Notorious KIM), is 95 minutes of brand-new stories and observations of life from the perspective of an Asian-American fag hag.

“I like the term ‘fag hag’ a lot,” says Cho. “And ‘fagnet’ is good, too.”

In this one-woman tour de force, Cho contorts her funny face into impossible positions to create a vivid cast of characters, including teenaged drag queens, straight guys on the rag and a sexy dominatrix. She also delivers a good dose of her mother – a favourite character of Cho’s fans from her previous show.

“I talk a lot about queer life, because gay culture has always been a part of my experience,” says Cho, who was born in San Francisco in 1968. “I don’t put forth an image on stage. You get the real me.” The memory of two high-stepping queens, friends of Cho’s from high school now dead from AIDS, informs much of her work.

And Cho’s experiences as a visible minority help her relate even further.

“I’ve felt for so long that racial issues and sexual issues are fundamentally the same thing,” says the star of the ill-fated sitcom All-American Girl. “It’s about who we are.”

In the first half of the film, Cho touches on colonic irrigation (“It’s the shit!”), gay-vs-straight personal ads, masturbation, lesbian fisting, gay marriage, leather sex and eating pussy.

“I’ll eat pussy if they run out of what I really want,” says Cho in the film. “Pussy, although delicious, is a mess to eat. You really need a Wet Nap if you’re going to eat that.”

But the material operates on several levels. Below the raunchy surface of her routine lies the true political heart of the piece.

“In the last half of the film I speak out against body tyranny,” says Cho, “and speak for self-esteem as a political act.”

Having grown up thinking that the only work she could ever get in Hollywood might be as an extra on M*A*S*H, Cho has come a long way to change that perception and make her career a reality.

“We reject ourselves because of what society is telling us,” she says. “Self-esteem is an act of revolution, which is long overdue.”

And her message comes through loud and clear.

“The revolution can only begin when we begin to love ourselves for who we are.”

In addition to her whirlwind touring schedule and her numerous appearances at film festivals and gay Pride events, Cho is a prolific writer. She is already working on a new stage show and is developing a script for a new film – a broad comedy in which Cho will play two parts.

“I really enjoy my work,” says Cho, “and I get tired of doing the same material.”

At the end of Notorious CHO, the comic distills her message when she tells the audience: “Love yourself without reservation, love one another without restraint.”

“Unless, you’re into leather,” she adds. “Then, by all means, use restraints.”

* Notorious CHO.

Opens Fri, Jul 5.

Carlton Cinemas.

20 Carlton St.

(416) 598-2309