MARGARET CHO GOT MARRIED
SHE'S THE FEARLESS, HILARIOUS COMEDIAN-ACTIVIST-PERFORMER whose role models range from Richard Pryor to Rosie O'Donnell to women who've been in jail. Margaret talks about her wedding day, a gown bought on eBay and something called a Gnostic ceremony.
Dave Carpenter: Margaret, would you describe your marriage to your husband (artist) Al Ridenour as a nontraditional or alternative marriage?
Margaret Cho: No, it's very conventional and conservative, I think. I mean we're such weird people that people just can't imagine that we would have a conventional marriage. But, yeah, we are very conventional.
"I like women who have been to jail."
DC: What was your wedding day like?
MC: We had two ceremonies. One was a traditional Korean ceremony where the bride and the groom wear – we wore – these traditional Korean outfits. Mine has been handed down from generation to generation, like this very elaborate wedding gown that's got wings, these wings on it, and it's just huge. It's very strange looking with all these different colors. And we had a live rooster and a hen as part of the ceremony, which my parents actually left at my house. They’re so irresponsible. They left them there, and we had to take them to the humane society, which is terrible. Then, we had this ceremony where you have dates and you throw the dates into the bride's skirt and however many dates she catches, that's how many children that she's supposed to have.
DC: How many did you catch?
MC: I caught four, although I haven't had those children yet. I don't think I will.
DC: So what was your second ceremony like?
MC: It was a Gnostic ceremony, which was similar to a traditional wedding ceremony. So I had two different wedding gowns – the other was from the turn of the century from a museum. It was 1900's Victorian with this huge bustle and corset I bought from eBay. It was so uncomfortable.
DC: What's the coolest wedding you've ever attended?
MC: My wedding was the best wedding I've ever gone to. It was the coolest and the most interesting and the most fun. Everybody else's I've been to was just horrible. It's always horrible when you invite everybody that you've ever known to your wedding.
DC: What's your relationship with your family like?
MC: They're great. They're very supportive. They're just amazed by my career and my existence in this sort of world. What I do is very amazing to them.
DC: Isn't your dad a joke writer or something like that?
MC: He's an author and a bookseller. He runs a book store in Korea, and also imports English language books to Korea. He's written a book of jokes, like a compendium of jokes for speakers, but he's not a joke writer per se.
DC: So you're pretty outspoken about same-sex marriage…
MC: I'm always doing different kinds of fundraisers. I was involved with Wedrock, which was the big benefit in support of same-sex marriage that happened in LA and New York. I'm always looking to do fundraising around those issues. I think they're so important. I don't understand why it's so impossible for people in this country to grasp it. It's so unfair to me. Hopefully we'll change that. It's so upsetting.
DC: Do you see it changing anytime soon?
MC: Yeah, I think so. I think things have to change. I think that people have to wake up to how ignorant it is and how homophobic it is. It's got to change soon.
DC: Do you have any role models?
MC: Um… I love Oprah. And I love Whoopi Goldberg. And I love Madonna. I think they're great. Oh, and Björk, I love her. I think they're all great women, great artists and great people. I love Rosie O'Donnell. I think she's cool.
DC: What do you like about Rosie?
MC: She's so outspoken, and because of that it makes her very controversial. I don't always agree with what she says but I think she's cool. So… there are people like that. I don't know, there are lots of different people – I like Martha Stewart. I like Lil' Kim. I like women who have been in jail.
DC: Have you ever been to jail?
MC: No. Which is strange because I do a lot of sort of civil disobedience and protest things and I've never been arrested.
DC: You got lucky.
INTERVIEW BY DAVE CARPENTER / PHOTO AUSTIN YOUNG