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The Bawdy Beautiful

A stand-up Margaret Cho gets low-down in her new concert film.

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Warning: Margaret Cho is not for the prudish — or squeamish. In her new movie, Notorious C.H.O. (a stand-up performance filmed live at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre in 2001), the 33-year-old bisexual Korean-American comedian fearlessly riffs on ”anything and everything,” including colonics, menstruation, kinky sex acts, and, of course, her own heavily accented mother. After a hopping weekend of Gay Pride festivities in New York, Cho sat for a chat.

— This movie’s a lot raunchier than your first one [2000’s I’m the One That I Want]. What’s up with all the sex?

[Laughs] Last year, when I was writing the show, I was involved with so many different people, in different types of sexual situations. It was this really strange period where I just got so much action it was kind of unbelievable. I think it had to do with being 33 and coming into a kind of sexual peak. [I was] with a guy who was very sexist sexually, and that made me want to talk about the lack of symmetry in male-female relations. In sexy movies, it’s seamless and glorious, [but] it’s just not like that when I do it, and I wanted to talk about my frustration there.

— During audience interviews at the end of the movie, a female John Goodman look-alike offers to help you find your G-spot. Did she?

No! I couldn’t find her anywhere. She was like, gone, so I was kind of disappointed.

— You’ve spoken a lot about your admiration for rappers like Lil’ Kim, Eve, and Missy Elliott. Given the title of your show, any chance we’re going to hear you rhyming soon?

I don’t think so. I have the worst rhymes — nonrhyming rhymes.

— But rapper or not, you are a diva, aren’t you? Your fans certainly think so.

I don’t think I am because I cut my own hair. [Laughs] And I do it really bad — with kitchen scissors. I won’t go to a salon. I mean, of all people, I should be going to a salon! All the gay men I know scold me time and time again. But I think it’s an incredible thing to be considered [a diva] and I’m honored. I just don’t think I’m a very good one.

She loves it. She’s really into it, and she’s very famous at her golf club. Everybody knows her. Everybody wants to play golf with her.

— You talk about your first colonic in this show — are you hooked now?

I love it. I don’t go regularly, but if I could do it myself, I would. It seems like you could just get an attachment for your vacuum cleaner, but I guess it doesn’t work that way.

— You’re very vocal about the status of Asian Americans in entertainment. Are there areas you feel are still closed off to you?

My favorite movies are those big Merchant Ivory costume dramas, and I probably will never get to be in one because of the way those things are cast — you just never could have an Asian woman. The one thing I’d love to do is wear a corset. That would be my dream. But, I mean, I live my dream.

— Any desire to work in TV again? [Cho’s 1994-95 ABC sitcom, All-American Girl, was canceled after 19 episodes.]