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January 6th, 2005

High Class Cho Interview with Margaret Cho

by Kate Rigg

Co-designer and multitalented maven behind the High Class Cho clothing line, Margaret Cho is always in fashion, where fashion is the fulcrum of art, pop, alterna-culture, politics and trashy sass.

Cho started performing stand-up in San Francisco at age 16 at The Rose & Thistle comedy club above her parent’s bookstore. From that point on she has etched her way into the history books, winning comedy prizes galore and launching the first ever Asian American sitcom. Cho has toured and filmed a hat trick of one person shows starting with 1999’s smash “I’m the One that I Want” which opened to national acclaim and broke box office records, “Notorious C.H.O.,” a smash-hit 37-city national tour that culminated in a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall and her third sold out national tour, “Revolution.”

Currently, Margaret is touring with “State of Emergency”. Her most political and topical work to date, Cho took “State of Emergency” primarily through the swing states of the 2004 presidential election in an effort to get out the vote while always making people laugh.

Margaret has been honored by GLAAD, American Women in Radio and Television, the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund, PFLAG and the National Organization for Women for “making a significant difference in promoting equal rights for all, regardless of race, sexual orientation or gender identity.”

In addition to her solid comedy schedule, Cho’s alter ego MCMC, along with B Nurse B (Bruce Daniels), has completed a comedy rap album to be animated and released later this year on DVD. And as if all of that weren’t enough to keep a girl fashionably occupied, Margaret has her own clothing line, “High Class Cho.” Cho took time out of her insane in the membrane schedule to speak to SoHollywood about her forays into couture.

Katie Rigg: Hey girl what’s up?

Margaret Cho: How you doin?

KR: Good, good. Where are you?

MC: In P-Town finishing a series of shows before going to NY to shoot a film and then on tour in the states before going to England in the winter to do a show there.

KR: So, since this article has a pictorial in it and everyone can see how fly you are looking let me ask you about the whole “f*ck it” diet thing.

MC: I have lost some weight which has set off a strange wave of paranoia among people that I have either had my stomach stapled or shut off with a rubber band, or am on some freaky raw food diet.

What happened was that I was sick and tired of dieting and working out. I was sick and tired of buying clothes that were too small for me so I could ?ɬ�thin into them.’ I was sick and tired of eating 5 to 7 small meals a day. I was sick and tired of no carbs, shakes, pills, supplements, food substitutes, exercise programs. I said “F*CKING F*CK THIS, F*CK IT, SERIOUSLY F*CK IT!!!!”

I altogether lost the thought process that carried me through my life-my dieting and exercise regimen-and started thinking about the people I loved, hated, tolerated, laughed at, and laughed with. There was a lot of time to read. I wanted to watch old movies. I ate a lot of bad food. I gained some weight and it was scary. But it didn’t really make a difference. F*ck it. I stopped exercising, and started writing. I played with my dogs. I looked at stuff on EBay. I started to eat what I wanted-and kept doing it. Not a food vacation, not a respite between diets; I just was going to eat, eat and eat some more. Then, I started to get weirdly thinner. I get it now. Because I don’t care about food, it is there when I want it, I don’t crave it and want it and think about it. Since I can have everything, nothing is that important. I don’t need to eat a whole cake because I can eat a whole cake every day every meal if I want and I don’t care. I don’t prepare to eat because I might be hungry later and ?ɬ�they’ won’t have what I have to eat. When I am hungry, I eat. That is what the weird diet is.

I leave a lot on the plate because I need not clean my plate. Why? I don’t have to. And the value of not having to finish all my food, probably has been the biggest contributor to my healing around food. I used to feel like I needed to eat all of it, all and then some, but actually, it doesn’t feel good to do that. It doesn’t taste good. I can have more when I am hungry again. I never deny myself a thing because I have denied myself enough for 1000 lifetimes and there is no more denial for me in the way that I live. I deserve all the mozzarella sticks, all the chocolate, all the pizza, all the chicken a’la king, and I deserve to leave what I don’t finish on the plate.

So there you go. Big secret diet. Love. Love and the audacity to actually waste food. (editors note: Read more on the f*ck-it diet in Margaret’s online blog at www.margaretcho.com)

KR: Cool. Now everyone can look at the pictures and stop trippin’. Ok. How’d you begin designing clothes?

MC: I have always designed clothes. There is no start and no finish. I love the way fabric looks, feels; the expression of the cloth. I am a woman of the cloth! It’s just for fun right now. Selling from the site, some boutiques. I just wanted to put things out there that I was wearing and things I wanted to wear, things that were different…

KR: Did you like paint on T-Shirts and stuff like that when you were in high school?

MC: I kinda always wanted to be in catholic school. Because of the uniform thing you had to take what you had and create something from it. It was a great style experiment. You have to work with what you’re given. At my school we did have a dress code, the whole limited palette thing was actually very liberating.

KR: What is your favorite color?

MC: Right now it’s tie-dye. I’ve gotten into this whole hippie thing. You know, you can get all kinds of hand made clothes from hippies on line. I just started going on a patchwork clothes shopping spree: with mushrooms and trees and pot leaves. Composting is the new frontier-composting and hemp; to me hippies are so incredibly free that we can’t even comprehend it.

KR: You mean like new hippies?

MC: Yeah, the new ones are young, computer savvy, good at starting small businesses and they’re adept at psychotropic drugs. Everything! From building a web page to selling jewelry. They are so young and beautiful. And the High Class CHO line is changing into a more drapey feeling for next year ‘coz that is how I am feeling.

KR: What do you think of the fashion scene in SoHo?

MC: I am not too aware of the fashion scene anywhere, since I am from LA and our fashion has no real location. NY is very mysterious and shrouded in glamour because there, fashion has an address. Fashion in NY seems to be more immediate, more widespread; because everyone is there and they’re out living it.

KR: Where are the cool places to hang out in L.A.?

MC: The tattoo expo; any kind of gift show where retailers and wholesalers meet.

KR: Would you ever move here?

MC: I’d love to. I’m planning to.

KR: What do you think of fashion in general?

MC: I love clothes, and I always have. Fashion is a language, a long lost romance language.

KR: Who are your fashion collaborators?

MC: Dawn Aubert for the design of this collection; the last collection was Ava Stander.

KR: How do you go from idea to execution at High Class CHO?

MC: It is mostly just being inspired by film, people, music, dance, tribes, the world; like any other art that I do. Like writing, fashion is all the same.

KR: Do you think fashion and art are siblings? rivals? lovers?

MC: Fashion and art are one and the same. They are more like twins connected at the head.

KR: What inspired the current High Class CHO collection?

MC: This collection is all about film noir, the very darkness of the female myth. Lilith, then Eve, then Barbra Stanwyk. It is all about being pretty on the outside, because we cannot hope to aspire to inner beauty. Of course we have inner beauty, but that has been repressed so long by society that it has turned bitter.

KR: If you could dress anyone in your clothes dead or alive who would it be and why?

MC: Marlene Dietrich, she was such a dandy. Anna May Wong, she was an amazing Asian American icon and far ahead of her time. I would love to dress Madonna, but not necessarily Esther.

KR: Do your clothes have a political message?

MC: Political, yes: Beauty is a right, not a privilege, and we all have access. The clothes are friendly and hostile. Snobby and all access, formal and informal. We are all things, we have all things at our disposal.

KR: Do you have a CHO sweat shop?

MC: Yeah but I’m the only employee, it’s so sad I do every thing including order myself around.

KR: How/where do people get the clothes?

MC: They are carried in selection of boutiques, but mostly right now online at www.highclasscho.net

KR: What are your hopes for the collection(s)?

MC: I just like to make people look good. I am working on some “High Class Ass” items, couture pieces handmade by me personally. And Next is a men’s line. We are all beautiful.

Check out more fashion/news/politics and a schedule of Margaret’s upcoming shows at www.Margaretcho.com.

Filed Under: Articles | Arts & Leisure | Interview | New York

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