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Moran "Margaret" Cho (born December 5, 1968) is an Americanmarker comedian, fashion designer, actress, author, gay icon, and recording artist. Cho is best known for her stand-up routines, through which she critiques social and political problems, especially those pertaining to race, sexuality, and sex. She has also directed and appeared in music videos and has her own clothing line. She has frequently supported LGBT rights and has won awards for her humanitarian efforts on behalf of women, Asians, and the LGBT community.

In acting terms, she has played more serious parts, such as that of John Travolta's long-suffering FBImarker colleague in the action movie Face/Off. She is currently part of the hit TV series Drop Dead Diva on Lifetime Television. She plays the role of Terri, assistant to lawyer Jane Bingham.

Early life

Cho was born into a Korean family in San Franciscomarker, Californiamarker. She grew up in a racially diverse neighborhood in the 1970s and 1980s, which she described as a community of "old hippies, ex-druggies, burnouts from the '60s, drag queens, Chinese people, and Koreans. To say it was a melting pot—that's the least of it. It was a really confusing, enlightening, wonderful time."

Cho's parents, Young-Hie and Seung-Hoon Cho, ran Paperback Traffic, a bookstore on Polk Street at California Streetmarker in San Francisco. Her father writes joke books as well as a newspaper column in Seoulmarker, South Koreamarker. After Cho expressed an interest in performance, she auditioned and was accepted into the San Francisco School of the Arts, a performing-arts high school. While at the school, she became involved with the school's improvisational comedy group with actor Sam Rockwell.

Career

Early career

After doing several shows in a club adjacent to her parents' bookstore, Cho launched a stand-up career and spent several years developing her material in clubs. Cho's career began to build after appearances on television and university campuses. She secured a coveted spot as opening act for Jerry Seinfeld and was featured on a Bob Hope special. She was also a frequent visitor to The Arsenio Hall Show. In 1994, Cho won the American Comedy Award for Best Female Comedian.

All American Girl

That same year, ABC developed and aired a sitcom based on Cho's stand-up routine. The show, All American Girl, was initially feted as the first show prominently featuring an East Asian family, although the short lived sitcom Mr. T and Tina preceded it by nearly two decades.

Cho has expressed subsequent regret for much of what transpired during the production of the show.
  • After network executives criticized her appearance and the roundness of her face, Cho starved herself for several weeks; her rapid weight loss, done to modify her appearance by the time the pilot episode was filmed, caused serious kidney failure.
  • The show suffered criticism from within the U.S. East Asian community over its perception of stereotyping. Producers told Cho at different times during production both that she was "too Asian" and that she was "not Asian enough." At one point during the course of the show, producers hired a coach to teach Cho how to "be more Asian."
  • Much of the humor was broad, and at times, stereotypical portrayals of her close Korean relatives and homosexual book-shop customers were employed.


The show was quickly canceled after suffering from poor ratings and the effect of major content changes over the course of its single season.

After the show's 1995 cancellation, Cho became addicted to drugs, including alcohol. As detailed in her 2002 autobiography, I'm the One That I Want, in 1995, her substance abuse was evident during a performance in Monroe, Louisianamarker, where she was booed off the stage by 800 college students.

New Year's Rockin' Eve

At the same time All American Girl underwent a difficult period, Margaret Cho hosted the New Year's Rockin' Eve 95 show with Steve Harvey

I'm the One That I Want

Cho's career and personal life were challenging after the cancellation of the show, but Cho eventually sobered, refocused her energy, and developed new material. In 1999, she wrote about her struggles with the show in her first one-woman show, I'm the One That I Want. Cho then released her book of the same name, and the show was filmed and released as a concert film in 2000. Her material dealt with her difficulties breaking into show business due to her ethnicity and weight and her resulting struggle with and triumph over body image issues and drug and alcohol addiction.

Shows, books, music

Cho appeared in an episode of the HBO comedy Sex and the City's fourth season. The episode, titled "The Real Me," first aired on June 3, 2001, and also guest-starred supermodel Heidi Klum.

In 2002, the show Notorious C.H.O. (the title derived from slain rapper The Notorious B.I.G.) dealt with the comedian having been raised in 1970s San Francisco and her bisexuality.

In 2003, Cho made another stand-up film, Revolution, which was released in 2004.
Cho doing stand-up in June 2005


In late 2004, Cho began work on her first self-written film, in which she starred. Bam Bam and Celeste, a low-budget comedy about a "fag hag" and her gay best friend, co-starred Cho's friend and co-touring act Bruce Daniels. The film premiered at the Toronto International Film Festivalmarker in 2005. On Valentine's Day of 2004, Cho spoke at the Marriage Equality Rally at the California State Capitol. Her speech can be seen in the documentary Freedom to Marry.

In 2005, Cho started promoting and touring with her new show, Assassin. The show became her fourth live concert film and premiered on the gay and lesbian premium cable network Here! TV in September 2005. In this DVD, she notably includes herself when talking about gays, saying, "we," and, "our community." Posters for Assassin featured Cho in paratrooper gear, holding a microphone in the style of an automatic rifle, a reference to the infamous 1974 photo of heiress Patty Hearst.

Also in 2005, Cho released her second book, I Have Chosen to Stay and Fight, a compilation of essays and prose about global politics, human rights, and other topical issues. Cho launched a national book tour in support of the collection. An audio reading of the book was also released. A DVD of a live taping of the Assassin tour was released in conjunction with the book.

Cho launched "The Sensuous Woman" burlesque-style variety show tour in Los Angeles, Californiamarker on August 10, 2007, with tour dates scheduled through November 3, as of October 10. Past and scheduled tour stops after Los Angeles are Chicago, Illinoismarker and New York, New Yorkmarker. On August 10, 2007 the San Francisco Chronicle reviewed the show, Cho's work, key events in her personal life and characterized the show as, "In fact, as bawdy and bad-behaving as the cast gets, the whole show feels more like a crazy family reunion than a performance."

The premiere performance of Cho's "Beautiful" tour was on February 28, 2008, in Sydneymarker, Australia as part of the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Festivalmarker. Cho was also the Chief of Parade for the festival's annual parade along Oxford Streetmarker on March 1. During her stay in Sydney, Cho was filmed shopping for parade outfits in a drag store with Kathy Griffin and Cyndi Lauper for Griffin's reality series Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List. The episode featuring Cho aired on June 26, 2008.

After same-sex marriage became legal in California in May 2008, Cho was deputized by the City of San Franciscomarker to perform marriages there.

Cho has her own reality show, The Cho Show, which premiered on VH1 on August 21, 2008. Cho and her family and friends will also appear in an episode of NBC's new series Celebrity Family Feud, which premiered on June 24, 2008.

In September 2008, Cho released her first single, "I Cho Am A Woman," on iTunes. The song, produced by Desmond Child, will be on her debut album, Banjovi, planned for a 2010 release. The album was originally entitled "Guitarded", and artwork and website material reflected this. Around October 2009 the title was changed.Other songs Cho has written for the album include "Eat Shit and Die," a live MP3 of which was made available for free via her website in March 2009; and "25 Random Things".

Cho began work on a new series for Lifetime in 2009 in Atlantamarker entitled “Drop Dead Diva.” The show is scheduled to debut in July, 2009.

Nature of material

Cho's comedy routines are often explicit. She has covered substance abuse, eating disorders, her bisexuality and obsession with gay men, and Asian-American stereotypes, among other subjects, in her stand up.

The poster for her first one-woman show (and film), I'm the One That I Want, featured her holding her arms out as if gripping a steering wheel but with her index finger extended, an allusion to a long joke she tells involving the rides home after using digital rectal stimulation while performing fellatio in order to expedite her partner's orgasm.

Cho is also well known for discussing her relationship with her mother, particularly in imitating her mother's heavily accented speech. Her depictions of "Mommy" have become a popular part of her routine.

Political advocacy

Cho's material often features commentary on politics and contemporary Americanmarker culture. In addition to her shows, Cho also developed an additional outlet for her advocacy with the advent of Margaretcho.com and her daily weblog.

A substantial segment of her material and advocacy addresses gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender issues. When San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom directed that San Francisco's city hall issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco in 2004 (until reversed by the state supreme court), Cho started Love is Love is Love, a website promoting the legalization of gay marriage in the United Statesmarker.

Cho has also been outspoken about her dislike of former President George W. Bush. She began to draw intense fire from conservatives over her fiercely anti-Bush commentary; a live performance in Houston, Texasmarker was threatened with picketing. Although protesters never showed up, she held a counter protest outside the club until security told her she had to go inside.

In 2004, Cho was performing at a corporate event in a hotel when, after ten minutes, her microphone was cut off and a band was instructed to begin playing. Cho claims this was because the manager of the hotel was offended by anti-Bush-administration comments. Cho's payment, which was issued by way of check directly to a non-profit organization, a defense fund for the West Memphis Three, initially bounced but was eventually honored.

In July 2004 during the Democratic National Convention, Cho was dis-invited to speak at a Human Rights Campaign/National Stonewall Democrats fundraiser out of fear that her comments might cause controversy. In November 2005, she campaigned to pardon Stanley Tookie Williams, an early Crips gang leader, for his death sentence for four murders. On December 13, 2005, after exhausting all forms of appeal, Williams was executed by lethal injection at San Quentin State Prisonmarker, California.

She emceed the multi-artist True Colors Tour, which traveled through 15 cities in the United States and Canada. The tour, sponsored by the Logo channel, began on June 8, 2007. Headlined by Cyndi Lauper, the tour also included Debbie Harry, Erasure, The Gossip, Rufus Wainwright, The Dresden Dolls, The MisShapes, Rosie O'Donnell, Indigo Girls, The Cliks and other special guests. Profits from the tour helped to benefit the Human Rights Campaign as well as PFLAG and The Matthew Shepard Foundation.

On January 25, 2008, Cho officially gave her support to Illinois Senator Barack Obama for the nomination on the Democratic ticket for the 2008 U.S. presidential race. After Republican Presidential candidate John McCain announced his running-mate, Governor Sarah Palin of Alaskamarker, Cho said of Palin, "I think [Palin] is the worst thing to happen to America since 9/11."

Other projects

In 2002, Cho founded a clothing line with friend and fashion designer Ava Stander called High Class Cho. The company eventually went defunct ; however, in 2006, Cho introduced her own line of belly dancing belts called Hip Wear.

In 2004, Cho took up bellydancing and started her own line of bellydancing accessories (sold through her website). She also had extensive tattooing done to cover the majority of her back. She co-wrote and starred in a sitcom pilot based around the "Mommy" character of her stand-up, but it was not picked up. She began releasing comedic rap animated videos on her website under the moniker "M.C. M.C." (MC Margaret Cho) including the tracks "Finger" and "Roofies."

In November 2006, Cho joined the board of Good Vibrations. She co-wrote a rap song with fellow comedian Diana Yanez entitled "My Puss," which was recorded by the duo as "Maureen and Angela;" she then appeared in and directed the music video for the song. In December 2006, Cho appeared on the Sci-Fi Channel's miniseries The Lost Room as Suzie Kang, a tough, chain-smoking independent operator who will sell information to anyone about the motel room's Objects — for the right price.

In 2007, Cho appeared in The Dresden Dolls' video of their song "Shores of California," which was MC by Amanda Palmer and in The Cliks' video for "Eyes in the Back of My Head," in which she played Lucas Silveira's lover. She also voiced a character, Condie Ling, on the Logo animated series Rick & Steve: The Happiest Gay Couple in All the World. Her episodes began airing in 2007.

Recently on an episode of The Hour with host George Stroumboulopoulos, actress/comedian Cho mentioned that she loved Broken Social Scene and wishes to be a part of the band (offering to play the rainstick or the triangle). On air, Stroumboulopoulos called Kevin Drew from his cellphone and Cho made her request to join the band via his voicemail.

In April 2009, Cho appeared in a Bettie Page-inspired "Heaven Bound" art show.

Personal life

Cho married Al Ridenour, an artist involved in the production of Cacophony Society and the Art of Bleeding, in 2003. Margaret was featured in an Art of Bleeding performance in March 2006. In a Bond interview, she reveals that her marriage is "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."

Cho began getting major tattoo work done in 2006 and has become an enthusiast; as of March 2007 she estimates that 15-20% of herself is currently tattooed. One of her tattoos is of her mother. She was interviewed by comedian Dawn French in her television program Girls Who Do Comedy, which profiled thirty female comedians.

Commendations

  • In 1999, I'm The One That I Want won New York magazine's Performance of the Year award and was named one of the Great Performances of the year by Entertainment Weekly.
  • In 2000, her "E! Celebrity Profile" won a Gracie Allen Award from the American Women in Radio and Television organization acknowledging its "superior quality and effective portrayal of the changing roles and concerns of women."
  • In 2000, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) awarded her with a Golden Gate award and described her as an entertainer who, "as a pioneer, has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity."
  • In 2001, she was given a Lambda Liberty Award by Lambda Legal for "pressing us to see how false constructions of race, sexuality, and gender operate similarly to obscure and demean identity."
  • In 2003, she received a "Justice in Action" award from the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
  • In 2003, she was given an Intrepid Award by the National Organization for Women.
  • In 2004, she was awarded with the First Amendment Award from the American Civil Liberties Union.
  • In 2007, she won for Outstanding Comedy Performance in AZN's Asian Excellence Awards.
  • April 30, 2008 was declared "Margaret Cho Day" in San Francisco, CA.


Filmography



Bibliography



Discography



Tours

  • "I'm the One That I Want" (2000)
  • "Notorious C.H.O." (2002)
  • "Revolution" (2003)
  • "State of Emergency" (2004)
  • "Assassin" (2005)
  • "True Colors" (2007)
  • "Beautiful" (2008)
  • "True Colors" (2008)


References

External links




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