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Buy one of the following Margaret Cho items from amazon.com:

'Drunk With Power' (1996 comedy album)

'I'm the One That I Want' (2000 concert film)

'I'm the One That I Want' (2001 book)

'Notorious C.H.O.' (2002 concert film)

'Notorious C.H.O.' (2002 comedy album)

'Revolution' (2003 comedy album)


Photograph by David Kramer

Cho Business: One of Margaret Cho's first standup gigs was at Club St. John, where Blue Tattoo now stands.

Revolution Rock

Hello, God? It's Margaret Cho and she wants to change the world.

By Todd Inoue

MARGARET CHO is just as qualified as Arnold to run the state. She has done drugs, had bizarre sex and fired guns in a movie (Face/Off). When asked why she didn't enter the governor's race, the comedian responds in usual fashion: quick, biting and politically astute.

"I didn't want to create any more of a freak show and distract voters from the fact there shouldn't have been a recall anyway," Cho says, by phone from her Glendale home. "If we're going to recall an election, we should recall the presidential election. If any election was conducted unfairly, it was the presidential election."

Like Schwarzenegger, Margaret Cho's shady past has become public knowledge: Korean-American from San Francisco works on her comedic chops, finds acceptance among gay community, gets a primetime television show that bombs, then, in the aftermath, spirals into a pit of alcohol and drugs. She experiences racism, sexism, kidney failure, homophobia and lots of bad lays before arriving at self-acceptance, the subject of two acclaimed concert films I'm the One That I Want and The Notorious C.H.O.

Now 34, Cho continues to rock the microphone on her latest tour, dubbed Revolution. Cho feels she isn't running on a full tank. Her drug and painkiller addictions, well documented in I'm the One That I Want, has lead to some long-term effects, she says.

"For sure, I can feel it. Brain cells, I believe, don't regenerate. Even though we have an infinite amount of them, you can do a lot of damage in a short amount of time. There are words that elude me that I can't find in my head. There's a word I need to express and there's a perfect word that will blow your mind if I say it, but I can't fucking find it, and it's in my Rolodex in my head. It's lost under some weird prescription painkiller I took in 1989.

"There's that feeling where I know that I have stuff in my mind that is really important and valuable, but I can't access it because I broke that channel because I did so many drugs," she adds. "Sometimes it's fun to be stupid and not know, because you're absolved of responsibility. On the other hand, I wish I had this arsenal of information and capacity of thought that I don't have anymore."

This comes as a shock because her raging observations on life and politics remain sharp and funny. She is a habitual blogger (www.margaretcho.com/blog), letting the world peek into her short-circuited brain as she riffs on everything from Rush Limbaugh (oddly, she sympathizes) to hip-hop (loves it) to Queer Eye for the Straight Guy (digs it).

"I [blog] every day," she says. "I get a lot of time to tell my stories and a lot of opportunities to go off on shit that makes me mad and stuff that's profound and sad. It's an important part of my work and of what I do. I always wrote but never thought about putting it out on a blog. It's an opportunity to put something out there daily."

Revolution is like an extended blog, going off on topics of body acceptance, race, sex and homophobia. Despite the serious core of the rants, her valley girl up-talk sneaks into her routines, lending a giddy element of hilarity. Revolution is considered her most controversial show yet, building around the idea that regime change begins not from a recall election but from within each one's self.

"I want the idea of self-revolution; that our personal revolutions are as valid as any country's," she says. "We are unto ourselves our own nation, with our own values, our own bill of rights, our own need to really be heard from. I'm trying to impress that image; we are all revolutionaries and we have a right to that revolution."

Margaret Cho appears at 8pm on Friday (Oct. 24) at the Flint Center, 21250 Stevens Creek Blvd., Cupertino. Tickets are $29.50-$40 and available through Ticketmaster. For more information, call Flint Center box office at 408.864.8816.

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From the October 23-29, 2003 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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