BY Brandon Voss
July 21 2009 12:00 AM ET
Why did you also cover "Weird Fishes" by Radiohead?â€¨ I love that song. I believe more in the Holy Spirit than in the Father and the Son. I think that our souls or spirits are energy, and our energies are essentially floating around when we're not incarnated into human form. But when we're in human form, our spirits are contained in these bodies that give us the opportunity to reach out and physically connect with other spirits. It's really abstract, but I think that's what that song is about. It's such a romantic notion that the only time you're ever able to physically connect with a beloved is when you're alive. That tangible connection is one of the greatest gifts of being alive, and that song expresses that idea so beautifully.
In addition to singing, your live shows are known for your witty yet thoughtful anecdotes and observations. Do you prepare topics in advance or is it a very "Jesus, take the wheel" situation?â€¨ It's a combination of both. I always think of my monologues as jazz; I have the theme and the outline, but then I just go off on variations, try new things, and see what happens. It makes it really fun. Sandra Bernhard does that, and that's why I love to see her perform repeatedly. If she's at Joe's Pub I'll go maybe three times so I can see how she changes her act each night, because it's so interesting to watch her work.
Is anything in current events worthy of a riff at your EP release concert?â€¨ The only thing I've been obsessing on is something I read recently about the treatment of trans and gay people in Iraq. The police there are rounding up homosexuals in Iraq and gluing their assholes shut with this very strong glue that's produced in Iran. Then they feed them some sort of food or medication that makes them have to shit. As they go to the hospital, a lot of times they're refused treatment because they're gay, so they die. This happened to, like, dozens of people in the past year and a half or something, and it has me so upset. I have to think of something funny or amusing because people don't want to hear about that, but I also feel compelled to mention it because it's the most horrible thing I've read in a long time. I was just interviewed by this woman in London who said something like, "Your work is very superficial fabulousness and camp haute couture, and yet I feel there's this level of deep emotion that surprises me." And I said, "Well, I don't think fabulousness and camp are superficial because people are being murdered around the world constantly for being fabulous and camp." Any type of feminine, outrageous, or unusual expression is basically license to kill.
You've always been very outspoken when it comes to transgender politics. You even criticized those you called "privileged white people" and "disgusting sell-out pigs" of the Human Rights Campaign in New York magazine. Do you feel like you're helping to mend the gap between the transgender and gay communities?â€¨ Maybe there's been progress, but I don't think assimilationist gay men see trans people as their advocates. It seems like they're always going to be at an impasse until they learn to love and respect each other's differences, but that's a lot harder for rigid people who think in linear terms. People who aspire toward mainstream normality have philosophies that are in lines, squares, rectangles, and boxes; other people's way of thinking is more circular. It doesn't have anything to do with your gender or sexual preference; it's just the way you are. It's like the difference between Democrats and Republicans: They just don't understand each other, and there's no way to bridge that divide. I don't know if it'll ever be great, but if you can't talk to someone to get them to do the right thing, you have to shame them into it. The HRC talks about how they're inclusive, and they put "T" on the end of things, but there's not one mention of trans people in any of their literature. The letter "T" makes it look like they're doing the right thing, when in fact they aren't, because they just don't care. And saying that they just don't care is actually being generous.
Does Chaz Bono have potential to bring positive visibility to the trans community?â€¨ I don't know if he should be their poster child, but if Chaz is male-identified, then there's no other question that needs to be asked. If that's the path he's on, it's our job to honor it. I don't know Chaz Bono, but you hear stories of butch lesbians who are having a hard time with all these other lesbians becoming men, and a lot of people think it's just about basic misogyny and an attempt to access male privilege. I've been lovers with FTMs, and it's true: They can pass and they do all of a sudden have access to male privilege. For them it's a great thing, so you can't blame them for enjoying that. It's a complicated issue, but good for Chaz for taking the steps.
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