Listen to This: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby! with Margaret Cho
The team behind I’m Sorry is so excited to share Raised by Ricki, hosted by Ricki Lake herself alongside TV personality and digital creator Kalen Allen. In this episode, iconic comedian, actress, and musician Margaret Cho joins Ricki and Kalen to talk about sex work, sex positivity, and how society’s views on all things sex have evolved since the 90s. She talks about her time as a phone sex worker, how working at a leather dildo shop kickstarted her LGBTQIA+ advocacy, and her memories of how The Ricki Lake Show handled sex-related topics in the 90s – and what she thinks a Ricki Lake Show episode about sex work would look like today.
In the 1990s, a generation of kids, teens, and young adults got home, kicked off their sneakers, and settled down in front of the TV to watch Ricki Lake. Raised By Ricki revisits the 90s iconic talk show, The Ricki Lake Show, and the era to which it belonged. Part rewatch podcast, part cultural retrospective, and mostly hilarious, join Ricki and Kalen each week along with cultural icons like John Waters, Rosie O’Donnell, and Andy Cohen, past producers, former guests, former audience members and more. Drop your backpack at the door, pop a Hot Pocket in the microwave, and look back on the days where we were all raised by Ricki – and introduce her to a whole new generation today.
For more Raised By Ricki, click here: https://link.chtbl.com/RaisedbyRickiPodcast.
Please note, this show contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all listeners.
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Ricki Lake, Kalen Allen, Margaret Cho
Ricki Lake 00:13
Hello, kids, we are back for another episode of Raised by Ricki, I, of course, am Ricki Lake.
Kalen Allen 00:19
And it’s your boy, Kalen Allen.
Ricki Lake 00:25
And Kalen, you crack me up. You are one of the funniest people I know. You consider yourself a comedian.
Kalen Allen 00:32
No, it is so funny. You say that because people ask me this all the time, and I consider myself to be a comedic entertainer. I know how to perform comedy. Now, in a world do I believe that I could practice and figure out how to do stand-up? Yes. But if I did stand up all my funniest like stand up style jokes are always inappropriate. Really? Like there are a lot of times that I come up with jokes and I’d be like, damn, I’m never seeing heaven.
Ricki Lake 01:04
I know. I have conversations with my husband that actually just stay exactly. Are you good at improv? I’m terrible at improv. Really? Yeah, I’m not good. If I have to, if I have to be funny, you know, I can tell stories and I can be funny, but that is a different kind of skill set. I guess on my show. I used to be like, it was all quick on my feet. But it wasn’t to be funny. It was to tell a story. It was to bring on drama. It was you know; it was different than improv. I used to be like in the late 80s When I very late 80s. When I moved to California for the first time I became a groundling groupies, you know the Groundlings. It’s an improv group. It’s they have a theater on Melrose. And I mean, Kristen Wiig Will Ferrell, Cheri Oteri. Paul Reubens, you name it like all the best of the best. Are you googling right now? But yeah, are you impressed with that list of people there? Who impresses you?
Kalen Allen 01:59
I mean, Kristen […]
Ricki Lake 02:01
Melissa McCarthy, Rachel Harris. Cheryl Hines. I mean, there’s the list of women. Lisa Kudrow and I used to sit in the theater and just like be a wannabe.
Kalen Allen 02:12
That makes me think a second stage too.
Ricki Lake 02:15
Also UCB the Upright Citizens Brigade which Rachel Bloom. I’m obsessed with I really? I’m obsessed. I’m a I think she is so that shows and specifically that crazy ex-girlfriends my favorite television show of all time.
Kalen Allen 02:33
Have you ever met her?
Ricki Lake 02:34
I did an episode of; I sang with Amber Riley. I know Amber’s dream ghosts, like kinda like Dream Girls, you’re gonna find it. It was magic. I loved every minute of it. And that that show is really brilliant.
Kalen Allen 02:46
I think also, I think when it comes to comedy, I think for me personally, the people that I regard, or like the physical comedic actors like the Eddie Murphy’s, I talked about this all the time. Jim Carrey should have won the Oscar for the Grinch. These are spectacular performances that I feel like I love them to Jim Carrey. I think Raven Simone deserves so much more credit for her comedic chops. Is that So Raven channel?
Ricki Lake 03:20
I was a little too old for that. I never got into that. But I’ll take your word for it. Yeah, there’s certain people that are so good with timing, like can just deliver and deliver.
Kalen Allen 03:33
Well, and that’s why I always say comedic entertainer, because that’s what I get. I know timing because comedy is all about rhythm. If you don’t have rhythm, it doesn’t work. Syntax and diction also matter when it comes to a joke or being able to land a punch line. A lot of people don’t understand that.
Ricki Lake 03:51
Now we, you and I may not be stand-up comedians, per se but today, we’re talking with basically a legend one of my favorites from stage and screen Margaret Cho. I’ve known her kind of like not well, but I feel like we’re friends. You know, I’ve known her for a while but I’m so excited to talk to her.
Kalen Allen 04:08
I am you know, I actually worked with Margaret once on a panel at Netflix when I lived in Los Angeles.
Ricki Lake 04:16
Well, we’re going to talk with her we have questions about her time as a sex worker and we want to talk to her about some of the sexier Ricki Lake shows does that sound good? Wait, who’s with you?
Margaret Cho 04:42
This is Luccia.
Ricki Lake 04:47
Thank you both for joining us today. Oh, cute. Very happy to have you.
Margaret Cho 04:50
Ricki Lake 04:51
Margaret Cho, I’ve loved I’ve known you for a long, long, long time. Yeah, both personally a little and professionally. We’ve worked together indirectly like masked singer and crazy stuff, but you. I also want to take this opportunity to make a public apology to you. Why? Because you are on my lap, not the original talk show. I don’t think you were ever on the OG Ricki Lake Show. But you were on my last talk show that only ran for one year. Do you recall? Do you have any recollection of me? And my, maybe my hosting skills or that lack layer thereof on that day?
Margaret Cho 05:30
No, you’re amazing. I don’t know what you’re talking about. Like, you’re an icon. And I have loved you for so long. So I don’t know exactly what you’re getting at.
Ricki Lake 05:40
I’m not even fishing for compliments, but thank you, but it Okay, so let me explain. Let me paint the picture. So I went back to do a second talk show. Because, you know, I felt like it evolved. And they came to me with you know, wanting to go back on the air. And I made this decision with this specific company to do more of like a, like a Phil Donahue type of show that I wanted my provocative elevated content for people. You know, I just after making my documentaries, I wanted to focus more on like, real, like, impactful, hopefully and not like meaningless, not a meaningless hour anyway, cut to I get in bed with this company that assures me that’s what they want to do, too. We were not a good fit, I was miserable. And I started medicating on that job. At the very end of the season, when I knew the show was being canceled. I started using cannabis, which is not something other than I guess I use it in this podcast in this job, but I was not prone to using cannabis during the work hours. And it just got harder and harder at the end of this thing. And maybe I’m telling too long winded of a story of this, but I just remember having you on the show someone I really admire and look up to and I wasn’t even present. Like I couldn’t even I feel like I was like on the couch with you. It was so awful. And I just felt like she must have thought to yourself what a fucking quack. And anyway, so I apologize for being unprofessional in that moment.
Ricki Lake 05:42
You know what I’ve done so many drugs I don’t even have that memory in my hard drive. That was deleted so I have no idea I mean, like I mean I really have brain damage from drug use not just cannabis all sorts.
Ricki Lake 07:17
My brain is damaged from the use of Ambien over the years. I don’t know.
Margaret Cho 07:23
I ate a whole banana cream pie on A and B and I’ve like really eaten a lot of Murray calendars inventory. Yeah, both hot and cold pies. Ambien and Marie calendar should do a cola.
Ricki Lake 07:36
I mean, I actually once on that drug with a little alcohol I signed up to eHarmony while I had a boyfriend and didn’t even know what I was doing. I mean it was one of those things you know if you first of all I’m Jewish. So the harmony you know, that is not the right outlet for me to look for love was particularly while I’m in in relationship and I feel that that extensive. It’s like an hour long profile. And I didn’t remember it the next day I had no idea and the boyfriend at the time found it on my computer like in a shortcut the eHarmony like I kept getting matches. I thought it was spam. No, I’d signed up to this thing. I went back and looked at my profile I had filled out yes, my favorite book is The Kite Runner. Just did the whole thing.
Margaret Cho 08:22
I tried to adopt a child, girl I sign up to like some Christian adoption aid.
Ricki Lake 08:39
Margaret Cho 08:41
It’s so strange. That drug I can’t use any kind of sleep anything. Because I love any kind of sleep drugs. So that’s actually one of my basically bottom lines is I cannot do any kind of sleep drug.
Ricki Lake 08:53
I’m a gummy girl. I’m a cannabis gummy every night, all night. I love it every day. I also grow weed too. I became a cannabis like connoisseur. Honestly, I don’t know I’m connoisseur. But I’m definitely like a daily user. I’m an advocate. I made a documentary about it. But like back when I did my show back when I was your age Kalen, Kalen is 26 by the way Margaret, he didn’t grow up with the Ricki Lake Show but he’s definitely like taking the cliff note version on this job. I love it. But yeah, I was the Nancy Reagan like disciple just say no to drugs like I was fear filled. I was very judgmental. It freaked me out and then yeah, and then I I’ve evolved and you know cannabis, I’m a huge I just I just love that medicine and it’s helped me with my sleep and my time with my husband. It’s amazing. Anyway, let’s talk about sex workers. Let’s talk about because on my old show, and you talked about me in some of your routines with my show. Do you remember that?
Kalen Allen 09:59
So you are a fan of the Ricki Lake show, you watched?
Margaret Cho 10:01
I loved it. I love I mean; I love Ricki just because I think that we were really outspoken in the 90s. We were the few women out there who had body, yada, yada, yada yadi, we had curves, we had opinions. And I really always felt very connected with you. And of course, there’s also the Chicago connection with all the funny people like from the real Brady Bunch, and you know, it’s theater. So we had a connection there. But also, I mean, I’ve just been a fan for so long. So yes, I watched the show and everything, everything.
Ricki Lake 10:41
Do you remember how we used to portray, you know, sex workers prostitution, we did a number of those shows back then. Well, it was
Margaret Cho 10:49
more like I think sex work has always been portrayed as something that people would participate in not necessarily by choice, that most of the focus was on survival sex work, or sex work that you would do, because there were no other options. Whereas my experience was sex work. I did a phone sex when I was a teenager, which was really hard. It’s hard to keep somebody on the phone until they know. And you got to keep talking.
Ricki Lake 11:19
How long would it take? I mean, what on average?
Margaret Cho 11:21
I was never good at it. So they move me to recorded phone sex, so that I would be recording these like screams.
Kalen Allen 11:29
And where were you living at this time? Okay, so you’re living in San Francisco, and what was your initial reaction to the job?
Margaret Cho 11:38
I really enjoyed it because it was, it really taught me how to do ADR taught me how to work in a recording studio, it was my first experience in recording studio. So from then I’ve gotten a lot of voiceover jobs. I mean, to this day, I am still doing a lot of jobs in animation. And because of my experience doing that, like I learned how to sync sound to modulate my voice to podcast even. So you learned how to speak. So I don’t have a negative thought about it. But it was definitely sex work.
Ricki Lake 12:12
Did you feel empowered in any way? Or did you feel objectified?
Margaret Cho 12:17
No, I because it was not really about anything except talking. You know, I just felt like a channel for this kind of energy. Because I would walk past all the girls talking on the phone because there was a huge office, and they would all have these cubicles. And they’d be talking to guys trying to get them to stay on the phone as long as possible. Every cubicle there was something different going on if there was one girl like slapping her hand in one cubicle, and there was another one screaming and everybody had a different like, sort of brand.
Ricki Lake 12:50
What was your specialty?
Margaret Cho 12:52
mine was English as a second language as sex talk. So I would use very simple structures of sentences like noun verb. Sentences that were really just like for people learning English. Just getting started in this language.
Ricki Lake 13:12
That is so interesting to me.
Kalen Allen 13:15
I would think the office was pretty chaotic. Yeah, be able to be honest. And you got all these different noises and sounds happen?
Margaret Cho 13:24
Yes. So very chaotic. But then, at the end of the hall, they had the recording studio. So that’s where I would sit and I would just do these things about my name is Mandy. I have blonde hair. My eyes are blue. My breasts are 36 Double D.
Kalen Allen 13:44
So you had to play like a White woman?
Margaret Cho 13:45
I was always White. Wow, because if you’re learning English, I guess the emissary should be a sort of blond haired, blue eyed White woman.
Ricki Lake 13:59
You we’re in high school, you’d already finished high school at this point?
Margaret Cho 14:02
I had dropped out. So I dropped out about 16. So I was probably like, 1617. I was definitely not old enough to be there. But since it was not actually talking to anybody. And it was sort of all under the table. I don’t know exactly if it was illegal or not. I’m not sure because at that time, we didn’t have the sorts of thoughts about oh, is this illegal? Because it was an actual contact with any.
Kalen Allen 14:26
Margaret, this is a movie and I want to know what.
Ricki Lake 14:30
Did your mom know?
Margaret Cho 14:31
My mom did not know. And when I told her about it later, she didn’t really understand so oh, so then you English teacher?
Ricki Lake 14:49
My gosh, that’s crazy. All right. Let’s take a break. We’ll be right back. Okay, let’s talk about your advocacy work because you have been an advocate forever of sex positivity and the LGBTQIA+ and their rights. How did you first get into it?
Margaret Cho 15:17
When I was also working at that job. The other job that I got after that was making leather dildos at a store called stormy leather, which was at BDSM Collective. This is a business that was catering to leather women in San Francisco, because we had a very long established leather man, businesses, they didn’t have one for women. Leather society has always been a big part of tight culture, San Francisco, and all over the world, their retail store open, so I helped them out.
Ricki Lake 15:50
Wow. So that was your start. And so when you started to have, you know, fame and get a name for yourself, and you are out there, that’s that was this was the obvious issue you wanted to talk about?
Margaret Cho 16:00
Yes, because sex positivity was always something that was really important to me, I think, because also my parents had a gay bookstore, in San Francisco in the 70s. So, you know, we lived through the first pandemic, which for us was aids. Yes. So when the queer community, we’re still looking to feel bold sexually. And we didn’t really know how to do that. You know, you want sex to still feel like exciting and fun. And you know, that time this idea of safe sex was so pervasive, and there was so much fear around that, that we how do we keep sex intense and alive for us. So the BDSM community really flourished because it was a way to keep sex in a kind of exciting space without necessarily fluid bonding, without necessarily sort of endangering yourself to HIV or AIDS. It was really about finding a way to engage that was all about the mental sort of like stimulation of it and creating a lifestyle around sex that was safe, but also, emotionally and physically exciting.
Kalen Allen 17:17
Wow. I’ve never heard that perspective.
Margaret Cho 17:19
Yeah, sex can be very exciting. But when you’re dealing with something that’s a deadly disease, how do you get the escape that sex should give us when it’s really alive and thrilling? Sex should feel, I don’t know, like a dangerous thing, but not actually be dangerous. And so BDSM was the perfect avenue for that.
Ricki Lake 17:42
Wow. I mean, do you think like with the pandemic of late, you know, I mean, we all had to sort of shut down and change the way we got close to people, right. Do you think it was similarities?
Margaret Cho 17:51
Yes, for sure. I mean, AIDS had a long sort of gestation period. And like, we really couldn’t figure out what was going on, we had so much misinformation, you know, in so much denial of its even existence. So there was more of a long term effect of that. But I think with COVID-19, there’s a sense of, like, how do we connect without endangering ourselves? So people, hot, hot, hot, hot, hot face times, hot zooms, you know, you had this sort of sense of connecting through thoughts, through technology, that I think was really meaningful. So there are some similarities. But gay people do it better. Always gay people always do everything better. We just, we’re just better.
Kalen Allen 18:37
Exactly. Well, I also think the difference from the two is that when the AIDS and HIV epidemic happen, that was specifically targeting a part of the world that people wanted out of here anyway, you know, that in which, what led to a lot of the denial and not accepting it, because they were like, this is this is from God, he’s getting rid of all these people. Bah, bah, bah, bah, while COVID is something that affected everybody, you know, and anybody can, we knew that even though HIV is something that anybody can get. It does primarily affect, you know, the queer community the most. But I do think that we were teetering on the line of almost experiencing it again when monkey pox was introduced, became first thing, especially here in New York, it was only uh, surrounded by gay men. It was like, this is a gay disease. And we saw us as bout to really get into a very dangerous territory of reliving what that was like.
Margaret Cho 19:42
Exactly. It’s just people just want to hate gay people. They just want to find excuses. And it’s, you know, something that we’ve had to fight for so long.
Ricki Lake 19:55
That’s one of the things looking back on the old show. It’s like we really did show all gay people and gay relationships like any other you know, and I think that was helpful at the time you know, we’re doing this show we’re connecting with people that were personally impacted by growing up in the middle of nowhere and not seeing anyone in their towns that look like them that talk like them and yet they can turn on the show after school every day and see someone that definitely looks familiar, you know?
Margaret Cho 20:22
Yeah. Which is such a great thing about the show is that you know, people were like, able to feel like they existed by seeing examples of themselves which is really powerful.
Ricki Lake 20:32
Would you say, you could say that for yourself? Do you think you watch the show and saw people that reminded you of you?
Margaret Cho 20:39
Absolutely. Because you brought in the hag you are like bringing hags into like you know, the girls that hang out with gay men, the hag experience like for me hag is sort of a negative word. But I love that because I referred myself as a hag, I was a born a hag.
Ricki Lake 20:59
At 18 I became an honorary hag in hairspray with my crew.
Margaret Cho 21:03
Right, you were actually like knighted by the hag Meister John Waters like that was like the ultimate honors to be given that title by Waters. You know, that’s incredible. It’s where hags really shined was in your show. You had experience, and, you know, seeing us like seeing us. And so you were bringing them on to the show. It’s just like, we’re here. It’s so exciting.
Kalen Allen 22:00
When it comes to your background and these different career that you’ve had experience? How has it influenced your comedy? How did you find the connection from the life that you were living and finding a way to break into the industry?
Margaret Cho 22:16
Well as like a comedian, I started in AIDS fundraising in the late 80s, early 90s. I remember Ian McKellen had just come out. And so we were doing big benefits for him, and he was coming out and raising money for AIDS. And so I would be there and he would be there. And like, we would just be doing these like little drag shows also. So I got my start, really within the gay community doing shows for ourselves, in order to kind of combat the ignorance, the invisibility of HIV and AIDS. So just seemed like a natural fit to continue on in that plus, I was also so different from any other comedian, then, you know, everybody was White, straight male. So there was something about needing to talk about my identity too, within my comedy, which makes you stand out. So if you’re comedian, I think oftentimes, your identity is currency. So it made me very wealthy in that, because I had a lot to share.
Kalen Allen 23:22
Yeah, understand that. I understand that. And how do you think in today’s day and age, how do you think sex work has changed? Because I know now in today’s day and age, we have things such as like, Onlyfans, and we have all these different resources that almost to an extent, especially within the gay male arena has normalized, you know, sex work. So how do you think it has changed? Because I know you talked about sex work being more of a survival thing back in the day. So how do you see the scope of sex work in today’s day and age?
Margaret Cho 23:52
I think it’s wonderful. I think it gives people have a lot of freedom to express themselves and to feel joy doing it and make some money, which is really awesome. I really admire the way that people have taken charge and, you know, making such great careers for themselves in this industry, which I think is really cool. I think it’s something that has lost its stigma, although there’s still some stigma there. It’s really like we’re able to rise above it, which I think is amazing.
Kalen Allen 24:23
Well, conversation that I know, that we often have within the community, is the fact that now, sex workers, especially those that are considered more on the porn star side of things, has become more hit with some type of celebrity status is specifically within the community. And I know an argument that has been talked about lately is that with sex work becoming so normalized, that it is becoming oversaturated. You know, and to the point to where they feel like there’s too many people that exist in the space and then that’s what makes it actually harder for people to be sick. festival in the field. Do you have any thoughts on that? Or do you see it as this like, the more the merrier?
Margaret Cho 25:05
I think it’s a marketplace like anything else. So you know, you have to bring something new and thrilling to market. I think that it’s still a product that you’ve got to sell. And so that’s sort of like, what are your offering? And how is it different from what everybody else is offering? Is it price competitive? Can you make it feel different? It’s all like, I think it’s up to the consumer, ultimately. But you know, it’s also these people are artists. So now it’s kind of up to us to create something different and new and exciting, and what can we do to make it work for us.
Kalen Allen 25:43
I love that. I love that. And if you could plan an episode of like the Ricki Lake Show, or any talk show or any way that we talk about sex work in mainstream media today, what are adjustments that you would want people to use in the way that they talk about sex work that wasn’t being done in the 90s? When the Ricki Lake Show and other shows were talking about sex work?
Margaret Cho 26:07
I think it’s really like how can we make positive changes and create some more advocacy of brown sex work and to really look at it beyond the lens of shame, and look at it as a practical way for people to make a living, and then also to make sure that they are protected by law, you know, and having rights, health insurance, insurance, safety, which I think is really, really important. It’s still illegal to decriminalize sex work is important. I think a lot of people have opinions about legalizing it fully because of their own approach to the work. But I think it should definitely be decriminalized. And certainly, I want to make a safer environment for people who are experiencing homelessness, who are in a place where they’re using sex work as a means to survival, you know, how do we make the world safer for them? There’s a lot of issues that I think can be addressed when we remove the shame and stigma from the work itself.
Ricki Lake 27:21
Okay, folks, got to take a quick break, but we’re going to be right back. You know, I make documentaries and, you know, I’m pretty open about everything in my life. And you are to, you know, you are no stranger to sharing details about your sex life and your comedy. What drives you to be so open?
Margaret Cho 27:52
I think it’s the constant evolution of my own sexuality and the way that I feel about towards these subjects, but like, I have identified in different ways right now I definitely queer. But also, I think I’m asexual, like, I think I’ve actually gotten to the other side of said, like post menopause, post romantic feelings. Post love in that romantic love.
Ricki Lake 28:22
Explain that. What do you think that is? You think like, it’s a chemical thing that you’re a hormonal thing that you just are shut down in that way?
Margaret Cho 28:28
I think so. But it’s not exactly shut down. It’s more open. It’s actually like now I’m definitely like, much more intimate in my relationships, but not necessarily intimate physically. Wow, interesting. So the intimacy, it really is about the heart and coming together in a soul way, but not in a physical way. So it’s a really interesting place to be in because, you know, my mother had a hysterectomy, all of her sisters had hysterectomies, like in the 70s. So nobody was immediately there to kind of inform me how my body would change through menopause. Because they all had this artificial menopause like in their 30s.
Ricki Lake 29:09
You know, this is my latest movie. It’s my latest documentary. It’s the business of birth control. So it’s all about the hormones and yeah, no, we would love to do a follow up about menopause. Now, I know Kailyn This is so not in your frickin lexicon, wheelhouse, whatever. But I’m just going to say, it is such an interesting thing. And there’s something to be said for a woman that go and I’m still, I still get my period, I still get a cycle, even though I’m 54. But menopause is really if you switch the script on it, it’s an amazing time for a woman, that’s I mean, and that’s I want as I as I go through it and have ultimately a great experience past crossing over to menopause. Yeah, there’s something we need to celebrate that our body is not having to take that energy of producing that egg every month. You know, it can really be honed into other things.
Margaret Cho 29:57
Oh, it’s the best thing. It’s menopause. As is the greatest kept secret of life for me, like I realized, like my brain is opening up and it’s basically puberty. And then you age into who you actually are supposed to be. When you’re no longer regulated by hormonal thoughts or hormonal, like actions or any kind of chemical, like you are just yourself, it’s so liberating. But it’s also something that society wants to deny, because society hates that women can be more powerful. They don’t want us to be so powerful. And menopause is real power. The age of the crone is the real, you know, she’s the real MVP. And it’s really important to embrace that but society wants us to feel like spinsters or dried up or over, but it’s actually no life just starts at this. So it’s powerful.
Ricki Lake 30:58
I couldn’t agree more. Yeah, I’m super. Yeah, I’m ready. You know, I’m ready. Okay, so Margaret, I know in your comedy album drunk with power, you talk about me, and my old show. And I don’t know if you remember, but it was like your, it, you’d lost weight, I guess. What was your journey like going through, you know, that period of being just scrutinized for your body? I remember on that sitcom, you were on? You have were pressured? Correct?
Margaret Cho 31:26
It was so hard because, you know, we had we had an era of feminism, like there was a riot girl movement. And it was like all these like bands with great female vocalists coming out. But we still had this idea of like, you’ve got to look like Kate Moss. This is like 94′? Okay, so the second year of my show, yeah. 94. Very challenging, very challenging to be on television as a woman. And to not feel like you could own the space. You had to be smaller. And so it’s very physically chat. Like my body doesn’t go that small.
Ricki Lake 32:05
So what did you do to fit that mold?
Margaret Cho 32:08
Oh, I took a lot of Fen Phen.
Ricki Lake 32:19
it was two drugs. I did two drugs that you took. And it was basically speed and it really fucked up a lot of people’s hearts. There are a lot of complications.
Margaret Cho 32:27
Yeah, so bad, but and they gave it to me. And they’re like, Okay, don’t drink when you take this. And when somebody says, don’t drink when you make this drink when you’re so wasted. And it really pushed me into a place that was really bad. But I did lose a lot of weight from that. But it wasn’t worth it.
Ricki Lake 32:47
I mean, where are you now with? I mean, you look amazing. I’ve actually seen like do you, is it hard for you to maintain where you are now?
Margaret Cho 32:54
No, because I don’t do anything. I mean, I want I have a lot of cats at run after them cleaning up, I have my dog, we walk every day. It’s not like a journey. That is something that I think about very much. But because of that, maybe because the shift and focus on my spiritual life. And he you know, it’s so like, there that I don’t really think about that. But I don’t know, like, it’s just the shift in hormones and shift and focus has really made that a lot easier. Also, society has changed, you know, society’s approach to the body, and especially women’s bodies is really shifted, because it was so like, normalized to fat shame. Everybody, and anybody who especially was women who were outspoken, you know, that was so normalized. And so now, we have an attitude shift in society, which I think is really valuable.
Ricki Lake 33:57
All right, one more question. We spend a lot of time looking back on my show from the 90s. How do you look back at comedy from the 90s?
Margaret Cho 34:04
I think I look back at it in a way that’s very bittersweet because there was a lot of misogyny, there was a lot of homophobia and racism. That was totally acceptable, I think that people mourn that, you know, like, oh, you can’t make a joke about anything nowadays. Yeah, you shouldn’t sometimes. So I think comedy is in a much better place now. I think it’s really about skill, and finesse, and your ability to create like these entire castles with your imagination, but doesn’t have to put anybody down, which I think is really awesome. So I think it’s a lot better.
Ricki Lake 34:52
All right. Thank you so much, Margaret.
Margaret Cho 34:56
Ricki Lake 35:02
Well, that was fun talking to her. It’s so much fun, it was so cool, because I’ve known her for so long. And it just is nice to reconnect in his way and really talk about the old show and the 90s. And, Mark, it’s awesome.
Kalen Allen 35:17
So Ricki, so like, we’ve talked to a lot of people, right. And a lot of people that you’ve either had a personal relationship with, or you’ve been a fan of or been able to get into contact with. So my question is, now that you look back of all these people that we’ve reconnected with, is there anything that you like, has new stuff started to resurface within you of this past life? Because and the reason why I asked you this, is because I know the other day, we were typing, and you were like, I’m starting to realize that maybe I took it for granted.
Ricki Lake 35:53
Yeah, I think that there is some truth to that, you know, I think when I was just, every job was just like the next thing that came along, and I just jump in, and I give my all and if it’s a hit, it’s a hit. If it flops, it flops, like I move on to the next thing in the show, you know, I plopped into the show. And it just was truly a phenomenon. And I’m in this role as really a very young person who has not had a lot of life experience. And I’m suddenly moderator and host and, you know, therapist, and, you know, comedian, and like, all these skills that I didn’t think I had, you know, and certainly didn’t train to do. But now, you know, 30 years later, 25 years later, looking back on these episodes, and these experiences and these topics we covered. I mean, I’m seeing now that people were really deeply, deeply connected and moved and inspired and learn things. And it’s, it’s, it’s way more positive than I think when I was in it, and we were taking heat for being like trash TV, and there was a lot of like, pushback. And, you know, we were the Darling when we first launched and then we were never nominated for an Emmy again, you know, it was kind of like this this like stain on the genre itself and the way we produce the show. But yeah, I mean, I do think we did a lot of really powerful work culturally, you know, for young people to have a voice and to be seen and heard and represented. Yeah, I definitely have more reverence for that experience in the opportunity. I certainly appreciated the job and the money that came along with it. But I’m just also like, personally, I think I evolved in a way that I would never have without being in that role. You know, I learned so much about relationships and people and human nature and yeah, this journey has been super, super fun for me. And I’m learning a lot about myself too, you know, and I definitely don’t want to go back and do that show again, in the same way. But if I did do something, you know, I’m much more of like a full, well rounded, evolved human than I was back then. You know, I love that. So I hope you enjoyed it, too. Did you have fun, Kalen?
Kalen Allen 38:08
I did. I had the most every day with Ricki Lake is just pure laughter and joy. You are like Christmas.
Ricki Lake 38:19
Oh, man, you’re gonna be bringing gingerbread when you come to see me. I keep bringing that up. You say Christmas? I think gingerbread. I’m just kidding. You don’t need to bring me anything. Just yourself. All right, kids. Thank you so much for listening. Please. If you like what you’re hearing, what do they need to do, Kalen?
Kalen Allen 38:36
rate review and subscribe. Look, I remember.
Yes, subscribe, and then you’ll get the next episode automatically and be a part of our community. Hope you listen next time. Bye. Before we go, there’s more Raised by Ricki with Lemonada Premium. I love these premium episodes because we do them AMA style, which I recently learned was asked me anything. And coming up on Monday you asked me what my most memorable fan encounter has been And holy crap, you won’t believe the answer. The only way to hear that is if you subscribe to Lemonada Premium now in Apple podcasts. Raised by Ricki with Ricki Lake and Kalen Allen is a Lemonada Media Original. This show is produced by Claire Jones and Nancy Rosenbaum. Our associate producer is Tiffany Buoy. Our senior director of new content is Rachel Neill, VP of weekly production is Steve Nelson and our executive producers Stephanie Wittels Wachs, Jessica Cordova Kramer and DeRay McKesson, and the show is mixed by Johnny Vince Evans. Music is written and produced by Jellybean Benitez, Jason Peralta and Jay Coos for Jelly Bean Productions.