Good Chomanship

Born in San Francisco in 1968, Margaret Cho was raised in the Polk-Haight area by a tribe of trannies (the more politically correct yet hip version of the nearly epithetical "drag queen"). While her parents ran their own bookstore (her mother was in charge of the gay porn section), a young Margaret Cho developed both a sympathy to the gay community and a twisted sense of humor. She started doing stand-up at age 16, performing at The Rose and Thistle, a comedy club above the family bookstore, on her breaks from the shop.

By the early '90s, Cho was based in Los Angeles, touring college campuses, playing clubs, recording a CD, landing roles in films, setting precedent as the first Asian-American woman to star in her own TV show, and winning numerous awards, including Best Female Comedian at the 1994 American Comedy Awards. Hey, how many self-described "Korean-American fag-hag, shit-starter, girl comic, trash talkers" get to appear on Sesame Street with Big Bird? She was a success. But wait a minute. Watch enough E! True Hollywood Stories and you know the next phase is inevitable. All that activity became too demanding. Drugs and booze seemed a convenient way to ease the tension.

Cho eventually came to a point in her life where she had to choose between continuing her addictions and possibly dying from them or turning over a new, clean leaf. For many years now, Cho has relied on yoga and meditation rather than drugs and alcohol. And her comedy hasn't suffered from her sobriety. Cho's upcoming show, "The Notorious C.H.O.," is a caustically irreverent plunge into subjects most comics wouldn't touch with a ten-foot mike stand. Despite the touchy nature of material about trannies, sex clubs, and gay and hetero stereotypes, "The Notorious C.H.O." delivers. Put simply, you can take the girl out of the Haight, but you can't take the Haight out of the girl.

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Eric A.T. Dieckman