The daughter of Korean immigrants, comedian Margaret Cho made a successful career in comedy by making fun of her parents, and telling jokes about the ethnic snacks they put in her lunchbox. Cho felt that her parents seemed out of touch, and she was determined not to be. From an early age, she learned about American tastes in music, culture and sex from the young gay men who hung out at Paperback Traffic, the San Francisco bookstore that her father owned. She says her dad wanted it that way: he hoped his customers would teach his daughter the things he couldn’t.
Cho says her childhood also contained several instances of sexual abuse. She experimented sexually throughout her 20s and 30s to try to regain a sense of control. Costumes, sex parties and BDSM -- Margaret did it all. She identifies as queer, but jokes that "slutty" might be the best way to put it.
Now 46, she’s changing course. In public, she’s a proudly outrageous commentator on TLC’s new late-night talk show, All About Sex. But in private, she says she’s focusing on something new: learning how to be vulnerable and taking things slow.
When I spoke with Cho recently, she told me about growing up gay in San Francisco in the '70s, negotiating consent in hookups and relationships, and learning to tell her jokes in Korean for her dad.
A full transcript of the episode is here.