The largest city in Texas is one of 80 cities on her tour!
By David Goldberg
It’s hard to keep a good bitch down. This summer, Kathy Griffin hits an astonishing 80 cities on her newly announced #LikeaBoss tour, dropping by Houston’s Bayou Music Center on Sunday, June 28. Not that it hasn’t been a busy year: besides her short-lived gig as a judge on E’s Fashion Police, the shamelessly outspoken comic won her first Grammy for best comedy album after six consecutive nominations and broke her own Guinness record after writing and starring in her 23rd TV stand-up special. The 55-year-old maverick spoke to OutSmart about Caitlyn Jenner, same-sex marriage, and of course, her mother.
David Goldberg: Dude, 80 cities?
Kathy Griffin: What the hell am I thinking? 80? Why didn’t I do 30 or 40 or 50? Here’s why, David: because I f–king love it. I love going all over America, Canada, the U.K., and I love telling my offensive, vulgar humor wherever people want to laugh. And that’s the Kennedy Center, Carnegie Hall, or Tunica, Mississippi, the real America.
Don’t you do Ra-sinos?
It’s a combo of a racetrack and a casino. It’s quite genius. I did one last year, and the microphone went out. They rather nonchalantly gave me a bullhorn and said “finish your show,” to which I said, “I always finish my show.” And at the end of my act, they stood up! So, Houston is going to be a breeze. It’s a big city, you’ve got lots of the LGBTQIAs, 2’s, 3’s, 4’s—whatever you people want to be called, I’m signing on for it.
I was going to ask you why you aren’t replacing David Letterman, but now I can see it’s because you’re too busy.
No, for some reason there aren’t any women in late-night network TV at all. We’re like the bald eagle; we’re becoming extinct. It’s the elephant in the room. All you have to do is flip around and see that while television is still the number-one by far watched form of media—and I know you kids like your phones and your iPads, but don’t get it twisted—it’s still the Boys Club. And it’s shocking. At least the LGBTs have Andy Cohen, and people of color have Comedy Central. But women are not represented in any way on late night, and I would love the change. I would love to do that. It takes some chops, baby, but that’s why I’ve got the Emmys, the Grammys, the world record, and I’m doing 80 cities.
But nothing can replace the live experience. When I hit the stage at the Bayou Music Center, it’s going to be unfiltered. I expect some walkouts, David. You guys think you’re Houston and you’ve heard it all, but honey, you’re still Texas, and admit it, sometimes you crazy f–kers just want to secede. And while I expect a fantastic audience, I know I’m going to get a couple of walkouts. There’s going to be some couple that meandered in thinking they were going to see Mamma Mia! or The Lion King, and they’re going to be very offended. They’re not going to get it when I talk to them about going to [Glee star] Chris Colfer’s house to watch a backyard screening of Mommie Dearest and sitting in the audience with my friend Jane Lynch and Academy Award nominee June Squib. I’m going to talk about how I finally met Lady Gaga two weeks ago.
OH MY GOD!
Exactly. I was trying to act like, “Yeah, we’re just a couple of celebrities,” when really she’s Lady F–king Gaga. She was so adorable and so nutty. Sometimes, I just tell these people that they’re in my act now. Sometimes I give what I consider to be fair warning. But just in my time with her, she had two costume changes.
You do have a lot in common with her. You two are both outsiders. You both really have to hustle.
We love the live touring, and we love being controversial, so we were like instant sistas. I loved meeting her. She was everything I hoped she would be. And by the way, I also went to see Bette Midler live—my friend Bette Midler, who I know personally and have her email address. It was a fantastic concert where she actually sang, which is quite rare these days. She didn’t lip sync. And while I loved watching Bette, I had as much fun watching the back of Barbara Streisand’s head, because she was seated three rows in front of me.
Let me tell you. I don’t think Barbra Streisand knew what she was in for, sitting among the people at a Bette Midler show. You cannot underestimate middle-aged gay men with their cellphones. They lost their f–king shit around Babs. They lost it. They were practically throwing cellphones. They were happy to get pictures of one ear, or the back of her head, or the lapel of her coat. As much as we’re going through with Caitlyn [Jenner], I have to say that Barbra Streisand being five feet away from me caused more of a gay frenzy then I’ve seen in years.
I was going to ask you about Caitlyn. As someone on the front lines, how do you feel about the subtext with these kinds of stories that everything is fine now and that the struggle is over when it comes to LGBT rights?
Honey, I can speak from experience, because I’ve been immersed in the community since people were using the F word openly, so don’t talk to me. I have canvassed door to door, I’ve won all the awards, and I have been in the weeds, so I agree with you. If people think that just because Caitlyn gets to be on the cover of Vanity Fair that everything is fine, as someone who tours the real America, I can tell you we still have work to do. It’s changed from when I started touring. I’ve been in the game a long time and it still shocks me when people come up to me after a show, and there’s the obligatory straight guy who was dragged there by his wife or girlfriend, and he’ll say, “Until your show, I don’t think I’ve ever met a gay person,” and I’ll be like, “Do you ever go to church? ’Cause that’s where they are.”
As a movement and regarding equality, we have to remind ourselves that there is still work to be done. And as a woman, don’t get me started. What I admire the most about the LGBT community is that you guys are so effective at mobilizing and forcing people to shine a light on inequality and abuse in a way that, frankly, women need to be better at. If you look at the campus-rape situation, everyone is afraid to come out of the shadows about that, but when there is a hate crime or a bashing, the LGBT community is very good and very smart and effective about mobilizing.
Are you going to be performing and ordaining weddings once same-sex marriage passes?
Oh, darling. I did one a month ago in Key West, and I want you to know what a big person I am, because, damn it, it takes balls, and I have two very large ones to do this. I officiated the gay wedding of—wait for it—my high school boyfriend. I don’t care what the science says: I turned him gay. I’m what I call a “gaymaker.” I am pretty sure he entered high school as a “Q” (questioning), and after dating me, he went “F–k it! I’m gay!” But officiating his wedding was so much fun, and it was such incredible progress that in Florida gay marriage could be legal. And he kept saying, “You’ve got to officiate this gay wedding before they take it away!” So, yeah—on one hand it’s a great success story, but on the other hand, he was afraid that they may reverse it. But we’re still moving ahead, you know?
It is scary, because there are people around the world who don’t think other people are equal for various reasons—whether it’s race, or gender, or sexual preference, or anything in between. That’s something I love to do in my act. I love to shine a light on things in a comedic way, so people can laugh or have fun, instead of screaming at them. If I meet one more person who says, “I don’t read the newspaper, because it’s all bad news,” well, you don’t read the newspaper because you’re f–king stupid. I love to get on stage and talk about whatever will make people laugh. Maybe it is a story about gay marriage, but the way I go around it is I make it funny by talking about officiating my gay boyfriend’s wedding, you know? I had to accept that he would not marry me, and didn’t even want to have vaginal sex with me. I was like, “If I can’t have you, then David can,” as opposed to a Lifetime movie with Tori Spelling where she says “If I can’t have you, no one can!”
What are the inspirations for the new tour, and who should we be afraid for?
Always be afraid for yourselves, because every city I go to, I do local material first. I always ask if the audience has a good sense of humor about themselves, as I am going to be talking shit about you, me, and even my mom, who by the way turns 95 today. David, your beloved Maggie is 95 and kicking it.
You got her a box of wine, right?
Well, here’s what I did. This is really twisted. I got her a bottle of wine, but I have to pour it in a glass, hide the bottle, and pull out an old box of wine, because if I got her a nice bottle, she would accuse me of being high and mighty. She would say, “Why are you spending money on that bottle of wine? You are going to lose everything, and live in your car, and eat dog food the rest of your life!” But your beloved Maggie has very much embraced the gay community, and when Maggie attended a pro-gay marriage rally, she did have the best sign. It said, Gay Marriage: I’ll Drink to That. From a 95-year-old, that’s some pretty strong support. And also, she’s an alcoholic. That’s progress, my friend: we’ve got the 95-year-olds in the back of our pockets, or at least in the back of their muumuus.
Kathy Griffin performs at the Bayou Music Center on Sunday, June 28, at 8:30 pm. For more information or to buy tickets, visit kathygriffin.net or livenation.com.
David Goldberg is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.