Sandra Bernhard is making a stand. Unabashed and unafraid, the performer, actress, and compelling storyteller has been an unrelenting part of the public lexicon for a lifetime. Now, she’s taking her intestinal fortitude on a Texas tour with Sandyland Presents: “Stand With Texas.” The brunette bombshell with a wise mouth to match her larger-than-life personality will take the stage at The Heights Theater on December 4.
Houston has not let this gem of a truth teller go unnoticed. Be it on-screen with American Horror Story or POSE, on the radio with Sandyland on Sirius XM’s Radio Andy Channel 102, or on stages across the globe, Bernhard has been one of the most exhilarating performers for the past five decades.
Now, she’s ready to share, educate, and invigorate residents of the great state of Texas on some important issues. To do that, Bernhard is joining forces with local organizations, politicians, drag artists, musicians, and other surprise guests to raise awareness on student education, LGBTQ, and abortion rights in an effort to create change.
Noise for Now is also participating with Bernhard for this tour. That national initiative enables artists and entertainers to connect with and financially support grassroots organizations that work in the field of reproductive justice, including abortion access. And the Resource Center is one of the nation’s largest organizations providing a range of programs and services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, intersex, asexual, and other community members, and offers critical assistance to people living with HIV and AIDS and their families.
“Texas is one of those bellwether states where so much is going on. I’m a huge follower of everything Texas,” Bernhard says of the Lone Star state. “There are a lot of people in Texas who are so brilliant and doing great work, so I’ll be shining a little light on them as well as highlighting a few different issues.”
The entertainer’s three stops in Texas will be nothing short of a barn burner. While in Austin, she’ll address women’s reproductive rights and abortion. Her booking in Dallas will tackle LGBTQ issues. In Houston, she’ll handle the hot potato of K–12 education.
“I love Texas. I love the culture, the food, the music, and the people. So when I see a government that is crushing their spirit,
I want to step up. —Sandra Bernhard
“I love Texas. I love the culture, the food, the music, and the people. So when I see a government that is crushing their spirit, I want to step up,” she adds. “Sandyland is my little world where everyone is welcomed and included, so I thought, why not come to Texas and give some love to my LGBTQ+ community? Why not fight for the abortion and healthcare rights of my sisters? Why not lend my voice to the educators who want to give students the vastest experience they can in the classroom?”
Along the way, Bernhard will add opening acts to her one-woman show to bring together the people who care and want to make Texas an inclusive, progressive place to live.
“After my show, people will walk away with the thought of ‘Why can’t everybody be able to do what they need to do to survive in our society and our culture, whether it is related to race, gender, sexuality, or religion?’” she says.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Bernhard keeps her finger constantly on the pulse of what animates the country’s collective consciousness—both socially and from a government’s perspective, and even in a hyper-focused manner. She is surprisingly aware of local Texas politics.
“The next time Beto O’Rourke runs for something, get him elected. Make sure Jasmine Crockett stays in office. Keep electing brilliant young women of color and Latino women,” she offers. “Flip the switch. Be engaged in politics in any way you possibly can.”
Bernhard also has her finger on the proverbial trigger when it comes to another hot topic.
“The one thing we’re not addressing in this tour is gun control, the change in consciousness about guns, and gun violence,” she notes. “The level of discourse and anger and how things can turn violent so quickly—where does that stem from? And how do we educate our children to find a different way of communicating and dealing with frustration and fear?”
The comedienne-turned-activist also detailed that her Texas tour is partially geared to spark community involvement.
“We can maybe change the minds of the people and work toward the goal of turning a state like Texas blue so that we don’t have to fight these mindsets,” she summarizes. “Once you’ve established a certain consciousness amongst political leaders, I think it makes it a lot easier for everybody to live their day-to-day lives.”
WHAT: Sandra Bernhard’s Sandyland Presents: “Stand With Texas”
WHEN: December 4, 8 p.m.
WHERE: Heights Theater, 339 W. 19th St.