Sandra Bernhard

Roseland, 8 NW 6th, 1-800-325-SEAT, Thursday Feb. 12 & Friday Feb. 13th, 8 pm, $29.50-50.00

I remember the first time I saw Sandra Bernhard. It was 1984. I was twelve and bored, watching The King of Comedy, in which Sandra plays a deranged fan of Jerry Lewis, when a new little light turned on in my head. It was the light of sarcasm, black comedy, and craziness as an art form. I knew Sandra was different from the other girls. She was an outsider and totally unafraid to be herself. I desperately wanted to be crazy like her, to speak my mind, and take no prisoners.

Last week, 20 years later, I got to talk to Sandra, who is now approaching 50, and once again, touring a one-woman musical cabaret. Contrary to her notorious reputation, she was really pleasant and dare I say, sweet? She called me "Honey" numerous times, which made my faggy little heart flutter. I wanted to just blabber on about my gratitude for her being the first crazy person I identified with onscreen, but decided that was best relegated to the other "fan shit" on her Friendster page. Instead I chose to talk about the real world.

BRIAN BRAIT: I got politics on the brain...


What do you think of Bush?

He turned our country into a shithole. He's discouraged people from following their true paths and led us into these corrupt dark times, what can I say?

I know you're not into labels, (who is?) but I'm going to use one that comes to mind when I think about you. As a Spiritual Lesbian Celebrity Mother, who would you like to see take Bush on in the fall?

Well, Dean was the clear choice. He had lots of good things to say. He was really plugged in. But then he blew it. He just didn't have the ability to stay cool.

So if your vote isn't going for Dean, who are you supporting? Whoever gets the nomination?

Well, yeah. People want to be individuals, but you can't have a whole bunch of individual people going in a lot of different directions, like the people who voted for Nader. We can't have four more years of this....

Shifting gears, I recently read a testimonial on one of your Friendster pages about how a woman approached you at a party and told you how much she loved you and that you responded, "Sorry Honey, but I don't do that fan shit." Is that true?

It depends on the person coming up to me. I mean I'm very open and thrilled when people come up to me, but if someone is drunk and cloying, I don't want to talk to them.

Fair enough. I also read in an interview with you, in Girlfriends magazine, that you don't really like the whole idea of gay marriage...

Well, the whole concept of marriage is corny. But if people want to do it so they can get health insurance--then whatever. No one should be denied that.

You were a gay celebrity before the current Gay Wave of TV shows and movies made such a thing commonplace. What do you think about these programs?

I think it's good that they are part of the mainstream, because then being gay becomes less threatening to the audience. I mean the shows are not particularly sophisticated, but people vote in a different kind of way when they choose to watch them.

How do you feel about all the gay themed movies and TV shows starring straight actors?

Well that's the nature of being an actor--being able to play gay if you are straight. I mean gay roles shouldn't be ghettoized just to gay actors.

You have this reputation of being crass or mean...

Well I'm not crass or mean, and I don't think that reputation precedes me. But if people feel that way, then they are just insecure with themselves. My work speaks for itself.

Talk about the new live show you're touring.

There are a lot of great insights, and new music, some of which I co-wrote. A few really great '80s rock covers... it's like a travelogue of where I've been.

One last question... did you ever get to kiss Morgan Fairchild on Roseanne?

No. In those days they would cut just before the kiss... which I am kind of relieved about... I mean Morgan Fairchild. All my friends here are staring at me wondering who I'm talking to. BRIAN BRAIT