January 12, 2021 by Traci Turner & Rachael Contreras
You may recall from our November article, “Big Female Energy,” the 9th annual She Rocks Awards will take place “virtual style” in January 2021. Celebrating the women who have led the way for today’s generation of women, the awards will include honorees The Go-Go’s, Cherie Currie, Lzzy Hale, Margaret Cho, Cindy Blackwell Santana, Amy Lee, Starr Parodi, Sharon Hennessey, Ann Mincieli, and Gwen Bethel Riley. Even though they each had 9,000 things happening and it was the holidays, we were able to catch up with Cho and Currie recently.
As an actor, fashion designer, author, podcast host, and singer-songwriter, Cho has used her platform for humanitarian efforts for women, Asian Americas, and the LGBT community. Most of us first got to know her from her barrier-breaking start in stand-up comedy, which just earned her a spot as one of the “50 Greatest Comedians of All Time” by Rolling Stone. Not “1 of 50 female” comedians, ALL comedians. In a field dominated by men, honors like this prove Cho continues to be amazing. Cho told us, “I think it’s important because as women artists, we have to be twice as talented and work twice as hard to get less than half of the credit.”
Since the She Rocks Awards are celebrating women, it is a time to look at how the industry has changed, especially over the past few years with the #MeToo movement and gender inequality in the news. We asked Cho if she is seeing real changes in the industry, she said…
“I believe so, I think that we realized that we have a voice and we have a way to protest these things happening and that that kind of behavior from people has occurred since the beginning of entertainment. We’ve had that about women in entertainment forever. And the fact that we can shift that and actually call out what’s happening, I think is really a very big step in moving towards equality. I don’t think that we’re there yet, but at least we have a lot more accountability.”
Events like the She Rocks Awards bring groups of powerful women of different backgrounds together, but we also need to bring change by supporting all women every day. We asked Cho how we can do that and she said, “Helping, I think, just listening and paying attention and being part of the fan base, whether that is support on social media, or going to their live shows, there’s always great ways to support women artists.” Who is Cho loving these days? “I’m always really inspired by the all of the newer, young female musicians that I see. People like Phoebe Bridgers and Clairo and Billie Eilish and Soccer Mommy. She’s like, so incredible. So, there’s so many wonderful, incredible female performers that are emerging. And they’re almost like the grand daughters of my generation, finally, like sort of coming and finding their own voice in rock and roll, which is really exciting.” As Cho mentioned, live shows are not happening for these artists or Cho herself. “I’m still a standup comedian and that’s the one part of my work that’s really been altered because I haven’t been this long off the road in my entire career. So that’s a very strange thing as well. But shifting to doing more stuff online, looking towards the future has really been my focus. And I think, you know, at least this didn’t happen in the ‘90s where we would all be fighting for dialup. Like, you know, it’s like a very ‘at least this is happening now’ when we have the technology where we have the sort of semblance of being together, which is great.”
Cho does plan to get back on the road with her comedy in 2021, so whenever we are allowed to do that…. (sigh). Like us, she had big plans in 2020 and misses touring and going out. “It’s something that I really feel the absence of because so much of my work is really about performing live. And I realize it’s a big part of my personality, too, that as an adult, my entire adult life has been really consumed by doing stand-up comedy. And not only that, but going out and seeing it every night, which I realize is a huge shift in my reality and the way that I even process my life. So that’s been a big challenge.”
With that aspect cut out of her life this year, what has Cho been doing? “One thing that’s been really exciting is that I’ve been able to cook over the last year, which is really new.” (I think we can all get on board with that!). She continued, “I love eating. Eating is such a great pleasure. And so, I’ve been cooking a lot.” Another field for her to conquer?! A Margaret Cho cookbook? “I would love that. I love eating. I love cooking, which I never realized I did. But I’ve always been obsessed with food. (Laughing) So, I think that this is a really good way to channel all of that energy into something creative.” Ok, doesn’t that make you want to hang out at her house for a baking session?!
Another trailblazing woman who eviscerated barriers in a male-dominated field is Cherie Currie. The year the Pet Rock was the “go-to” Christmas toy, and at a time when there were definitely no major “girl rockers,” Currie and The Runaways proved women CAN rock harder than men. Currie has not only been a successful musician, but also an actor, author, drug treatment counselor, and chainsaw carver. If that’s not badass, I am not sure what is!
Currie has also seen the changes in the industry through the years regarding how female artists are treated. “Being that I come from the mid ‘70s when there was only one female rocker, Suzi Quatro, I’ve seen a huge change with females in music. There is always room for improvement, but to me we have come so far.”
Currie was still a teen when she began her music career and traveling the world, so we asked how today’s young women can take charge of their future. “Believe in yourself and never ask anyone’s opinion. Only you can walk your path. Don’t doubt it or yourself.”
With the time off this year – and more neighbors home – Currie has been able to work with new musical talent. “With the lockdown I can’t carve since all my neighbors are home. It never would have happened otherwise.” How on earth did she get into chainsaw carving? “It was a fluke. I happened to be going to the beach 20 years ago and past a couple of guys carving at the side of the road. I couldn’t get it out of my head so I went back a couple weeks later and saw these great pieces of art. My inner voice told me I could do this so I asked if I could work there and that started it all. Always listen to that inner, supportive voice. It will never steer you wrong.”
With Cho and Currie being examples for current and future generations of women (and guys too!), there will continue to be inspiration rocking us hard and making us laugh. This is the kind of influence everyone needs. Two women at the top of their game, showing us how it’s done.