Is it just us, or can this woman actually save the human race?
Sandra Bernhard rocks on stage, brightens up a scene whenever she’s got a co-starring TV gig, and happens to be one of the most outspoken comediennes/performance artists around. Fortunately, for us, Bernhard wants everybody to be ready—if not really conscious—for 2008. I caught up with The B recently and we got down and dirty. Read on …
Q: People love you here in Northern California.
A: And I love them.
Q: You recently talked about having a passion for voicing one’s opinions and/or concerns about what is happening to humanity. So, I have to ask, what do you think about what’s going on right now in the world?
A: I think it’s really hanging by a thread. I think kids are being lost and mislead and they end up in these violent situations and inner city violence … and kids are going into this bubbling, brewing cauldron of self-loathing and fear. I think it’s a consecration of sitting in front of the computer all day and watching reality television, and not having that kind of guidance and excitement about life. When I was growing up, we had access to art and beauty, and our leaders were at least articulate. They had something to say about society and culture.
Q: It’s so true.
A: Today, it’s like everybody’s grabbing for anything they can get their hands on. Deal or no deal, you know?
Q: There’s a lot of hoarding going on.
A: Yeah… you know, how fast can I make it happen, how long can I hold onto it? It’s not about quality. You know, I’ve been wanting to be a performer since I was 5 years old. I’ve been dreaming of about getting out there and engage people and entertain people—say provocative things, sing beautiful songs and wear beautiful clothes because that’s what excited people. And I was excited. Now, that’s all missing from our culture.
Q: So, how do you think we can get back; or go there again?
A: I don’t think we can. I think it’s almost impossible. I think between the Internet and this fast-moving cultural experience—I mean, everybody is in each other’s business. Everybody’s commenting and there’s all this griping. And hatred. I don’t know… it’s going to take a lot of different elements coming together; a whole change in our government. It’s going to take the dying out of the conservative, old, white man that wants to control. It’s a battle. It’s going to be up to the individuals.
Q: What do you love most about this show that you are doing?
A: Well, just to be able to get up there and perform and be able to say what I want to say every night—it’s a great gift. And on New Year’s Eve, to be able to do a round-up of the year in a really fun, crazy way. And there’s no place better than to do it in San Francisco. I mean, people will just roll with the punches. They’re used to going out and seeing drag queens and crazy performance pieces. I know when I come to San Francisco, I am going to take it all the way out.
Q: Well, looking back over the year, what stands out for you?
A: Oh God … well, to get reconnected with Roseanne Barr. We’ve been talking and getting together again. And Europe… I love traveling and sometimes being away from America and the narrow perspective we have here. And of course, my daughter, and my eight-and-a-half year relationship. I am thankful every day for that. It’s always super-interesting and fun. It helps me evolve as a person.
Q: So what would you like people to reflect upon most over the last year?
A: I would like it if people can separate themselves from the political rhetoric—the whole immigrant and immigration dilemma. It’s just so phoney-d up as a distraction from the war in Iraq, which, apparently doesn’t concern anybody any more. I understand it. It’s not on the front page any more. I’d like to think that we can separate the rhetoric of leaders and realize that we’re sitting here on top of a nuclear arsenal that could destroy the entire universe. And with a leader like Bush and Cheney who are megalomaniacs. I mean, we’re allowed to have it, but we’re not going to let anybody else have it … but for us to get to the point where we can extrapolate the height of the manipulation for what really matters. And what really matters is that … we rebuild New Orleans; that there’s a health insurance and that kids get an education. You know?