Kathy Griffin, sensational comedian and notorious foul-mouthed Queen of Mean, is bringing her solo act to the Hard Rock Live, and no celebrity is safe. "I've played more cities in Florida than in any other state," Griffin says. "But you guys are sick bastards -- I think that's what it is." The native Chicagoan-gone-L.A. leading lady is ready to bring her steamy show south once again, saying, "I don't know how much my hair is gonna frizz, but I'm willing to give up a good flat iron just to make everybody laugh."
Over the phone, Griffin is just as hilarious as you'd expect. Right off the bat, it's as if we've known each other for years, chatting over a stiff drink at a smoky bar.
"I love that I started you young with my profanity and inappropriate stories," Griffin says. One early Kathy Griffin memory, however, was wildly mild: Watching the sitcom Suddenly Susan, where Griffin played pessimistic food critic Vicki Groener alongside castmate and friend Brooke Shields. "It was so much cleaner then," she admits. "It's all changed!" Cue maniacal chuckles. We're not offended by the torrents of f-bombs and R-rated stories she's become synonymous with, and as a matter of fact, we love it.
Griffin's success, if you ask her, is due in large part to her dominant LGBT fanbase. "Where would we be without them?" she says in regards to the gay community. "I dressed myself today, and I look like crap." We doubt you look like crap, girl, but a gay friend can always help with that. "I can say that I have 'main gays' in every city," Griffin tells us. "I meet a lot of people at shows; I meet veterans and contest winners..." But, then, who does she call her true, one-and-only main gay? "Whenever a gay person says, 'Am I your main gay?' I just say yes out of panic!" she jokes.
Griffin not only relies on "the gays" for fashion advice but she supports LGBT rights and is an advocate for equal rights. Dubbed by many of her "main gays" as an honorary drag queen known as Sofonda Cox. She says, "It's direct and to the point," just like Griffin herself. Working extensively with the LGBT communities nationwide has landed her the prestigious Vanguard Award from GLAAD and multiple honors by organizations like the Trevor Project and even a 2007 induction as an Honorary Gay during the GAVYN Awards.
However, she wouldn't be the Kathy Griffin we all know and love if she didn't offer a slight jab at someone... Say, Ryan Seacrest, saying he's a star player on Team Kathy Loves the Gays. "Put in a wink sign!" she demands. "I don't actually want to go to jail for this fucking joke." So, Kathy, as promised: ; )
All joking aside (for now, anyway), her presence in the LGBT community is undeniable and deserves respect and praise, but we couldn't go too long without asking her some pretty silly questions, which she was totally ready and willing to answer. Come on, how many times in your life will you be on the phone with Kathy-fucking-Griffin (who hopefully saved your number into her phone after the interview)?!
So, being influenced by her own exceptionally random and often crude way of making people laugh, we asked for her favorite gay/lesbian entertainer. She matter-of-factly announced Cher -- though only after quite a lengthy pause. Like herself, Cher is a prominent figure in the gay community. "And quite frankly," she says, "I don't know a gay guy out there who is gayer than [me] or Cher." She continues by saying, "I don't mean to put down the openly gay artists or any of the people that have come out and been loud and proud... But you're not gonna beat Cher."
Cher seemed to be quite the hot topic for Griffin, who also favored Cher over RuPaul in a celebrity arm-wrestle showdown. At first, though, Griffin went with Ru, but after a violent debate in her office broke out, Griffin dramatically announces, "People are scratching each other's eye out over this. I had no idea! This is a firestorm, a Kathy-off!" She quickly revokes her initial statement and shows love for her friend Cher. "I will say that Cher would win only because I fear her wrath more," Griffin jokes, and mocks in her perfectly unrehearsed Cher voice, "She will probably tweet me at 3 in the morning and say, 'How dare you say RuPaul, bitch, I could take that bitch down!" But it's all love between the two, although Griffin does admit that Cher works out a lot, "maybe more than RuPaul." Whoever's the winner, we'd love to watch the show.
Somehow, someway, Griffin has bridged the gap between the 50-plusers and the youth, keeping herself relevant to all, largely in part to her constant calling out of mainstream cultural icons like the notoriously infamous Kardashian tribe. "All right, let me just cut to the chase," she says. "The only people I want to put in the electric fence are the Kardashians." The fence, you're probably wondering, is a reference to the suffocating social enclosure that has figuratively encapsulated the gay community for so long. In K. Griff style, the focus is on removing the barriers and reflecting them on folks like the Kardashians, who, she thinks, would more than likely fry out the fence with their buttpads, hair extensions, and false lashes. "I would actually feel bad for the fence in that scenario," Griffin says.
This idea resonates with The Kathy Show as well, where the host says: "Look, here's the deal. My live shows are like an electric fence that protects gay people." Her focus is to create an emotional safe spot where the audience is safe inside the studio, free to be who they are, no questions asked. And "based on their laughter," Griffin tells us, "the fence goes down in wattage." She also acknowledges that ideas like this are taken out of context and become controversial and that "the people at Bravo don't know what hit them."
Griffin knows exactly what she's doing, though, even if she and her crew are surprised every now and then by unannounced visits by other TV personalities -- the most recent of which was the bailiff, Bird, of Judge Judy fame.
"My mother," Maggie, who is a staple of the "Kathy Griffin" brand, "Is obsessed with Judge Judy, as are all old people." Griffin continues the tale by saying, "My mom has been to Cher's house but was way more dazzled to meet Bird the bailiff from Judge Judy." Griffin's mother, who has been featured in the majority of Griffin's endeavors, no longer travels to her daughter's out-of-state performances, but we are told she is treated like the queen she is each and every day by her daughter and her team.
But come on, this is Florida, right? The retirement capital of the world, for crying out loud! Well, Griffin has an answer for that too. "Here's the thing about my mom at 91," Griffin says. "She doesn't like to be around quote-unquote old people. She's one of the oldest people in the world, yet she thinks she's about 40; she feels to be around older people just isn't right." Touche, Maggie, touche.
But not even Maggie is safe from her own daughter's antics. "I might vajazzle my mother this week, who knows!" something Griffin herself did publicly in 2010 during a campaign to promote women's sexual health.
It is in ways like these that Griffin has flawlessly brought together a diverse audience. She is seamlessly interwoven as the satirical eye into the glitzy Hollywood culture, never losing sight of her own presence in the spotlight. "I have D-list moments, for sure," she says when we ask her if she honestly still considers herself part of the unpopular crowd. "Then I sort of accidentally have A-list moments." The superstar admits that even though she's an eight-time Emmy nominee -- twice, ironically, for Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List -- and four time Grammy nominee, she still gets nervous like anyone else. "I go to a celebrity party and I'm insecure," she says. "I'm looking for friends to hold my hand and walk me through it." Kathy, if you need a hand, we'll be that friend.
Watch Kathy Griffin at the Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood, on Saturday, June 2, at 8 p.m. Tickets available here.