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Suzanne Westenhoefer: Not just for the girls
Suzanne Westenhoefer: Not just for the girls
by Eric Andrews-Katz - SGN Contributing Writer

Suzanne Westenhoefer
July 11, 7:30 and 10 PM
The Triple Door


Suzanne Westenhoefer has appeared in many venues. She was considered to be the first open Lesbian comic at a time when influential television  such as Comedy Central, A&E, HBO or David Letterman  wasnt too eager to book such types. Her comedy CDs have won several awards, including the GLAMA for best comedy (three times) and the Gay and Lesbian American Music Award. Working mostly unscripted, she makes every night a unique comedy performance. The very funny lady took time from her (beloved) dogs playtime to have a phone conversation with the SGN.

Eric Andrews-Katz: What kind of obstacles have you had to overcome being the first openly Gay comic in the US?

Suzanne Westenhoefer: I was told that I would be ruining my career, or that admitting I was Gay would mean never having a career. Even from the closeted Gay/Lesbian comics, there wasnt a lot of support. They werent saying those things out of cruelty, it was more from concern. They just didnt want me to fail. From people who were out, they were like, You go, girl! Its been 18 years since I first started, and it was so different then.

Andrews-Katz: How old were you when you came out?

Westenhoefer: I was 19 when I told my parents, my family. I had an attraction to girls in high school, but that was the late 70s and it was kind of accepted.

Andrews-Katz: How did your parents react?

Westenhoefer: My mom thought it would mean I would be unhappy my entire life. That was what people thought. She was sad for me. I lived in a small town in Pennsylvania and that was more of a sign of the times. She was concerned I would have a horrible life. She got used to the idea pretty quickly and realized that the only difference in my happiness was the gender of the person I was involved with. My father was an ex-hippie, so he didnt care. One of my sisters didnt mind. She came out 15 years later. The other is a born-again Christian and thinks that all forms of sex are wrong and dirty.

Andrews-Katz: Do you prefer to work with predominately straight or Gay audiences?

Westenhoefer: I think its better with Gay audiences. One of my favorite things is to perform at event shows like Gay prides.

Andrews-Katz: Where were you this year for Gay pride?

Westenhoefer: I seemed to have missed it; always a week behind. I was in San Francisco the week before and did the HRC after theirs. I seem to be the warm-up for the week to come. I miss some of the optimism of when it wasnt such a large thing; back when we were still being called a sodomite.

Andrews-Katz: What challenges do you face performing unscripted?

Westenhoefer: Its naturally easier for me to work unscripted. Life is unscripted. If it was hard, I wouldnt be doing it. Its not that it isnt a challenge, its just that Im not scripted. I like being free-flowing.

Andrews-Katz: Since, according to your website, Survivor is your favorite show, how did you feel that in the last season all the finalists were women?

Westenhoefer: I loved that! Us chicks were getting together to watch the show. They [women] were always ganged up on and voted off, but this time they kept it together. It was cool and I was very excited about it. Although my new favorite is So You Think You Can Dance!

Andrews-Katz: In the recent political race you supported Hillary Clinton. Do you think that her position will open the door for future female political candidates?

Westenhoefer: I hope so! My first thought was [Tammy] Baldwin, the first and only openly Lesbian [elected to congress] from Wisconsin. Maybe shell be up there in the next election.

Andrews-Katz: Do you think Hillary will run again in 2012, or is it too soon to tell?

Westenhoefer: I dont think so. Shell be too old. Men can be older when it comes to politics, but women are different.

Andrews-Katz: Will you be an Obama supporter now or plead the political fifth?

Westenhoefer: Id vote for Obama. Up until now I never really studied his platform, but a lot of my friends are very much for him so he must have something fabulous going on. I still have a little bitterness [over Hillary] though. I really hoped she would have won.

Andrews-Katz: What is it like to be in the Guinness Book of World Records for the first Lesbian kiss?

Westenhoefer: That was fun! It was a thousand people on the steps of town hall in Provincetown. It was really great to look out and see that many people kissing at the same time.

Andrews-Katz: Have you done other political events?

Westenhoefer: I was at the big march on the capital in 1993. I was one of several comics who took turns entertaining. Lea Delaria got into big trouble for her comments [on having a fuckable first lady]. My agent had to go through great measures to assure people I didnt say it. It was ridiculous. Thats Leas job. Shes a comic!

Andrews-Katz: Are you still with the same girlfriend you kissed in Provincetown?

Westenhoefer: Yes. Its been four years, and we were dating a year before that.

Andrews-Katz: Do you think the California legalization of Marriage will stand up?

Westenhoefer: Yes! Well still have to do a lot of phone calls, e-mails and campaigning, but I feel pretty good about it. There wasnt as much immediate resistance. I think New Jersey will get it next, and then New York will. The blue states sooner than the red states will. Like with segregation, the south will grumble but eventually will have to come around. I will never stop fighting, but it was more fun when it was illegal.

Andrews-Katz: Will you be getting married in California?

Westenhoefer: My girlfriend gave me a Tiffany diamond ring and proposed. I cried. We want to make sure to get married before the ballots in November, but we both have hectic traveling schedules. Its more whirlwind than romance, but were hoping for the first weekend in September.

Andrews-Katz: Your comic career got started on a dare. Are you still in touch with the people who dared you?

Westenhoefer: No. They were guests where I bartended. They were encouraging. You should get up there. Come on. I miss bartending sometimes because Im very social. Thats why I try to talk to people after my shows. Even the nutcases.

Andrews-Katz: How do you handle the nutcases?

Westenhoefer: I smile and say things like, Really, that happened to you? Or Im sorry, I cant use that in my show. Its illegal.

Andrews-Katz: Ive read that youve only owned VW Beetles. Why is that?

Westenhoefer: It was my first and only [type of] car until the one I have now. Now its my girlfriends old small Mercedes wagon. I still have a German car, at least. I love having the space for groceries and such, but usually I only drive about 18 miles a month. When I work, its usually only driving to and from the airport. I still have a Beetle.

Andrews-Katz: On your website, theres a trivia section and there was one question I couldnt answer. What is your favorite movie?

Westenhoefer: American Beauty. It just touched a million things in my life. Not necessarily the way it was portrayed, but on many different levels.

Andrews-Katz: In 2000 you had an album (winning the GLAMA for best comedy CD) called Im Not Cindy Brady. Do people really confuse you with Susan Olsen?

Westenhoefer: Not since I cut my hair. But it happened twice. Suzanne Westenhoefer will be performing July 11 at 7 and 10 p.m. at the Triple Door. Make sure the boys know theyre welcome, she said. I guarantee theyll have a good time, too. Tickets available at www.ticketmaster.com.

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