Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 25, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 20, 2009 Page: 16 of 52
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Sandra Bernhard lets 'em rip — on DL black men, crazy Christians
and how the financial crisis is the best thing to happen to America
By Daniel A. Kusner Life+Style Editor
While the economy collapses, many of
us are desperately seeking lightning
rods of wisdom.
Whether it's tearing Sarah Palin or the Bush
twins a new one, Sandra Bernhard doesn't pull
punches. And after 9/11, the funny Jewish intel-
lectual says she got Dixie Chicked — and was
essentially blacklisted in Texas.
Now as we dive deeper into recession,
Dallas is in for a bargain. On Saturday, Bernhard
returns to Big D for a suprisingly intimate and
affordable chance to hear her as she plays the
With her pal Dallas radio jock Jack E. Jett
introducing Bernhard promises to deliver an
improv act and some songs.
Dallas Voice recently caught up with
Bernhard, who was at her New York home.
Are you preparing any rants about the economy —
and whom we should throw stones at? No.
Everyone should just throw stones at themselves.
So, everyone must get stoned? [Laughs] Yeah. And
everyone needs to stop blaming others and take
on more responsibility.
Can we rant about our current financial situation?
It's the same thing I've been saying for eight
years. First, George Bush stole the election. And
because of 9/11, everyone just stood there with
their thumbs up their asses. To me, 9/11 was a
total manipulation. And to this day, I don't fully
We knew 9/11 was going to happen — we had
the Intelligence, and nobody heeded the warn-
ing. But everybody just brushed that under the
rug. Then we got into Iraq. Then George Bush
wins again, narrowly....
It's the nature of politics. People are finally real-
izing that they have a voice. I don't understand
why they had to be kicked in the teeth for eight
years to get the point.
Are you afraid to criticize Obama? Why would I eriti
He's against gay marriage. Plus that inauguration
crap with Rick Warren while Bishop Robinson
got shafted. I don't think that's the issue. The
gay community needs do what they did since
Prop 8 passed. Start organizing. Everybody who
has fought any batties — whether it's the black
community or whomever— has had to fight.
Now we have to fight. Marriage is a state-to-state
thing, and it will evolve. And I don't think
Obama wiii ever stand in the way of that.
Obama is a black man. I mean, most black men
are in the closet. They are on the DL, honey. It's
a cuiturai and religious thing — a Jesus thing.
And everybody needs to wake up to that shit,
16 I dallasvoice.com I 02.20.09
Should gays hand Obama's ass back to him and say,
"What's your beef with gay marriage?" It's fine if
people want to tell Obama, "We're going to
effect these changes — and don't stand in our
But until everyone gets past this religion thing,
nobody is going to be on board.
Do fundamental Jews ever irritate you? No. They
don't bother me. Anybody who takes the Torah
literally is out of their minds. It's written by man
— it's man's definition of morality. God wasn't
sitting up there with a big chisel and ham-
JEWISH QUEER PRINCESS: Bernhard was ghetto fabulous before it was fabulous.
So it's just the Christians? They're
fucking crazy. [Laughs.]
Everybody is nuts, Jesus
What's the truth that you're
speaking to power in
2009? This is the mes-
sage: Get up every day,
and do what you can to
change your life —
change your conscious-
ness. Power up on an emo-
tional and spiritual level. Take
responsibility for your actions.
Enjoy your life by embracing what you
Has the financial crisis impacted your world? It's
affected everyone. I think it's the best thing
that's happened to this county. People have to
stop looking to material things to find happiness.
We need to stop making movies about women
who have traded their intellect for shopping —
women who have spent the last 10 years res-
culpting their bodies by injecting chemicals and
having surgeries. The whole consciousness has
On Feb, 21, Bernhard peformsa
midnight "Carnivale" show at
The Rose Room Theatre at Station 4,
3911 Cedar Springs Road
Tickets, $20 (includes $10 cover to S4).
Rose Room cast performs at 11 p.m.
Proceeds benefit AIDS Arms and
Resource Center of Dallas.
When it comes to fashion, Dallas could benefit from
a sensible bitchslap. I pick from a wide variety.
Friends give me stuff to wear. I like things I just
buy off the rack. There have been so many great
things on sale. I've bought fabulous dresses.
And great shoes. I bought two pair of Manolo
Blahniks on sale for $450. This is a
time to buy stuff and capitalize on
great sales. I can't tell people in
Dallas how to dress. They've
got their own weird — kind
of like, big, big hair and big
things happening. It's a big
Mix It up — go high and
low. It's about good taste.
Like Michelle Obama — she
mixes J. Crew with new cool
designers. She knows how to
mix it up.
Did having to tighten your belt sur-
prise you? Honey, I've always iived
below my means. Since I was 18 and making
my own money, I've never— ever — owed one
dollar in my life. That's my whole point. Live at
the level you can live, and be comfortable. If
that means not being grand and cooking at
home every night and doing what you go to do,
then that's what you got to do.
And don't have 10 kids. Have one or two kids.
That's enough. Be a great parent to one kid
instead of a lousy parent to 10 kids.
Besides listening to Suze Orman, are you looking for
lightning rods of wisdom? Yeah, myself. If I
already haven't given you enough stems of wis-
I don't need to look to anybody else. I look at my
girlfriend and my daughter — we've never lived
ostentatiously. That's the best advice I can give
— live below your means. If that doesn't res-
onate, I don't know what does. That's what Suze
Orman tells everybody. But i've been saying it for
20 years — when we were in the middle of hav-
ing these, like, big, fabulous extravagant
moments. I kept saying to everybody, you know
what? Don't go there —you don't need a $5,000
You were ghetto fabulous before it was fabulous. You
Your Dallas gig will be dramatically intimate. And for
die-hard fans, it's only $20. Over the holidays. I
just did a week at Joe's Pub In New York. And it's
only 155 seats. I did some of my best shows in
those settings. People like to be up close.
I just have one request: That people aren't com-
pletely drunk or high on drugs. Can you just wait
until I'm done performing?'Sometimes these late-
night gigs bite you on the ass because everyone's
so fucked up. If you want to hear what I have to
say, don't talk while I'm talking. And don't be
falling all over the place while I'm trying to be the
When I'm done, do what you want. When I'm
onstage, please, shut up, and listen to me. And
don't make me have to say this when I'm
Here’s what’s next.
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 25, No. 40, Ed. 1 Friday, February 20, 2009, newspaper, February 20, 2009; Dallas, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239052/m1/16/: accessed May 9, 2021), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.