Issue No.9 February 11, 2002

IGNITE ~ A New Year's Revolution
HOT GIRLZ ~ Margaret Cho
ISM ~ I am Ali - a film by dream hampton
ESOTERIC ~ Women of Color & Cervical Cancer
CHICA TO CHICA ~ Interracial Love Reveals Hidden Hate


intro and overview

How absolutely unreal was the drama in 2001? I know I wasn't the only one who could not wait to move beyond the somber, shell-shocked mood that seemed to fill lives in the wake of September 11th. Never really one for making resolutions, I definitely knew this year had to be different. I mean we can all say we're going to start eating right, exercising or quit smoking. But by February how many of us even remember these empty vows, never mind the fact that by Valentine's Day we've had more Haagen Daaz and Newport Lights than we can count.

Many, many years ago famed philosopher, Dr. Ambedkar declared, "For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for the reclamation of human personality." Having resolve and dreams are great and probably even essential, but lately I've been focused on actualization. In 2002, I have New Year's Revolutions. In light of having debt, being out of shape and especially in light of 9.11, I am going to create a thriving business, travel abroad and start working on that book I've been yapping about for the past 5 years. This year I'm going to eat my ice cream and hangout online at and enjoy the freedom I have to do both!

I'd be interested in hearing your New Year's Revolutions. Please send them to and we will post them on the site.

Nicole Moore, Editor


inspired, creative and groundbreaking


Margaret Cho
by Uma Amuluru

It’s 11pm on a warm Sunday night in mid-October and Margaret Cho is about to take the stage for her sold-out one-woman show at Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City. I can barely sit still as I think back to the first time I saw her. It was the mid-nineties and my entire family stood perplexed in the living room as we watched one of the first Asians we had ever seen on prime time television. Soon the five of us were cackling with delight as she imitated her mother and joked about what it was like to be different in America. I pushed my enormous glasses up a little higher on my nose, ran my tongue over my brace-lined teeth and thought, ‘she is going to change my entire life – she makes being different look so cool.’

Years later when I picked up her autobiography, “I Am the One That I Want,” I realized there was more to Margaret than her ability to make people laugh. A stunningly humane confession, the book delves into the comedian’s struggle with alcohol, love, eating disorders, and self-esteem. Although she has now overcome most of those issues, she betrays her trade’s reliance on the punch line – this book is not about the happy ending but rather about the journey to it. Make no mistake, though, she had me laughing the entire time.

Currently on tour with her latest show, ‘Notorious C.H.O.,’ Margaret is stronger and funnier than ever. She jokes about sex and being a “fag-hag,” but also laces her show with poignant vignettes about gay rights and a woman’s self-image. It’s not just about being Asian anymore – she is a tribute to humanity with her candor and grace. Now she makes being strong and surviving look cool.

With her book coming out in paperback in May 2002, Margaret is getting ready for big things this year and no doubt she’s laughing all the way to the bank. During a break from her recent tour, Margaret sat down with theHotness and talked about being Korean, loving Lil’ Kim and dealing with, of all things-- sadness

theHotness: I loved the show, loved listening to people laugh during the show. Why did you title it “Notorious C.H.O.”?

Margaret Cho: It was kind of a joke between my friends and I. We were talking about a new title for my show and we had a kind of a funny idea conversation about Lil' Kim and how much I love her and she named her album “Notorious K.I.M.” and from there, the title just stuck.

tH: What are your thoughts on female rappers like Lil' Kim and Lauryn Hill?

MC: I think they are great. I really love their music and to me, they represent a new wave of feminism and power. They take feminism out of theory and put it into practice. Feminism always seemed to be about universities and education and these huge women’s studies departments; it is very much an ivory tower thought process and these women take feminism down to almost street level-- into practice-- where they actually live it and do it. It's very multicultural and very exciting-- music to me is so much about social reform and more than just what it is on a superficial level, so I really respect these artists for what they do.
tH: Do you consider yourself a feminist?

MC: Oh yeah - as much as I consider myself a woman I consider myself a feminist - I never understood women who don't consider themselves to be feminist - it always seemed that just by being a woman, you had to be a feminist.

tH: When you first got started, there weren't (and still aren't) many Asian women in the media. How did you feel when you started - was it the driving impetus-- a "someone's gotta be the first one" attitude-- or did it really not have anything to do with why or how you got into comedy?

MC: It didn't really have much to do with it, to be honest with you. I was more looking for freedom from the life that my parents wanted for me and from the restrictions that my culture placed upon me. I basically didn’t want to be a bank teller! My parents had a very conservative vision of what I could grow up to be - a teacher, an accountant, etc. My job options were not appealing and I couldn't exist within the framework that was set up for a young Korean woman at the time. So to leave it and go be an artist - that to me was the only option. I never thought about whether or not I was going to be successful or not - it was more about what I wanted to do and what made me happy.

But now you are a role model to many Asian American women - how do you feel about that? Are you comfortable with it?

MC: Oh, I am very comfortable with it. I think it's great. I mean, I live my life the way that I want to live it. I'm very happy and if I can help other people get to a place with that kind of joy, then that is a really great way to be a role model.

tH: Do you think that things have changed in the media for Asians since you started?

MC: Not really. It really hasn't changed. It's actually amazing how little has changed across the board for all minorities. I think the one place it has changed is for gay men - that really has blossomed in mainstream media. Lots of wonderful stuff that has happened for them and I think that is because so many gay artists and gay writers have taken it upon themselves to create and get behind or in front of the camera, spurring a wonderful acceptance across the board of gay culture.

tH: I know everyone asks, but how do you feel about your show, ‘All American Girl’ being cancelled?

MC: You know, it really wasn't the right show. I was devastated but knew it wasn't the right thing. There were too many people involved in that show and the whole process was just really difficult. In the end, it wasn't me on television anymore.

tH: There is a lot of overlap in material between the show and the book - how are the two mediums different for you emotionally?

MC: They are different in that the book allows me to be a lot more detailed and a lot more melancholy. There is more of a sadness to my writing as opposed to my performance because I have to keep things light in a performance and still be funny. I have to take the audience and bring them to different places and make them understand where I am coming from. With my writing I can explain a lot more and go more into depth with the subject matter.

tH: You talk about several difficulties in your show and your book - weight control, being a minority, drugs and alcohol. Does the book symbolize closure on all that? Do your life lessons signify the end of a journey of sorts - perhaps reaching peace within yourself?

MC: I still struggle but I struggle in a different way. Over the years a lot of things have changed and what I go through right now is a lot less extreme. It is a constant process of growing and improving my life. It's helpful that I have been able to chronicle my life and hopefully it will help others who are struggling with their own lives.

tH: I have definitely been affected by your book. There were a lot of things that touched me and I feel like I know you now! (laughter)

MC: That's great. It really is such a personal project to write a book - you lay down a lot of yourself, but it has been really rewarding.

tH: You have a movie out, a book and a new show - you're gaining accolades and praise from everyone. What's left for you? What do you want to work on next?

MC: I really want to write another book - which is hard because the touring is extensive. A lot of my energy is devoted to that right now and I get home after a night of two shows and I'm exhausted. But that is what I am planning on doing.

tH: I was touched by the sad childhood stories in your book. If you could tell yourself as a little girl one thing, what would it be?

MC: I would say that everything is going to be okay. You know, you grow up with this incredible insecurity and dread that things won't work out when you grow up and it is so scary and I just want to reassure her and say, 'Just wait - it's gonna be so fabulous. You are going to be so fabulous!’

~ Uma Amuluru’s New Year’s Revolution is to do like Margaret Cho and put her money where her mouth is and attend Journalism School in the fall.



music, books, film, tv and websites


I Am Ali ( dream hampton, Director )

Amidst all the fuss and rah, rah over Michael Mann’s epic bio pic of Muhammad Ali featuring the fresh rapper, Will Smith, emerges an independent short directed by one of journalism’s most hated writers, dream hampton. dream’s cinematic debut is a 17-minute sagacious slice of mania, fear and frailty that zeros in on the lives of Cam, played by Ishmael Butler (formerly known as Butterfly of the now defunct Grammy-Award winning hip-hop trio Digable Planets) and his girlfriend Bobbi, who is portrayed by Hollywood’s best kept secret, Aunjanue Ellis. Two minutes into the film and everything seems normal-- two twenty-something urban-bohemian lovers lying in bed watching footage from one of Ali’s famed bouts getting ready for another day of work. However, minutes later when the surface is scratched, what we initially took as Cam’s fascination with Ali, suddenly tragically distorts into all out mental dysfunction and we realize that this romance isn’t going to be your usual love jones fare.

Bobbi is clearly a stand-by-your-man type of woman and under dream’s direction, Aunjanue is able to infuse her character with a subtle mix of vulnerability, passion and innocence without coming off as some silly ho. “It’s not like this is the 8th grade and this is the fucking Victory tour,” Bobbi blasts, letting us know she’s got some spine to back-up all that heart. But it’s when she sees Cam, outside her Times Square office window taking off his jacket, doing push-ups and boxing the air declaring in Cassius Clay speak that “bettin’ on Sonny, they gon lose all they money” to passersby, that Bobbi’s determined exterior cracks and her pain and frustration ooze like maple from a punctured sapling. Although this short focuses on Cam’s schizophrenia, it is more how his behavior affects Bobbi that keeps “I Am Ali,” more about desolation than about debilitation.

When asked if this project was autobiographical, dream reveals, “I am an activist, and when I met Assata Shakur in the summer of 2000 all she talked about was mental and spiritual health. Then Angela Davis gave a speech saying the next revolution would occur in mental health, so those two women, two activists, whose opinions mean so much to my personal work inspired me to look more closely at the subject. I'm also inspired by bell hooks' recent direction, focusing on love, and I imagined what it would be like to be in love with a man unraveling in that way,” admits dream. “The film to me is about her (Bobbi).”

dream, a Detroit native who has made a name for herself interviewing hiphop’s finest such as Tupac, The Notorious BIG and Jay-Z for a number of national hiphop, urban mags, chose to juxtapose the braggadocio of Ali with mental illness to show how both define and refract young black manhood. “Before Q-Tip put me on to Muhammad Ali I wasn't up on him. I mean he was like Charlie Parker, I knew he was the greatest and new his bio-sketch, but who has listened to much more than "Salt Peanuts"? Well I hadn't. One of my friends was arrested on the Grand Concourse (a major avenue in the Bronx, NY) in his underwear. He told a woman he was Jesus and to give him her car. So I began thinking about the kind of delusions that are had-- that they are all so grand. And Ali fits into that because he is so messianic...with the whole black male iconography thing. So they're all very personal, intellectual, even political, issues I was working out…in a dark comedy. Cuz when we get uncomfortable we laugh.”

And when we laugh we heal. I guess you could say “I Am Ali” floats like a butterfly, but soars when it stings like a bee.

“I Am Ali,” executive produced by Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson from the Roots was the first film screened at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.

~ Nicole Moore




media bits and news bytes


Multicultural Campaign Aims to Decrease the Shocking Incidence Rate of Cervical Cancer

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and the Office of Women's Health, Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, have announced the launch of an aggressive public education campaign to help decrease the alarming rates of cervical cancer among high-risk, women of color residing in Los Angeles County. In support of the program, The California Endowment awarded a $2.2 million grant, matched by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors to fund a multicultural media, education and community outreach campaign targeting high-risk, undeserved women of color.

According to USC's County Surveillance Research, cervical cancer disproportionately affects women of color. The incidence rates in Los Angeles County among Latinas is 19.5/100,000, 10.8/100,000 among African-American women and 15.2/100,000 among Korean women which is nearly three times higher than the national rate of 7.4/100,000.

For the full story, go to:




expressing ourselves


Interracial Love Reveals Hidden Hate
By Asako Konishi

I have been in a wonderful relationship for 4 years now. I am Japanese and he is African-American. The fact that he is Black is not agreeable with my mother who is disappointed that I am not with a nice Asian or at least a Caucasian man that is either a doctor, investment banker or a lawyer. If she only knew how boring I find these types. Believe me, I know as I have dated quite a few of them.

My boyfriend, Kevin, is the creative type and owns his own business. He is a hip restaurateur. Having opened many high profile restaurants in Manhattan, he is not only brilliant, but a gifted entrepreneur. Yes, I’m biased, but many would agree he’s been successful. Our relationship is no different than anyone else’s. It requires a lot of work and it can get hard at times. What is difficult is maintaining the balance of everyday life between the home and the restaurant. As with most couples this has been very challenging. But it is even more difficult because of the misperceptions and stereotypes that we must deal with on a daily basis-- from our families, our friends, our community and even sometimes from ourselves.

In Japan, it is highly taboo to date out of your race. “Good girls from good families” date and marry Japanese men from good families. White men even still raise an eyebrow and require a thorough background check. Anything else is out of the question. We don’t even accept Koreans or Chinese. I knew all of this.

Having been raised in Japan at an International School where I went to school with kids from 28 different countries around the world, I thought the traditional rules didn’t apply in our family. My friends of all colors and races reflected this at my birthday parties. We had become a true cosmopolitan family. Or so I thought. Why didn’t she show any signs of distress then?

Needless to say, my decision to date Black men has significantly altered my relationship with my mother. We have gone months without talking to each other. It is very strained and volatile to this very day.

In my mother’s eye, my Black boyfriends are unacceptable and in the past, she has threatened to disown me. I do not think you just read that last sentence very carefully. I said, “disown.” When your parents or in this case, my only parent, seriously contemplates disowning you from the family, it breaks you. I was blinded by tears with a myriad of feelings, mostly of anger and shock. Then depression set in and I have not been quite the same person since.

She believes that all Black men are dangerous or bad. I remember us watching TV during the aftermath of the Rodney King verdict and seeing this white truck driver dragged out of his truck and beaten. “What savage animals they are,” she screamed in Japanese. I recall a time when we were watching MTV Music Awards and she said, “Blacks are so good at dancing;” or when we would see the Knicks play on TV, she would make a similar statement about their athletic ability and she meant it as a compliment. The fact is she has difficulty believing that my Black boyfriends are not drug dealers, basketball players or entertainers.

It all started when I first brought my paralegal Black boyfriend to meet her. He was a loser in the end but that’s not the point. She immediately dismissed him because of the color of his skin. For this reason alone, I stayed with him much too long just to prove to her that his color was not an issue.

I know that when my mother first met Kevin she was searching for something negative to say about him. We went to dinner and right away, she started her investigative reporting. She was impressed that he owned his own business and was even surprised that they had much in common. She couldn’t find anything bad to say so she surmised:
“I just can’t figure out why he has gotten married? He is in his mid 30’s right? I find that strange….”
“Mom, he was married and divorced, just like you.”
“Oh, I see,” she said curtly and then stated, “He would be a good friend.”

It is not good enough for her that I found a great guy in New York who loves me a lot, not scared to make a lifetime commitment, that deals with all my shit, and is good to me.

As if there wasn’t enough drama with my mother, there are those tense moments I experience sometimes with Black women and men. When Kevin and I walk down the streets in New York, I get these looks-- piercing looks from some Black women. I don’t know exactly what they are thinking but I have my suspicions. “Look at another brother not with a sister. And she probably doesn’t even speak a lick of English.” I get those looks a lot.

Then there have been those Black men who think just because I am with another Black man that I want to sleep with him too. They mouth things like, “Sweet and Sour” and call me “China”. This puts me face to face with one of my own misperceptions and pet peeves-- those Hip Hop, black men loving Japanese girls with braids or an artificial afro here on a temporary US visit. There is a contingent of these girls here with their Black boyfriends and I wonder how they communicate or walk in those chunky shoes. Most can barely speak one complete sentence and they pay for everything. I used to get so upset seeing these girls that were clearly being taken advantage of but not anymore. I have a different outlook on them today. I suppose most are here with a vacation attitude. Like when we go to Cancun or Hedonism in Jamaica. And I guess I just have issues of my own to face up to.

In the end I love Kevin and we are going to get married. At the same time, my mother, a single parent who raised my sister and I while holding down a very successful real estate empire in Japan is my role model. She taught me that as a woman there is nothing you cannot achieve, if you put everything you got into it. The sad part is that she will never understand that I have invested deeply in my relationship and have everything I want. I have found love.

~ Asako Konishi and Kevin are planning to get married sometime this year.






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