We’re excited to have you back in the Mid-Atlantic. What can fans expect from your upcoming shows in Frostburg, Md. and D.C. later?
The shows in Frostburg will be a little more stripped down. I’m coming in with my musical director Mitch Kaplan, so it will just be me and the piano. It'll be a little more intimate, but primarily the same show in terms of material and content. In D.C., I'll have my full band, the Flawless Zircons and my musical director and guitar and drums.
My shows are always comprised of material that’s curated from my life, my personal experiences, and the way the world effects me and my reflection back of the world to the audience, mixed in with groovy songs and big moments and thoughtful, whimsical moments. It's like my own version of a Broadway mini-show, all by myself.
In terms of material and your process, how do you keep it fresh – not only for the audience, but for yourself?
I constantly add in things that are happening in my life. Between my travels, the different things I do in my career, and the fact that I have a 14 and 1/2 year old daughter, my girlfriend, and our dog George, there's always something going on that keeps it fresh.
The Frostburg website describes your show as “sharing perspectives on the evolution of women’s issues, current trends and your life long passions.” How would you summarize your most important life-long passions?
Having a career that reflects what I believe - I've always been able to stand tall and proud of my material and things I've done in my career. I haven’t dumbed it down, sold out, or done things that I'm not proud of, and that I can continue to be a creative force and reach out to people with my work.
Also, some of the philanthropic things that I associate myself with, whether they be feminist causes, gay causes, supporting homeless children, animals, and the environment. I try to pinpoint things that I feel all come together at a central place in the world.
After wrapping up two nights in Maryland, you’re headed down to the Howard Theater in D.C. If I’m not wrong, this will be your first show since you came to town with your redux of Without You I’m Nothing in 2008.
It seems this D.C. show will be an interesting juxtaposition from the 2008 show, as we’ve been through two general election cycles.
I know, it's amazing, right?
What are your thoughts about our President’s performance during his first four years in office?
I think he's been amazing. Despite the tremendous odds that have battled against him - the dark forces that have tried to pull him down, he has risen above it. He is a very self-reflexive, thoughtful person who deeply cares about people in this country who are struggling. Does he always pull it off? Is it always perfect? How the hell could it be? But considering everything, I'm delighted and support him fully.
There have been those within the LGBT community who say that the President hasn’t done enough for the community. What would you say to those naysayers?
I'd say, "Yeah I'm thrilled you feel that way. Imagine four years with John McCain or the next four years with Mitt Romney." Not only would there be no forward movement, there would be backward movement. This is a process. We've gone from people who are vehemently anti-gay, homophobic to bringing over 60 percent of the American public on board with the idea and support of gay marriage. The shell has been cracked, the egg is out and it's being tended to, but it has to be done incrementally or it will fall apart.
I mean, let's just not be naïve. The Civil Rights movement in the ‘60s and the feminist movement didn't happen overnight, and in many ways they are still evolving. You can't just change any movement that involves a strong fear-based resentment and resistance overnight. You can't go inside people's heads and say, "Listen, you've got to accept us and this is the way it’s going to be". You’ve got to handle it in a way where its palatable and people at the very least don’t fight it.
I think the fact that he repealed Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and was the first sitting president to openly support marriage equality, in an election cycle no less, are massively historic things that people tend to brush aside to immediately ask "What's next?"
What's next is everybody just needs to keep on track and do what they need to do to support him and support themselves. That's what's next. That's always what’s next, P.S., by the way.
I hate to get too far of ourselves here, but what do you think of the rumblings of Hilary in 2016?
I think it's fabulous. I will fully support her as well and I think she will be an amazing President. I think she's the perfect woman to be the first female president. She is overqualified. She is passionate. She's taken her lumps and she's come out better than ever. I think her four years as Secretary of State were phenomenal. She's a brilliant person and she'd be the perfect person to hand over the mantle to after eight years of Obama.
I can imagine that Maryland becoming the first state to recognize marriage equality by popular vote will make your upcoming shows extra special. I noticed you attended a couple of fundraisers last fall for Maryland Marriage Equality.
Yes I did. I met the governor and his wife, who I really enjoyed talking to. They're very cool.
I am not ashamed to say that our governor is the dishiest governor in our country.
Yes, he's very cute. So is his wife. They're adorable.
Switching gears, I wanted to ask you as a pop culture and celebrity savant, who are you currently fascinated by?
Well, it's always a lot of different people. I love Serena and Venus Williams. I love tennis, but I specifically love them and they got me into watching tennis, besides John McEnroe, who I find a fascinating ongoing character in the sports world.
I'm a football fan, so I followed all of the different teams this year. I found the whole gay locker room debate actually a positive thing. I think it’s opened up a lot of conversation in the sports world, as people were sort of being naïve about it who are now saying, “Well, I guess now we have face that reality.”
In terms of things on television I love Modern Family and Downton Abbey. I'm also a big fan of Connie Britton, the actress who was on Friday Night Lights and Nashville.
I've seen some amazing films this year, Silver Linings Playbook, Beasts of the Southern Wild and Argo were all amazing. Everyone in those projects were very inspiring to me this year.
Musically, there isn't really anyone right now who is blowing my mind. I tend to dip into my playbook from the years gone by - Stevie Nicks, Joanie Mitchell, Nina Simone, Dusty Springfield, Heart and Carole King. I'm maybe a little retro, but if I have time to listen to music, that’s what I’ll listen to. There's some good new music too, but I always tend to go back to things that calm me down.
You bring that retro vibe to those "sweaty, big tittied bitches of rock and roll", as you’ve called them in the past, that maybe your younger fans weren’t so tuned into. You certainly helped me discover Heart and especially Stevie Nicks in a totally different way.
Exactly! [Laughs]. Well, she is unbelievable. I mean, what can you say - she's one of the greats.
What upcoming projects can fans catch you in?
There's one big project for a scripted television show that I’m at the ground level of that I'm hoping comes together. I'm guest starring on The Neighbors on ABC in the next few weeks and will be shooting an independent film in the fall, as well as continuing to go on the road and do my shows. It’s always a mix of TV and film stuff, and continuing to be a creative person and an actress for hire.
LIVE! At StarScape Presents Sandra Bernhard
Thursday, Feb. 28, 7:30pm
& Friday, March 1 • 8pm • $32
Frostburg State University
101 Braddock Rd. • Frostburg
Saturday, March 2, 8pm • $35-40
The Howard Theatre
620 T St., NW • Washington, DC