By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
By Joseph Hess
By Allsion Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By RFT Music
By Christian Schaeffer
By Gabriel San Roman
Margaret Cho has had her own TV show, a couple of best-selling books, a Grammy-nominated comedy album, and two feature films based on her national tours. But 2007 saw a new conquest for the comic: She became a viral video queen. Cho's sexy, traveling circus-like spectacle, The Sensuous Woman — which melds music, comedy and burlesque and is performed by herself and a myriad of her talented pals — was a critical success in LA, New York and Chicago.
But when a clip from the show showing the comedienne twirling her ta-tas with awe-inspiring speed, clad in nothing but panties and tassle'd pasties, was posted on YouTube and subsequently every blog on the net, Cho became not only a national cyber sensation, but a champion for voluptuous women everywhere. "I got really good at twirling those tassels. It was very popular online and quite controversial," she says. "Women loved it and felt empowered but a few straight guys were furious because I challenge the stripper archetype."
But then again, challenging pre-conceived notions and stereotypes is what Cho does. The Korean-American funny lady has always had a strong political and cultural viewpoint, and her work has explored not only her Asian background and upbringing, but also her views on homosexuality (currently married, she claims to be bi-sexual) and the government (big shocker: she's anti-Bush).
Perhaps inspired by the hubbub her half-naked gyrations caused on the web (but more likely just another extension of her never-ending quest to challenge the status quo), Cho's next project, titled Beautiful, will be a stand-up show that ponders the age-old question of what real beauty is. It will be her first stand-up show since the Assassin tour in 2005, and her personal blog will play a role.
"Right now I am doing a big list of who I think is beautiful," she says. "People can log on to margaretcho.com to see if they made the list. It's [everyone from] famous people, to friends, to anyone who happens to catch my eye."
Surely, there'll be some music artists on the list. Cho, who just got tattooed like a rockstar on TLC's LA Ink and made a splash emceeing Cyndi Lauper's True Colors Tour this past year too, is definitely a music enthusiast and her tastes are diverse. She can be seen in the Dresden Dolls' "Shores of California" video (which parodies David Lee Roth's "California Girls" ), and even directed a clip for one of her '07 faves. Here, the sounds she wiggled to this year.
Ryan Adams, Easy Tiger (Lost Highway). The best album of this year. I just listened to it over and over and over and over. It makes me feel like I am one of those girls who can wear a very, very short dress with cowboy boots and I don't have to wear tights because my legs are perfect and tan. I also saw him play with his band the Cardinals at the Wilshire Theatre and I screamed myself sore.
Crowded House, Time on Earth (ATO). It's amazing. I love Neil Finn and have had a solid crush on him for nearly 23 years. I got to tell him so after their awesome show at the Greek Theatre this Summer. Love them.
The Cliks, Snakehouse (label) An incredible record. I went on the True Colors Tour with them and also directed their video "Eye in the Back of my Head."
Bjork, Volta (Elektra). This was in heavy rotation. I love her and she is insanely cute. On the cover she looks really Super Mario Bros or Donkey Kong... Her fashion sense is crazy. So cool.
Antony Hegarty. When he's singing he sounds like he is clutching the pearls around his neck and spilling a gin and tonic all over the place.
Looks like Dave Navarro is going to be all about instant gratification next year. The L.A.-born-and-bred guitarist, who launched his own Internet TV show and directed his first porno in 2007, is obviously inspired by both the immediacy the web provides and the quick turnaround of the adult film industry.
"These things come out during that burst of inspiration" — no pun intended — "whereas with records, by the time you're talking about it, it's something you created long ago," he explains. "That's one of the things I'm looking forward to with future music projects — I'm just going to immediately put out stuff online as I record it, song by song."
And though the status of Navarro's last proper band, The Panic Channel, featuring his former Jane's Addiction bandmate Stephen Perkins, is "up in the air" after a less-than-well-received Capitol release in late '06, Navarro still has music to make and fans eager to see what he'll do next. That might include performances with his all-star cover band Camp Freddy (also the name of his radio show on LA's Indie 103.1), jamming on live guitar over his pal DJ Skibble's scratch attacks for select club dates, or one day maybe even reforming Jane's.