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December 28, 2011 By:
Love the One You're With
Oh, honey, you are looking so fine -- but you knew that, didn't you?
Why else would Sandra Bernhard -- she of the before-there-was Angelina-there-was-Sandra pouty lips -- call her new self-revelation of a revue, I Love Being Me, Don't You?
Who wouldn't. The woman whose lesbian leitmotif threaded its way through Roseanne in the 1990s and made David Letterman an unwitting member of a threesome when the winsome Bernhard and Madonna locked eyes on his show, has a lock on those who find her bad to the bone.
She's that good.
In a way she's the best to kick Old Father Time where it hurts for hurting all of us this past year, which she, of course, will most certainly do when she ushers in the new year at the Painted Bride www.paintedbride. org, from Jan. 10 to 14.
Some are born to run, some born to lose: Was Bernhard born to be cool? "Oh, for sure my parents mixed a martini and made it all happen," she reasons. Ella Fitzgerald "was scatting in the background."
Politics is always at the forefront of Bernhard's mind. But will the former Playboy pin-up pin the nation's troubles on President Barack Obama like she once did on his predecessor, sparing no body part in her adjective-adjudicated assessment?
Or will she be prim and unpressurized now that the troops have come home from Iraq and she's coming back to a city she adores and admires?
It's not like the former kibbutznik chicken flicker has lost her pluck since her teen time spent summering in Israel. No, this onetime manicurist to the stars is set to nail everyone and everything once more.
And if this now partnered 56-year-old Jewish mom of a Bat Mitzvah-age kid -- they reside in L.A.--doubles as a hero to the down-and-outspoken, is it any wonder she's a natural to stage an Occupy Theater right here?
Maybe that's exactly what her gig at the Painted Bride is. The movement occupies her thoughts at the very least: "I think it woke a lot of people up and mobilized the troops; the seed is planted and that's always a good thing."
Whatever it takes, says this bad and beautiful borderline bandit who steals the night of its darkness for her own enlightenment and that of her fans.
There is a reason so many of the tunes recorded by this manic superstar are labeled "explicit"; music is no different than her manner. (Some fans here may recall her flashes of skin that went along with those flashes of brilliance she exhibited some years back at a TLA appearance.)
With a superb singing voice swept along with her satiric attacks on society or whatever displeases her at the moment, she seems to gain momentum with each sneer and snakebit perspective on friends-cum-enemies.
After all, she says, "That's my job, to be a social commentator."
The woman whose "Excuses for Bad Behavior" album was more mea conniptions than mea culpa makes no excuses for using politicos as a whipping post.
Fulminations as her fulcrum? "I have always been able to balance the irreverent and funny and smart," she says.
The smart mouth bespeaks a busy brain that allows her to shift dynamics and topics swiftly. She is indeed a quick study -- as well as a longtime student of Kabbalah. But she has since shifted from full immersion to imagining benefits of other aspects of Judaism, finding solace in attending services at an Orthodox synagogue.
Shift now to the future, where TV is looking pretty good: Bernhard is set for Kristin Chenoweth's upcoming ABC series of GCB (as a Jew penetrating the circle of Good Christian Bitches?), based on a tome by Kim Gatlin.
It all comes on the spiked heels of Bernhard's appearance as half of a gay couple on Hot In Cleveland, where she had the hots for Valerie Bertinelli's character and joined her on a gay cruise -- think lesbian Love Boat.
Any bites for remakes of that iconic TV show that set sail in the 1980s?
She laughs. "Endless; I am the perfect entertainment director, don't you think?"
As for TV, one can only wonder what Sex & the City would have been had Bernhard opted for the part offered her.
Did someone read her her Miranda rites first and that's why she turned it down? "You know how Miranda was always eating cake out of the garbage? And crying because she didn't have a man?" she said, talking over the job offer with host Andy Cohen while appearing as a guest on his Watch What Happens Live cable series.
Watch what would have happened to the film and its sequel, avers Bernhard. Wimped-out weddings? Husband Steve guarding his crotch? The films would have been "edgy, dark, sexy and raw," says Bernhard if she had been in them.
This flinty Flint, Mich., native, who has made a point of saying whatever she wants, wherever she wants, takes no one's garbage.
Not even from the monkey who bit her on that infamous David Letterman show years ago. Reportedly, that simian hasn't been the same since, unable to get the bitter taste out of his mouth. "A most unpleasant little beast," Bernhard recalls of the uncomfortable encounter.
But then, Bernhard is very comfortable in her own skin, even while flaying the layers of others.
After all, as she'll be the first to tell you in a Cruella de Vil voice that wants to take you on, with the hint of a hiss of a sex kitten with claws: "I love being me, don't you?"