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Pride without prejudice

Tampa's 16th PrideFest is a mix of parties, politics and entertainment.


© St. Petersburg Times, published July 5, 2001

Tampa's 16th PrideFest is a mix of parties, politics and entertainment.


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Sandra Bernhard has made a career of critiquing pop culture, with an acerbic tongue. The entertainer also has long shown a passion for pop and show tunes. Saturday, the outrageous Bernhard brings that heady and hilarious mix to the Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center with "The Love Machine," her new show featuring a five-piece rock band and Bernhard's signature satire, as part of Tampa Bay's Gay and Lesbian Pride Weekend.

In addition to live performances, Bernhard has a new talk show, The Sandra Bernhard Experience, debuting in August on A&E.

Bernhard, 46, called from her home in New York to answer 10 Pressing Questions about her daughter Cicely, all those celebrity lesbian couples, and who's who among the ladies of rock.

1. I read an interview with you recently in Bust and you seem a lot more mellow, more compassionate. How do you plead?

I'm not mellower. I'm on a different spiritual path now. I still do my critique of culture in terms of people's laziness and ineptitude. I'm still concerned with that, with people passing the buck and not taking care of things.

What's changed for you spiritually?

I've been studying Kabbalah for six years. I've incorporated that into my daily meditation.

2. How old is Cicely?

She's 3.

You're such a provocateur. How in the world will she ever rebel against you?

I hope she won't need to rebel against me. She'll ask questions, be smart about things, about changing culture. She'll be a rebel in that sense, but there won't be any reason for her to rebel against me. She's very intelligent, very bright. I've got a very cool kid.

3. Do you find yourself now doing weird things with your daughter, playing with Legos, coloring?

I don't think any of it is weird. She's very musical, she's very expressive, so she doesn't spend a lot of time doing irritating kid stuff.

4. Finish this sentence: "My parents knew I was special when I was a child because -"

Because I was always putting on little musicals and performances. I always had a very vivid imagination.

5. What's your favorite song to sing?

Downtown Train by Tom Waits.

6. Favorite food?

Corn on the cob, watermelon and fried chicken.

7. Any comments on all the celebrity lesbian couples and their recent relationship demises?

(laughs) I know, right? I predicted all of that. I did a hilarious piece on Ellen and what's-her-name and everyone was all p.c. (politically correct) and offended. They thought it was shocking, but it all went down the exact way I said it would.

8. Do you identify yourself as a lesbian? I've seen you bristle when people put labels on you.

Well, I feel like I'm an outsider looking in, you know? With compassion. People need unity to have a group around them and that's cool. But I think it's weird to identify with people based on your sexuality. I mean, you've got to ask what other things you have in common, if any. But I understand it.

Of course, sexuality is so fluid. You are what you are in the moment, you know? You love who you love based on where you're at.

9. Do you have any crazy stalker fans like your character Marsha in The King of Comedy?

No, they're scared of me, honey, and I keep it that way.

10. Give me your quick thoughts on the ladies of rock:

Yoko: Very revolutionary and wonderful. A really strong woman.

Stevie: She's back and better than ever!

You were so ahead of the curve with the whole Stevie Nicks thing, discussing her in your shows a decade ago. Then, Courtney Love and other chicks got on the bandwagon, name-dropping Stevie.

Thank you for acknowledging that because I totally agree with you.

Now, having said that, Courtney: I haven't seen her in a really long time. I'm assuming she's trying to come up with some whole new shtick.

Alanis: I have no feelings about Alanis Morissette. Well, I feel she's kind of drippy. She started out on Star Search, you know? That sort of says it all. And of course, an artist can evolve, or you can start out great like Patti Smith or P.J. Harvey. But Star Search? Come on.

Liza: She's a legend. Amazing. I wish she'd get it back together.

Barbra: An entity unto herself. Amazing. Even if she's not doing what I like her to be doing, which is standards.

Have you ever seen Barbra perform?

No, my parents tried to get us tickets in Vegas when I was a kid, but they couldn't get it together.

Finally, your old friend, Madonna:

(Sighs and pauses) Always entertaining.

Is that you being diplomatic?

Oh, yes. Very.


Sandra Bernhard performs "The Love Machine" 8 p.m. Saturday at Tampa Bay Performing Arts Center's Ferguson Hall. Tickets are $25.50-$55.50, available at the box office, through Ticketmaster or by calling toll-free 1-800-7827.

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