HOUSTON VOICE • APRIL 28, 2000
OUT ON THE BAYOU
>■ Continued from page 15
know something, they find out about it.
Maybe the culture is not always as easily
accessible in certain parts of the South, but
when people want to know, they know."
And for the multi-faceted artist, much of
that support comes from the gay community—a fact not lost on Bernhard.
"I think because of my specification and
my openness, I'm the kind of performer that
the gay community can relate to," she said.
"My own sexuality aside, I just think that on
the surface, I'm just somebody that has that
kind of sensibility. I'm open and not
ashamed of it and gay audiences appreciate
that. They, probably more than anyone else,
can dig what I'm saying and appreciate me
going out on a limb during my show."
In typical Bernhard fashion, "I'm Still
Here ... Damn It!" will be packed with a
number of new surprises.
"It's kind of a hybrid of 'I'm Still Here'
and the stuff I've been doing on the road
since," she said. "It's the bulk of the original show, but it's also a lot of new stuff,
things that I continue to add. Like me, the
show's continually evolving. It's really a
cross-section of cultural examination and
my emotional/spiritual journeys all interwoven around music and singing."
While admitting that giving birth to
daughter Cicely Yasin in 1998 has mellowed her personally, motherhood has
done little to tone down her raunchy yet
heartfelt ranting and ravings about contemporary life on stage. Bernhard refuses to
artistically muzzle her views.
"I've never had a single regret about anything I've said on or off the stage," she said.
"Because more than anything, I think that it
has done good things for me and good
things for people who needed to hear it. I
think that if you are forthright and coming
from your heart, people who maybe inhibited, a little intimidated or afraid to express
themselves get inspired by that. It gives
them an opportunity to gain their footing."
From her recurring role on the hit sitcom
"Roseanne," as lesbian character Nancy
from 1991 to 1996, to her recent cameo as a
gay actress on "The Sopranos," Bernhard
has repeatedly ignored common
I lollywood wisdom that taking on gay
roles can damage a career. While gay fans
applaud the work, Bernhard has never seen
these actions as particularly noble.
"While I was doing 'Roseanne,' I never
thought that it was so brave or so important,"
she said. "I just thought that it was a fun character. But if it affected people in a good way,
then that was fantastic. I just never looked at
it like 1 was doing something heroic."
Still, Bernhard is considered by some to
be a role model, but it's not a role in life
she set out to secure.
"I never purposefully thought to myself,
'Hey, I want to be a role model,'" she said. "I
just think I am one because I do what 1 love
and I have a great time doing it. I know that
I am affecting people, but I'm not setting out
to. I'm not a lecturer. I'm not someone out
there going, 'Listen to me, because I'm the
truth-teller. I'm going to break ground!' I
just march forward and do my work"
Even with her celebrity status, Bernhard
doesn't see herself as a star.
"You'd be surprised how I live my life. I
don't really live it like that. I'm kind of out
on the streets, doing my thing—like going
to the dry cleaners. I do things that are not
typical of somebody who thinks they are a
celebrity," she said. "I just think that things
are going to happen because they are supposed to happen, not because I'm a star.
"That whole celebrity thing is really just
a state of mind," Bernhard said. "And I just
think that it is a boring one. I think it's kind
of sad for somebody to have to get up every
morning and realize that their whole life is
about them being famous. I think that it is
deadening. I really do."
Bernhard speaks from experience, having spent a great deal of time with former
pal Madonna while the Material Girl was
scaling the ladder to superstardom.
"I had a chance to see what that crap can
do to you, so I don't think that she has that
much of a fun life, at least not in my opinion," Bernhard said. "I wouldn't want to be
followed around by paparazzi and have my
every move monitored. I think that would
be hell on earth. Can you think of anyone
who would find that rewarding?"
But that could change if Bemhard's acting career continues on it's upward spiral.
With "Dinner Rush," she's just added
another entry onto her resume of performances in films like "Track 29," "Lover Girl,"
"King Of Comedy" and "Hudson Hawk."
The project that could put Bemhard's
radiant visage in front of millions of
Americans on a weekly basis is a top secret
television show, which reportedly could
have her playing another lesbian character.
"I just wrote a TV thing for me to star in,
and we are pitching it at different places,"
she said. "It's a comedy, but I don't want to
jinx it by talking about it too much. All I will
say is that it's a pretty eclectic piece that
should definitely get people's attention."
Until a deal is finalized, Bernhard will be
keeping herself very busy. She's working on
another album, writing another book, auditioning for more film roles and spending as
much time as she can performing for charities benefiting gay and AIDS-related causes.
As for more live performances, don't
expect a full-fledged tour anytime soon.
"I think I'm too old to live that rock 'n'
roll style, so I'll probably just keep to doing
these weekend gigs," the 44-year-old said
with a laugh. "I have a lot of responsibilities at home now, so I like to be there as
much as I can. Doing these shows are like
nice little weekend vacations for me. I have
fun doing them and hopefully so do the
people who come see me.
"I'm a happy gal at this point in my life,
and I'm doing the things that I want to do,"
May 5, 7 p.m.
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