Her one-woman shows are an amalgamation of these skills, described by Bernhard in a 1988 interview as “rock-and-roll meets the theater with elements of performance art, cabaret, and standup comedy.” A testament to her ingenuity, this format has sustained itself over the years, as has Bernhard’s uncanny ability to shine a metaphorical flashlight on the hypocrisies of present culture of which she always remains one jaunty Manolo Blahnik step ahead. Wag’s Revue contributor Matt Siegel spoke with Ms. Bernhard by phone.
Matt Siegel, Wag’s Revue: So I saw your show a few weeks ago at Bimbo’s 365 Club in San Francisco, which I have to keep reminding myself is not [strip-club] Jumbo’s Clown Room in L.A.
Sandra Bernhard: Right? But it might as well be.
MS: It was outstanding, Sandra. I’ve seen you perform several times over the years, but this will go down in my history as the most memorable. Your energy, your presence, your total commitment as a performer. You had laryngitis; you could’ve phoned it in.
SB: To be honest with you, I was inspired because of that. I was working with all these limitations and frustrations because, of course, I wanted to come out and belt out a song and do everything I’ve been doing in my other shows, but you can’t do that, so it kind of opened up another channel for me to access these funny, crazy, random things from the universe that are always there for you when you’re plugged in. And it’s not like you can do that all the time, but when you’re so beaten down and exhausted and vulnerable, it makes you, like, ‘Wow, I don’t care,’ in a certain good way. In those moments, your mind just takes over, it clicks, it’s like a computer, you can’t control it, you can’t force it. You’re either in the zone or you’re not, and then you just go off on the journey. So it’s that kind of funny two worlds colliding and separating at the same time, and that was a really inspiring night for me, too.