In today’s sometimes topsy turvy world, the voice of Sandra Bernhard continues to be a touchstone we all can use. Between hosting Sandyland on Sirius XM Radio Andy to hitting the road for her brand new show Quicksand this holiday season, we can continue to expect smart talk, strong opinions and hilarious takes on the world in general thanks to one of the most prolific and outspoken voices around. I caught up with Sandy as she was about to kick off her QuickSand tour, and with the midterms now in our rearview mirror, we talked about everything from the state of politics today, joining the Ryan Murphy family (with roles on two of his series) and why now more than ever, our country just may be turning the corner.
MICHAEL COOK: We are getting to talk right on the heels of the mid-terms happening and the Democrats snagging back the House of Representatives, along with gaining a number of seats in the Senate, specifically women!
SANDRA BERNARD: Absolutely and I think it’s great! Everything is turning around. This is gonna be a shit show until Trump is out of the White House, he is creating chaos. You cannot deny that the tone of the country has shifted in a very big way though. It was a super close election in the state of Texas, Beto O’Rourke has set a new tone and people are tired of the divisiveness. It is all going to explode obviously. Now there is going to be accountability and checks and balances. Everyone needs that or corruption just flourishes.
There is something about you on stage during the holiday season that just feels absolutely right. Between your gigs at The Wallis in Los Angeles in (December 13-15) and Joe’s Pub in New York City Dec 26th – 31st, it is going to be a holiday season full of QuickSand!
Right! That just happens you know? Everyone wants to be cozy at the holidays, especially now when everyone is feeling a little bit vulnerable. I think I have that uncanny ability to bring people together so they can feel safe and secure, but then at the same time have a raucous and rollicking fun time.
Your show is a mix of smart and hilarious stories sprinkled with a little bit of political awareness. You also have your show on Sirius XM’s RadioAndy Sandyland, where you get to talk about things important to both you and all of us, as well as some fun chats with truly amazing people like Jane Fonda. Does it ever get to the point where you want to shut out the noise of the world all together and decompress?
Well there are some days where I don’t talk about political topics on my show at all. I just talk about the funny little things that happened to me along the way to the show or something like that. There are just so many different ways to approach it. Maybe I will touch on a little something political, especially leading up to the election I was really pushing people to go out and vote an do do the right thing. I am still having fun with my monologues and my guests also. I think I have been able to strike a nice balance between the two and therefore don’t burn myself out.
You absolutely thrilled your fans and appeared this year on American Horror Story this season as a satanic priestess! How did that surprising and amazing role come about?
I did the guest starring role on Pose last season, and then Ryan Murphy came to me and made me a series regular on Pose for the second season, which we will start shooting soon. Like he does with many of his ensemble players, he likes when they are part of the whole “machine”, so he wrote that part for me on American Horror Story.
Your role on Pose is absolutely incredible where you played Nurse Judy. Conversely, playing a Satanic priestess on American Horror Story is a definite departure. What was it like playing a role on a show that has become so iconic in the American lexicon?
We shot on some locations for American Horror Story so I didn’t get to see anyone else on the cast actually. I am friends with Sarah Paulson and with Cheyenne Jackson, but unfortunately I didn’t get to see anyone else. It is like you are in a bubble; you shoot certain scenes with the people you are with and it’s it own little satellite that they add into the big picture. I dd my scenes like I would do anything else, and that was it.
This season an entirely new group of characters were introduced on American Horror Story, with the group of warlocks being a large part of the story, played by a litany of out gay actors like Billy Porter and B.D. Wong. Do you think that representation is still so crucial where we are right now?
You know, I think that is just a given; I think it’s a place that we are at. No matter what Republicans are saying or how they think they are going to roll back certain rights, they aren’t going to roll back the rights. We have come too far and things are just different now. We are a part of the conversation that you can’t erase or try to control anymore. That is what is great about people like Ryan Murphy, he does not think twice about it.
So many people think that we are too politically correct in this society now; do you think that the nation as a whole has gotten that way?
You kind of have to be now, there is way too much at stake. I think when things are calm and you have a real leader and you have someone with a sense of humor who can be a little self deprecating, like Obama was, people are less sensitive. Right now, everyone is so sensitive, you say the wrong thing and someone can end up killed; its a scary time.
Your shows are always such a political/pop culture/musical anthem filled hybrid; at the holidays, can we expect some holiday favorites from QuickSand?
Absolutely! Just the general holiday vibe is so fun. You can stretch it from Thanksgiving to New Years and it is like the American Dream of the holidays you know?
What do you think that we all can do in the coming year that will point us all in the right direction for our future as a community and a society?
I really think that is is a self examination and really looking at one’s self and saying “what am I going to do to get up every day to contribute to not only my own home but the world I encounter”? Whether it is going to the store and being patient in line and making eye contact with someone, I think it makes a huge impact. When we can have a little self control and a little kindness and reaching out, sometimes it is hard and we don’t always feel like doing it. I know when people smile at me and are kind to me because I am a human being it makes me feel better and vice versa; it’s simple things.
That is what I love about Beto O Rourke, he has such an authenticity to him and a kindness and a real understanding and ability to embrace people .I think everyone has had it. Whether people stand behind Trump and laugh, I think we have hit critical mass and most people aren to just not like that. No one wants to be mean and be treated badly, and no one really wants to treat other people badly. I think we are at a turning point again and it is going to get better.
(Photo: Jordan Graham)