Suzanne Westenhoefer

photo by Rose Gardina ©

The Boston Girl Guide's Creator chat's it up with the Funniest Lesbian Comic on the Planet...
Suzanne Westenhoefer.

Rose: Has being openly gay from the onset of your career helped or hindered your career ?
Suzanne: Probably both, in the beginning it really helped. It was the Clinton years and I was like almost the first. The lesbian sheik thing was happening and I felt like I was the go to girl.They were looking for someone to talk to about an TV.
Then it hurt when you reach the queer ceiling. You can only get so far and people, including gay people just sort of put you in a sort of that"gay comedian" instead of that"comedian".


Rose: A year and a half later, people are still talking about you being banned in Pittsburg, do you still encounter less obvious and under publicized acts of censorship? Did that event change the way you do business at all ?
Suzanne: It did not change the way I do business at all.(pause)...I've played in Pittsburg the last two years and it's been perfectly fine. That was really about this group of a Catholic Church that was running the College where they wanted me to play. The newspaper took it on and made it a big deal. I was sorta like..."Hello has the City banned me for real " (we both laugh). You know what I'm saying...that might have made a difference but it was like somebody else's problem.


Rose: Looking at your schedule ( already booked well into 2003) , do you ever get tired of touring ? How do maintain your perspective when all the world becomes a blur ?
Suzanne: Not the show, not the people, just the actual physically getting on & off a plane. Dragging your stuff ! getting in line. Those things get on my nerves...your like Fuck !.It's gone from being a horror show to a Stephen King novel. Because it's like...that has affected my entire life. If I had a 9:00 flight to Seattle then I could jump out of someone's car or cab at 8:00 and now I have to be there for 7:30. It takes a lot of time out of my life. I had it down to a science and now it's just all been jammed.


Rose: What's next for you ? More movies, another CD, another HBO special ?
Suzanne: I want to do a concert video. A concert DVD. I'm having trouble...you can't...it's like catching lightning in a bottle. It's like getting the right City , the right audience...the producer, camera...there is a lot of drama. You have to have a crew. It's just trauma. I'm trying to make that happen and I also want to do another CD and that's just a matter of picking Cities. And you have to have a City where you do two shows in a row so they can edit if they have to.


Rose: Do you feel it's harder for you to land roles or get venues because of you being openly gay ?
Suzanne: I wouldn't say no, not getting venues, not do the stand up but yes definitely to get roles and get auditions and to getting agents. I've had agents since 1996 and they love you and everything but they can't get out of the fact that your like the " queer girl" You know...so they just won't send you out for the audition for like the teacher or the lawyer. So from an actors stand point you can't play like a woman . That was what we were always afraid of, like if you come out then nobody will see you as anything but gay.
I mean Martina said it.."I'm the lesbian tennis player. Melissa..."I don't want to be known as the lesbian singer" But I want to be known as gay and I'm gonna hold that because as much as I'd really like to get out there and I'm really working hard at it...that will never be as important to me as the Activist. That is always going to be my #1 priority. And though I'm very aware it hinders the acting side of my career...who gives a shit ! I don't give a shit !


Rose: How was your movie experience ?
Suzanne: It didn't get picked up so it was just really an acting experience. It was hard and good and fun and not fun. What I've taken away from it mostly is the people I've met. The crew members I've become good friends with.


Rose: Where can we get a copy of this movie ? ( A Family Affair)
Suzanne: I don't think you can get it yet. The situation is they, that made the film really put there life and money on the line. So their really trying to sell it. It's been a year and they haven't been able to sell it. It's a little to goody two shoes I think. They shouldn't worry. It's if you want to see the film I think that's great . Don't feel like your missing out on something I did. My part was small and it got smaller and that's all.


Rose: But you know Suzanne...fans want to see you regardless. They don't even care if they only see you for two seconds !
Suzanne: It's not a big deal.


Rose: OK moving on...What's your favorite come back line to straight hecklers in the audience ?
Suzanne: You know I never get them anymore but years and years ago when I used to get them...the real truth is I got more from lesbians than I ever did from straight people. Well it might have been because I was in New York. That's a tough town ( In a thick NY accent )" What makes you so fuckin funny, I could be fuckin funny ! " You know , that sort of thing.


Rose: What have been your favorite venues to perform ?
Suzanne: This great big theatre in Seattle. I like the big theatres in the big towns. And I have a real soft spot for Provincetown because like 10 seasons & 8 Woman's Weeks.


Rose: How could you have a bad show there !
Suzanne: Oh nooo..the worst and the best shows you can have are back to back shows in Provincetown ! P-Town is the most fucked up , amazing , fabulous nightmare that you will ever experience if your like there for 30-40 days in a row. You do one show and you think "I am the greatest ever! "You are unbelievable and the audience is just shrieking and falling out of there seats laughing. The next night you go with the same show and it's like your performing to a painting of a portrait of people...No Response What So Ever !


Rose: What was the weirdest event you ever performed at ?
Suzanne: The show its self wasn't weird, it was the people and I'll have to say the Calgary Gay Rodeo. Their Canadian, the way up there Canadian. It's very strange...it was like being on Bonanza or something. Men in Chaps and not because they were going to the leather bar but because they were going to ride a horse.


Rose: Where would you like to perform if you could go anywhere you wanted ?
Suzanne: I'd like to fill a big venue in either New York or Boston. You can kick some butt almost anywhere in the country..I've seen nine thousand people in Indie for Christ sake ! Boston and NY man are the hardest ! You are really tough markets. You guys will just not come out. You gotta be like..." I'm gonna see Suzanne and she's gonna set herself on fire ! " You gotta really wooo em to get you all out.


Rose: What is your favorite thing to do when you have down time.
Suzanne: Crossword puzzles. The really hard ones.


Rose: You do a lot for non-profit organizations, who is your most important organization that you support ?

Suzanne: Gosh, that's a tricky one. (humming) That is really a good question. Land of legal defense. I can't remember there names right now. I support them all . I love the HRC and feel very strongly about them even when I get mad at them because they'll like get behind someone that's republican and I get all like pissy. I think I'm equally passionate about all of them. There are so many and I don't want to leave anyone out...OH the Maunter Project in DC . I love all grass roots that work for woman.


Rose: I'm gonna play a word game with you. I'll say a name , place or word and you give me a one word response to it. OK ?
Suzanne: OK

Rose: Angelina Jolie Suzanne: Jana (" my best friend thinks she walks on water)
Rose: Martina Navratilova Suzanne: yummy
Rose: Martha Stuart Suzanne: prison bitch Rose: one word ! Suzanne: ok ...mine !
Rose: Chocolate Suzanne: necessary
Rose: Anna Nicole Smith Suzanne: horrifying
Rose: George W. Bush Suzanne: Idiot
Rose: P-Town Suzanne: work
Rose: Hollywood Suzanne: Fake
Rose: Pittsburg Suzanne: Collage
Rose: Madonna Suzanne: Anna ( my girlfriend lives for her)
Rose: Tofu Suzanne: useless
Rose: Anne Heche Suzanne: hetero
Rose: Jodie Foster Suzanne: closet
Suzanne: You know my friend Jana has all the dolls from Tomb Raider and actually got to meet her once. Oh and you didn't ask about Britney Spears.
Rose: Britney Spears ?
Suzanne: Yes.. I want to be Britney Spears. I just bought the Britney Spears back to school notebook and to be honest with you Rose...I'm not going back to school ! I got that notebook for me. Britney walks on water.


Rose: ( laughing ) ya...she's a babe
Suzanne: No..I don't like her that way. I want to be her !


Rose: Ok movin on...Is there any questions that you have not been asked that you would like to hear asked ?
Suzanne: I think of questions I don't want to be asked like...( using mono- toned goofy voice ) " How did you get into Comedy ? " or like trying to be clever and ask.." OK what's in your refrigerator right now?" And I always want to go... "the brains of 10 children" for asking such a stupid question.....or like " the hands of my x-lovers "


Rose: Ok then..I'll be proceeding with extreme caution now.....What do you think you would have done if not comedy ?
Suzanne: Bartending, I loved it and I did it for 10 years.


Rose: Do you and your girlfriend plan on having children in the future ?
Suzanne: No, no no no I don't even have a uterus and my girlfriend as far as infants is like " their sticky and they smell funny ".


Rose: Other than your girlfriend who is like the total babe to you ?
Suzanne: Like right now Helen Mirren, and if you don't know who she is rent a movie called Loosing Chase. She started in the late 80's early 90's on a PBS show called prime suspect. She's my type, very Martha Stuet & Candice Bergman. That's my type..I like the tough CEO types. I like those tight suits in an Armani jacket who's like yelling at the cabby. That's what I'm looking for.


Rose: What has been the highlight of your career thus far ?
Suzanne: I don't know if I can answer that...there is just like...Life is like this big journey and not a destination. So there has just been so many things. Also , which is really interesting Rose is sometimes something that you think was not a big deal becomes a big deal. I've really enjoyed everything that I do.


Rose: Has there been anything that has happened in your life that you felt was a turning point ?
Suzanne: Doing Standup and getting on television and not being a bartender anymore was traumatic. I mean , you know..I thought I'd be a bartender forever. Even when I started doing Standup within a year and a half I started making a living as a comedian.


Rose: Only a year and a half..that is amazing.
Suzanne: Well YA, that's what I'm saying. It was all very quick and very strong.


Rose: Are you constantly writing new materiel ?
Suzanne: You know I don't write materiel. What I do is I talk and every show is a little different.


Rose: I don't think I've ever seen you with notes on the stage. Do you use a list?
Suzanne: Sometimes a note but I don't do it that often unless I'm really sick because I'm tired and can't think as quick. They are like key words for different topics.


Rose: When you are recording a show for a CD , are those scripted ?
Suzanne: No, we just do the shows like always...life , the moment and what ever else is going on.


Rose: When you are telling stories on the stage, is it like 9 out of 10 times they are true ?
Suzanne: 10 out of 10 times but it doesn't mean that I won't change it to make it funnier. I exaggerate the stories.


Rose: In closing..What are your words of wisdom for any young gay comedians trying to break into the industry.
Suzanne: Make your own work. Don't wait for work & jobs to come to you. When I first started I hosted every Drag Show in the Tri-State for free. I didn't care, I would drive up to Mystic fuckin Connecticut. If you just wait for people to hire you, you just won't get enough practice. That's what you have to do. You can at least get up and use there microphone for 10 mins.


Rose: Bette Midler started in the gay bath houses and Madonna tested a lot of her dance music in the gay bars. It's really amazing the role the gay community plays in the entertainment Industry.
Suzanne: Oh my God...in the Industry...forget about it, without Gays and Jews there is no Industry.



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