Sandra Bernhard :: On love, loss, Liza & what she’ll be wearing this summer
I give her a little shit for it, but let’s face it, Sandra Bernhard on the phone is better than most celebrities in bed. And if the lady wants to stay in town and enjoy her damn co-op, who are we to interfere? That’ll all change soon enough as she hits the road on a summer tour that will take her to locales as far flung as the Napa Valley and Shirley, Massachusetts, banging the drum for her first official comedy album in over ten years entitled "I Love Being Me, Don’t You?"
When she does ring up, promptly, it’s a "revitalized, spent the weekend in town, while everyone else was trying to get out" Sandy. She describes a day that heretofore sounds suspiciously Sondheim: "off to gym, then to a fitting," but even that’s apropos as she has some big Broadway musical news to break. And she’s funny, focused and even a little flirtatious while she does it. She is not, thankfully, pushing a cart around Balducci’s, as she was last go ’round, so our conversation is mercifully uninterrupted by potato salad price-checks.
Tony Phillips: I’m sad that we’re on the phone again, Sandra, we’re always on the phone!
Sandra Bernhard: Well, maybe one of these days we’ll meet up in person again.
Tony Phillips: I feel like we’re characters in a Nancy Meyers’ screenplay.
Sandra Bernhard: (Laughs) I wish we had the apartments or houses she always has. Maybe we’d be quicker to hook up if we knew were meeting up over a croissant. That’s funny.
Tony Phillips: So tell me about your day so far.
Sandra Bernhard: My day so far? Well, I got up and I had a little breakfast. Then I went to the gym and worked out with my trainer. I stopped by Integral Yoga Foods and got a smoothie and filled up my bottles of lotion. I like to refill bottles because I try to be a little bit conscious of the earth. And then I walked home, took a shower and went downtown to meet up with Ralph Rucci, the designer who’s doing my clothing for Town Hall.
Tony Phillips: Very exciting.
Sandra Bernhard: I had the final fitting for my two dresses.
Tony Phillips: Can you say anything about them?
Sandra Bernhard: Well, one of the dresses is all sequins and you can kind of rub your hand over it and it goes all silver, or you can rub your hand up and it goes all black. They’re two-sided sequins.
Tony Phillips: Very X-Men.
Sandra Bernhard: I know! It’s really groovy. And the encore outfit will be a cat suit with a fabulous feather kind of tent over it. So they’re two really stunning, stunning outfits.
Liza and Arnold
Tony Phillips: And you’ve just announced that you’ll have some competition in the sequin department.
Sandra Bernhard: Who do you mean?
Tony Phillips: Liza!
Sandra Bernhard: Oh! Well, honey, there’s no competition with Liza. She’s the one and the only. We can only sit by and watch and listen when Liza’s on stage, but we will deliver the goods.
Tony Phillips: How did that happen?
Sandra Bernhard: I just called her and asked her. We’ve been friendly for many years and we’ve done a few, little things together. She did an episode of this new cooking show with, Oh God, what’s his name? I’m going to blank and he’s so cute... oh, Rocco DiSpirito!
Tony Phillips: Now Eat This!
Sandra Bernhard: Yeah, he has a new cooking show on Bravo and they did this birthday party for Liza. There were six people and she invited me to come on. That’ll be on sometime in the next month or so.
Tony Phillips: Wow!
Sandra Bernhard: And then I just went to her birthday party at her house recently. I just said, "you know what, why shouldn’t I ask Liza? Liza asked me. Why shouldn’t I ask Liza?" And, of course, I knew she’d love it, because she likes to get out and she always comes to my shows. She came to my show at Joe’s Pub over Christmas and New Year’s and she said, "Coming to your show is like sitting at a restaurant and eavesdropping at someone else’s table," which I thought was so brilliant.
Tony Phillips: Yeah, that is great.
Sandra Bernhard: Isn’t that cool? And I thought, shit man, you know, what’s good for the goose is good for the Sandra.
Tony Phillips: So have you guys talked about what you’re going to do?
Sandra Bernhard: Oh, yeah. We know what we’re doing. I threw the ball into her court and she came up with a song. And I’m not going to tell you.
Tony Phillips: That’s okay, because I’m going to use this moment to lobby for "Ring Them Bells" regardless of what she chose.
Sandra Bernhard: (Laughs) It’s not "Ring Them Bells," but it is a very cool song.
Tony Phillips: So now, what the hell is going on with you and Arnold?
Sandra Bernhard: Well, it’s a story I’ve told many times over the years, but I was just on Rob Shuter’s show, which is so much fun.
Tony Phillips: I love him.
Sandra Bernhard: I do too, but we were just going off on different, topical stuff, so I told this funny story about how back in the 70s, when I was really like a kid, I was sitting on the beach. I’d just come to L.A. And Arnold was walking around the beach chatting people up and he stopped by and started talking to me. Just schmoozing, you know, maybe flirty, but, like, why wouldn’t he be? I was about 20 and I don’t know if he’s younger or older than me? We’re about the same age, I would guess. But he was being flirty and it was fun and then he just wandered off.
Tony Phillips: The stuff I’ve been reading has you contesting this period as "when I was skinny," and I keep thinking, when has she not been skinny?
Sandra Bernhard: Well, when I was in my twenties, believe me, you can probably find some pictures, I was bone skinny. Now I’m thin like the way a woman should be, but I was so skinny you’d be worried about me.
Tony Phillips: Dangerously thin, ahead of its time! I love it, but I just can’t imagine you being more than five days away from fully camera-ready.
Sandra Bernhard: (Laughs) Well, you’re right about that. I’m just lucky. I never go to that place where I have to go, "Jesus Christ, if I don’t lose ten pounds, I’m in big trouble." But this was just out of being a teenager and I didn’t have baby fat. I had baby thin.
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Watch Sandra Bernhard on The Rachael Maddow Show.