Suzanne Westenhoefer made history in 1991 as the first openly lesbian comic to appear on TV and, three years later, the first to have her own HBO special. Tampa Bay audiences last got to enjoy her uproarious off-the-cuff stand-up stylings in March of 2014, and since then there’s been a lot more gay history made. So the first thing we wanted to ask her in advance of her show Sunday night at The Palladium, where she’s performing for the benefit of the Tampa Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival and Crescendo: The Tampa Bay Women’s Chorus, was this:
What’ll be the next historic moment for the gay community?
Here’s what I would like it to be: The gay community starts to do public beheadings in that awesome cool way that they used to do in King Henry’s time. First, anybody who’s running for president on the Republican side. That would be such a good beheading...
Maybe we could throw some ISIS imports into the mix…
Right. If we start to look like we’re fucking scary, maybe that’d shake ‘em up a bit…
It’s also very Game of Thrones-y.
Everybody loves that show!
Another big historical development recently: Women will be allowed to serve in all combat roles. Would you have ever enlisted?
No. No… no! I’m very excited about the women for whom that’s important. But I can’t understand that at all, gay guys and gay girls [in the military] — it just fascinates me that they can behave. I can’t be told when to go to the bathroom! Now, if I were king… I could see that. I’m the kind of a girl who would ask them first if they want to go into combat. I would be that kind of king.
A friend of mine wrote a book called Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man. Why has no one ever written Sex Tips for Straight Men from a Gay Woman? And what would those tips be?
First of all, I don’t think a straight man would listen. What they want from lesbians is for us to have sex with their wives while they watch. I’ve been asked to do that so many times it’s not even funny anymore. Oddly enough, if you ask straight girls — their #1 sexual fantasy is not two guys.
But I know some women who like to watch gay porn.
Because when two guys are having sex on the camera they look like they can’t believe they’re gettin’ paid for this! If you watch a man and a woman, that woman often looks like she’s being forced into it — highly medicated. And there’s no real lesbian porn.
What about Blue Is the Warmest Color?
Two straight girls from France.
I can’t wait to see it. [Director Todd Haynes] is a gay guy who hangs out with lezzies, so he’s a little more open to it. A lotta gay guys are like, “Eww, lesbian sex!” — and I know a lot of lesbians who say, “Eww, penises! Omigod, balls! What do they need the balls for?” My girl [a corporate executive — the couple lives in L.A.] who I love very much — she prefers a Bond film, or a Bourne film.
Would you be better as a spy or a Bond girl?
Bond girl! I can’t be quiet long enough to be a spy.
I just saw Kinky Boots — and Lola, the drag queen, asks in a song what women want in a man and gets answers like understanding and listening and all this stuff. The male characters still gave answers more sexual in nature. So what does a woman want from a woman?
Women, regardless of sexual orientation, they’re gonna look for things like, who’s going to be with me at the end and help me raise this kid? And guys are looking at who’s going to make the prettier kids. That’s the biology of who we are — there’s no reason to fight it so hard. Women in the military are not going to be as good at it as the guys… there’s always going to be a guy who’s faster than the fastest girl. We can get all pissed off about it, but sometimes you just have to be realistic.
Do you want to have kids?
No, I’m old, I’m out. [She’s 54.] I never, never wanted kids, even when I thought I was a heterosexual. When I was a teenager [in Pennsylvania’s Amish country] I was a very popular heterosexual — often known as slutty. I had a one-year relationship with a married 41-year-old man when I was 14. When I was 16, I had a boyfriend (who was also 16), got pregnant and decided to abort the pregnancy. By the time I left for college I was the homewrecking Lolita babykiller. So when I came out in college as a lesbian, my mom told me, “I think that’s best.”
My dad didn’t care (my parents got divorced when I was around 3) because he was a swinger — a farmer who owned a discotheque. I got to experience everything. My mom was more conservative, more normal, Dad was like crazy, the swinger wild guy. I got the sense that all things were OK — where you fit was all that mattered. But there could be many places that you could fit — many different ways to be right with the world.
Westenhoefer has been coming to the Tampa Bay area since 1995, and says St. Pete is “one of my absolutely fucking faves. It’s an intelligent audience, but not jaded.” She never knows exactly what she’s going to talk about. “The audience really dictates the show for me.”
She provides only this guarantee: “I promise you’ll laugh for 90 minutes. That’s the only promise I can stand by.”
Suzanne Westenhoefer: Sun., Dec. 13, 7 p.m. The Palladium, 253 5th Ave. N., St. Petersburg. $30. crescendosings.org, tiglff.com, mypalladium.org. For information on how to bid on tickets for Suzanne's show plus a pair of TIGLFF Crown Circle passes — and raise money for The Children's Home at the same time — go to the CL Tampa Holiday Auction on eBay.