"I've never thought of my own show as raunchy," hard-edged comic Sandra Bernhard says by phone from her office in L.A. "I've always thought of it as pretty reflective of our times. There's always sexuality and stuff that I think is relevant. And I still have deep concerns about our country and the world. It's hard not to be political with the present administration and some of the guffaws and stupidity going on."
These days, Bernhard, who dotes on her four-year-old daughter, Cicely, finds herself cracking wise as much about motherhood as she does about John Ashcroft. She doesn't spare supermodels, Mother Teresa or her New York neighbor-pal, Natalie Maines. The former pasties-wearing wit behind 1988's one-woman show Without You I'm Nothing, Bernhard came out shooting from the lip following 9/11 with another acerbic solo act called Hero Worship.
"My current set is a little bit of a hangover from that show," Bernhard says. "But it deals with a lot of issues of our times -- from all different directions. Relationships and spirituality, patriotism and just fun stuff, you know. There's a lot of music, too. I'm coming with my keyboard player [Mitch Kaplan] and guitarist [Pam Adams], and there'll be more than a few musical numbers."
The twice-Grammy-nominated "diva" certainly knows her way around a stage. Born in Flint, Michigan, in 1955, and raised in Arizona by a proctologist father and an abstract-artist mother, Bernhard got her start in comedy on the short-lived Richard Pryor Show. She later parlayed her talents into several TV and film parts -- including the role of a lesbian named Nancy on Rosanne and that of Robert De Niro's kidnapping accomplice in 1983's King of Comedy. Hosting her own ill-fated talk show, the Sandra Bernhard Experience ("After 9/11, A&E pulled all their new programming," she explains), the versatile yukstress and former Playboy model keeps her shoulder to the wheel, whether it's rattling taboos or selling her own online brand of sexy wallpaper.
"I'm just kind of bringing up issues of what everybody goes through every day," she says, matter-of-factly. "That kind of questioning and longing for deeper happiness. It all kind of touches on that, ultimately."