BY STEVE ROTHAUS, srothaus@MiamiHerald.com
The last time Kathy Griffin played South Florida, she stayed on Star Island with pal Gloria Estefan, who dared the bawdy comedienne to toss her bikini top.
“I love a dare, so I swear on my mother’s life that while I’m not afraid of the paparazzi – I really did do it as just a dare — so I took my top off. My real boobs are real. So I’m not going to lie, there’s a lot of shame there. They're not exactly bulbous like the Real Housewives. They’re actually real. It turns out that I didn’t realize that Star Island has paparazzi all the time. There’s a not-entirely-flattering picture of me topless, jumping off the dock at Gloria Estefan’s house,” says Griffin, who returns Saturday, June 2, to play Hard Rock Live near Hollywood. “Which I understand that Gloria has had to apologize to the Cuban-American community for ever since.”
Griffin, the foul-mouth comedy star who’ll say just about anything, hesitates on the topic of Mariela Castro, Fidel’s controversial niece who angered Cuban Americans this week by visiting gay activists in San Francisco and New York.
“We’re going to go there? I’m a f---ing comedian, are you f---ing kidding me? Do you want the tickets to burn in front of my hotel room? I’m not touching that one with a 10-foot pole and neither are you, Steve, how dare you? Here’s what I know: I love an empanada,” Griffin says. “If the gay Cubans are upset, I’m upset with them because I know my God-damn fan base, and it’s women, gay Cubans and their husbands who are dragged there.”
Ever topical, Griffin says she found the “upside” to this week’s story about a North Carolina pastor who told his congregation that gays and lesbians should be put in electrified pens until they die out.
“Everyone is covering it. That is actually a very good thing,” Griffin says. “Now, I’m not going to lie, there are times that I would want to put my 91-year-old alcoholic mother Maggie in an electric fence as well, but for a totally separate reason. And I would feel at least a little bit bad about it.”
Griffin, 51, is happy President Barack Obama supports gay marriage.
“What are you kidding me? What is this, 1982? I’m completely pro-gay marriage,” says Griffin, whose new Bravo network comedy airs 10 p.m.Thursdays. “I don’t know if you know my stand on heterosexual marriage, but I am completely against the legalization of heterosexual marriage. I think that heterosexual people who are currently married should go to prison. And I think that every single gay person who wants to get married should. And the government should pay for the wedding.”
June is Gay Pride Month, but Griffin says “Honey, every day of my life is Gay Pride.”
“I texted with Cher last night. What the f--- do you want? There’s a pride flag coming out of my a-- this minute!,” she says. “I’ve been to the White Party, the Black Party, I’ve been to the Bear Rendezvous, I have been to twink night, I have called gay bingo at Hamburger Mary’s. I have yelled 'O 6 9' more than any gay man I know.”
Griffin says she also has lots of lesbian fans:
“You’re darn right I do. I’ve played that Dinah Shore golf party more than I can tell you. And I don’t even know how to golf.”
Griffin and her friend Anderson Cooper usually co-host a CNN New Year's Eve special from Times Square in New York, with cutaways to drag queen Sushi in Key West.
"Sushi is an icon on CNN and should be well-known globally. I have done everything I can to make Sushi a global superstar, which is what she deserves to be," Griffin says.
Griffin says she worries about her own safety in the Conch Republic.
"When I go to Key West, I’m like f---ing Britney Spears," Griffin says. "Alright, I’m not going to lie. I love my gays and they love me and we find each other, but for me to go to Key West, you know I need heavy security, because I’ve got gays trying to pull out my hair extensions. Everybody wants, as Britney would say, a piece of me.
"I have been to Key West. It’s great. What I think is fascinating about Key West is there is a little bit of a Sharks and Jets, West Side Story turf war between the Jimmy Buffet heads -- they have a name -- the Parrot Heads. There’s a turf war between the gays and the Parrot Heads down there in Key West. I just want to stay out of that mess.
"I don’t dislike the Parrot Heads. I’m just saying I’m more likely to hang out with some gays sweating it out in Key West. Those are some sweaty gays and you know what that means: fewer clothing."
Griffin knows her concerts are not everyone's cup of tea and that's alright, too.
"Leave your Bible at home. Leave your children at home. This is Mommy and Daddy night. Or Daddy and Daddy night. Or Mommy and Mommy night."
She's not bothered when audience members walk out in disgust.
"I live for that moment. I had someone walk out during a special taping, which none of my other comedian friends had ever seen," Griffin says. "I had a guy in the front row be so appalled by what I said, and I believe I was making fun of probably some deity or Scientology or something, and I saw him nudge his wife, stand up and leave in a huff. And then, as he was walking down the aisle, he turned -- and this was during a taping for one of my Bravo specials -- he turned around and yelled f--- you!"
On Friday, Griffin plays Clearwater, “the hub of Scientology.”
She may reach out to famous, embattled Scientologist John Travolta. “I might go down there myself and give him a handjob. Or at least try.”
IF YOU GO
Kathy Griffin appears 8 p.m. Saturday, June 2, at Hard Rock Live near Hollywood. Tickets $60-$95 available through Ticketmaster, 800-745-3000.