Thursday, October 8, 2015

My interview with Loni Love for!!!!!!

Queerty asked San Francisco barman-turned-comic Yuri Kagan, author of Vodka & Limelight, to chat with Loni Love a few weeks after his conversation with another great female comedian, Margaret Cho.
Some time ago, I had the pleasure of opening for Loni Love, the comedian, actress and cohost of the talk show The RealI must have done OK because she asked me if I would like to come back the next day and open for her again. 
Elated and flat out drunk after the show, I replied, “Shut the F up. Really? Like for real?” So needless to say, when Queerty asked me to interview Love, concluding her Being Loni tour, it was another chance to talk to her. 
Queerty: What is Being Loni
Loni Love: It’s a one-hour special that follows different projects I’ve been doing. I hope people that people take away from it being inspired to go for their goals and aim for their dreams. Also to give my “love bugs,” my fans, a little bit more of me.
LoniLove_General-f2dfa584What makes The Real different? Of you, Jeannie Mai, Tamera Mowry, Tamar Braxton andAdrienne Bailon, who is the biggest diva?
The Real is different because you never know what we are going to do for the day. You are dealing with five girls, five different lives. We come together to try to entertain, inspire and try to give back to our audience. So far it’s working. The biggest diva would be Tamar. That’s because she was born into diva-ism because her whole family is like that. She’s just accustomed to it.
As a comic being on a live show do you censor yourself? Have you ever had to issue an apology?
So far I have as a comic not had to make an apology. As you know comedy is changing. You know, I think it’s just a sign of the times. People are very sensitive. I think you have to be a little more aware of things. So it’s not necessarily just censoring one’s self. Just being more aware of things that maybe in the past people could have gotten away with but on the air-waves they can’t necessarily do that.
Do you think that political-correctness has helped or hindered comedy?
Comedy is comedy. I think that you know it depends on where the comedy is being said and done. I mean, the audience. There are certain things that if you were performing in front of children you not gonna say like at a bar.  You have got to understand if you are on television and you know there is a certain demo and a certain thing you wont say you just won’t say it. Everyone is intimidated and everybody is being PC. There is a difference between you know, just being me or being funny. It’s a difference. So what is happening is that comedians have to dig deep within themselves, not just look at the surface of the joke and not do the routine joke. Comics who do this will be successful.
Vanilla, chocolate or swirl?
Who’s your celebrity crush and who would you like to re-do their style?
Idris Elba. Re-do their style would be Flava Flav.
Are you single and do you use any dating apps?
Um, I am a satisfied single. If you watch the show, I explain that on “the Real.” I don’t use dating apps. The last maybe I was on
Do you go out to gay bars with your friends?
Oh, yeah the Abbey…  In L.A. you know you have so much fun at the Abbey. But the only thing is they always buy me drinks so I have to leave at a certain time cause I be tore up.
Years ago you let me open for you. At the time in your act you talked about Herman Cain who was comedy gold.  Who is your favorite GOP candidate right now and who would you like to makeover or see in drag?
I would love to make over Chris Christie. I think he would make a great woman in drag. I think he would kind of favor me in drag so that’s why I would love to do that!
You’re hosting a new game show produced by Ellen. What is it about and when does it debut?
It’s based on her app called Heads-Up, which has been downloaded more than 60,000,000 times. We play the game with celebrities and contestants and they win money and it’s just fun time. It’s more like the game is the center-piece but we’re actually talking and having fun while doing the game. It will premier on HLN in January.
If you could give advice to plus-sized performers what would you say?
Basically be yourself and make sure you wear the right size clothes with flat shoes. It’s easier if you’re doing standup.
Margaret Cho agreed to officiate the wedding of my boyfriend and myself.  Also do you have any words of advice for gay newlyweds and divorces?
I don’t have any advice for any of the gays just like I don’t have advice for the straights. I always say better you than me. 
You grew up in the projects of Detroit. What advice would you have for someone growing up under the same circumstances?
Try to be an in legal activity — not illegal. Try to get into different groups sessions and do different things to take you to see another side of the current living environment/situation you are in. That helped me. I did Girl Scouts. Even though we were poor the Girl Scouts helped me to see a different side of life.
You were an engineer, do you miss it?
I miss being able to take naps in my office.
You seem to work all of the time. You never stop. Do you take vacations ever?
I take what’s called a mini-vacation. I’ll take 1 or 2 days because of the nature of the business I can’t be away long. I’m learning to take a day or a couple of hours to myself. I am learning to enjoy myself while I am still at work, which is something I didn’t do in the past. I am still having a good time but still working.
What do you think about comedy being a “boy’s club”?  Do you have advice for women trying to break?
The only reason comedy is such a boy’s club is because in order to be a successful comic you usually have to travel the road. The road is hard for most females who have relationships and want families and want to get married. It’s really hard for them. My advice to women: I always say a lot of women who are successful are lesbians. You know your top comedians, like Wanda Sykes, they are lesbians and that’s because they were allowed to have a certain lifestyle that allows them to be on the road. I tell women trying to get into comedy you have to decide what you like about comedy. You have to plan more than males do. If you want children you have to plan how you gonna have the children and still be able to do the road. It’s all about balance.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

My interview with Margaret Cho!

For the full article on go to:

We asked San Francisco barman turned comic Yuri Kagan, author of Vodka & Limelight, to talk to Margaret Cho, one of his heros. Here is the conversation.
Like many budding homos, I adored Margaret Cho since All American Girl, the 1994 sitcom featuring the comic as the rebellious teenage daughter in a Korean-American family. My mother and I watched every episode together. As an American child of Russian immigrants I connected to her story as though it were my own. Growing up I was never American enough for many American kids because of my name, Yuri Kagan, bilingual upbringing and strange pickled lunch choices. I was too American for Russians to understand so I grew up in a kind of limbo. As a self-realized adult gay man and standup comic she became a kind of mentor and even friend.
I talked her as she prepared for a Sept 25 Showtime stand up appearance and the launch of her psyCho tour, which includes stops in San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles.
Queerty: First things first. What’s a “brojob”?
Margaret Cho: Is it where a straight guy gives another straight guy a blowjob?
That’s so weird. It’s fine. I don’t know if people want to keep those sort of labels to keep their heterosexuality intact? It’s like homosexuality exists regardless of identity, outside of anything. Gay sex is awesome!
What do you think of shows like Fresh Off The Boat being compared to All American Girl?
I love it because that really is what I was trying to do. For me it’s a dream realized. Seeing shows out there like Fresh Off The Boat and it’s something I had a bit of a hand in at the very beginning. I am happy to say I will be on the next Asian-American show. I will be playing Ken Jeong’s sister on Dr. Ken. It’s really cool. I think it’s exciting for me to have done this 21 years ago and finally seeing this happen is really extraordinary.
Your show helped pave the way.
I think it’s taken television a long time to come around to Asian-Americans. It’s been a journey. I am grateful to have been a part of that. I am just excited it’s happening.
In your up coming “psyCho” comedy tour, you plan in marrying couples.
I wanted to do this because I have been working on marriage equality since 2004. During that time, Gavin Newsom deputized me to perform weddings at City Hall. That was inspiring even though we were between gay marriage becoming legal, then banned over and over. It was a great triumph to be able to do that so I wanted to bring that energy and that celebration to these shows. A lot of the people coming to these shows had a lot to do with the fight for marriage equality. It’s our reward and it’s important.
My mom read about it and now has been trying to get my boyfriend and I to get married by you. It’s not good for me. The pressure is on.
I’ll marry you any time. It doesn’t have to be this fall.
Now lets get to tough questions. On a hookup do you prefer guest or host privileges?
It depends. Guest is always good. Hosting, at least you’re home. If it goes wrong at least you can make somebody leave. You never know what you are getting into at someone’s house, their living situation. You don’t know how clean it’s going to be. It’s very complicated.
Do you use Tinder?
I don’t know how! I’m pretty hopeless with any app.
Who is your favorite GOP candidate and which would you want to see in drag?
Chris Christie. He would probably be fishy. Donald Trump is not my favorite. He is disgusting. He is so awful towards Latinos and you know pretty much everybody… women. He’s a nightmare.
Have you met him?
I’ve never met him. He tried to get me on Celebrity Apprentice for a number of years, which I’ve really resisted because everybody I know that has done it has had such a bad time. I don’t know if I would want to meet him. I didn’t realize how terrible he was until he was actually running for president. The fact that he is the front-runner is really depressing.
If you were interviewing him on behalf of the country what would you ask him?
Why is it so hard to answer a question from Univision? Why can’t you give a reporter from Univision the same respect you give everyone else? His treatment of Jorge Ramos and his fear of Latinos opinion of him, he should be afraid. His racism is terrible. I think he’s got to own up to it.He for example targets Rosie O’Donnell publicly all the time. Do you think he targets her specifically because it’s her or what she represents as a voice for lesbians, a lot of minorities he may not like?  There are plenty of other comics who make fun of him without the same backlash.
He gets mad because she is an example of a kind of a faction he can’t control. He can’t control women who don’t need a man to define them. It’s the most terrifying thing for him. It’s like women who don’t need a man like him makes him irrelevant. That’s something he can’t have which is why he is always trashing Rosie O’Donnell, and by proxy any woman that doesn’t care what he thinks. His definition of a woman is somebody to service him sexually or service his games.
Uppers or downers?
So you’re a pothead?
And alcohol…  You know, I have never been an uppers person.  They make me too nervous.  It makes me feel really mean and dehydrated.
What’s a public misconception about you?
I think because I am so autobiographical people actually have many misconceptions.
Any advice for the fag hags of 2015?
We have to change our name which I address in the show. It’s outdated. Although, the new generation uses terms like fruit fly or fairy princess. I’ve never found anything as descriptive as fag hag but I do not like to use those terms even though it’s a part of our own history.
What is the next step for the gay movement?
We are going to focus on equal rights across the board. Now that marriage equality is in place, we’ve got to find the equivalent for gay families in terms of adoption. That’s where conservatives will try to restrict our rights. Our energy needs to go towards legislation of what is a hate crime and who are the victims of them.
What is #BeRobin?
This in response to our own grief surrounding the death of Robin William. Also it’s to celebrate his life of activism, compassion and history of street performance. Everyone has revolving different shows they are doing. They all just benefit homeless. I want to do more. There is a documentary coming out. There will be more when I go back to living in San Francisco more permanently.
Ed Lee spoke about cleaning up the homeless problem in San Francisco for the Superbowl.
I don’t know what that means. They are a part of the city. How do you clean that? By denying their existence? I’m all for helping people get off the streets but when it’s for a specific event you’re denying them. It’s not a solution.
If you could give 18-year old Margaret Cho advice what would you say?
Don’t worry so much. I would encourage myself to have more fun.
Yuri Kagan’s “Full-Frontal” is a comedy show produced by comedians Valerie Branch every third Thursday of the month at the Lookout bar in San Francisco. Half the proceeds go to #BeRobin.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

A recent article I wrote for

Check out this silly article I wrote for Queerty! Read the haters comments! It makes me happy to be a comic!

Link to queerty article

Friday, May 15, 2015

Five Things That Make A Great Bartender Other Than Being “Hot”

Here is a copy of the article I wrote for
Five Things.... Original article

To celebrate The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic, Castro bartender, comedian and author Yuri Kagan came up with five things that make a great bartender.
1. “Hot” is not enough 
A six-pack, low cut T-shirt and looking great in tight jeans may initially land you a job in some establishments. But that’s it. Longevity in the job comes from personality, skill and multitasking oders. Personality is what wins the game. We’ve all been annoyed by pretty but incompetent servers who think that posing is all the job requires. Meanwhile, the line gets longer.
2. Don’t be a booze know-it-all
When a customer leans into your station, resist the urge to educate on the distillation process of various spirits or waste time on arguing the difference between top and bottom shelf vodka–unless the customer asks. People come to bars to unwind, not for a history lesson.
3. Create a show
It really is all about the drama, and not just at gay bars. You are the entertainment. (Along with the Kay Perry vids on the big screen or the ballgame.) Slow, busy, bar patrons are checking you out. Making the mundane look interesting is key. Keep up several conversations while mixing your fabulous concoctions. Tell stories. They don’t even have to be true as long as they are interesting. A true bartender has the gift of being able to keep a conversation going seamlessly among multiple people.
4. Size matters
Don’t be obvious about how precise you are measuring the alcohol content of a cocktail. It makes people think that they are getting less alcohol–even if the opposite is true. People who think they are getting stiffed don’t return. Be generous.
5. Good guys finish first
Smile even when your heart is aching. In fact, don’t talk about your personal life at all. Ever. Patrons are there to have fun, not be your therapist. It’s just sending your life down a rabbit-hole without the benefit of a hallucinogenic. No one needs to know all about your BS. People come to unload their problems and not hear about yours.
The Stoli Key West Cocktail Classic is almost here. Eleven cities have already picked bartenders to send to the Grand Finale in Key West, with just two West Coast events remaining–Seattle (May 17) and San Francisco (May 27).
Comedian Yuri Kagan has spent the past decade bartending at watering holes around San Francisco. From thumping gay clubs like Badlands and mixology taverns like Blackbird to dives like Edge. Check out his book, Vodka & Limelight.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

A recent comedy set

Here is a set in the works... Polishing a turd.


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