Kathy Griffin Wears Donald Trump Mask for Comedy Comeback, Talks Harvey Weinstein

Kathy Griffin Trump Weinsten set - Getty H
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Kathy Griffin isn’t done with Donald Trump masks just yet.

Despite an epic controversy that sidelined Griffin’s career — she was fired from CNN following the publication of a questionable image taken by button-pushing photographer Tyler Shields that saw her holding the faux severed head of President Donald Trump — the 56-year-old made a bold return to comedy Sunday night at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

Griffin took center stage as the opening act at the annual Aid for AIDS fundraiser Best in Drag Show, and when host Patrick Rush announced her name, she strutted out from stage left with both middle fingers raised to the rafters while wearing a Trump mask, this one free of blood and gore. It’s surely no coincidence that Griffin, who discarded the mask within seconds and tossed it on the floor two times, was also wearing an electric blue dress with a giant pussy bow tied at the neck — the same style dress she wore when the photo with the faux severed head was taken. 

“Hello gays! It’s me, Kathy Griffin, a genuine comedy fugitive,” proclaimed Griffin to the sold-out theater, which was filled almost entirely with gay men. “Can you handle it?”

Judging by the applause and the multiple standing ovations, the answer was yes. But that wasn’t exactly a surprise. Griffin has been a beloved performer and devoted supporter of the event for the better part of two decades. (This is “my 19th year or something,” she noted.) The annual drag show pageant serves as a benefit for Aid for AIDS, a program of Alliance for Housing and Healing. In the audience Sunday night were judges including Dylan McDermott, Selma Blair, Holland Taylor and Marc Cherry, along with additional guests like Debbie Allen. 

The real shock was that after the mask came off, Griffin — sporting a closely-cropped hairstyle after shaving her head to support her sister Joyce's cancer battle — didn’t take too many stabs at the president, instead saving her arrows for Harvey Weinstein, Billy Bush and the many “deplorables” who she said sent her death threats and hate mail over the summer after the photo went viral in May.

“I’m going to spill the fucking tea,” she teased, before offering a quick snapshot of what she’s gone through. “I was part of an international scandal, under federal investigation for two months, my sister died, my dog died and my mother turned on me. My mother took [Fox News host] Sean Hannity’s side. She was a little drunk. She goes, ‘Kathleen, I was watching my Fox News and do you know not one of those guys took your side. Not once.’ I said, ‘Yes.’ I got letters from them saying they wanted to shoot me in my cunt.”

She also admitted to receiving a letter from Bush, presumably to offer advice and support as he walked through his own Trump-related controversy, one that also cost him a job. “Would you like to hear my consolation note from none other than Billy Fucking Bush?” she asked. “Dear Kathy, I will skip my analysis of the moment and go to what matters,” she said, adding, “like he did on that bus. I watched that tape again yesterday. Trump’s all, ‘grab 'em by the pussy,’ and Billy goes, ‘Whatever you want'."

She continued: “And then he (writes), ‘What’s happening here is that there’s no time for debate. Action goes straight into consequence,’ and then he goes in parentheses, ‘Even an off-the-cuff conversation 12 years ago.’… Billy Bush is trying to be nice; I get it. I don’t want to be in your club.” 

Griffin clearly has no desire to be in Hollywood’s film club either, a fact that allows her to speak freely of Weinstein.

“The Weinstein thing is just fucking unbelievable but I’m not afraid to say anything because I don’t appear in movies ever and no one will ever put me in one,” she said. “That guy seems to be what’s called a rapist. I’m using it as a broad term. There’s a lot of them and they are everywhere. So it’s time we started to fucking look out for each other because this shit has been going on for way too long.”

Her words were met with rapturous applause and were delivered just hours after Weinstein was fired from his own company, The Weinstein Co., in the wake of a New York Times investigation that detailed sexual harassment claims spanning decades. Weinstein was initially being advised by attorney Lisa Bloom, the same lawyer who counseled Griffin through her apology press conference for the Trump photo. (Bloom resigned from Weinstein’s team over the weekend.) Griffin dissected her apology to journalist Yashar Ali for The Cut, and later took back her sorrys while on a promotional stop in Australia for her upcoming comedy tour. 

Griffin has never shied away from controversy, and she knew that her comedy comeback was likely to generate more headlines. “I know people have the cellphones out, and this is going to be on Breitbart and the Daily Caller,” she quipped. “I don’t care, because I fucking love you guys. What we all fucking need is to fucking talk to each other and laugh.” 

She did generate some when she detailed a specific piece of hate mail that she received from a former fan in San Diego, which read: “Go to hell, Kathy. You’re no different than Bill Cosby. You were my favorite female comedian. I was there at your show last January in San Diego. I died laughing. Now I hope you die…c—. You can forward these thoughts to your lover Snoop Dogg. I’m sad that your sister just died of cancer. I wish it was you. Fuck you up the ass with a red hot poker. Just like your precious friends on that filthy TV show Will & Grace who all fuck each other up the ass all day.”

Last but not least, Griffin elected to leave her audience with one last gossipy anecdote. “I’m going to leave you with a cup of tea, honey. This is a cup of gay tea that is fucking scandalous and it involves Anderson Cooper.” 

The CNN host had been paired with Griffin on CNN’s New Year’s Eve specials and he spoke out against her participation the Trump photo, saying that he was “appalled” by the “disgusting” photo shoot.

“For some reason this gay sent me a letter and sent a copy to Anderson. It’s so heinous and so over-the-top horrible that I admit it made me laugh out loud,” she said of the man, who wrote to Cooper in support of Griffin. “Dear Anderson, from one homo to another, you’re a fickle faggot. Really? Not supporting and backing Kathy Griffin after she had your back for years. Even to talk about your cock-sucking in her comedy back when you were still a closeted queen. And another thing, Anderson: Homo rule 101, you always back your fag hag.” 

The audience lapped up the piping hot tea while clapping back. Griffin, who takes off for an international comedy tour later this month, then inched closer to the edge of the stage and pumped her fist in the air. 

“I will always back you,” she screamed, standing just inches from the crumpled Trump mask at her feet. “Always.”