Exclusive: Kathy Griffin dishes on Trump and the trolls that plagued her year.

She has another tour in the works. America, you've been warned.

In less than 20 seconds, Kathy Griffin has already hijacked our phone interview.

The comedian accuses me of cat-fishing her, lightheartedly mocks my Twitter bio, and slams President Donald Trump for being a "fucking lunatic."

"Now, are you in Chicago?" she says, abruptly changing gears again.

I explain that while, yes, I live in Chicago, Upworthy — which is part of GOOD Media — is technically based in Los Angeles.

There's a brief pause.

"Randy, this sounds like a gay scam," she quips to someone in the room with her. (At this point, I can't keep a straight face.) "My boyfriend, Randy, used to work for the L.A. Times. He's on to your bullshit, Robbie."

Griffin — who's spending the morning promoting her new "Laugh Your Head Off" comedy tour (pun very much intended) — sounds unfazed by the 10-month-old crisis that nearly destroyed her career, landed her at the center of a Secret Service investigation, and flagged her name on the Interpol list (a system devised to track criminals internationally).

After all of it, she's still the same quick, foul-mouthed, angry but big-hearted Griffin — except more eager than ever to hit the standup stage once again.











Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.


Some didn't think Griffin could possibly work in the U.S. after her Trump photo debacle, the comedian tells me.

And maybe they would have been right — if we were living in a different era with another president in the Oval Office.

But in 2018, millions of Americans, repulsed by Trump's behavior in Washington, appear hungry for a comeback from the comedian. In 2018, Griffin — filling seats in some of America's most iconic venues — appears to be hotter than ever.

"They didn't think I could sell Carnegie [Hall] — then it sold in a day," she notes of her new tour, just as surprised as anyone. "I didn't know if anybody would buy a ticket."

Can you blame her for wondering? Even some of the most ardent Griffin fans were turned off by her gruesome stunt last spring.

On May 30, 2017, TMZ shared the graphic, now infamous image taken by photographer Tyler Shields of an expressionless Griffin holding a mask of the president dripping in fake blood, the wisps of his orange hair matted and red. Even in a deeply divided America, the depiction quickly unified the right and left with a singular take: The image was vile.

That's when the "wall of shit" ran over her, Griffin says. "That's really what it was," she emphasizes. "A wall of shit fell on me May 30. And then the wall got bigger and heavier and filled with more shit."

Chelsea Clinton tweeted it's "never funny to joke about killing a president." Anderson Cooper — a dear friend of Griffin's who'd play the giggly straight man reacting to her absurdity during their popular New Year's Eve specials on CNN — said he was "appalled." Their friendship — and Griffin's contract with the cable news network — ended in the days that followed.

First Lady Melania Trump publicly questioned Griffin's "mental health." The president (and his adult sons) took shots at the comedian, claiming his youngest child, Barron, was "having a hard time" with the image.

"I've been told for a year, 'it's over, go away, you're a bad American, you're a member of ISIS' — all this crazy shit," Griffin says, still irked by the uproar.

She apologized the same day the photo went public — but it was too late.

A slew of venues hurriedly canceled her upcoming performances, costing her over $1 million in income, she told New York magazine. Bobby Edwards, the CEO of Squatty Potty, said he was "shocked and disappointed" to see the image before swiftly dropping Griffin from an endorsement deal with his company.

The photo fallout, however, bled into much more serious matters: The Department of Justice spent months parsing through Griffin's personal life to see if she was a real threat to the president.

"I was detained at every single airport, which is frightening," Griffin told Bill Maher in early March. "There were times when they took my devices. They can do that. You might think we all have our rights, but when you're in that moment, you're really at the mercy of one or two people in that room."

The comedian — once a card-carrying member of the D-list — was blacklisted. And she's still feeling the heat. "I've had every kind of death threat you can imagine, to this day."

Her fan mail — or hate mail — backs her up.

Just hours after our chat, the comedian shared a letter from a livid Trump supporter on her Instagram page: "You have your cranium wedged so far up your rectum that you can no longer receive oxygen and have become brain dead," it read.

“Sincerely”

A post shared by Kathy Griffin (@kathygriffin) on

Being a woman "absolutely" played a big role in the relentless criticism that's hounded her for nearly a year, she says.

I'm the one who brought up her gender for playing a part, and she's quick to thank me. "I also think it's because of my age. They know I don't have a network backing me up or a studio or a movie franchise. So in a way, I was an easy target." But "the woman thing is first and foremost."

Other male entertainers, she notes, have said or done similarly shocking things since Trump took office. But "[Trump's] too much of a pussy to go after Snoop Dogg, or Johnny Depp, or Morrissey."

The rapper's "Make America Crip Again" album cover depicted Trump's corpse wearing a toe tag. Morrissey claimed he would kill Trump "for the safety of humanity," and actor Johnny Depp also publicly pondered the idea of assassination. A recent (and very NSFW) music video by Marilyn Manson reveals a decapitated man in a suit who looks an awful lot like the president.

None of those artists have received a fraction of the blowback Griffin's endured, she says.

"I've known this guy off and on for 20 years [and] ultimately, he's a bully," Griffin says of the president — a bully who especially delights in targeting women.

Many who've closely followed the president's career say he has a vindictive personality. But Trump — who remains engulfed in over a dozen allegations of sexual misconduct — seems to be especially vicious to the women who've fallen into his crosshairs.

Often, he resorts to gendered attacks to belittle them.

"She doesn't have the looks," he said of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 campaign. "She doesn't have the stamina."

"If you take a look at her, she's a slob," he once jabbed at Rosie O'Donnell before mocking her "fat, ugly face."

"You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes," he taunted then-Fox News host Megyn Kelly. "Blood coming out of her wherever."

Griffin — with her hair now trimmed especially short and dyed fiery red (she buzzed it off in solidarity with her sister, who died of cancer last September) — won't be intimidated.

She's thrived off combative comedy for decades, and dismisses any notion that "the idiot [she'd] run into" at various TV events commands any sort of newfound respect since the 2016 election. "I really know this fool," she teases, promising me her new tour is filled with fresh Trump anecdotes.

Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images.

Is she divisive? Of course. But love her or hate her, Griffin's ferocious spirit is an admirable one.

Her crude humor and celebrity takedowns have gotten her banned from various talk shows and red carpets throughout the years. She told Jesus to "suck it," at the 2007 Emmys after winning an award for her reality series, "My Life on the D-List."

"This award is my God now!" she bellowed into the mic on stage, sending shockwaves through American living rooms.

The 57-year-old doesn't play nice. Throughout our call, I laugh at her belligerent yet charming assertions — never quite sure if she was laughing at or with me. (I think it was the latter?) But she believes women need to stand up for themselves and be true to who they are, and that now — more than ever — is a particularly bad time to simmer down just to keep the peace.

"It's shirts and skins, my friend, you've got to pick a team," she tells me emphatically. "You're either on the side of this administration or you're working against it, but you can't be on the sidelines this time. Not with this nut job."

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Here's to the stepdads who step in and step up to fatherhood.

Happy Father's Day to all the stellar stepdads.

Some fathers are there at the starting line. And some fathers step in partway through the race.

My biological dad left my mom when I was a toddler. I don't even remember living with him, and my memories of weekend visits throughout my early childhood are vague. He loved me, I'm sure, but he eventually slipped off the radar. He wasn't abusive or a massive jerk or anything. He just wasn't there.

Who was there was my Dad. My stepdad, technically, but for all intents and purposes, he was and is my Dad. He stepped in when I was four, and stepped up to raise two kids who weren't his. He went to the parent-teacher conferences, attended the school plays, surprised us with trips to the ice cream shop, taught us how to change a tire. He loved us, not just in word but in action.

As a parent myself, I now understand how hard it must have been to step into that role. Step-parenting involves unique relationship dynamics, and you have to figure a lot of things out as you go along.

My Dad had his own demons from his own childhood to deal with on top of that, and his cycle-breaking parenting still awes me. But he was always there to cheer me on, comfort me, and talk me through life's challenges. He wasn't perfect, but he was there, actively engaged in the marathon of fatherhood every step of the way.

Stepparents are often vilified in stories, but there are millions of awesome stepdads out there.

Without a doubt there are some terrible stepdads (and stepmoms) out there, just as there are some terrible parents in general. But there are a lot of great ones, too.

Alison Tedford's 11-year-old son Liam is lucky to have such a stepdad. Liam shares his time between his mom's and dad's house equally, but when he is with his mom, he's also with his stepdad, Paul. Alison says that Liam adores Paul, who stepped into the stepdad role when Liam was 7. Paul spent the first couple of years carrying Liam to bed every night, per Liam's request. Now that he's too big for that, they practice lacrosse and play video games together.

"To support Liam in his love of lacrosse, Paul took a lacrosse coaching course and is the team statistics manager," says Tedford. "They are best buds and Paul treats him with all the love and kindness he does his own kids. He drives him all sorts of places, goes on field trips, and makes sure he has everything he needs and is having fun. He's a really great stepdad."

These aren't the kinds of stories that make the news. But millions of stepdads dive into supportive, involved parenting as they fall in love with their loved ones' kids.

Having a stepparent is now about as common as not having one.

According to the US Census Bureau, half of the 60 million kids in the U.S. live with a biological parent and the parent's partner. And the most common stepfamily configuration—85% of them—is a mom, her biological kids, and a stepfather. That's a whole lot of stepdads.

Blending families can be complicated, and figuring out how to navigate those waters isn't easy. But family counselor and researcher Joshua Gold calls becoming a stepdad both "a challenge and an opportunity."

"The challenge comes in rejecting previously held beliefs about what it means to be a father," Gold wrote in The Conversation. "Stepfathers – and I count myself as one – must avoid outmoded notions of compensating for the absent biological father or paternal dominance."

"The opportunity comes in devising a parenting role that expresses the best and fullest aspects of being a man and a father figure," he wrote. "Done consciously and deliberately, the role and function of the stepfather can be tremendously fulfilling for all, and a source of lifelong joy and pride."

Here's to the stepdads who step into that role, step up to the challenge, and make the most of the opportunity to have a positive, nurturing influence in children's lives.

Family

'Love is a battlefield' indeed. They say you have to kiss ~~at least~~ a few frogs to find your prince and it's inevitable that in seeking long-term romantic satisfaction, slip ups will happen. Whether it's a lack of compatibility, unfortunate circumstances, or straight up bad taste in the desired sex, your first shot at monogamous bliss might not succeed. And that's okay! Those experiences enrich our lives and strengthen our resolve to find love. That's what I tell myself when trying to rationalize my three-month stint with the bassist of a terrible noise rock band.


One woman's viral tweet about a tacky mug wall encouraged people to share stories about second loves. Okay, first things first: Ana Stanowick's mom has a new boyfriend who's basically perfect. All the evidence you need is in the photograph:

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Family



The Poison Garden of Alnwick www.youtube.com


Plants have the power to heal us, yet plants have the power to harm us. There's an unusual garden that's dedicated solely to the latter. The Poison Garden located on the grounds of Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, England is the deadliest garden in the world. In the Poison Garden, you can admire the plants with your eyes, but you're not allowed to touch or smell anything, because every plant in the garden is poisonous, and can possibly even kill you. The name of the garden should be a dead giveaway.

The garden was created in 2005 when Jane Percy, the Duchess of Northumberland, wanted to show people the scariest plants around. "I wondered why so many gardens around the world focused on the healing power of plants rather than their ability to kill," the Duchess said. "I felt that most children I knew would be more interested in hearing how a plant killed, how long it would take you to die if you ate it, and how gruesome and painful the death might be." Honestly, she's got a point.

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Planet

I had a strange experience in the Vancouver, B.C. airport last week that I can't stop thinking about.

I was on my way to the Women Deliver conference—the largest international conference on the rights, health, and well-being of women and girls. As a woman and an American, I was excited to be immersed in conversations about improving gender equality globally. I was excited to meet people leading movements to improve the lives of women and girls around the world. Justin Trudeau, Melinda Gates, Tarana Burke, and other major movers and shakers were going to be there. The conference had been sold out for months.

As I made my through customs at the Vancouver airport, I expected to feel some excitement about being there. I did not, however, expect to feel what I felt as I left the terminal.

The signs for exiting the Vancouver airport don't say "Exit," they say "Way Out." And as I walked toward the Way Out sign, something about those two words and the realization that I had just left American soil hit hard. A wave of unexpected emotion washed over me.

Relief.

Scenes from The Handmaid's Tale—of people fleeing the hellscape the U.S. had become and seeking asylum in Canada—flashed through my mind. A mere few years ago, such scenes would have felt like far-fetched fiction. But walking toward the Way Out signs in the Vancouver airport, it felt too close to home. For a moment, I had an urge to run toward those signs like my life depended on it. To run toward sanity—toward freedom.

We have "American freedoms" drilled into us from the time we're children. Right now, it feels like a lie.

I hadn't fully realized how psychologically oppressive the U.S. had become until I left it, even just temporarily. The steady drip of regressive policies, the erosion of facts and denial of science, the resurgence of racist and nationalist movements, the daily insanity coming from the highest levels of our government, and the intensely polarized atmosphere here has worn on me more than I realized.

And I'm generally a super positive person. Seriously, I'm like the Pollyanna of politics—if I'm struggling here, what are other people feeling? (I'm also a middle-class white lady whose privilege has prevented me from fully grasping the fear and angst marginalized communities have been feeling for, well, ever. I'm well aware that I'm late to the game of uncertainty.)

Stepping into Canada, I felt like I could fully exhale for the first time in several years, only I didn't even know I had been holding my breath. Ironically, leaving "the land of the free" gave me a keen feeling of freedom and a sense of safety I didn't know I'd lost. I never expected to feel that way leaving my own country.

My internal dialogue has always been, "America, I love you. You aren't perfect, but your positives outweigh your negatives." Now it's, "America, I want to love you. But it's clear that our relationship has become toxic and I'm not sure how much longer I can do this."

Attending a women's rights conference as an American right now was surreal.

The Women Deliver conference was a powerful four days filled with people from 165 countries working to empower women and fight for their health and well-being. Heads of international aid organizations, heads of women's associations, heads of movements, Heads of State, and thousands of others all gathered together to discuss the state of the world's women and girls.

And you want to know the biggest contribution my country made to that conversation? A litany of regressive policies and legislation that prompted a collective, international rallying cry: "We refuse to go backwards."

I got to see some of the ways our current policies affect women not just in the U.S., but outside of it. For example, I was embarrassed by our reimplementation and expansion of the "global gag rule," which removes funding from any organization that so much as mentions abortion—even in countries where abortion is legal—and puts the lives of women and girls at risk.

I don't think most average Americans understand how harmful the global gag rule is. I watched a woman from Kenya share her story of escaping female genital mutilation at age 8. I heard from a woman in Pakistan who escaped child marriage at 11 years old. I watched an 18-year-old from Nigeria who had been kidnapped by Boko Haram at 14 and repeatedly raped until she escaped at 16—eight months pregnant. The organizations that helped these girls focus their work on sexual and reproductive health, including ending child marriage and genital cutting, educating communities on safe sex, and providing resources to prevent unwanted pregnancy. And if any such organization were to inform a child bride whose body would be ravaged by childbirth or a Boko Haram escapee impregnated by violence that abortion was one possible option for them, they would lose all funding from the U.S.

That is criminal. And it is happening. And it's just one backwards policy America is responsible for.

However, I left the conference—and Canada—with a strong sense of hope.

One thing stepping out of the U.S. and meeting agents of change from around the world showed me was that there are so many incredible people doing important, world-changing work out there. The Maasai woman who has helped save 17,000 girls from genital cutting by helping transform coming-of-age rituals into celebrations of girls' hopes and dreams, for example. Orhe 18-year-old Zambian girl who earned a standing ovation from four heads of state after eloquently calling out politicians for being all talk and no action. Or the organizers who pulled together all of these individuals to help women support one another, to stand in their power wherever they live.

I returned to the U.S. not with a sense of dread, but with a sense of purpose. Women are making waves in the world, pushing back against centuries of inequality and patriarchal norms. Naturally, there will be pushback against that pushback, but we will not go backwards.

Everything isn't okay, and we are living in strange times. But there are positive things happening. Old systems have to be broken down in order to build something new. Sometimes a step back clears the way for two steps forward. I have to believe that's where we are right now—poised for a great leap into a better future, where all of us feel free and safe on our own soil.

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