Gina Gershon Loses Cat, Sings

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Known for her varied roles in Ugly Betty, Cabaret, Bound, and yes, Showgirls, Gina Gershon has a new album and a stage show running Sundays and Mondays through the end of October at the Box. In Search of Cleo chronicles the story of the disappearance of her cat, Cleo, and the spiritual journey Gershon took to find him. Obviously, Vulture needed to know more (Gina Gershon: Crazy Cat Lady?), and the actress was more than happy to oblige.

So, you lost your cat…
I didn’t lose my cat. He was taken away from my home by a crazy girl, and then I had to go find him. So she actually lost him.

Who was this crazy girl?
She was my assistant, and she decided for some reason to wrap him in a blanket and take him to a dog groomer. She was really kind of crazy, and he got scared and ran away. He jumped out, but he was too far from the house so he couldn’t get back. It wasn’t a good time.

How did that translate to writing songs about the experience?
The songwriting was actually a separate thing. It was a bad time all around for me. During that time, I started writing these songs. It wasn’t particularly about my cat. When I started to work on my album, I was just writing and seeing what would happen. I was trying to figure out the best way to present it. It wasn’t club music, I couldn’t just play it at some parties. It was really more of a sit down, have a tequila and listen to the music thing. When I walked into the Box, it just kind of hit me. Oh, I should just do a drinking theater kind of thing. The story of my cat was just so crazy. And then it occurred to me that I could marry the two ideas. In Search of Cleo is really an analogy for looking for love and what people do.

Doesn’t the story end on a happy note, though? Because you found your cat. Is that true for the search for love?
Well, my album’s a little bit darker. It’s not all the songs from the record. Seven songs from there, and I wrote a new song for this piece and I added a couple of songs. I’m feeling a little luckier in love than I did during that period, so that’s good. [Laughs.]

And what’s Cleo like?
Now his head is very big because he’s on people’s iPods when they download my CD, and he’s the star of a show, and on the posters. He feels very inflated at the moment. He’s a little diva.

Where is he right now?
He’s here in New York, but he doesn’t need to go and see the show. He was there during the process. If I hit a bad note, he would literally put his head up and look at me. He’s like a band cat. He paws at the studio door, like “Wait, I’m the producer. What’s going on?” He really is a character. He’s a very unusual character.

So what’s the atmosphere like at the show?
It’s definitely more like going to a music show than a play. The album started out so simply with just a Jew’s harp and a guitar, so first, I was just going to present it. And then I was like, “Well, I have these dancing girls. I might as well have them just come there with me. “ It’s very loungy. We’re telling a story so everyone’s in their pajamas and negligees and nighties. Everyone’s very comfortable. I believe in being very comfortable. [Laughs.]

Will Cleo be in attendance?
Oh, no. He is way too cool to be attending to the shows. He doesn’t have to go to the show. He just asks how it went. —Sadia Latifi