Joan Rivers isn’t a woman—she’s a force of nature. One of the hardest-working celebrities in the world, she’s an entertainment legend with unparalleled accomplishments as a comedienne, talk show host, best-selling author, playwright, jewelry designer, red carpet commentator—and the list goes on.
Frontiers sat down for a casual conversation with the living legend to get the latest on Joan’s two hit television shows—Fashion Police and Joan & Melissa: Joan Knows Best—an upcoming SoCal performance and Rivers’ always-faithful gay fanbase.
Joan, you have such a strong fanbase among the gays. What is your take on why that is?
Because I think gay men are brighter and smarter and more open, and they always—even in the beginning—got my comedy. I remember the first one to say, “she’s funny.”
You’ve been fairly vocal about the fact that you’ve had a gay following since the very beginning.
Oh, absolutely. The first ones in Greenwich Village to laugh at me were the gays.
Your show Fashion Police on E! was just recently expanded to a weekly series, and the Oscars just came through town, so I’m curious to get your take on what you thought—and not just the red carpet, but also the ceremony, because there was quite a backlash.
It was the stupidest thing. I think you don’t take a show that has had Billy Crystal and Chris Rock, and all these wonderful people doing comedy—and Steve Martin—and suddenly decide to throw in two people who don’t know what the f*ck they’re doing—you know it’s about demographics.
I felt terribly sorry for them [James Franco and Anne Hathaway]. Well, I felt sorry for Franco, and with her, I don’t know—I think she thinks she’s good!
And getting into the red carpet side of things, I’m curious—are there any celebs you consider to be consistently impressive, and even more importantly, any that you consider to be consistently awful?
Well, ‘consistently awful’ switches constantly. ‘Consistently impressive’—there are usually a few: Halle Berry will look great, Annette Benning is gonna look amazing, usually Nicole Kidman will look great. In the old days before she let them dress her, Sarah Jessica Parker, but now she’s letting Chanel take over and they are destroying her. They’re putting things that should go on a 6’6” model onto this teeny, tiny lady.
On Fashion Police, the show’s panel is comprised of you and a cadre of personalities. How did that group come together?
Well, they wanted Melissa and me to come back to the red carpet, and neither one of us wanted to do it. We’ve done it, we started it and it’s no fun anymore. You get notes from everybody, you can’t say anything negative about anybody’s clothing. So Melissa said we’d like to do a ‘morning after’-type show, the way you talk to your friends the next day. And that’s how it got started.
Then Melissa started putting the group together. I wanted Missy, and she wanted to executive produce. So she said Giuliana [Rancic], of course, because Giuliana is her staple, and we wanted to get Kelly [Osbourne], who we thought would offer a different point of view, and George [Kotsiopoulos] is a wonderful stylist. So it just happened, and we all like each other. It’s a miracle.
You do have quite a lot going on right now, with yet another show, Joan and Melissa: Joan Knows Best [airing Tuesday nights on We Television]. The show started in January. For those who haven’t caught an episode yet, what can you say about the show’s premise and what new viewers can expect?
I think it’s great—we’ve gotten great reviews and great numbers. It’s about a mother moving back in with her daughter. And it’s what’s going on right now all over the country in different families. Can you move back in? Can two strong women live together? The problems that ensue—and there have been problems. We’ve had tremendous arguments.
Part of the show’s premise is that you’ve moved out here to L.A. after living in New York for so long. How is that working out for you?
Well, it’s very difficult for me. I love New York. I am a New Yorker. But the family is here, and I’m going to make it work because of that. If I had my druthers, I’d move Melissa to New York. But she doesn’t wanna go—she’s a California girl.
Being a New Yorker, tell me how you really feel about L.A.
I feel I’m too old, I hate to drive everywhere. I don’t like the weather.
How do you not like the weather?!
Because I like the seasons. I like to walk through Central Park when it’s fall and it’s gorgeous, and the winter—it’s amazing! I miss it. I miss the pace—the women walking around, the men walking around, that kind of stuff.
But out here it’s beautiful. My grandson is having a very idyllic childhood—he plays outside, there’s sports going on and he’s surfing. I’m just not a California person.
Do you plan on staying out here for good?
Oh yeah. You’ve gotta have priorities, and the most important priority in my life is family. And I’ll still tour a lot. What’s gonna save me is that I’ll be in New York at least two days every week, because my business is there—my jewelry company—and QVC is in Pennsylvania. So I’ll be back and forth every week.
So you’ll still get your seasons in.
I’ll get my seasons in, and I’ll get my theater fix, so it’s working out well. And the dogs are very happy here.
You’ve got an upcoming Southern California show at the La Mirada Theatre. What can you tell attendees about the upcoming live spot?
Well, Mel Gibson won’t be a guest host. [Laughs] That would definitely be number one. And it’s gonna be my usual content, which changes so much. I’m performing tonight, so of course it’s gonna be all about Christina Aguilera and Charlie Sheen and that kind of thing. It’s always about what’s going on at the moment and what’s going on in my life, and what’s going on in your life and what’s annoying the hell out of me.
I recently read an interview with you where you said you’d love to be part of a sitcom. Is that still something you’d love to do?
Oh yeah. That would be so much fun. I’ve never done a sitcom, except a little bit on Suddenly Susan when I played Kathy Griffin’s mother. And I did a little bit on Nip/Tuck. But I’ve never really gotten up in the morning and been part of an ensemble. I used to look at Doris Roberts and think, how lucky to be a part of something like that.
Well, it sounds like you’ve found something similar in Fashion Police. You’ve got a great group of people.
Listen, life is great. No complaints, except that I can’t wear Louboutin shoes—they kill my feet.
I’d say you’re doing pretty well then.
Yeah, that’s not a bad complaint.