Joan Rivers on Joan Rivers: 'Someone's gotta tell the truth'
May 19, 2012
By Bonnie J. Toomey, FITCHBURG SENTINEL & ENTERPRISE CORRESPONDENT
Ask Joan Rivers about the presidential race and her trademark acerbic humor spills forth through the phone.
"Two years to campaign? ... In England they campaign for six weeks and then they're done!" she says. "It's outrageous. I don't know -- they're all fools, weak! We need a woman in the White House!"
Hillary Clinton could have done a better job, she says.
"Women have ways of looking at arguments that men do not. It should all stop and change. France, Israel, and all the Arabic countries need women presidents. That would solve things -- no macho crap," she adds in a raspy voice.
Although we'll likely have to wait at least four years before there is a woman in the Oval Office, Rivers will be commander in chief on stage at 7 p.m. Tuesday, when she brings her show "My Life in Show Business: 135 Years and Counting" to the The Hanover Theatre for the Performing Arts in Worcester.
The Sentinel & Enterprise caught up with Rivers by telephone in the green room at QVC the Friday before Mother's Day, and she shared her thoughts on politics, philosophy, and family.
At 78, she's spent 40 years of poking fun at herself and celebrities -- but never her fans.
She justifies her brutal honesty by saying "someone's gotta tell the truth."
Rivers puts her nose to the grindstone with a diehard work ethic. She continues to grow a colorful career, having risen from TV gag writer in the 1970s to best-selling author of "The Life and Hard Times of Heidi Abromowitz," an '80s mock memoir of her own life, to winning an Emmy in 1990 for outstanding talk show host on "The Joan Rivers Show." Today you can see her on QVC, "The Fashion Police" on E! and WEtv with her daughter, Melissa.
The Phi Beta Kappa key holder from Barnard College with a degree in English Lit and anthropology is also a Tony-nominated actress, a playwright, screenwriter, motion picture director, columnist, lecturer, syndicated radio host, jewelry designer and cosmetic guru.
"I'm never giving up. I'm always in the trenches -- always working," she says, although she points out her most important role is that of proud mother and grandmother.
Rivers respects her steadfast public; she refers to them affectionately as "civilians," and says she would never go after a person in the audience or a fan in the street just to get a laugh. On the other hand, celebs are expected to turn the other cheek and make the perfect targets for her crass shtick whenever she gets the chance.
"You can do it to Julia Roberts. If (I) didn't like her blouse, big deal. It won't bother her; she makes millions," she says.
She says she is having fun doing what she does, which is just about everything under the sun, and she stops at nothing.
"You know, the emperor's not wearing any clothes," she jokes, adding when everyone was trying to figure why and what had happened to Whitney Houston she was telling it like it was. "The woman put a million dollars up her nose! She did it to herself!"
Rivers, a strong advocate for women, says that there is still a wage gap between the sexes when it comes to equal pay for equal work. She knows women do not get the same treatment as male comedians.
"I think the networks are run by a big ol' boys network. They say people want to see men -- maybe they do -- I never think about any of this -- I don't care!"
Like a friend once told her to do, she puts on her blinders and just runs her own show.
"No question about it, I'm doing that!" she says.
Rivers has an uncanny way of ignoring all the negatives and plowing through the prudish, turned-up noses and all the back-room politics of show business.
"Bill Cosby said if you please only 1 percent of the people, you should please a lot of people," she says.
The 5-foot-2 Rivers is famous for her numerous plastic surgeries, her first an eye lift in 1984. She laughs at the hypocrisy surrounding cosmetic surgery. She remembers a dinner party in the '80s, when four older stars who each had had facelifts actually asked her how it felt to have her eyes done!
She wholeheartedly encourages indulging in cosmetic surgery if you can.
"It's so much more available today and yes, worth it. You can spend your money on a new car and then it gets parked. But a new face? Never mind that pair of shoes -- get a new face! You look good, you feel good!"
The fashion diva believes that beauty boils down to the latest trend. "Right now, unfortunately, it's big boobs and straight hair," she quips.
Rivers gives sage advice for those who want to follow in her legendary footsteps.
"Start as soon as you can, listen to all the best, and be prepared to work hard at it. Nobody is a hit overnight -- it takes seven years."
River's stage act includes plenty of profanity, but she humors her 11-year-old grandson, Cooper, by paying into the "Curse Jar" every time she drops a bomb in front of him.
Rivers outwardly adores her daughter, Melissa and loves her grandson. She said she was very excited about flying out to California the next morning to see him play lacrosse on Mother's Day.
"Melissa will have to interpret the game for me," she says. "So dear and so much fun... I'll be saying -- good for you Cooper!"
Rivers takes a second to say "Happy Mother's Day" before saying, "I'll give you a shout out!"
Rivers on stage and off continues to lives by her alma mater's mantra she was given as a college National Honor Society member: "Love of learning is truly the guide of life."
It's an academic philosophy interpreted by the Queen of Barbed One-Liners as simply, "Can we talk?"