‘I want to look like the oldest hooker in the room!’
Comedienne, fashion pundit and purveyor of very fine jewellery, Joan Rivers is back in London for a gig at G-A-Y. We talk to her about starting out in gay clubs, tackling celebrities and very high quality earrings…
Your karma must be on the floor!
Why? Truthful is not rude. I don’t think anyone’s ever been hurt by anything I said. When I was doing all the great Elizabeth Taylor jokes, I called her up and said, ‘If anything I’m saying hurts you, I’ll stop.’ She said, ‘You don’t hurt me where I live.’ We’re very good friends. We did an AIDS benefit together in LA.
Does anyone ever come back to you after those Oscar things and go, ‘Now listen here, bitch!’?
No. The ones that don’t want to talk just walk past you.
Are they scared of you?
No! The smart ones aren’t – and they’re usually the big stars. The stupid ones are not the big stars. Julia Roberts knows you’re going to have fun; Nicole Kidman knows; Sharon Stone. Tom Hanks comes running over. So you’ll get all the big ones and after the show you’ll go, ‘Oh, that’s right, Annette Benning didn’t stop.’ She’s so dreary anyway, who cares?
Do you think celebrities deserve to be dissed?
It’s not about deserve. My act is an extension of being your friend and getting on the phone with you and saying, ‘Did you see so-and-so? Can you imagine!’ That’s why when I started out in the Village with gay men, it was really just an extension of sitting at a table and talking to friends, bitching. That’s truly where it started.
You started in gay clubs?
Of course! Who else would talk to me? They were the first ones that got me. Gay men are the best audience in the world and I don’t know if it’s because they always felt a bit of an outsider growing up but they’re much more in tune with the whole stupidity of it all.
When you were doing all that, back in the 70s was it all Liza and Studio 54?
I went to Studio 54 but I was so stupid I didn’t know there were drugs. I thought they were all thin ’cause they were dancing. It was a very exciting place.
Liza told us she used to go to a gay sex club!
Well, Liza’s had a much wilder life than me. She used to go to Halston’s house which was all drugs. I was always working.
Is London a good place for you?
I love London! Love England! But you always love places that you don’t really know but you’re having a good time in. I’ve always come over, seen friends, sold jewellery on QVC…
Is the stuff you’re wearing yourself actually yours?
Yes it is.
Is it real gold?
But your ears haven’t turned green yet.
It’s very heavily gold plated.
Is the jewellery thing just ‘show me the money’?
No, it was about sitting down and saying, ‘I would like to do something in topaz, something pretty’ and then some fool makes it for you and it’s great.
The minute we’ve left you that stuff will come off and you’ll put the real stuff on…
Oh, no, no, no… Why would I design something I didn’t like? ‘I know, let’s make a really ugly earring!’
Don’t the ladies watching QVC from their trailer parks want something ugly?
No! I think I’ve brought America’s taste up. I swear to you. I think America’s taste has got better because of me. I’ve got ladies in trailer parks who now know that ropes of pearls are fabulous around your face. And they cover the tattoos.
Have you made more money out of jewellery than jokes?
The only money I’ve ever made in my life is the jewellery. I’ve never earned anything in show business. You get a lot of money in and a lot of money goes out.
So, what kind of guy would you be going for? Young and…
No! Sixty to seventy. I don’t like anybody that looks like I bought him. I want to look like he bought me, like the oldest hooker in the room. ‘Isn’t she fabulous? She’s the oldest hooker ever!’
Any messages for the gays coming down to see you?
Anyone wants to bring me a gift, they can bring me a little tiny dog. I want to get a really small dog that really needs me.
You know what those lapdogs were orginally for? Ladies used to have them under their crinolines to, you know, lap them…
No way! I’ll buy that. Come here, Lulu!
Joan Rivers appears live on stage at G-A-Y in London this Saturday, 19th May.