On Joan: I think so many people loved her and forgave her because she was unafraid to fly the flag for the outsiders of the culture. At the same time, she dressed amazingly, loved fashion and glamour, and come on now, we all know that she loved some fucking TEA! She was a trailblazer and fought the good fight for women by her own example. I loved that when Wendy Williams got her television show, she was welcomed into her first dinner at Joan River’s apartment, which included other funny ladies in television and stand-up. She got screwed just the same as we all get screwed and she got back up again and again and played to her audience. I only saw her live once—at Fez (remember Fez?). I took my mom, because I felt like that was something neither her or I should miss.
Because she lived on Fifth Avenue close to Barneys, I left work many nights seeing her walking down the street, or sometimes on my lunch break coming up the street with her grandson, or sometimes just in the store. By the mid-Aughts, her face had seen its share of plastic surgery and a less polite person would say she looked a little crazy. I always noticed how she would smile in the light of the street and the moon like she might enjoy that she gave that impression. I liked how she not only acknowledged this, but she seemed amused by her own appearance. She had no trouble parodying herself or admitting her shortcomings; physically, supposedly morally.
She just called the truth on people in a biting way that is really hard for others to do without looking like complete jerks. Seriously, try and watch the next fresh episode of “Fashion Police.” You will be on Kickstarter trying to raise money to put a fucking hit on Giuliana Rancic. I forget, she often was looked at as a complete jerk, or a ham, or an opportunist. I think that we could still respect and love Joan because she seemed undeterred by that kind of criticism.
She knew that there is no human being who isn’t talking shit about another. She knew that you could still be called a dick and still be a caring person who not only defended family, but also people who deserved to be loved when no other people wanted to give it. I took great comfort in that. I know a lot of gay men did; sometimes the jabs and the cattiness disguise and protect a huge heart. I think the gay community will never forget that she was one of the first celebrities to support AIDS-afflicted men through God’s Love We Deliver and AmFAR.
I literally grew up with this woman: from her short-lived stint on the Tonight Show, to her Fox show, to her syndicated daytime show (do we all remember that this was the woman who brought Pepper LaBeija, Michael Musto, Michael Alig and Grace Jones into the homes of suburban America under one umbrella? Or Sean Young’s recounting of her infamously career-breaking unsolicited audition as Catwoman? Who had a better time in the 90s than Joan Rivers?
Even today, I was tuning in to see her tete-a-tete’s (a quiz question answer on a high school test I once took: “When Joan says ‘Let’s Talk’ she has this_) on her YouTube series, “In Bed with Joan.” Did you all not feel the joy of seeing Joan grace the Tonight Show stage last year in a show of forgiveness and closure? We’ve all come to love her because she acknowledged for us that we all are great and can be great and be loved, and at the same time have horrible flaws or just be a bit too before (or fuck it, even after) their time for other people to accept or “get.” She got. She got us all.
PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Lovekin/WireImage