Staff writer Sylvia Badger recently interviewed comedian and talk show host Joan Rivers, who was in town for a performance at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Here's what Joan had to say on a number of subjects.
Q: If you were interviewing Joan Rivers, what would be the first question you would ask her?
A: "Are you sleeping with anyone?"
A: Just say that I burst into tears after that question.
Q: Is it true there has been a coolness between you and Oprah Winfrey since you won the 1990 Emmy for outstanding talk show host?
A: I heard she was upset, but I didn't see her. But I cannot understand that because I was the first person to give Oprah national exposure when she was just a chubby talk show host from Chicago. She won the Emmy this year and I sent her flowers.
Q: Gossip columnist Liz Smith is quoted as saying that if Joan Rivers has any faults, it's that she's a little more pretentious that she needs to be. She dresses up when she could dress down and to have dinner at her home is an intimidating experience.
A: Maybe it's intimidating for Liz Smith, but I have reached the age that I can do anything I want to. If I want to dress up, whether it's with clothing or my dinner table, then I will do it. My dinner tables are gorgeous because I use all the good china, crystal, silver. I have some absolutely divine silver Art Nouveau finger bowls, which follow every meal.
Q: What's the most embarrassing moment in your life?
A: There are two. One was a spoof played on me by NBC which took place at an airport TWA Lounge. As I approached the lounge, I was told that Margaret Thatcher was in there and could I wait for a minute. Finally this woman who looked just like Thatcher walked over to me and said, "Aren't you the woman who's always making jokes about our Queen?" and with that started hitting me with her purse and yelling at me. I thought I would die and then everyone started laughing and told me that it was a joke for a television show.
The other experience was real and took place in front a new school my daughter Melissa was attending. Edgar and I were there to see Melissa get the Best Horsewoman award and, typical of California, parking places near the school were hard to find. We finally parked and walked back to the school . . . I noticed this perfectly healthy looking man pull into the handicapped space next to the school. It made me so angry that I told Edgar I was going to make a citizen's arrest. I walked up to the man and told him that I found it disgusting that he had parked in the handicapped space and that I was making a citizen's arrest. That's how I met Melissa's new headmaster.
Q: Who is the most interesting person you've ever interviewed?
A: There have been many, but without a doubt it is Nancy Reagan, because she's not what she appears to be. She's so hurt, childlike, fragile and misunderstood that I find her intriguing. You've heard of the camera loving people? Well the camera seems to hate Nancy and what she says. When people say they dislike Nancy Reagan, I ask if they've ever met her and
most have not. Once you meet her, you feel her warmth.
Q: You were born Joan Molinsky and married Edgar Rosenberg. Where did Rivers come from?
A: In the late '50s, when pretty was in, I had an agent named Tony Rivers, who told me that he couldn't send me out to casting agents without a pretty name. No one would see a Joan Molinsky, so I said I'll go as Joan Rivers, and it stuck.
Q: Have you ever had plastic surgery?
A: Is the Pope Catholic? I love plastic surgery and I don't understand anyone who doesn't. People redecorate their homes, have their cars and clothes cleaned and taken care of, so why shouldn't we look after our bodies.
Q: What's your favorite fantasy?
A: To own Versailles and invite Liz Smith for dinner.
The Joan Rivers Show airs weekdays at 10 a.m. on WJZ-TV Channel 13.