Speaking to comedian Joan Rivers on the telephone, we can't help but be tempted to turn the tables and ask "Who are you wearing?" or maybe risk sounding slightly perverted and instead inquire "What are you wearing?" But restraint wins out with the relentless woman who oftentimes has no restraint. To Rivers -- still an active force on the stand-up stage in addition to being a fashion arbiter, costume jewelry designer, actress, playwright, and screenwriter, to name a few of her roles -- just about anything is fair game. She ticks off a brief list: "gay marriage, Liza, Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson's breast, terrorists." Terrorists, Joan? Yep, the day after September 11, Rivers was already gunning for them. "That's how I get back at everybody," she admits. "Humor."
If, as the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold, Rivers's nearly 40-year career has assured plenty a frosty meal. For eons she used to preface her cracks by asking the audience's permission to be catty: "Can we tawlk?" Later she would mock their jeers by imploring "Oh, grow up!" These days she punctuates her remarks with a plea for affirmation: "Am I right?" It's a necessary statement, she claims, because she is "so sick of hypocrisy."
Hypocrisy, huh? We wonder if Rivers herself sometimes fudges a bit on the truth while singing the praises of certain celebs' wardrobe choices. ("Neatness counts," she discloses, when asked for a key to being well dressed.) And who besides the scathing Mr. Blackwell is there to make a citizen's arrest when the funny gal commits a dreaded fashion violation? Actually in that case, such a citation wouldn't hurt too much. Rivers admits to being more of a shoe-aholic than a dressaholic. "I can't throw any away. It's terrible," she notes of her footwear addiction. "I can resist a dress. I cannot resist a pair of shoes." Which brings us to the question: What kind ...?