NEW YORK – I’m having a great time, Joan Rivers crows before offering a brisk self-appraisal: Everything is working, my mind is fine.
The only time I play the age card is on planes when I’m trying to put a bag above the seat: I am 80 years old! Would someone please help me?!’
Actually, she only turned 80 on Saturday, a milestone that has prompted the E! network to stage a Joan Rivers takeover: Its regular one-hour edition of Fashion Police (airing Friday at 10 p.m.) will be a black-tie birthday salute, preceded nightly through Thursday by special half-hours (at 10:30 p.m.) featuring guest appearances by celebrities and even victims of past fashion slams.
This means frequent-flier Rivers would soon be back on a plane for Los Angeles to tape this five-day marathon while she marvels at the success of Fashion Police, which, since premiering three years ago, has only tightened its grip in the culture as a wicked hybrid of style and snark.
Rivers is well-served by her co-hosts Giuliana Rancic, Kelly Osbourne and George Kotsiopoulos, all of whom can deliver shrewd analysis as well as piercing gibes at red-carpet infractions.
But Fashion Police is perfectly tailored to the comedic skills of Rivers as demonstrated by her 46 years and counting in show biz.
At first, Rivers resisted the urge to do the show.
I remember, I was in Vegas on a treadmill – cause you still try! – saying to my agent and (daughter) Melissa, ’cause Melissa’s exec-producing, You’re crazy! I’m not gonna do this! I’m not gonna commute!’
Her mind was changed.
We do the jokes, and we tell the truth, too, Rivers sums up proudly. E! told me, Whatever you want to say, you say.’ We’re having so much fun! And our lawyers are so dear.
She says her interest in fashion reaches back to her girlhood, when, while she was still in school in New York, she had a job as a fashion coordinator at a department store chain, then another job where she assisted with the creation of Lord & Taylor’s legendary Fifth Avenue window displays every Thursday night.
If I hadn’t gotten into show business, says Rivers, I would have gone into fashion.
Not that any celeb should get her knickers in a twist over fashion feedback from any loose-lipped comedian – or so says Rivers, anyway.
When you’re making $20 million a picture and the dress is free, do you really care if Joan Rivers says you shouldn’t wear a peplum? she chuckles. I don’t think Julia Roberts sits up at night thinking, She said what?!’
Rivers has always mocked aging, not only with her self-directed jokes but also with her never-secret rounds of plastic surgery.
But I have never wanted to be a day less than I am, she insists. People say, I wish I were 30 again.’ Nahhh! I’m very happy here. It’s great. It gets better and better. And then, of course, we die, she quips, chuckles and looks unconcerned.
How long does she plan to keep working?
Forever, says Rivers. This time, she’s not joking.