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LIZ SMITH: Joan Rivers Hates You ...

Joan Rivers Hates You. No, Not Kidding, She Really Does! (Her New Book Tells All.)
Also: Dark Shadows — What is It? ... And Marilyn in the Nude, Still Controversial.
by Liz Smith
Tuesday, May 15, 2012


“I HATE gay weddings. I’m thrilled about the equal rights thing ... but gay weddings are like the War on Terror—they go on forever .... Gay weddings are a lifetime commitment—for the guests. They start at seven and end in October. Why? Because stereotypes be damned, gays love parades.”

That is Joan Rivers. With all the ponderous punditry on same-sex marriage—not to mention President Obama on the cover of Newsweek with a rainbow-colored halo, being called “Our First Gay President”—I think we need some irreverence.

Joan’s quote is from her coming book, titled Joan Rivers: I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me. And let me tell you, she is not kidding. This book is relentless. Often hilarious, often shocking, totally politically incorrect. She takes no prisoners. Or if she does, she tortures them before the coup de grace. Joan takes on everything—from “black people who give their children ridiculous names” to “people who like modern art” to “old bodies.” She’s not too keen on the likes of Anne Frank, Gandhi or Stephen Hawking, either.

Joan explains: “Being with haters is much more entertaining than being with depressives, because haters are always willing to make a scene ... they don’t give a shit. Those are my kind of people.”

And she goes on in this vein right through to the acknowledgments: “My lawyers have advised me that it’s a good idea if not to acknowledge, then at least express a shred of gratitude that this book has been published.”

And just remember, if you work in a restaurant and spot Ms. Rivers—Joan hates maitre d’s, waiters, waitresses and most, if not everything that’s on the menu. Prostrate yourself before her and you might survive. Though you’ll surely end up in the sequel, under: “I hate waiters who prostrate themselves before me.”
REMEMBER FAYE Dunaway’s classic moment in Chinatown—“She’s my sister, my daughter, my sister, my daughter, she’s my sister AND my daughter!” Well, that’s kind of what one feels after seeing Dark Shadows. Is it a parody? Is it horror? Is it melodrama? It’s parody, horror AND melodrama!  It’s a Tim Burton movie and therefore cannot be categorized as any one genre, though it is unmistakably a Burton film. It has the look.

Reviews have been mixed, with some critics wondering if Burton and screenwriter Seth Grahame-Smith got lost along the way? I don’t think so. I think what we see onscreen is exactly what was intended. The movie keeps you entertained but off-balance—you never know where it’s going.  Purists, who loved the old TV series will not be amused. But they aren’t Tim Burton’s audience anyway. I say, ignore the reviews and go see for yourself.
Johnny Depp is fascinating, Michelle Pfeiffer is still glorious even in Burton’s deep Gothic atmosphere, and there’s fun to be had from Eva Green, Helena Bonham-Carter, Johnny Lee Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Christopher Lee and Alice Cooper. As a sop for fans of the series, Burton cast Jonathan Frid, the original Barnabas Collins, in a cameo. (He died a few months ago, and did not get to enjoy the renewed interest in Dark Shadows.)
THE FABULOUS Valerie Simpson has released her first solo album in over forty years. It is also her first endeavor since the death of her husband and partner Nick Ashford last year.

Valerie’s CD is titled “Dinosaurs Are Coming Back Again.” She and Nick were in the midst of producing this at the time of his death.

Valerie says, “My honey put his heart and soul and some powerful lyrics into this album for me. I think Nick would be pleased and proud of how it came out.”

Valerie just completed a solid run at San Francisco’s Rrazz Room, garnering raves.

Go to valeriesimpson.net for more news on the singer and her album.
THE SEMI-NUDE “exclusive, lost” photos of Marilyn Monroe in the current issue of Vanity Fair, have caused a bit of a controversy. Playboy magazine objects. They say all the VF pics have been published before—indeed in Playboy itself. They are almost correct. One or two have not been seen before. But here’s some trivia. When Playboy published Lawrence Schiller’s photos of the late star’s famous pool scene from the uncompleted Something’s Got To Give, they decided they didn’t have enough nude shots of MM, and airbrushed her bikini bottom out of one picture—the big black-and-white that opens Vanity Fair’s article.  So if you want to be technical, the version in VF—with bikini bottom un-retouched—falls under “unpublished.”
As the Vanity Fair story reveals, Monroe was somewhat conflicted about the nudity, arguing with photographer Lawrence Schiller the very day of her death. Marilyn’s press rep Pat Newcomb wasn’t on board with the stunt, nor was drama coach Paula Strasberg. But, feeling she was trapped in a fatal flop, Monroe knew the film needed a jolt of publicity. (Schiller says that on that last day he found Monroe without makeup, messy hair and in a bad mood, “despondent but not suicidal. But what do I know what ‘suicidal’ looks like?”)

In Fred Guiles excellent 1969 biography of Marilyn, he reported that after the pool scene, Marilyn asked her hairdresser, “Do you think this was in bad taste?” The woman replied: “No, it looked beautiful.” And it did.

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