When her daughter Melissa gives her a diary for Christmas, at first Joan is horrified—who the hell does Melissa think she is? That fat pig, Bridget Jones? But as Joan, being both beautiful and introspective, begins to record her day-to-day musings, she realizes she has a lot to say. About everything. And everyone, God help them.
The result? A no-holds-barred, delightfully vicious and always hilarious look at the everyday life of the ultimate diva. Follow Joan on a family vacation in Mexico and on trips between New York and Los Angeles where she mingles with the stars, never missing a beat as she delivers blistering critiques on current events, and excoriating insights about life, pop culture, and celebrities (from A to D list), all in her relentlessly funny signature style.
This is the Diary of a Mad Diva. Forget about Anais Nin, Anne Frank, and Sylvia Plath. For the first time in a century, a diary by someone that’s actually worth reading.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 1.00(d)|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
This diary was written to the best of Joan Rivers’s memory. As such, some of the events may not be 100 percent . . . or even 5 percent factually correct. Miss Rivers is, after all, 235 years old, and frequently mistakes her daughter, Melissa, for the actor Laurence Fishburne.
Miss Rivers wrote this diary as a comedic tome, not unlike Saving Private Ryan or The Bell Jar. While Miss Rivers doesn’t really like skinny models and actresses, she doesn’t actually believe that they’re all bulimics and they all carry buckets instead of purses. Similarly, she doesn’t really think that all Germans are anti-Semitic Nazi sympathizers, that all Mexican Americans tunneled in across the border, that all celebrities are drug addicts, shoplifters or closet cases, or that Noah built his ark with non-union labor.
Miss Rivers does, however, believe that anyone who takes anything in this book seriously is an idiot. And she says if anyone has a problem with that they can feel free to call her lawyer, Clarence Darrow.
Fuck Lamaze. You try downing a bottle of Barbies with a dry throat.
This diary is my Christmas gift from Melissa and Cooper and I’m more disappointed than I was on my wedding night when I found out that Edgar was half Chinese—and not the good half. And this diary’s not even from a good store. I was hoping for at least a Car-tier watch. I wouldn’t even have minded if it was spelled with a K. I know, it’s Christmas season and we’re Jewish and we shouldn’t care about gifts, but if indeed we did kill Christ—and I’m not saying we did; for all we know he could have slipped and fallen onto that cross (maybe he was clumsy; maybe he drank)—then something’s got to ease the guilt. And the more expensive that something is, the less guilty I feel.
Anyhow, this is a new book for a new year and I’m feeling great. To celebrate, I got matching vagina piercings with my two best girlfriends, Margie Stern and Brucey Jenner.
I’m writing this in Mexico. On the spur of the moment, Melissa, Cooper and I decided to fly down here, and we were right: It’s a perfect way to ring in the New Year—great resort, private beach and plenty of servants who’ll do anything for a thirty-cent tip. This place is kind of like Downton Abbey with sombreros. Last night I got an eight-hour pedicure from Maria while resting my feet on her “brother,” Jose, who was crouched over like a footstool. I let him switch positions every two hours so he wouldn’t cramp and, more importantly, so Maria wouldn’t slip and accidentally paint my ankles dusty coral. Unfortunately I can’t take credit for the position-switching thing; I got the idea by watching Amistad on cable last week. I think if the ship’s captain had let the slaves switch sides every couple of days not only would they have rowed faster but they would have had the strength to make faces at Anthony Hopkins.
This morning when I woke up and looked out my window, there was Conchita, out in the field threshing wheat so that her “brother,” Juan, would be able to make me toast for my morning breakfast. I appreciate all of my south-of-the-border neighbors’ semi-hard work and hope they’ve stolen enough loose change and shiny trinkets from my bureau so that when they get caught trying to tunnel into America next month, they’ll have money to pay a mediocre deportation lawyer.
I haven’t kept a diary in years. The last time I kept one I had just come back from a girls-only weekend with Eleanor Roosevelt and her best friend, Gayle. We all giggled that girls are better than guys, and then we douched with Gatorade and wrist-wrestled till we fell asleep.
I wasn’t planning on keeping a journal this time, but when I told my friend Bambi I was going to Mexico for the new year, she said, “Oh, you ought to keep a diary, like whatshername did . . . oh, like Anne Frank did.” Like Anne Frank did???? Did you read Anne Frank’s diary??? What a bitch Bambi has turned out to be, to compare me to Anne Frank! I’ve written six books, and Anne? She didn’t even complete her one. She’s no writer. Did you ever read her book? She has no ending! “Uh-oh! The Nazis are coming up the . . .”
I’m trying to forgive Bambi; it’s been such a long friendship. I knew her way back when she was still Bernice, before the electrolysis, the implants, the Restylane and the glass eye that almost works. I forgave her bitterness. She turned the day her husband, Ernie, a prominent Long Island orthodontist, left her for a fifty-three-year-old Little League coach/Boy Scout leader with a severe overbite. Until this we were friends, but to compare me to Anne Frank? Who the fuck does she think she is? I’m nothing like Anne Frank. She lived in a walk-up; I live in a penthouse. And unlike Anne Frank, I do things: I go out. I shop. I go to the theater. I get professional haircuts. I’m way up there and I’m a gal on the go; Anne Frank was fifteen and that lazy bitch played the shut-in card for almost three years. No, Bambi, if I keep a diary it won’t be like Anne Frank’s; just for openers, it’ll be in English.
Trouble started today with AT&T. I hate AT&T. It obviously stands for Always Terrible Transmission. I tried to call the States and couldn’t, so I called AT&T about my international phone service, which sucks more than Monica Lewinsky under a White House desk, and I got a recording that told me “a disabled war veteran will answer your call.” Great. I have to complain about my long-distance bill to Private Jimmy, who lost his face, ass and limbs in Tora Bora. “I’m sorry you’re a torso on a dolly, Private First Class Jimmy, but does that mean for the rest of my life I have to pay an extra $6 for data roaming?”
What do you say when they hit you with “a disabled vet will try to give you a hand”? Do you chance it and answer, “Does he have one?” I hate being put in awkward positions, like the utter disappointment I felt after I did a benefit performance for thalidomide adults and no one applauded. To this day I’m not sure whether the silence was because they couldn’t clap or because they didn’t like me.
Anyhow, I did what any American would do: sent a check to Wounded Warriors, hung up on the motherfucker, and switched to Verizon.
Something about Anne Frank’s story kept bothering me and I finally figured out what. It’s not that she wasn’t pretty; a lot of girls aren’t pretty and they still do okay, right, Avril Lavigne? But Anne just didn’t try. How would it have hurt the woman who slipped her food when the Nazis weren’t looking to have included a lipstick, an eye shadow and, God knows, a concealer? The girl had nothing but time on her hands. Would it have killed Anne to take a couple of minutes out of her “busy” day and throw on a little blush? And there’s something else I just can’t make sense out of. With all of that “me time” available, why didn’t Anne’s mother redecorate? You can do a lot with blackout curtains if you’re willing to strain your brain a little and think outside the box. Hopefully the answer will come to me before Passover. I’d hate to interrupt the Seder by adding a fifth question: “Were there no throw pillows in all of Amsterdam?”
We’ve been down here almost a week and I’m beginning to realize the Mexicans are not a swell-looking people. Not all Mexicans, just the Mayan-influenced staff working here at the resort. They have no necks. Perhaps it’s because they spent all those years carrying heavy stones on their heads to build their gloomy and useless temples. Their heads look like pumpkins sitting on washing machines. I don’t say this in a judgmental, pejorative way; I say it in a capitalistic way, because frankly, I have a jewelry line, and if they have no necks that means they can’t buy necklaces and that means that my beloved Cooper might have to go to some cheap community college, or worse, join the Peace Corps and work for free—for free!—helping other people who have no necks.
Watching the news. Today was the anniversary of two of the biggest events in American history: Nancy Kerrigan getting clubbed in the knee in 1994, and Congress giving the 2000 election to George W. Bush. My world was changed on that fateful day, and since then I’ve never been able to watch figure skating the same way. Up until then I always thought of figure skating as something gay men who were tone-deaf and couldn’t sing in piano bars did to pass their time, but it turns out I was wrong. Figure skating is something needy women with thin lips and big thighs do to pass their time. Innocence lost.
Today was our travel day back to New York. The airport was packed and I felt a little guilty as we jumped the line. And Melissa didn’t help; she’s actually getting quite verbal and testy every time I hop into a wheelchair and make her push me past the pregnant women and sick children. She also says that my little act of rolling my eyes back and shivering and plucking at people’s chests and whispering, “Say a prayer for me, amigo. The prognosis doesn’t look bueno,” is a little over the top. I know it upsets her, but boy does it work like a charm.
I then try to make sure I’m not stuck sitting next to some chatty asshole. But I’m prepared. I have six Ambien and an intentionally open purse filled with Massengill, Vagisil, Preparation H, a copy of my will, and books on Amelia Earhart and Pan Am Flight 103’s surprise landing in Lockerbie.
One last thing about Anne Frank’s diary that was bothering me: the Nazis—and their sloppy work ethic. Anne and her entire posse were hidden behind a bookcase for two years and no one found them? Do you know what that means? Nobody ever cleaned or dusted the bookcase, that’s what it means! I know there was a war going on and maybe nobody had time to do a white-glove test, but seriously, how much work would it have been to casually walk by with a feather duster or a Swiffer? I find the whole thing shocking; and the thing that shocks me the most is my housekeeper obviously used to be a Nazi.
Our Mexican vacation is over and I’m back in rainy New York. I met my friend Margie for lunch, and in the six blocks from my house to the restaurant, I got splashed on, shoved, banged into and told to “go fuck myself” in three different languages. And just as I was entering the restaurant, I got shit on by a pigeon. It feels so good to be home.
I am shaking. This morning I did the “Howard Stern Show” and it was the most amazing experience I’ve ever had on the show. I must’ve been a guest on his show a hundred times, but today was the first time ever, ever, ever, in all these years, that Howard never once used the words “penis,” “vagina,” “midget” or “retard.” It wasn’t until later that I found out it was because he had a sore throat. In retaliation, this was the first time I never, never, never once used the words “cuntface,” “turd burglar” or “Palin.”
Flew to L.A. today to get back to work on Fashion Police. I didn’t realize how much I adore taping it. It’s been almost a month since I insulted celebrities, shamed lesbos and made fat jokes about Aretha Franklin. I need my fix!
I spent half the day in the car schlepping all over L.A. going from meeting to meeting, ass-kissing to ass-kissing. My driver listens to the top-rated oldies radio station in L.A., KRTH. It was fun listening for a while, but the station played the same Eddie Money songs over and over and over and over and over again, all day long. No matter where I was in L.A. or what time of day it was, when I got in the car they were playing Eddie.
I figure since 1960 there must be 100,000 songs to choose from, yet KRTH plays Eddie Money over and over, like an autistic man-child who has to wear a helmet just to eat cereal. I have nothing against Eddie Money; he seems like a lovely man. I met him once a few years ago; he was my waiter at Denny’s. But why is KRTH playing him all day, all the time? Is Eddie related to the station owner? Does Eddie have blackmail photos of the program manager fucking a goat? I don’t understand it. There are 3.8 million people living in Los Angeles; do any of them call up KRTH every morning and say, “If you don’t play an Eddie Money song at least fifty-eight times today I’m going to kill myself”? What I could understand is if they called up and said, “If you do play Justin Bieber even once, I’m going to kill you.”
I wouldn’t mind listening to Eddie Money all the time—or even Justin Bieber—if KRTH would just mix it up a little. Throw in an Anne Murray song every now and then. Even if you don’t like her, her songs are good for the listener. They work as a natural Valium. Or something nostalgic, like Jennifer Holliday’s first hit, “I Am Not Dieting.”
Cooper is totally into lacrosse, so Melissa and I went to his game today. He was very good. At least I think he was. I don’t know what lacrosse is about. All I saw was a bunch of thirteen-year-old boys with sticks and helmets furiously whipping a rock-hard ball at a kid with no shin pads (and no teeth) standing in front of a net.
Later: Googled “lacrosse.” It’s a French-Canadian word. It means “beat the shit out of the goalie.”
Red-eyed in from L.A. Found myself sitting next to someone who was the spitting image of my cousin Leon. And I say spitting image because he was spitting. (And shaking. And twitching.) Every time this guy spit he washed down the seats of not only the people in front of us, but also the people in first class. I haven’t been that wet since I went through menopause. I couldn’t sleep, and sleep is important—just ask Sunny von Bülow. Which is why I always request to sit next to Stephen Hawking. He doesn’t toss and turn, and his keeper, God bless her, wipes off not only his spit, but dries off the entire cabin. There’s even another bonus: the rhythmic hum of his ventilator can be so soothing it helps me go into REM sleep!
But back to the idiot next to me. I was about to say something like, “Calm down, Blinky, a lot of people are nervous about flying,” but the stewardess mouthed to me, “He has Parkinson’s.” I signaled back, “What? He has what? Parking problems? He likes Parks and Recreation? He’s a Parker Posey fan?” Then she did a little hopping, trembling motion, until I got it. I didn’t bother to say hello to him because (a) I could tell he was an upgrade, and (b) his wardrobe told me he had absolutely no juice in show business.
To top it all off, this guy was really aloof. You’d think anybody who took ten minutes to buckle a seat belt because of the Parkinson’s would be friendly. I mean, how many friends could he have? Other than the FEMA earthquake management experts, who could put up with all the shaking without getting nauseous? The stewardess had to take Dramamine before she came over to serve him. All night long his head bobbed up and down more than a ten-year-old sitting in Michael Jackson’s lap. It’s now three o’clock in the morning, I’m trying to sleep, and I swear to God he is kicking and thrashing like a Filipino day laborer trying to get out of Kathie Lee’s sweatshop. At one point I asked to buy him a drink and he said, “Martini.” I said, “Shaken or stirred?” The dumb fuck didn’t even get the joke.
I’m back in L.A. visiting Melissa, and tonight I went with my agent, Steve Levine, to a semi-important dinner party in Beverly Hills. And I say semi-important because if it were really important he would’ve taken Chris Rock or Jimmy Fallon or JWoww. And I know it was semi-important because there were only three or four people there who could help my career, and they could only do that if they called in a favor to someone more important than themselves. In Australia. I’m not complaining however; last week he took Kathy Griffin to an all-you-can-eat buffet at an Olive Garden.
Gayle King was at the dinner party, looking quite feminine and sporting a small tattoo of Gertrude Stein on her left wrist. I made the usual small talk with her, like, “You and Charlie Rose have such great chemistry,” and “Your new high-collared dresses really hide your large, mannish shoulders.” And she seemed delighted as she smiled and walked away. But what I really wanted to say to her was, “What’s Oprah’s private number? I want to crank call her.”
And while I’m on the subject, Charlie Rose—who I like to think of as a good, good friend—once came to a dinner party at my house with Amanda Burden, his longtime lady love. I adore them both. I saw a new friendship starting: Sunday-night screenings, meeting at the dog run, sharing a house in Mexico . . . I guess they didn’t see it the same way because I never heard from them again. In fact, Charlie turned down the opportunity to narrate a PBS special I had written on anti-Semitism called Stop Bothering the Hebes.
Exhausted. Just came back from yet another party, this time with Steve Levine’s assistant, Jackie. I’m starting to know how bacteria feel on the food chain. I was the oldest person in the room. They were all young hip actor types who made no eye contact with me. Is this generational or just rude? In my day, people made eye contact. Take John Wayne Gacy, for example. Good mood or bad, bless him, he made eye contact. Even at his busiest moments, like when he was waterproofing his crawl space, he always found time to look you right in the eyes and say, “What’d you do today, Joan? Tell some jokes, sell some jewelry on QVC, just hang with your peeps and smoke a little blunt?” instead of being self-involved and saying, “I was very busy: I drank a six-pack, made some clown paintings and fucked my cell mate. Care for some more punch?”
I’m really upset!! I finally got into the apartment of my blind neighbor, Esther Mortman (I slipped past her while she was groping for her tennis racquet . . . who’s she kidding?), and I was right! She does have a park view! This kills me. Why, why, why should blind people have apartments with park views? I don’t want to say anything negative about Esther even though she’s a lousy dresser. Checks and plaids together? Time and time again I chide her, “C’mon, Esther, what’s with this outfit, are you blind? Ooops.” But as I suspected, she doesn’t even appreciate her view; just to aggravate me she purposely places her easy chair facing the wall. As I said, I don’t want to say anything because I really like Esther. She’s so independent, for years I didn’t even know she was blind; I thought she was just a stuck-up cunt who never gave me a compliment like, “Have you lost weight? New hairdo?”
It’s Melissa’s birthday. Thirty-nine years ago tonight I was screaming, “Get this out of me!” And thirty-nine years plus nine months ago I was screaming the same thing. It was an easy birth and I remember my joy when my obstetrician answered yes to the following questions: Is she breathing? Is she healthy? Is she white?
On the way to Melissa’s party I ran into Wolf Blitzer and he broke my aura; he was right in my face when he growled at me. We were practically conjoined. (It made me think: Do people have to represent their names? Be careful what you name your kids. You could be jinxing the little motherfuckers. What if Sunny gets a job as a guard in a concentration camp? What if Goldie has black roots? What if Lucky has one eye, cradle cap and an open spine? Nice job, Mom. I always wanted to ask Gwyneth Paltrow, “Does Apple have worms?”)
I said to Wolf, “Wolf, unless you’re a dentist removing a molar or my Melissa trying to get my jewelry off of me before I’m dead, there’s no reason for you to be this close. And don’t give me that ‘what if we’re kissing?’ crap. You and I both know a hooker will fuck you, suck you, put things up your ass and call you dirty names, but she’ll never, ever kiss you. Especially if your name is Wolf.” Then as he was walking away I said to him, “Yo, Shorty, have a nice day, and by the way, who the fuck named you Wolf? Looking at you, so many other names come to mind: Raccoon, Ferret-Face, Llama-Puss or just a simple, right to the point No-Chin.” (There’s nothing I hate worse than a person with no chin. When they get old they’re just going to be a neck and a smile.)
Wolf isn’t the only person who’s in your face all the time. Take that narcissistic loser Tyra Banks. Tyra’s always standing up for herself and her “race” over perceived slights. For example, she’ll say, “You just pushed me because I’m black!” No, I pushed you because the train was coming right at you, you bulimic twit.
Just got another no for my PBS special, Stop Bothering the Hebes. John Galliano said “Non.” I think I’m going to sic Jerry Lewis on him.
Just finished watching President Obama’s inauguration. (I TiVoed it because last night I was watching the premiere episode of The Price Is Right with Winona Ryder.) The president’s speech was okay. The “we’re all in this together” stuff plus the usual “we’re all Americans” and the ever-popular “we’re all equal” shit went over very well. I like the first two sentiments but boy-oh-boy is Obie wrong on number three. We’re not all equal. I’ve seen nude photos of Tommy Lee and Bruce Lee, and no amount of legislation is gonna level that playing field. Tommy wins ten to one. Poor Bruce Lee. As Confucius say, “Be happy with a mini. Could be worse; could be an innie.” I feel so sorry for Asian men; not once in my nearly two hundred years on this planet have I ever heard the Asian woman who lives next door to me yell out, in a fit of unbridled lust, “Oh, Hop Sing, give it to me, baby! Punish me with your huge, yellow tool!” Not once. Usually what I hear her say is, “Is it in?”
Back to the inauguration. I watched it at home and the television coverage sucked. First they’d show President Obama in front of the Capitol making a speech after taking the oath of office. And then during his speech they kept cutting to smiling black people in the audience. Then they’d go back to Obama for a minute and then cut back to three or four other smiling black people. There were over 900,000 people on the Mall watching the inauguration; what are the odds they were all smiling black people? If I want to see millions of smiling black people, I’ll set up a camera in the hallway outside Kim Kardashian’s bedroom.
I resent that the networks think we’re so shallow, that because the president is black they have to keep doing cutaways only to smiling black people in the audience. If Chris Christie ever becomes president, will they only cut to Kathy Bates chewing and burping?
I wish Obama would have livened the speech up a bit; given the crowd a wink, a smile, a bad-boy hip thrust. His biggest offense was that the speech was boring. How great would it have been if he said, “Good news, gang! My daughter Sasha’s expecting! She’s gonna be eating government cheese for two! And even better, Hillary’s the baby daddy!”
Just heard how my cleaning lady, Chiquita, enjoyed the inauguration. Apparently everybody in the country was invited to it except me. But I’m not upset. In my time, I’ve slept with many a president. There was Teddy Roosevelt, who was some little roughrider. I had a major, major affair with FDR, who, by the way, had a coupla fetishes. He used to say, “C’mon, Joan, you be a hot nurse and I’ll play a little cripple boy who needs a sponge bath.” And I don’t want to rehash this bit of history here, but it’s common knowledge that Abe Lincoln and I were an item. And FYI, A.L. would’ve been alive today if he had just listened to me. I begged that little fairy boy (everyone knows he was gay. C’mon—shawl, stovepipe hat, a darkened mole. Obvious!) not to go to the theater. I said, “Stay home in bed with me. We’ll decoupage and watch Lifetime TV movies.” And he said, “Nope! I want to go to the theater! Les Miz is playing, and Fantine, before they pull out her teeth, is quite the looker in a clever little A-line and matching open-toed shoes.” The rest is history.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Diary of a Mad Diva
"[A] visciously hilarious memoir."Time Out New York
Praise for I Hate Everyone…Starting with Me
“More punch lines per paragraph than any book I’ve read in years.” —The New York Times
“Nobody, but nobody, can hate like Joan Rivers. It is a gift. It is also shocking, the things she makes us laugh at…Joan Rivers is extraordinary, but she’s not for the easily offended—or for anyone who gets offended at all.” —People
“Often hilarious, often shocking, totally politically incorrect.” —Liz Smith
“She holds nothing back.” —The Washington Post
“Spares no one.” —Huffington Post
“An entertaining rant…The only thing missing is the sound of a drumroll and cymbals to feel as though one is sitting in a nightclub watching a live comedy marathon…A raucous, biting look at life.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Rivers is equally passionate and opinionated on every subject she discusses. Hilarious and undeniably original.” —Publishers Weekly