:: RR&R is an OpEd from an industry insider and Salted friend ::
by Dennis Padula
Joan! That’s all I keep saying is “JOAN!”
And then basically crying.
Joan Rivers. What a legend. My God. Growing up in the 80s and 90s I never truly realized how powerful this woman was. It wasn’t until I got older and wiser (and gayer) that I understood what character, gall, strength, wisdom and m*therf*cking balls this woman had! In the ever-obvious “men’s club” of a world she played in, Joan always made it clear that her stakes were higher, her work ethic was stronger and her “nuts” were swinging wider than any other’s, with NO apology.
I’m sad to see this woman go because not only was she truly legendary, and, my god, what a hard worker, but mostly because of her ability to not give a living shit! Obviously not in the sense that she didn’t care about things, but rather how she made no excuses for her opinions and no returns on her words. She did care, she cared about a lot.
She cared about the lives of the ridiculously over-the-top people and all of their “fullness of bullsh*t”. She called them out! She made sure they knew how ridiculous they often looked, instead of how falsely fabulous they, or we, might have thought they were. Friends, family, coworkers and enemies alike took the harsh reality of her aggressive, and laughter-laden taunting. It’s not like anyone had a choice! One-liners across the board, regardless of what it might do to offend. She brought everyone back down to earth, which is exactly where she always was. Behind the performance mask, or her 16th facelift, she was incredibly real.
I’m sad because I don’t think there are enough people in the world like her. Especially women. Many say that Joan’s lauded documentary, Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work, was like “peeling away the mask” exposing her true struggles behind her extraordinary work. She had real-life issues, real family values, real love for her fans and real shit to deal with. In the beginning of the documentary, she shows off a datebook full of blank days with no gigs. She talks about how scary that is but also laughs it off. Her ability to show us how vulnerable she is and how she handles it with literal grace and a positive attitude is a rarity among us.
From that example of being vulnerable, Joan is portraying something we don’t often see in women. Women have had to be such survivors, they would never dream of showing their vulnerability. Joan was the opposite, a non-conformist. To me, that is a higher form of feminism. Going against what’s expected of you; To be a lady while also being successful without giving a shit, and have real struggles and be honest about them. Sadly with the mush of “I am, you’re not enough” definitions floating about (further deterring us from the true purpose of unity), some would call hers non-feminism. Her outlook was almost more like a man’s outlook. Bring home the bacon, don’t stress yourself with who you offend doing it and live a full life. Her personality is what transcends, what made her special. Her drive and ambition should be considered the norm.
Joan challenged that. More women need to continue to challenge that.
We are all conformists, really, but women have it the worst. There is so much pressure on a woman; pressure to be “a lady.” Pressure to be attractive, attentive, alluring and aware. To be strong, but also be polite; to be funny but not too funny, because then people won’t take you seriously. Let a man be funny and HOLY SHIT HE’S THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE! Joan was one to understand this. She always introduced herself as an actress first, but because of her moxy and blunt timing she was a “clown” to so many men in charge. She could tell you better. (No,seriously, sit down and watch her tell you in Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.) That’s why Joan was special: she was funny, and, she still aimed many funny women be sexy, covered in makeup, clad in the latest trends and still be f*cking hilarious. It wasn’t about conforming as much as it was being the best “you.”
She hated the statement, but she truly “paved the way.”
She did! But there are too many women out there who are constantly clutching their pearls and wincing. I urge you to let that shit go and be free with what you REALLY HAVE TO SAY. You don’t have to be so goddam serious about “the rules,” the ones that have changed so little since the Eisenhower administration. Actually, that goes for everyone. Take a minute to be less serious. And also take RISKS. Walk the line! Call me an assh*le, but at least make it funny! I might even deserve it. I’m going to call you out if I think you’re being ridiculous.
We all need to be brutally honest with each other, and ourselves. More like Joan.
May she give us all the strength in the world to SPEAK OUR MINDS and make a difference.
A forever imprint (of a middle finger).
Dennis Padula is a singer/songwriter/producer, music industry insider and general “opinionist”. Whether working within the parameters of the office, slinging tracks in the studio, entertaining the masses downtown or simply walking the streets of NYC,… he’s known to all who love and fear (and everything in between) his as: “the voice.” Something to behold, something to be bold.