That Time Joan Rivers Did the Cover of Cosmoparody

For The Observer, Lisa DePaulo has compiled a life-affirming hit parade of memories from journalists, journalism students and others who crossed paths along the years with Joan Rivers. Among those sharing anecdotes is our very own Lunch columnist Diane Clehane.


But the reminiscence we want to focus on here comes from Edward Shain, president of TSM Publishing. It harks back to the mid-1980s, when Rivers was at the peak of her live-performance powers:

In the spring of 1984, my partner Jerry Taylor and I were putting together a parody of Cosmopolitan magazine. We were struggling for a good cover idea and someone came up with trying to get Joan Rivers to do a cover shoot. We didn’t think it was possible but we were going to try, and so we called her agent. Next thing we know, we are sitting across from Joan and her husband Edgar in an elegant suite discussing in detail what the cover joke was going to be. She’s smart, funny, knowledgeable and straightforward. She has no entourage. It’s just the four of us. We come to an agreement on her fee and it’s done. We’re in a state of disbelief. We got Joan Rivers — THE Joan Rivers — for our Cosmoparody cover?!

Joan shows up on time, ready to work. No shoot’s ever easy, except this one is. Joan hits her marks, gets it done and in the can. The shot is pure Rivers, dressed to the nines, gleaming red lipstick and nail polish, blonde hair in a bouffant to end all bouffants, and, this being Cosmoparody, the elegant, refined Rivers is way out there with a perfectly displayed Cosmo cleavage shot.

She hit it out of the park. Again.

And those were the magazine days, both real and mocked. Shain told the New York Times at the time that the Cosmo goof was budgeted at $1.1 million!

[Image via: Amazon]

@hollywoodspin Richard Horgan is co-editor of Fishbowl.