How I Met Joan Rivers and became known as "New York City's Celebrity Tour Guide"
Recently on my tours we’ve seen Ricky Gervais, Barbara Walters, Jennifer Garner, and my “pal” Joan Rivers, who was the first one to call me the Celebrity Tour Guide of New York. Joan Rivers is, at age 77, like a phoenix.….her career has crashed and burned several times over the years, yet she re-emerges each time from the ashes reborn with a new look, hairstyle, new gimmick or yet another facelift. She is the ultimate showbiz survivor in one of the hardest businesses in the world. I’ve met Joan several times over the years and I actually like her a lot… She is intelligent, elegant, well-read and well-educated (Barnard). If you spot Joan when touring by all means say hello to her, and introduce your group. She loves her fans and is a former Rockefeller Center tour guide herself, as she told me.
JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK is a new documentary (great reviews), where a camera crew followed her around for almost a year revealing the good, the bad and everything else about the woman who is legally known as Joan Alexandra Molinsky Rosenberg. Born in Brooklyn, she resides on the Upper Eastside, just off Central Park in a fabulous triplex perched on top of a gilded age townhouse. Her home is very opulent (Louis XVI) in style or as Joan says: “this is how Marie Antoinette would have lived if she’d had money.”
My friend Bill Reardin had produced Joan’s TV talk show and another friend produced Joan’s red-carpet events on E! TV, but I actually met Joan on a rainy, cold New York evening when she hosted a call-in radio talk show on WOR talk-radio (7.10 am) in Times Square.
One night I was leaving my midtown gym and I strapped on my Sony walk-man to tune in Joan’s show. I soon discovered Ms. Rivers in quite a nervous state…the station’s telephone lines were down because of the storm and she was facing 3 hours live without any callers to chat with on air. She then (in desperation) said “can anyone hear me who is nearby and would like to come over and chat live in the studio?”
I heard her and promptly strolled over to 1440 Broadway to the rescue. Joan’s producer was thrilled to have me especially after I dropped some familiar names of my producer friends. That evening I stayed for the entire show and Joan and I chatted about New York vs. LA, our favorite sites and restaurants around town and my New York tours. We chatted about celebrities and many other things.
The time flew by, and at the end of the evening, I had a new friend! Joan kissed me and said “I owe you, Jim…you were a life-saver tonight! Any time you want to come on the show or promote anything, you let me know!” I was on her show a couple more times and she always introduced me as: “my friend Jim Dykes, New York’s celebrity tourguide!”