When it comes to saving face—and body—Joan Rivers is a pro. Now the 75-year-old comedian, veteran of more than a dozen cosmetic surgeries, is sharing her expertise in a new book, Men Are Stupid … And They Like Big Boobs: A Woman’s Guide to Beauty Through Plastic Surgery. “I wanted it to be funny and nonthreatening,” says Rivers (who also has a first novel, Murder at the Academy Awards, out next month). “But I got very involved in researching it. Anyone who thinks plastic surgery is fluffy is a fool.”
Sitting by a roaring fire in the pink bedroom of the Connecticut weekend home she shares with her three dogs and a live-in caretaker, Rivers talked nips, tucks and injectables with PEOPLE’s Natasha Stoynoff.
Why did you write the book?
I’ve become the plastic surgery poster girl. People stop me on the street and say, “I’m getting my nose done. What do you think?” I’ve done a little of everything, so I figured, I’ll write a book.
What exactly have you had done?
I thinned my nose and raised the tip, had my eyes done, a full face-lift, liposuction, breast reduction, chin tucks, botox, collagen … I’m sure I’ve spent at least $80,000 over the years.
Liposuction. I didn’t check out the doctor and the result wasn’t smooth.
What about inner beauty?
Oh, puh-leeze! Yes, yes, inner beauty and brains. But we’re here to propagate the planet, and men are attracted to pretty. Let’s not try to pretend looks don’t count.
Do you ever wish they didn’t?
Oh, God, I would looove to be a peacock and have him worry about what his feathers looked like. But it ain’t so. So I have two choices—keep on trying or move to Connecticut and eat all I want and sit around in a caftan.
Is there such a thing as too much?
Of course. I look at some actresses and worry their lips are going to explode.
You’ve pointed out bad surgeries in the past.
Mary Tyler Moore didn’t talk to me for 15 years. I finally grabbed her and asked, “Why don’t you talk to me?” She said, “You said I looked like the Joker!”
You’ve been criticized too. Does it hurt?
Very much. And then you go, that’s the business.
When do you think people should start having nips and tucks?
The younger the better. Don’t make the mistake of most men. They wait until they really need it. Then, you don’t know who the hell is walking down the red carpet! Like Redford. You went, where did Robert Redford go? [Redford has always strenuously denied having plastic surgery.]
Did you tell your daughter Melissa to start young?
I made her get a nose job, and she’s still unhappy with it. She was 18, 19. She got my nose and it needed to be thinned. She didn’t want to do it. She still yells at me about it.
Some people might say plastic surgery is the result of low self-esteem.
A nose job is cheaper than therapy.
Why won’t other celebrities own up to having work done?
Women will tell you about their sex life and how much money they have in the bank. But if you ask, “So who did your eyes?” they’ll say, “I didn’t have anything done!” Their whole ego is wrapped up in, “I am a natural beauty and you’re not.”
Speaking of natural beauties … you hang with Camilla Parker Bowles and Prince Charles.
If I were 20 years younger, Camilla wouldn’t stand a chance.
Does she ask you for plastic surgery tips?
No. She’s very earthy. The minute you see them together, you get it. They laugh! It’s always the two of them laughing about something.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
I see a nice-looking older woman. She looks clean, she doesn’t look droopy. I’m okay with what I see.
Plans for more work?
Probably another touch-up under the chin, as it’s always the first to go. And Melissa, just in case I die … five years from now, that’s your next step!