In the latest issue of AARP The Magazine, Melissa also talks about how her relationship with her boyfriend developed after her mother's death

By Tim Nudd
Updated May 29, 2015 11:40 AM
Credit: Michael Tran/FilmMagic

What Melissa Rivers wouldn’t give to have mom Joan tell her, just one more time, that she’s doing something wrong.

Rivers, 47, talks at length about her mother, who died last September, in the June/July issue of AARP The Magazine. And it’s clear she still misses her terribly.

“I’m still in that deification phase,” she says. “You miss even the s—-iest things: I miss when she’d come in and rearrange my furniture and tell me how I ran my house wrong and criticize everything. I miss the criticism! I’m still in that phase.”

Even Joan’s generous side sometimes came, humorously enough, at Melissa’s expense.

“She was so kind and generous to the point you wanted to smack her. She’d be in my house and someone would say, ‘Oh, I like those candlesticks.’ And she’d say, ‘Take them!’ They were mine! She’d say, ‘You can get more.’ ”

Melissa misses her legendary mother professionally as well as personally, of course. They were, after all, creative partners.

“I was part of a comedy team. I was the straight man. And now I’m a solo act,” Melissa says. “That’s the hard part. I’m trying to find my voice.”

With Joan’s passing, the whole structure of Melissa’s working life changed.

“My mother and I each had our own lanes. She’d work on one thing, I’d work on another, and then we’d come up with the game plan,” she says. “Suddenly it feels like the work hasn’t doubled; it’s tripled. There’s a new entity: the estate and the legacy. And there’s no map. I don’t want to blow it, so there’s a lot of pressure.”

Rivers also talks a bit about her boyfriend, Los Angeles talent agent Mark Rousso, who was just a friend when Joan died – but who really stepped up for Melissa, leading to a romantic relationship.

“A number of people really surprised me. My boyfriend is one,” Rivers says. “I’d never seen him as someone dependable and strong and who gave a crap. He said he’d never seen me defenseless and didn’t want to see me that way again. As any therapist will tell you, probably not the best time to get into a relationship! But we figure it can’t get any worse.”

Asked if Joan might be looking down on her today from another parallel, Melissa is comically frank.

“If she is, she can keep a little of this f—ing chaos at bay!” she says. “Seriously, if you’re supposed to be sitting on my shoulder and making sure everything’s okay – chop-chop, get on it! Things are crazy around here!”