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Joan Rivers: Teen Idols Should Stay Closeted Until They've "Made Their Millions"

You can count on Joan Rivers to call it as she sees it.

The legendary comic, focus of the new documentary Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, talked to The Advocate’s Brandon Voss about a host of topics including her thoughts on if young gay performers should keep their sexuality a secret:

“It’s part of the game,” Joan says. “If you’re going to be a romantic idol and try to get every teenage girl to love you, then you’d be an ass to come out and say you’re gay. That’s why Ricky Martin was so smart — he did what he did, he made his millions, and then he said, “Guess what, everybody? I’m gay, I’m having this life, and here are my children.” It didn’t matter anymore because he didn’t have to bring in 16-year-old girls.”

Q. Like Betty White, who sort of outed Cary Grant on The Joy Behar Show last week, you’ve surely encountered some closeted celebrities through the years.
A. Yes. But it’s a business. If everyone had known that Cary Grant was gay, he wouldn’t have been the great romantic idol, and that would’ve been the end of his career. Same with Rock Hudson, who was a very good friend of mine. He had a partner named Tom for years, and when you invited Rock, you invited Tom — there was no question. But if the world had known, maybe they wouldn’t have wanted to see him make out with Jane Wyman. It makes sense, in a way. If you’re looking at someone who’s your idol, thinking that maybe one day they’ll come ring your doorbell, you don’t want to hear, “There’s no chance in hell, honey, but still buy a ticket to the movie.”

I gotta say, Joan’s attitude is not going to help change the world. I respect her honesty but I think things are becoming less black and white and Ricky Martin’s coming out was a lot more complex than how she paints it here.

To read the entire interview, go to

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