The Event: TV Land's launch party for Joan Rivers' "How'd You Get So Rich?"
The Date: Aug. 3, 2009
The Venue: Joan Rivers' actual Upper East Side apartment
The Celebs: Joan Rivers (natch), Katie Couric, Hoda Kotb, Donny Deutsch and several of the self-made millionaires featured on the show
The Food: Miniature black-bean quesadillas, Croque Monsieurs, tomatoes stuffed with crab meat and other meticulously prepared finger-foods befitting a wealth-themed party (curiously, no caviar)
The Drinks: Bottles of Champagne, white wine and sparkling water were in frequent supply as tuxedoed wait staff chased guests around, eager to keep their glasses full
The Swag: Two complementary Champagne flutes from Michael C. Fina, sure to impress your own party guests and prompt them to ask the show's title question
The Scene: Freeloader rarely turns down an invite to a party where A-list celebrities are guaranteed to be in attendance. So you can imagine how quickly our RSVP trigger finger was activated when we were mailed an invite to TV Land's party for "How'd You Get So Rich?" The soiree was held at host Joan Rivers' very own Upper East Side apartment, a palatial penthouse valued at $25 million no less.
Much like the show itself, in which Ms. Rivers tours self-made millionaires' homes to hear stories on how they made their unlikely fortunes and gawks at their extravagant purchases, the party was an eye-opening tour into how the other half lives. Ms. Rivers' recent string of publicity coups include hosting Academy Award red-carpet coverage and winning "The Celebrity Apprentice."
Her epic duplex was ornately decorated within an inch of itself, alternately recalling Louis XIV-era Versailles, the Sistine Chapel and King Midas. Although the apartment was in ship shape for prospective buyers, who've been eyeing the property since it's been on the market in late 2008 (what -- no takers for a "Celebrity Apprentice"'s $25 million apartment in a recession?), the key set-piece was a gold-painted plastic tree with gold-painted $100 bills dangling from it, all emblazoned with Ms. Rivers' face, natch.
Apparently, a party at Joan Rivers' apartment also includes hiring a tuxedoed waitstaff and a piano player entertaining guests with well-known selections from Broadway musicals of the last 50 years, all of whom were wearing Mardi Gras beads. Ms. Rivers joked with Freeloader that she "earned the beads the old-fashioned way ... from Bernie Madoff," but in fact they were a tribute to Blaine Kern, the $100 million-and-change-aire who made an industry out of Mardi Gras beads and parade floats in his home city of New Orleans.
It was Mr. Kern's own house that most surprised Ms. Rivers when she came to visit, only to discover heaps of dirty laundry and other unseemly sights unbefitting of a millionaire. "$100 million and you don't have a MAID?!" she screeched in the show's second episode. Still, she told Freeloader, that didn't mean she held any grudges about any of the entrepre-millionaires she encountered. "I met all these fabulous people, and not a son of the bitch among them. I mean, I opened the doors of my own house to them!"
But Freeloader was most intrigued by Mr. Kern's Cajun cohort Bobby Boudreaux, a retired Louisiana pharmacist who struck gold when he invented a top-selling cure for diaper rash, or Boudreaux's Butt Paste, as his business card informed us. Gotta give the guy props for clever branding.
Even more outrageous, however, was the sight of Jonah White, co-inventor of BillyBob Teeth, the fake dentures favored by hillybilly-wannabes across the country. Mr. White showed up to Ms. Rivers' penthouse wearing nothing but overalls, a visor with a spiky-haired toupee and his own signature invention.
After seeing Mr. White catching up with BillyBob fan Katie Couric, Freeloader would like to replace our favored partyline, "Where'd you find that food?" with "Where'd you get those teeth?"