For 13 years Joy Behar has been the outspoken, feisty, and spontaneous co-host on The View. Sometimes her opinions havent gone over so well. Just ask her conservative co-host, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, or one of Tiger Woodss mistresses, Rachel Uchitel, (pronounced "you-could-tell"), who Behar called a hooker by the sound of her name. Outraged, Uchitels attorney demanded a public apology and Behar gave one -- in her classic So what? Who cares? fashion.
Last fall Behar was given even more time to speak her mind when The Joy Behar Show premiered on HLN. Its been a runaway hit and has tackled many issues facing the LGBT community. One show featured a segment titled The Mormon Church & Gays. It went on to be nominated for a GLAAD Media Award this year for Outstanding Talk Show Episode. GLAAD also presented Behar with their Excellence in Media Award at this years ceremony in New York.
Out spoke with Behar after she taped her show. We were hoping she wouldnt hold back, and she didnt disappoint. She weighed in on the host changes at The View, how she feels about todays biggest names in pop culture, and what she would say to Sarah Palin if they had dinner together.
Out: Ricky Martin came out. Were you surprised?
Joy Behar: Shocked! Shocked! I tell you that there is gambling on these premises!
So youre saying youre shocked?
I never really gave that much thought to Ricky Martin. I always thought that he was a really pretty boy and gorgeous and sweet. Im happy for him.
Do you think that celebrities are obligated to discuss their sexuality?
No, I dont believe you have any obligations. I dont believe in obligations. It certainly doesnt help the gay community. Is that what theyre calling it nowadays? I cant keep up.
Yes, you can call it the gay community.
Because GLAAD had all these rules about what you should say and shouldnt, and Im happy to accommodate. Im not sure it helps the gay community to stay in the closet. Its better for people to come out. People who are homophobic -- when they see that their brother-in-law is gay or the postman is gay or the cop is gay, it puts a face on some abstract notion of theirs that makes them either fear gay people or hate them. So, it behooves people to come out, if they can.
What currently has you fired up?
Everything is about Sandra Bullock today on my show. Were talking about Jesse James -- an unfortunate name -- I mean Wyatt Earp would have been better! He apparently is a big Nazi paraphernalia aficionado. I find that rather hideous, frankly. Apparently he has a certain affinity for Nazi memorabilia because we have a picture of him in a Nazi hat giving a salute or something. So, hes definitely into it. I think thats really kind of creepy.
Would you want to have Jesse James on your show?
Sure. I want to ask him what hes thinking. Id ask him why hes so interested in posing with Nazi memorabilia. Why does he think thats a cool thing to do? Its not a cool thing to do. It represents the death of millions and millions of people.
What would you say to Sandra?
Id say, how much of this Nazi stuff did she know about? I mean, maybe the wife is the last to know when it comes to cheating mistresses, but if there is a swastika in the bed, do you know it?
Jesse James has now entered rehab. Tiger Woods went to sex rehab. Do you believe there is such a thing as sex addiction?
I think theres definitely a case to be made for sexual addiction. Im just not sure that they can be cured. Any sexual addiction to underage kids and all that other stuff is highly incurable. Im not sure if Tiger Woods has one or if hes just a player. Im not sure if Jesse James has one or if hes just a player. If somebody really cant stop just screwing everything in sight, I think theres a problem.
In March GLAAD honored you with the Excellence in Media Award. Why do you think youre such a celebrated figure for the LGBT community?
I dont feel that Im a figure for anybody. I think its great that anyone would recognize what I do. I mean, I say what I say. I tend to not give a lot of support to people who are homophobic or antisemitic or racist. I cant stand any of that. Its just my nature to detest anything like that, and its my personality to open my mouth. So, I really dont feel like its any extra thing that Im doing.
Why do you think "dont ask, dont tell" is taking so long to overturn?
I think homophobia is in the society, and its probably in the military to a large extent. A lot of people who are in charge are maybe afraid to make that step. Israel has no such policy. There are many countries in the world that dont. Maybe they were more courageous in just taking that step and hoping and believing that the soldiers were going to be able to handle it.
And now there are military experts who are saying that if the policy is overturned, they may have to build separate living quarters. What are your thoughts?
Its really against segregation. Its a big mistake. Soldiers get a lot of training -- why dont they give them some training in tolerance first and explain to them that these guys are putting their lives on the line the same as you are? But Im not sure its the soldiers. I think its the people who are in charge who are projecting their own fear of what will happen onto the guys in the army.
You recently said, Liberals are smarter. Why do you think that?
[Laughs] Where did I say that?
You said it on a weekend news show.
Im sure that must have really thrilled some of my Republican friends out there.
Whats the rationale?
The word liberal implies an open-mindedness. It also implies tolerance. And I think both open-mindedness and tolerance are smart. Conservatives have a place. Im not saying theyre stupid, but they want to hold onto the status quo, especially when it benefits them. I shouldve been clearer.
No, it really was a great quote.
Well, the liberals loved it, but I dont know about the rest of the country.
Well, for them you can use your expression, Who cares, so what?
No, its So what? Who cares? Get the order right!
Where does that come from? Is that how you live your live?
I think it came from Fred Armisen on Saturday Night Live who picked up some kind of vibe that I dont sweat the small stuff, or Im not interested in trivial things that are meaningless, unless they are funny. Who won on Dancing With the Stars? So what? Who cares? Its like that.
You started doing stand-up comedy at age 40. Coming up in the ranks you must have faced some difficult times. Do you have a humiliating story about doing comedy?
Oh yeah. Well, let me count the ways. OK. Well, lets take one day after I was divorced. I thought I could get on stage, but I was actually rather shaky. So, I got up on stage at the Comedy Cellar and about two seconds into it, I started to feel really upset, and I just said to the audience, Im sorry, I cant do this right now. I just got a divorce.
Did they think it was part of your act?
I dont know what they thought. So the owner of the place jumped up on stage and said, So, you cant do anything right, can you? That was one. Another time I had to open for Buddy Rich at the Bottom Line. There were hundreds and hundreds of drummers from Queens in the audience with their drumsticks. They were just banging the tables with their drumsticks as I was trying to do my act. I said, Give me another five minutes than Buddy will be out. Hes snorting some coke. And I got $50 for that!
What drove you then?
What continued to drive me then was money. I wanted to make a living at what I thought I could do. So I just kept moving along because I had no choice.
What drives you now?
Sometimes its about making money in a certain way because stand-up comedy is hard for me, but then I think, Oh, Im not going to turn that check down. So, I keep doing it. But, its not the motivation for my staying in the business now. Its about I really do enjoy it. I have my own show now, and I have fun at The View.
The View has been on the air for 13 years. How has it changed since it debuted?
Weve become more hot topic-y. We do more of the hot topics, which is what people like. I think the panel now is very cohesive. We have a good group there. We have our sparks, but we also play nicely together. Its gone through many incarnations.
How would you describe those incarnations?
The View, to me, is like a moving cocktail party. I am a guest at the party and different people come and leave and were just sitting there drinking, and Barbara [Walters] and I are the two drinking the longest. Thats what it feels like. Rosie ODonnell joined the party for a while. Star Jones was there drinking with us and now Whoopi [Goldberg] is there with Sherri [Shepherd] and Elisabeth. It just keeps moving.
At what point did you find yourself drinking the most?
You mean to anesthetized myself from the pain? I dont really know. I cant really say a particular year as much as it comes and goes. Somewhere between season 1 and 13!
Your views are so different from Elisabeth Hasselbecks. What goes through your mind when she is defending her conservative beliefs?
My thoughts are, What am I saying to counteract it?
Your show on HLN premiered last fall. What is the mission for your show?
My prime-time show is exactly the kind of format that I always wanted for a show. It goes from funny to not funny to pop culture to tragic to pop culture back to funny to politics. Its all over the place. But the thing thats constant is me and my interest in all these topics.
What would you say to Sarah Palin if you could have dinner with her?
Why do I have to have dinner with her?
I dont know. Maybe she wanted to treat your or something.
If she came to the table and was completely honest and talked about how furious she was with Katie Couric and how she really felt John McCains people turned on her and werent good to her and how she wants to really wants to punish Levi Johnson, and how shes furious with her daughter for getting pregnant -- if she would talk about that in an honest way, I would love to speak with her. I dont know if she would.
You have been with Steve Janowitz, whom you refer to as your spousal equivalent, for 27 years. How did you two meet?
Well, ugh. OK, here it is. We were at this kind of resort place, but it was an adult-only singles joint, meaning that no children were allowed there. So that means people could run around naked if they wanted, and there were a lot of meetings where people talked about social issues. It was a very smart, lefty crowd. One of my friends said, Lets go to this place. So I went. Guess what movie they were showing? Knife in the Water by Roman Polanski! So, hes watching the movie, and I think hes cute, so I said, Whats going on in this movie? And that was the end of it. We just hit it off.
Do you ever have political disagreements with Steve?
We basically agree. Sometimes hes a little stricter than I am, but my ex-husband was too. We go through incarnations where sometimes Im more lefty than he is. Were on the same political page. I dont think I could take it if we werent.
And no plans for marriage?
No. Not right now. Ill let you know. Whats the point?
Whats the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the following names:
I think he is guy who is more famous because he lost and good for him.
A nice Italian girl gone berserk. Talented.
Well, he serves a purpose.
People like to hear stuff like that. I think he can be mean sometimes, but whatever. I understand it because we do a lot of gossip on my show too, but as they said in a play I recently saw, What is gossip but just a more entertaining version of news?
Youre interested in being a judge on American Idol?
No, Im not! They were interested in me! Im not interested! I dont know anything about music. Gene Simmons should be the judge. He would be great. Hes musical and he speaks his mind.
After all youve accomplished, what are you the most proud of?
Truthfully, and this is so corny, but Im the most proud of raising a daughter who is not crazy. Shes normal and nice and sweet and has great empathy for people and loves animals.
What kind of mother were you?
Does the name Joan Crawford ring a bell?
No. I was a rather permissive mother, but Im also a worrier. So, Im permissive and a worrier, which is a rather weird combination.