Joan Rivers was flamboyant and funny, often loud, boisterous and original, so it should come as no surprise that the comedienne who died Thursday had fans and friends in the always-colorful New Orleans.She visited the city often even had a special friendship with a voodoo priestess and businesswoman here.
In August 2012, Rivers appeared at Cafe Istanbul for a performance benefitting the New Orleans Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue.The center's co-founder, Sallie Ann Glassman, a voodoo priestess, became friends with Rivers after the comedienne hired her to exorcise a demon from Rivers' Manhattan apartment some 20 years ago.
'She is enlightened beyond the spiritual and touched with a magic that most of us are not,' Rivers said of Glassman in a Reuters wire service article ahead of her New Orleans appearance.
'The two first met 20 years ago, when Rivers called on Glassman to help rid her Manhattan apartment of a bothersome ghost. Rivers had not yet moved into the apartment when she noticed alarming signs that the place might be haunted,' wrote Kathy Finn in the Reuters story.
'As Glassman tells it, parapsychologists had examined the building using 'demon meters,' and 'the meters went through the roof.' One examiner suggested Rivers seek Glassman's help.'
According to the Reuters story, Glassman flew to New York, met the comedian and went to work, ridding the apartment of the troublesome ghost.
Rivers wrote in a testimonial, 'Sallie Ann Glassman is my spiritual guide, my sounding board, my friend. She has very special powers that she uses to help people in need.'
'Sallie arrived in New York white garb and paraphernalia in tow and after an unusual night, she not only cleaned out my apartment but ALL the apartments in my WASP-controlled building. It was unforgettable and extraordinary. Most importantly, it worked!' Rivers wrote.
The encounter led to a friendship that later brought Rivers to New Orleans for Glassman's marriage to developer Pres Kabacoff in 2011. Rivers told the couple she would do a benefit show for them as a wedding gift.
Rivers' show turned serious as she paid tribute to Glassman and Kabacoff and praised them for their post-Hurricane Katrina efforts to revitalize the Bywater neighborhood and build the Healing Center.Then she took a few storm-related jabs at herself.
'Sean Penn called me right after the storm and said I should come down here because there would be lots of paparazzi and I'd get my picture in the paper, so I did, and it was great - we had our own boat,' Rivers joked.'Some of you might have been in the water trying to get in our boat while I was stomping on your hands,' she added, pounding her heel on the floor.
Three years before, Rivers rode as a grand marshal in the 2009 Krewe of Orpheus parade.She appeared as one of the celebrities in the annual Lundi Gras parade founded by Harry Connick Jr.Rivers was actually a last-minute choice for the krewe, who picked her to replace comedian Carlos Mencia, who was booted by krewe leaders after making inappropriate comments in jokes about Hurricane Katrina.
As a television talk show host, Rivers also came to New Orleans frequently to attend the NATPE convention, or National Association of Television Program Executives.She pitched her daytime talk show at the convention when it was held here in the 1990s.