That time Leigh Bowery & Amanda Lepore met Joan Rivers

The Club Kids took over a 1993 episode of the Joan Rivers Show in spectacular fashion

“Today, right here on the Joan Rivers Show, you are going to meet people who go out of their way to dress to get attention. People’s whose very existence says ‘Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!”

Joan Rivers is introducing the guests of one of the episodes of her chat show, The Club Kids – an outrageous set of party goers whose outfits and personas heavily shaped the New York club scene from the late 80s to the early 90s. Rivers laughs as she welcomes the Club Kids to join her: “Five simple people with a dream, and a wardrobe from hell.”

Leigh Bowery is the first to strut on stage in a taffeta pompom that covers his face. Next is Micahel Alig, who dances over to the host and flashes his bare bum. James St James enters in clown-like make-up. Ernie Glam sports a short pink dress and caged mask. And “last but not least”, is Amanda Lapore, who, naturally, sashays out in gold lamé and black sunglasses.

Rivers goes on to quiz the Club Kids; “how do you know when things are over?”, “do you turn tricks?” and “what’s the next look coming?” She also enthusiastically squishes Bowery’s impressive breastplate – “That’s incredible, I wish I’d known you in high school,” she jokes. Tragically, Bowery would die the following year from an Aids-related illness,

On the 1993 episode, Rivers also ominously comments, “All you wanna do is have a good time in life and not hurt anybody.” Three years later, in 1996, fellow club kid Angel Melendez would be murdered by Alig and the Club Kid’s roommate, Robert D. “Freeze” Riggs. The killing signalled the end of The Club Kids era. Alig and Riggs were both jailed in 1997. They served 17 years before being granted parole in 2014.

Later on in the episode, Alig narrates a Club Kid fashion show, which can be watched here.