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She’s a quick-witted fashionista, a daring comedian and a champion for gay rights. She’s the uncompromising Joan Rivers, and she’s on her way to Cal Poly.

Rivers will bring her stand-up show to the Christopher Cohan Performing Arts Center (PAC) Jan. 28. The event is hosted by the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of the Central Coast. The non-profit hopes to raise funds to support its organizations, as well as to cover some of the costs of its July LGBT pride activities.

“This is something that we bring to the San Luis Obispo community and also the LGBT community,” Alliance president and Pride coordinator Robert Kinports said.

Rivers has long used her celebrity to raise awareness about social issues, including AIDS and gay rights.

“(Rivers) has been a gay activist forever,” Rivers’ publicist Sean Katz wrote in an email interview. “She and Elizabeth Taylor were the first amongst many others to join and support the AIDS movement. (She) is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, pro-LGBT supporters to date.”

On campus, students knew her from her televised fashion critiques and painfully honest humor.

“I think she’s hilarious,” nutrition junior Kimberley Atala said. “I really like watching her on ‘Fashion Police.’ I’d definitely go see her.”

Rivers has hosted Fashion Police since its debut in 2010.

“She’s just really funny,” liberal studies junior Amanda Fickett said. “She says what’s on her mind.”

“One thousand two hundred eighty-two tickets sold, that’s our goal,” Kinports said. “That’s how many seats there are in the PAC.”

To fill this goal, the Alliance Center is heavily marketing the event to San Luis Obispo.

“We’ve been advertising on TV, through radio, through print ads in New Times and posters all over,” Alliance Center coordinator Lorelei Monet said. “We have a whole series of tickets available, and some aren’t expensive at all.”

This is not the first fundraising event the Alliance has brought to Cal Poly. They annually book a celebrity performer to raise funds.

They have brought such LGBT-friendly celebrities as Lily Tomlin, Lisa Lampanelli and Margaret Cho to the PAC in past years.

Rivers’ activism made her a viable option for the Alliance.

“Ryan Miller, Pride entertainment coordinator, fills out names and we talk about them,” Kindports said. “Performers need to support the community.”

Though known for her unapologetic humor, Rivers let a softer side of herself show in her 2010 documentary “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work.” In it, the 78-year-old comedy icon details her painful past, including feuds with legends such as Johnny Carson, and a difficult climb back to cultural relevancy.

In 2009, Comedy Central held the Roast of Joan Rivers. The following year, she won the second season of Celebrity Apprentice. Now, Rivers designs a clothing and accessories line  for home shopping network QVC and performs her stand-up nationwide.

Cal Poly is not the first school to welcome Rivers. Last October, Rivers performed at New York’s Queensborough Community College.

Susan Agin, the Artistic Director of the of the Queensborough Performing Arts Center, said Rivers’ performance there was successful .

“Rivers is the consummate professional and extremely kind and humble,” Agin said. “Students and faculty attended although most in attendance were folks living in the community—grateful to have access to this living legend. The event was a great success and we hope to have her back again soon.”

After her performance, there will be an after party at Vieni Vai downtown. Though a $5 donation will be accepted at the door, the restaurant is donating their cover charge to the Alliance for the event.

“Everybody’s welcome,”  Kinports said.

Ticket prices range from $30 in the gallery to $75 near the stage. Discounted student passes are not offered for the event. Approximately 300 tickets have been sold to date.

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