• Image about Kathy Griffin

Comedienne Kathy Griffin is bold and brash -- and barely recognizable to some. But that’s just how this self-proclaimed D-lister likes it. Photographs by Michael Kelley.

It’s rush hour on Highland Avenue in Hollywood, and cars are lurching through a jammed intersection as a motley crew of locals loiters on a grungy corner. A man with dreadlocks complains loudly to no one in particular; a pack of skateboarders attempts to navigate the jagged, broken concrete that passes for a sidewalk; and a petite redhead wearing a floor-length purple chiffon gown waves a gold statuette somewhat crazily in front of a graffiti- covered bus stop. She looks like an exile from the Kodak Theatre, which is located less than a mile from here. Just another wannabe, perhaps.

  • Image about Kathy Griffin
But wait, you think. Haven’t I seen her? Every so often, a car laboring through the intersection pauses, and the occupants, invariably a pair of young men, roll down a window and shout “We love you!” to the glitzy refugee.

Two teenage girls who are walking by stop, mouths agape, and try to puzzle it out. Visiting from Kentucky, they wonder if they’ve finally caught their first celebrity sighting. “I think I’ve seen her on Comedy Central or something,” says one, but her friend remarks that she’d also mistakenly thought she had seen one of the bunglers from the Jackass movies the day before.

Then comes the “aha!” moment. Another car slows, and the gregarious passenger shouts, “Oh my God, Kathy, you’re wonderful! I love your show. When is it back on? I love your dogs too. They’re sooo cute.”

And it hits you: The diminutive diva in the ball gown is none other than comedienne Kathy Griffin, preparing for a not-so-glamorous sidewalk photo shoot. Though Griffin is a self-proclaimed D-lister (her reality TV show on Bravo is even called Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List), her fan following is passionate, almost cultish. She loves to poke fun at her supposedly minor celebrity status, and yet, the more she talks about the vast gap between herself and the top-tier stars, the more popular she becomes. She may be the only star who loves it when people, like the Kentucky girls, struggle to recognize her.

“That’s nothing,” says Lisa Tucker, an executive producer of D-List. “A reporter interviewed her for an article earlier this year and thought she was [NewsRadio actress] Vicki Lewis.”