Bette Talks About ‘The Ass’ – Robin Leach

Vegas Luxe Life
Robin Leach

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With a seven-day week, 18-hour-a-day rehearsal and live show schedule, Bette Midler finally got outdoors for the first time since coming to town to launch her The Showgirl Must Go On spectacular at Caesars Palace.

Photo: Ethan Miller

“Its really been long hours” confessed the Divine Miss M,” I’ve settled into Vegas in a manner of speaking. I have a little track. I have my breakfast. I go down to my dressing room. I warm up and then I work all day and night, sometimes a straight 12-hour day–and then the show. I honestly haven’t been out of the hotel since I arrived.

This is the first time I’ve actually been out in four-weeks! It’s so nutty but I love the work, I love the pressure. It’s such an enterprise. I have never been part of something this large and ambitious before. Its enormous and thankfully successful!”

Bette chatted to me over celebration champagne at the Rao’s restaurant garden patio overlooking the Caesar’s pool complex–coincidentally the setting of the Delores Delgado motorized wheelchair Esther Williams inspired water-ballet routine in her show! Her “family & friends” previews began Sunday, Feb. 17 followed by an official celebrity opening on Wednesday, Feb. 20 and now this past weekend it was media reviewers night–and the third time I’ve seen the music, dance and comedy extravaganza.

I asked innocently why her opening entrance had suddenly changed in just the first nine days, and she revealed a sad story: “We were always supposed to open this extraordinary mountain of luggage–but it didn’t arrive in time. Sounds like some airline trips we’ve all been on. While we were waiting for it we had to create a placeholder for the entrance. So our starting video features an adorable donkey and we decided to do the entrance on a mule. Unfortunately, JoJo, who we filmed for the montage died–and at the last moment we got his roommate Rosie. So the plan was to ride right on stage on her. But she got strange, skittish and brayed every time the video played with JoJo. So we were forced to go back to plan one with the luggage that revolves to reveal me on the entrance staircase! But it’s all worked out for the best in the end and Rosie is happily back where she belongs!”

Now that “Showgirl” has settled into its groove and won 99.9% positive raves from critics and reviewers alike its time for Luxe Life fun-facts:

  • Although Bette frequently jokes about the monster-stage it is in fact 16-foot shorter than the one Celine used in New Day.
  • During the renovations late last year it was trimmed but still is 120-feet wide and 60-feet deep measuring 7,000 square feet. It takes 34 stagehands and crew to make the set changes. Each of the Caesars Salad Girls undergo two hours of hair and makeup before going on stage. That mountain of Louis Vuitton luggage that now opens the show weighs 2,200 pounds. A total of 75,0000 individually hand-painted gold-coins make up the coin curtains and coin trees on stage. There are 132 costume changes during each performance which makes that enough for each Caesars Salad girl, all three Harlettes and Bette to change costumes six times.
  • The giant 34 foot tall, 109-feet-wide, 31-ton HD-LED video screen is the largest in North America and manufactured by Mitsubishi contains over 5 million individual diodes. The 5-miles of wire rope rigging has the ability to hold 8-tons of scenery and a 20-foot by 20-foot elevator now serves as the center-stage lift. During the renovation an extra 148 seats were added to bring the nightly audience count to 4,296-but nobody is more than 120-foot from the stage.

Bette who comfortably mingled with old friends and new at the media reception added: “I’ve got a great crew. We had a really good idea for the show. It was time to bring beautiful girls back and have them sparkle and dazzle the audience right in front of their eyes. They want glamour, glory and gold, lots of color, the latest fashions, wonderful arrangements and a great band–and we try to do that. Mostly its a lot of fun- a full evening’s entertainment. It’s not just a concert. It’s a show. I’m having a great time. The kids are having a great time too. Some of these dancers haven’t been on a stage like this before. They are all classically trained dancers so they are having a ball. The singers are also having a ball and the band flat out loves it. It’s like a little family now all having so much fun. From night to night it’s never going to be the same show–ever. Every show will be different. I’m really looking forward to the next two years of being here. Vegas are the shiniest place on earth. I haven’t stopped since I blew into town so now I want to get to know it really well: the celebrity chefs, the restaurants. I’ve come home at last. I dreamed one day I’d be a showgirl, dressed in little more than feather boas and fabulous shoes. Each night now the dream comes true–along with a few others. Fasten your seatbelts there’s a category-five storm coming through–a cyclone of entertainment you’ve never seen the likes of before.”

Caesars president Gary Selenser told me: “Bette has become an instant box-office success. We couldn’t be happier having her becomes a member of our Caesars family. She’s exceeding all expectations at the box office and everybody loves what they see. She’s got to be the hardest woman working in show business. She’s so diligent and disciplined. It’s all about making sure the show is at its very best for her audience. As a result its one big tremendous hit;” Next-up for The Colosseum, alternating with Bette and Elton John plus Jerry Seinfeld’s occasional visits, is the legendary Cher. She starts her own 200-show run over the next three years as of May 6.

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