Getting Smug Mutha With The Divine Ms. Julya

”¦ In 1965, Bette had made him stop the van in front of Caesars Palace. Climbing out, Bette raised her arms in triumph and announced to the entire unlistening world, “Listen up, everybody. One day I’m coming back to this place and I’m gonna be the biggest headliner you’ve ever seen!” ~ An Intimate Biography of Bette Midler by George Mair

In the very next line of his book Mair says, “It would turn out differently than Bette expected.” Little did he know how wrong he would be. By now we all know what an amazing success The Showgirl Must Go On has been and that in just one short week it will come to an end. I put off buying tickets for almost two years out of fear of flying and hope that she would bring the show to me in New York City once Vegas had ended. However, the lure of the Smug Mutha package was too strong. I packed my feathers and sequins (but not into Luis Vuitton, who can afford that?) and boarded a plane for Vegas. This is my story.

She has a great new joke about Tiger Woods ”“ “Little did his wife know that when he said he was going out to play 18 holes he actually meant it!” Her other Woods joke, “It was the black in him that made him cheat but the Asian in him that made him run into that tree” didn’t go over as well”¦

I went to the show on Saturday, January 16 with my husband ”“ his very first show ”“ and he admitted it was an entertaining time. The crowd on Saturday was boring. They only stood (out of support) when she missed her note at the end of When a Man Loves a Woman. Sure, they laughed at her jokes and clapped but nobody seemed truly excited to be there. She’s right, 30 years ago her audiences were on drugs, now they are on medication.

Sunday the 17th was my Smug Mutha VIP show. I arrived a little after 7pm and was greeted by Bob, a cheerful gentleman who was genuinely interested in what brought me to the show as a Smug. While we waited for my drink at the bar he gave me some history about the other people I would be sitting with. I floated down the aisle behind him to my seat and was sat between two ladies who were my own age! We quickly became friends and for the next 30 minutes we made plans to be the best audience we could.

Shortly before show time the security guard, who I am sure overhead all of our excited chatter, asked me if I liked the artist Pink. I told him, “Hell yeah! I love Pink.” “Well,” he said, “They just sat her 10 rows behind you.” The New Yorker in me refused to turn around at first but it didn’t stop me from messaging everyone I know that Pink was in the house. I finally succumbed to curiosity and sure enough there she was sitting on the aisle next to her husband. The gentleman behind me asked what all the fuss was about and we tried to sing a few songs for him but the poor guy was lost.

The lights dimmed and as her stack of Louis Vuitton luggage circled around, the entire first row was on their feet. The rest of the audience remained seated but she looked honestly surprised to see such a reaction from us. The show went according to plan until it was time for her to sing The Rose. She gave directions on how to handle ourselves during the song. “Everyone always wants to sing along with me ”“ well don’t!” We were to be silent during the first verse, whip out our cells (in replacement of lighters) for the second and sing along to the 3rd. As the second verse started I shuffled around looking for my cell and noticed a dark silhouette entering from stage left. I, and Bette for that matter, was completely beside myself. It was Pink with a microphone! Pink tried to join in but Bette stopped singing as her jaw dropped to the floor. She had no idea Pink was there. Musical Director Bette Sussman tried to slow down the tempo a bit as Pink sang the wrong words, Bette chuckled and the pair eventually gathered themselves to finish the verse. When the verse ended Bette introduced Pink to the audience to a loud applause. They started the third part together but Bette eventually became silent and just stared at Pink as she sang. She said, “Keep going, I wish I had a voice like that!” They ended the song together and melted into each other for a big hug. I don’t remember when we stood but the whole crowd was on their feet. I cried like a baby!

The rest of the show was wonderful as usual. She almost made her note on When a Man Loves a Woman but missed again, damn that Vegas throat. We stood again and probably 3 or 4 times more, it is all a blur. She looked at me several times during Glory of Love as she strummed on her ukulele and I cried like a baby – again! At the end of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy she thanked the crowd for spending their entertainment dollars on her show. We were already on our feet and she said we had been an amazing crowd. Well that really got us going and she turned to Ms. Sussman and corrected herself. “I think this might have been the best crowd we’ve had here.” An even bigger scream erupted and she graciously bowed several more times before things died down.

As she sang the last note of Wind Beneath My Wings we were gathered up and rushed out the back of the auditorium. The group was quietly led onto an elevator but as the last person came on board we were directed to get off. We anxiously stood in the corner next to the open elevator wondering what to do next. Just then a small group of people brushed behind me and entered the elevator. I turned as one of my new friends yelled “We loved you in Australia!” Sure enough, there she was standing right where I was not a minute prior, it was Pink. She said thank you and the elevator doors closed.

We waited backstage for about fifteen or twenty minutes. Several more people filed into the room behind us, we were about 40 all together. Pink was not in our room, of course, but this extended waiting time gave me an opportunity to reapply my eye makeup after I had cried it all off! When the side doors opened Bette came into the room and gave a big hello to the crowd. She had changed into black tights and what I believe to be the same black blazer she wore on Ellen (with the rolled sleeves). A short time later Pink and her husband entered the same door and the three of them had their photo taken together. I luckily remembered to take photos on my BlackBerry, you know, for journalistic purposes. They spoke for about 3 or 4 minutes and I tried to soak it all in. I couldn’t hear well but something was mentioned about doing a project collaboratively (God please!) and Bette asked Marty to write it down. I think they also talked about Pink coming to/performing at Hulaween but I can’t make any promises on that one.

1,200 words later and now I finally get to the part where I meet her. God love you if you are still reading so I’ll make it short ”“ I froze! She picked right up on my nervousness and smiled at me with a quiet understanding. I barely remembered to mention that her only canceled show during the Kiss My Brass tour was in my home town (her show was too heavy for our snow covered roof) and that I appreciated her coming back later that year for a re-do. It took her a second but she, and Marty, remembered with a chuckle. She signed my ticket and as she handed it back to me she held out her hand for me to shake it. I’ll never forget the look on her face that said ”“ go on, it’s ok to touch my hand. Knowing this was my cue to leave tears welled up in my eyes. I looked her straight in the eye and said, “I adore you.” She said thank you and I walked away.

I was a Smug Mutha and I will never forget it you know.

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8 thoughts on “Getting Smug Mutha With The Divine Ms. Julya

  1. aww that black and asian joke is kinda mean, even for Bette. And maybe I’m just sheltered but I don’t get it? O well, Anyway does anyone know why Pink was there anyway? R they like friends or something? Random… BTW love your story and love that it was long. lol Glad that I was not the only so nervous when I met her I wanted to cry. lol : )

  2. I too have been a Smug mutha on two occassions. This was a very well thought out retelling of your story!! I am saddened to hear that Bette’s throat is causing her problems. She is tired and deserving of a nice long rest. She is a true delight and I’m glad to hear your reaction in such a compelling reaction. Way to go fellow “Smugger”!

  3. I was reading this story and after awhile I was like, Hey!! I was at this show too, I went and bought a ticket for myself and I got to see her live. I didn’t get to meet her being seeing her not up close but close enough was such a good feeling. I even made a friend during the show cause she was so happy to see I still went to see the show on my own 🙂

  4. love love loved your story… oh cool u got to see pink as well… pink is huge in australia she always does like 20 sell out shows in each state… lol… reminds me of when i told bette she was huge in australia and she looked at me and said oh im huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge (with a bent rist) then a said huuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuge and then she said HUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUGE… so funny

    glad you u had blast

    your story makes me wanna be a smug mutha all over again…


  5. Hi Julya,

    What a beautiful story! thank u for sharing with us 🙂

    I was a smug mutha in Nov and your story has reminded me to get my act together and do mine so stay tuned!

    It brings tears reading of ur wonderful experience, something that will be forever cherished and never forgotten 🙂 i esp love your sneaky back stage photos, they are fantastic!

    The opportunity to meet Pink was amazing also! My !friend met her in Queensland last year during her tour and spent the night drinking with her and Carey in a local pub in Port Douglas, she sounds an amzing person

    Sharna xo

  6. Thank you for the kind words everyone. It is taking all of my strength to not go back this weekend for the last show.

    Sharna, tell your friend she is one LUCKY person. What a night that must have been!!!!

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