Liz Smith Weighs In On Hulaween

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Liz Attends NYC’s Party of the Year ”“ Bette Midler‘s Hulaween!

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies,” said that giant philosopher Groucho Marx.

Today, America is voting. If you decide not to vote, remember this ”“ your decision constitutes a secret vote. There simply has to be the lesser of two evils. And we seem to have evil enough to go around.

But by not voting, you well may get a Congress even more useless than the one we have now. Have some gumption; think, don’t vote emotionally. But vote!


AND now for something delightful.

“Well, at least we can still recognize each other ”“ that’s saying something!” This was my old pal, the well-known New York Daily News photographer Richard Corkery. We joked about the inroads of time. It was funny and even funnier that he said it at Bette Midler’s annual Hulaween Gala in the Waldorf where recognition is de rigueur.

Was that really the standup comic Judy Gold got up as Eleanor Roosevelt? She was the evening’s emcee at this 15th-year fundraiser for Bette’s New York Restoration Project. (Bette Midler is that rare celebrity. Her effort to improve parks, create parks, add greenery and get rid of New York’s garbage really has had a positive effect. I wish all charity efforts were so productive!)


WATCHING THE costumed masses appear is always great fun and there’s just enough bad taste to make the party fabulous. Getting into the spirit of things, there were the three blind mice. Later, I thought they should have been carrying their severed tails in hand. This was after being greeted by two Bette impersonators; one of them so good that I hugged her (him?) before realizing it was not the real Bette.

The “real” Bette appeared on the red carpet before what seemed to be thousands of screaming paparazzi. She had on some kind of spectacular, overpowering head dress but she was so slim and trim beneath it that her glamour quotient ran right off the charts. She said, “I’m a willow. A willow is flexible and these days you have to be flexible. Not brittle; but able to bend.”

People do not party like they used to. So the Hulaween remains the best Manhattan party of the year! It’s the only gala that people really dress up for. Sure, they are in costume. (There’s no such thing as traditional black-tie; someone will always appear in jeans no matter what the invite says.)

But at Bette’s gala, everyone pretty much does as they’re told. Very few cheat. Very few want to cheat!

The appealing thing is that the atmosphere encourages friendly, high-spirited conversation. Everybody laughs, gasps, points and giggles. Total strangers accost one another exclaiming or exchanging compliments. Martha and George Washington stride in ”¦ there is Popeye the Sailor Man with his big, blown-up forearms ”¦ several Lady Gagas embraced me ”¦ I was taken with a gaggle of guys who looked like the Jets attack line; they were in smeared makeup, huge high heels and “gowns””¦ a man in a toga came up holding a book by Plato. The archaeologist Iris Love accosted him and chided his Roman costume, speaking to him in Greek. He blanched, “I’m a philosopher; I don’t speak Greek.” Iris sniffed, “You’re not Plato.” This is about as far as contretemps went at this amazing, sizzling party.

Iris was not philosophical about having to leave her own black satin Dracula cape at home. “Oh, why did I leave it?” she moaned. “It would have worked without fangs!” But never mind, there were lots and lots of vampires at this party and fangs galore.

Michael Kors came dressed as a tree. Would his “Project Runway” pal Heidi Klum whisper “Auf Wiedersehen?” I also ran into a girl dressed entirely in MetroCards and she had some jolly riffs on variations of “Ride me!” Then there was the male Wicked Queen from “Snow White” with her “mirror, mirror on the wall” on his head. Nobody offered up any apples around this one ”¦ And there was a gang of Hearstlings dressed like The Food Network’s Southern Fried Queen, Paula Deen. They were having fun and promoting the company’s new hit magazine ”“ “The Food Network.”

After the gala I went to dinner at Swifty’s. The mood at the Waldorf had been so effective that everybody in the café began high-fiving. Greetings were exchanged around the room. The food was as usual some of the best in town, comfort food all the way with some elegant touches.

It’s always a pleasure to see Bob Bradford and his novelist wife, Barbara Taylor. Barbara said she was sending me her new book, titled Playing the Game.

I said, “Whenever I see you, which is at least once a month, you have written another new book.” Barbara smiled under her jewelry. I am asking Bob and Barbara to adopt me. They have lots of dough and they could use a wayward child.

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3 thoughts on “Liz Smith Weighs In On Hulaween

  1. Liz probably was talking about Donna Maxon and Morgan Mullinix. Donna, as we all know is a Bette look-alike and Morgan was dressed up as Dixie Leonard (from Bette’s For the Boys movie). When we were at Waldorf’s restaurant by the lobby — people would stop by and look at Donna seated in one of the chairs, having a chat with us and they would actually have pictures taken with her:)

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