BootLeg Betty

BetteBack: A View From A Broad – Good Lawdy, Too Bawdy!

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Mister D: All I can say is “BOO” to this review and to the caricature that went along with it. Obviously this reviewer never got what Miss M was all about in the first place. Totally off base….nothing constructive here!

Broad, Gaudy Farce And Too Much of It
SYRACUSE POST-STANDARD/TUESDAY, July 8, 1980

A VIEW FROM A BROAD. BY BETTE MIDLER, Simon and Sinister. 1980. 157 pages.
By BYRD H E H R A LAH

HOW LONG has it been since you were the b u tt of an elaborate joke? Were the trappings so f i ne you d i d n ‘t catch on for a long time?

I suspect Simon and Shuster haven’t caught on yet. b ut if you covet the experience, here is your chance — for $12.50 plus t a x. The pr e s ent a t ion is d e l u x e, indeed.

The TV appearances of author Bette Midler have been ubiquitous. The photography is superb, the paper qua l i ty the best. There is a border around the text on every page, and sometimes it is a strip of color. Remarks i n t e n d ed for emphasis appear, in boxes of ma g e n t a, blue and gold. What more can a publisher do?

At 157 pages, it is a slight book. If the s m ut were excised, it would be so slight it would r i se f r om the t abl e. Stil l, Shakespeare o f t en b e g an p l a ys wi th a dose of r a u n ch to t i t i l l a te the commoners and get their attention — raunch followed by b e a u t i f ul phrases and l o f ty t h o u g h t.

M i d l er follows baudy wi th gaudy. As an author, she is a r d e n t l y, avidly a f f i -a n c ed to a l l i t e r a t ion, alas. But if she wrote Al e x a n d r i ne verse, smut is smu t, and stale smut is stupid. That high-qua l i ty photography is sullied by its subj e ct ma t t e r. As a singer, why is Mi d l er u p s i de down or w r i t h i ng on the floor wi th the mi c r o p h o n e? Does she deliberately d e f i le the pages wi th these obs c ene and grotesque caricatures?

We l l, if she cannot wr i te well and is not lovely to look at, can she sing? People who saw her years ago as Tevye‘s oldest d a u g h t er in B r o a dwa y ‘s “Fiddler on the Roof” can still remember good stage presence and a remar kable voice.

There must be redeeming social v a l ue here, somewhere. We review the boxed
q u o t a t i o n s, but the good ones are not Midler’s. My f a v o r i te is f r om her dresser, Miss F r a n k, who gets i s long in Europe smoothly with the phi losophy, “A p o i n t i ng f i n g er is as good as a month at Be r l i t z .”

The costumes, h owe v e r, are Mi d l e r ‘s designs. One is an e n o r m o u s ly i n f l a t ed
h o t d og a nd b un w i th g l i t l e r i ng relish a nd mu s t a rd spilling over a l l. She is the dog. Another s t aple on stage is her light p o l y e s t e r / D a l m a t i an dress wi th rhinestone col l ar and leash. Man’s best f r i e nd a g a i n.

Do you really w a nt to read a b o ut her rages, how she f o u nd her b a c k – up singers and named them The Harlettes? She bares all, some t imes 25 pounds too m u c h, and spares
n o t h i n g.

Midl er h as t r ave l ed t h r o u gh Europe and A u s t r a l ia and l e a rned little. The wor st is t h at we have been in the same boat.

The reviewer is a free-lance writer living in Manilas.

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