BetteBack: Is The Divine Miss M Really Divine?

Lawrence Journal
A Moment With
September 2, 1984

It’s not easy to interview Bette Midler. Offstage, she hides her real persona behind the image of a loudmouthed mistress of camp. She sighs, grimaces, exaggerates and abuses the words “doll” and “fabulous”. She jumps around, bums cigarettes, plays with her orange tresses and complains of exhaustion. Probe Ms Midler – even the slightest bit – and she turns tough; a vortex of arrogance and attitude. Why? Bette Midler is scared. “I’ve always been afraid people will hurt me,” the singer, 39, says in a moment of candor. “People can be evil, that’s why I let very few people into my personal life. I’d rather show them my arts and crafts.”

In this exclusive interview, the Divine Miss M, who will be seen in the HBO spe c i al “Bette Midler: Art or Bust!” this week, talks about her arts, her crafts and feeling human.

Q: Is the Divine Miss M really divine?

A: No. But I try to be considerate and kind to people. I try not to badmouth anyone because, in this industry, you never know when you have to work with someone again. I believe in Karma; I believe that if I put good out it will come back to me.

Q: Is this the new Midler philosophy?

A: It happened after my experience on the film “Jinxed.” Ken Wahl (Miss Midler’s co-star) did me in by being mean to me, badmouthing me and calling this diva names. I thought I had judged his character pretty well. As it turned out, I was wrong. I made a bad choice. It was so bad that I began questioning lots of things about myself. I no longer trusted my own judgment. I was full of self-doubt. A led to B, B led to C, C led to D and I had a nervous breakdown. Now I’m fine and moving so fast I don’t have time to think about the past. So let’s talk about my special.

Q: I thought you hated TV. Isn’t doing a special for HBO hypocritical?

A: Absolutely! But isn’t everyond a hypocrite? I don’t mind TV if it isn’t silly, but most of it is. Even the news! I can’t watch it anymore because it doesn’t make me feel human. Too much murder! My special is a reaction to that violence. “Art or Bust!” will cleanse your mind and let you feel human again.

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