New York Observer
Bette Midlerâ€™s Hulaween Party Brings Out the (Undead) Stars; Makes Trees Grow on Money
ByÂ Drew Grant
October 31, 2011
We felt woefully under-dressed as we stepped into the 2nd floor foyer of the Waldorf-Astoria, the entrance toÂ Bette Midlerâ€˜s Hulaween party. The theme was DÃa de los Muertos â€“ the Mexican Day of the Dead â€“ and although we felt like zombies after occupying Wall Street earlier that Friday evening, we werenâ€™t decked out in any apparel that suited the $1,000-a-plate dinner.
Martha Stewart, eschewing the nightâ€™s theme, decided instead to dress as what the party was raising money for, the New York Restoration Project. (The event raised $1.9 million to create and restore public parks and community gardens in the city.) Wearing butterfly extensions that actually looked like giant monarchs, Ms. Stewart batted her lashes in the direction ofÂ Robert Diamond, her set decorator who won the nightâ€™s costume contest with his green-beaded Emperor of the Butterflies ensembles. The mask itself took him 52 hours to bead, he told reporters; a skill he picked up French fashion designerÂ Thierry Mugler.
Judy Gold, currently starring in her one-woman off-Broadway show The Judy Show, MCâ€™d the evening dressed asÂ Chaz Bono. Toeing the line between political humor and the fact that yes, most of Manhattanâ€™s biggest real estate developers were currently â€œOccupyingâ€ the party, her jokes earned more uncomfortable twitters than full-blown laughs. â€œYou guys are really a great audience,â€ Ms. Gold said sardonically as real estate developerÂ Douglas Durst (dressed as a tree) kept his eyes on chef Rick Baylessâ€™ mole chicken dish. (Mr. Bayless was dressed as a skeleton: take from that what you will.) Later, Mr. Durst would win Ms. Midlerâ€™s â€œWind Beneath My Wingsâ€ award for his donations to the Restoration Project.
Michael Kors, who presided over the costume contest, was almost certainly dressed as a Mexican Tony Clifton and virtually unrecognizable.Â Sam Champion was a Mexican matador,Â Alan Cumming an adorable bear, and Debra Messing as a ghost having a really bad hair day. SopranoÂ Renee Fleming, the cast ofÂ Priscilla,Â Queen of the Desert,Â Sandra Lee,Â Patty Smyth, andÂ John McEnroe rounded out the celebrity attendees.
The clear highlight of the evening (besides the fact that the â€œBest Group Costumeâ€ award went to several individuals dressed as theÂ Dead 27 Club) was Stevie Wonder, who performed his classic hits as a Skeleton Pirate. You havenâ€™t seen anything until youâ€™ve seen a bunch of tipsy socialites who just bid $2,500 on a tree (one table over, an interior decorator dressed as a mummy and his fiance dressed as a Mexican skeleton promised to name their tree after us!) start mobbing the stage and screaming to â€œSigned, Sealed, Delivered Iâ€™m Yours.â€
It was, weâ€™ll admit, a little bit scary.