BootLeg Betty

The Show Must Go On ~ “We would have to cut programs, fire people—I’m not going to do that”

Wall Street Journal
Bette, Blondie And Bananas on Halloween
November 1, 2012

As New York City struggled to return to normalcy following Sandy, Bette Midler, one of the city’s most high-profile residents, threw her annual Halloween party at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel Wednesday evening.

While so many other events were cancelled, the requisite showgirl Ms. Midler kept the show going on. Many of her regular guests—actress Debra Messing, who dressed as Marie Antoinette, Michael Kors, and financier Steve Schwarzman—showed up at the Waldorf-Astoria on Wednesday in support.

For many attendees, the event was the first chance to venture out for a good time since Sandy hit.

“I said, ‘Allons-y,’ let’s go!” said Ms. Midler, who dressed as the ghost of Coco Chanel.

The event benefits the New York Restoration Project, a non-profit organization founded by Ms. Midler in 1995 to revitalize parks, gardens and public spaces in New York City’s underserved neighborhoods.

“There’s never been a time our organization is needed more,” Ms. Midler said. “The parks are not OK.”

The actress said she spent the storm planning for the event and cooking. “I pickled my peppers,” she said. “I made a stew. What are you going to do? I wasn’t going to go out and get struck by lightning.”

She decided not to cancel the costume party, despite the local devastation and the obstacles to transportation, because it also functions as a fundraiser for her organization.

“We would have to cut programs, fire people—I’m not going to do that,” she said.

Adrian Benepe, who was the New York City parks commissioner until June, was in attendance.

“It’s frustrating not to be in a position to help,” he said of the storm devastation. Mr. Benepe had praise for his successor, Commissioner Veronica White, who he said is “doing an amazing job.”

“This is a real signal,” Mr. Benepe said. “We have to think in radical new ways about what New York City is going to look like in the next 100 years, and we have to think of new ways of designing and building.”

Al Gore, who had planned to speak about global warming at the event, was unable to make it due to the weather, according Roberta Greene, a spokeswoman for the organization.

“If this was a benefit about anything else, we would have canceled it,” said Ms. Greene. She said the event raised $1.8 million dollars to help restore city parks and other public spaces.

Meanwhile, Christie’s hosted a Halloween party in conjunction with the opening of its Andy Warhol exhibition—the auction house is hosting an auction of the artist’s photographs, paintings and prints on Nov. 12, the sales of which will benefit the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Guests were instructed to dress in “Factory Chic, Halloween Drag” and came dressed as Heinz ketchup bottles, bananas and even the artist himself. Guests included violinist David Aaron Carpenter and curator Stacy Engman.

A few parties took place over the weekend, beating the storm, at, for instance, the Wooly, the Standard Hotel and at the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel, bringing out the requisite creatures of the nightlife scene. (See Julie Henderson and Alejandro Santo Domingo as James Bond and his Bond Girl; CAA agent Beth Swofford as a medieval maiden; Ondine de Rothschild as a sexy cat.)

Back at Hulaween, Debbie Harry, the singer better-known as Blondie, said she is still without power. “I’m like everyone else,” said Ms. Harry, who dressed in a burlesque outfit. Sandy “was wild and intense.”

When Ms. Harry took the stage to perform her hit “The Tide is High,” she noted that while her power is out at home, “There’s electricity up here! Which is why we’re up here. And we’re not leaving this hotel, no matter what they say.”

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