Because sheâ€™s appearing on Broadway in Iâ€™ll Eat You Last, Bette Midler had less time than usual to plan this yearâ€™s New York Restoration Project spring picnic. â€œMy fantastic team at N.Y.R.P. planned it,â€ Midler said in the park outside Gracie Mansion on Manhattanâ€™s Upper East Side on Thursday evening.
She also has to save her voice, thanks to the show, so she had planned for comic Judy Gold to read her opening remarks during dinner. â€œIâ€™m going to read her remarks, and Bette is going to sign them,â€ Gold told the crowd. â€œSo letâ€™s practice: Fuck,â€ Gold began. After a few minutes, Midler couldnâ€™t resist the limelight and grabbed the microphone and said, â€œO.K., thatâ€™s enough. Get out.â€ She then thanked the donors.
Midler has been enjoying the Broadway gig but says itâ€™s hard work. â€œI love the show! Itâ€™s great fun,â€ she told VF Daily. â€œI have days where I enjoy it a lot.â€ But does she have another one in her?
â€œHonestly, itâ€™s brutal,â€ Midler said. â€œItâ€™s a brutal schedule. Iâ€™ve never worked this hard in my life. In. My. Life. So I canâ€™t really say.â€
She loved Sue Mengers, who she portrays in the play. â€œEverybody involved in it has been fantastic, and weâ€™re all really thrilled to celebrate Sue Mengersâ€™s life, because as nutty as she was, it was the end of an era,â€ Midler said. â€œWe lived through it, and now looking back on it, itâ€™s odd . . . You never thought: Sue Mengers. Theyâ€™ll do a Broadway show on Sue Mengers. Whoever thought that? But here you are.â€
Midler also skipped singing at the dinner, to help rest her voice. Rosanne Cash stepped in, along with Gold, singing a song that named all of the eveningâ€™s big donors, thereby saving guests from being delightfully mortified by one of Midlerâ€™s trademark fund-raising routines, in which she loudly berates people until they open their wallets.
Parker Posey and Tim Gunn read poems, and New York mayor Mike Bloomberg also pitched in as ad hoc auctioneer, grabbing the microphone from Hugh Hildesley of Sothebyâ€™s and offering, for $100,000, tickets to Midlerâ€™s Broadway show, followed by dinner with him, girlfriend Diana Taylor, Bernadette Peters, Michael Kors, and Bette and her husband, Martin von Haselberg.
This was a surprise not only to event organizers but also to those involved. Peters, seated at VF Dailyâ€™s table, definitely had no idea that she would be sold to the highest bidder for a night out on the town. But all for a good cause, right?