Bette Midlerâ€™s Annual â€œHulaweenâ€ Extravaganza
BY HUGH HILDESLEY | 05 NOV 2013
NEW YORK – Every Halloween, the Divine Miss M pulls together an extraordinary party to benefit her New York Restoration Project, whose purpose is to create â€œa greener, more sustainable New York City.â€ Partnering with the New York City Parks Department in the Million Trees NYC initiative, Bette and her adoring fans have helped plant, and maintain, nearly 800,000 trees since 2007. At the cost of $100 per tree, this yearâ€™s gala helped make significant progress towards achieving the million-tree goal.
How does Bette do it?
Her recipe is spectacular. First, create a startling mis-en-scÑne, which in her case involves Hawaii, New Orleans and New York City. Next, create a pot-pourri of 800 New Yorkers, from the divine to the decadent and everything in between. Next, enclose them in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria, wearing costumes of their choice, loosely inspired by the theme of Halloween and interpreted in some of the most outlandish, bizarre and in some cases outright necrophiliac, over-the-top expressions of morbidity.
Follow this with a parody singing of the Jerome Kern and Oscar Hammerstein classic from Show Boat, â€œCanâ€™t help Lovinâ€™ Dat Man,â€ being sure to insult every major donor present by name. Add a professional auctioneer, whose job is to extract every last penny from the audience, with pledges from $100 to $25,000, while rewarding the top donors with the opportunity to greet Ms Midler on stage and get â€œLeiâ€™dâ€ â€“ pun intended. Finally, engage Harry Connick, Jr and his band to set the crowd on fire with Jazz chestnuts from New Orleans.
Costumes were judged by none other than Michael Kors, who also received the â€œWind Beneath My Wings Awardâ€ from Bette, for simply being himself as Michael Kors. Judy Gold, â€œcomedienne extraordinaire,â€ acted as Mistress of Ceremonies, clad in an orange prison jumpsuit, while Mayor Michael Bloomberg was present to be toasted for being Michael Bloomberg, dressed as Michael Bloomberg.
The end result was a weird, exotic and memorable event, all to benefit this unique city in its unending ability to maintain an appropriate sense of humor about itself.