Insider Interrogation: With stage and screen star Bette Midler
05/12/2014 | 02:30
The star of stage and screen is back with a new album inspired by girl bands, and chats to â€‹Vicki Notaro about friends, heroes and 50 cent
Profession: Singer, actress, performer
What are you promoting today, and why?
I have recently finished a girl group record, honouring female groups from the 30s to the 90s. It’s full of really upbeat and positive music. I love the sound of women singing harmonies so this is my homage to the greatest American girl groups. I love ‘Waterfalls’, the TLC cover. I’m a balladeer mostly, and there are some novelty songs. I love the record, I enjoyed making it and loved the process. It was fun!
What is the most rewarding thing about your life?
I’d have to say my daughter. She’s 28 this year, and watching her grow has been like watching a little fledgling take flight, it’s been a lot of fun.
Why do you do what you do for a living?
It was a childhood dream of mine to be in the position I’m in now, and once I set my feet on the path I never veered from it. I always loved what I did, and I was always intrigued by the idea of getting better at it, improving and learning my craft. I’ve had a wonderful time. Each project I do, be it recording or acting or performing on stage is completely different; they all come with their own set of issues.
Some things are more challenging than others, and sometimes you find that you hate it in the middle of the project and then the next minute you love it again!
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
That’s a good question! I think my nail polish colour.
What’s the rumour about you that’s bothered you the most?
That I’m a man! Someone said I was a drag queen in the early 1970s.
It’s Sunday night, you’re curling up to watch TV. What’s on your DVR?
We are watching Homeland right now, we’re on the current season but I’ve missed the last couple of episodes! It’s pretty bleak though. I love The Wire, I still have to see the last season. I love The Sopranos too but I couldn’t get past the seventh episode of Breaking Bad, it was too rough for me. I like a little bit of humour!
What’s the most shamefully uncool album you own?
I’m like a magpie, I pick everything up. I own over 2,000 vinyl records! “Cool” is something that’s fashionable, and a lot of stuff I think is cool, other people wouldn’t. It’s too subjective!
Who is your best friend?
I think my daughter is my best friend. I was in a movie about best friends called Beaches, and I still see Barbara Hershey who I played opposite from time to time. My daughter was recently in a play the director of that film, Garry Marshall, directed. To have such a close relationship with a director who then ends up directing your daughter is amazing.
Do you like being well known?
I am less well known as I used to be, and you know, I’m okay with that! I had my moment in the sun. I’m lurking on the fringes of the spotlight right now, and that’s quite nice. It’s much more liberating, and it makes me less fearful of going places.
What drives you on a daily basis?
I have a non-profit organisation that I started almost 20 years ago called the New York Restoration Project. We do work in the public realm, in open spaces and in community gardens all over the city. That was a compulsion, a need to put order in to the city at a time when it had no order, and I’ve had a lot of fun with that. I think that need to put order into things is a little obsessive compulsive, but without that, where would we be?
I do get up in the morning and think, “How can I improve life in this city today?” 50 Cent had an office in the same building as my organisation at the time, and he ended up giving us a whole bunch of money to build a park in his name in his old neighbourhood. He came to the opening of this garden and he looked so beautiful, and came to the fundraiser afterwards – he’s a real star! You wouldn’t think we would ever find common ground, but we really did, literally!
Who is your hero?
I have so many heroes, people who step forward and have courage on a daily basis. I think the unsung heroes who do what they need to do without notice, they’re my heroes.
What makes you emotional?
Waste, carelessness, recklessness, violence, people who bully other people. People who kick others when they’re down. The part of the human mind that hasn’t progressed very far makes me furious. I try to be vocal on Twitter, I’m not sure if it’s the kind of forum for that kind of outrage, but…
What’s your favourite day of the week?
I love Sundays! It’s your day, you get to do what you want and eat what you want and watch your shows! I go to the markets on Sunday, we cook a big meal and our daughter comes over. Domestic in our house, it’s fun!
Where do you see yourself in five years time?
(Laughs) I haven’t got that many five years left! I’d like to be back at school, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
I see myself travelling, on a train somewhere. I’ve been to Ireland, my husband took my daughter and I around the Dingle Peninsula, because he lived down south in Cork for a while. Oh wow, it was just beautiful there.
It’s The Girls is out now