All bow down to the Queen of Halloween, Bette Midler.
Not only did Midler bring the wickedly funny Winifred to life in 1993’s Hocus Pocus, but she’s also been at the helm of her own star-studded Halloween party for 20 years now. This year, she’s bringing a “Hell Night of Hulaween Island” theme to New York City’s famed Waldorf Astoria â€“ and you’re invited. (Tickets are available here.)
“It’s going to be weird,” Midler, 69, tells PEOPLE of the famed bash, which will include performances by Nile Rodgers and Chic. “I don’t know what’s going to happen this year.”
One thing is guaranteed, though: the costumes will be outrageous.
“People go all-out,” says Midler, who has fond memories of creative costumes her pals have worn over the years. “Sheryl Crow came as a policeman in a very short, abbreviated policeman’s costume. Sting came as an alien from outer space and Trudie Styler came as an enchanted fairy and a kind of woodland nymph. Elton John came as the devil with glue-on horns.”
She continues, “I came as the corpse of Chanel one year. Nobody even knew who I was!”
Midler’s haunted affair benefits the New York Restoration Project, which she founded 20 years ago with her own money and the help of friends.
“We started picking up garbage in public parks and we never looked back,” she says. “Since then, we’ve gone from strength to strength. We’ve picked up thousands and thousands of tons of garbage. We bought 52 community gardens. We run gardening programs. We built the first boathouse on the Harlem River. We’ve built and managed several parks.”
She adds, “This year, in addition to it being our 20th anniversary, we are planting the last tree in a campaign to plant one million trees in New York City. That’s our big gift to the city.”
When she’s not improving the Big Apple or wooing audiences, Midler has been known to grab headlines with her tweets.
“To tell you the truth, I don’t read a whole lot because I’ve been slammed a couple times and it always sends me whirling into a funk,” she says.
Most recently, Midler spoke out on Jeremy Bieber’s response to his son Justin Bieber’s nude photo scandal, writing, “@justinbieber dad tweeted he’s proud of his son’s penis size. I think the biggest d— in this situation is the dad who abandoned his son.”
“I put it out into the world,” Midler says. “These are little messages in a bottle â€“ you never expect to hear back from the bottle. But it’s all been pretty positive.”
As it turns out, the Divine Miss M is rooting for the pop star.
“He’s coming from a long way back,” she tells PEOPLE of Bieber’s new chapter. “I think he’s doing well. I saw him on the MTV VMAs, and I thought he was terrific. I just thought he was terrific.”
Millions of Beliebers will be able to relate to Midler’s reaction to his flying sequence and tears on stage.
“In the end thing when he finally got down from that harness, I mean, I was so there with him,” she explains. “So there with him. Because I know exactly what he was going through, and of course I felt a little maternal because I’m practically his great-grandmother’s age, but I felt for him. I really felt for him.”
Nowadays, you’re more likely to find Midler watching award shows at home than in the audience.
“If you just have to walk a red carpet and pose and wear high heels and sit in hair and makeup for two hours, I don’t think it’s that much fun,” she says when asked about Taylor Swift’s squad of famous beauties. “I mean, it’s not that much fun for me anymore. They put on a great show. Taylor and her girls look fantastic and like they’re having a blast. Good for them.”
The outspoken star says her inner circle is comprised of people she’s known for years.
“I don’t have a celebrity squad,” she explains. “It’s interesting they can all get their schedules coordinated because I don’t know anybody who can. It’s so hard.”