Bette Midler Celebrates 20 Years of Hulaween
By Leigh Nordstrom
November 1, 2015
The scary, the spooky â€“ and the tropical â€“ came out to the ballroom at the Waldorf Astoria the night before Halloween to partake in Bette Midlerâ€™s annual Hulaween party, benefitting her organization the New York Restoration Project. Michael Kors was on hand as always to judge the costume contest for the night, which this year was themed â€œHell Night on Hulaween Island: A Night to Dismember,â€ for a crowd that included Jane Krakowski, Devon Windsor and John Demsey.
Midler, who grew up in Honolulu, has been throwing her Hulaween party to benefit her New York Restoration Project since its inception 20 years ago, and NYRP recently reached the milestone of planting their millionth tree. At Fridayâ€™s benefit, she was honored with the Green Goddess award for her work cleaning up New York; celeb friends including Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Poehler congratulated her in a video broadcast to the audience. â€œShe has greened New York City, and changed peopleâ€™s lives,â€ Kors said. â€œThis is the greatest thing that came out of Hawaii ever.â€
Also receiving an award was construction conglomerate Dan Tishman and his wife Sheryl, who were presented the Wind Beneath Our Wings award â€“ â€œso I needed to be a bird,â€ Sheryl said of her feathered costume. â€œThereâ€™s a lot of nature here tonight,â€ Dan added.
The eveningâ€™s decor was inspired by the 1996 horror film â€œThe Island of Doctor Moreau,â€ a mad scientist Marlon Brando film. â€œBig big Marlon Brando fan,â€ Midler said. â€œEven though he was monstrous, he was a great actor â€“ talk about monstrous!â€
She was not one to let the nightâ€™s theme go ignored. â€œItâ€™s Gilliganâ€™s Island meets Doctor Moreau, so you can see itâ€™s a hybrid,â€ she said of her getup. â€œItâ€™s half couture and half recycling material, and I plan to emit no emissions tonight, so thatâ€™s how it goes!â€
Walking the carpet in Tom Ford velvet bell bottoms and shoes was Nile Rodgers, who recently became a fan of the designer after working on his spring/summer 2016 video, starring Lady Gaga performing his song â€œI Want Your Love.â€ â€œGaga is one of the most awesome people on the planet,â€ Rodgers said. She â€œheard the song and was like I want to see it, so we went back in the studio and did it.â€
After a cocktail hour to scope out the competition, guests sat for dinner and a presentation, hosted by comedian Judy Gold (dressed as Caitlyn Jenney) and culminating with Korsâ€™ costume constest. â€œOnly for you Ms Midler would I show these gams,â€ said a short-shorts clad Kors from the stage as he doled out costume awards â€“ he and husband Lance LePere came dressed to theme as Hawaiian devils.
So what does the designer look for in a costume winner? â€œFirst off, of course, imagination,â€ Kors said of his judging criteria. â€œExecution, taste â€“ we still want it to be chic. And also if people are transformed. A lot of people are here every year, so when you see someone how you donâ€™t know who the hell it is, thatâ€™s a great costume.â€
As Kors exited the stage with the nightâ€™s final award (which, interestingly, he and LePere took home), Nile Rodgers and CHIC had the crowd on their feet with their 1978 hit â€˜Everybody Dance.â€™ Halfway into the number barely a seat was left filled â€“ the people love their disco!