Corsair, Volume 44, Number 19, 21 March 1973
Midler Sizzles LA
by Larry Bone
Sidles, Struts, and Shimmies
My God! What is it? She came in her Arabian nights sedan chair dangling a leg. Out she stepped in her low-cut satin white Susy Wong cocktail dress with a slit down the left side and loud red satin lining showing. Bette Midler had just opened the first show of her one-night stand at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.
Her dress began to loosen precariously so that she gave it a tug and launched into her opening number, “Friends.” Miss Midler took a few sultry small steps toward left stage, and then sidled and shimmied herself back, all the while cradling her mike and strutting sophisticated; arms, legs, body in motion!
Through the evening she would sing and move petulantly like a child, defiant like a queen, and vulnerable like a woman. Miss Midler was born and raised in Hawaii. She traveled to New York in 1965 and stayed in an old hotel called the Broadway Central while working at a department store to survive. She had wanted to become an actress but after achieving some success in that field, she turned to singing.
She first sang at a bar called Hilly’s, in the Bowery section of New York. Eventually Bette Midler made appearances on the Johnny Carson show and played to sell-out audiences at The Troubador. Her first record album entitled “The Divine Miss M” came out in January on the Atlantic label. Tonight, Miss Midler showed a blatant disregard for the crusty classness of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion drawing her audence intimately closer than most performers.
Miss Midler tended to say what other people might think but what they would never say in public. She referred to “LA” as being on her “tour of the tackiest towns.” She seemed to communicate with her audience in a direct no-non-sense fashion. “I’ve been working my buns off on this song,” or “I only show my legs in the big towns.” Miss Midler would bump, grind, and mug like an outrageous underground actress.
She might blast her way through a show-stopping “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and then sing a soft, wistful, sentimental “Superstar.”
At the end of the show the audience cheered wildly for her and stood in exuberate ovation. When she began to sing an encore, they started to sit down and she said, “Keep standing up.” Her audience then stood, clapped in rhythm, swayed back and forth, and sang “Chapel of Love” with Bette Midler so that the “moment” of time she had promised to give, came.