The Lawton Constitution
March 28, 1973
She calls herself “the last of the truly tacky women…”
Bette Midler may be “tacky” in appearance, but she has created a whale of a “tacky” following since she hit the big time, following her “tubs” days in Manhattan.
“The Divine Miss M” played to a near capacity house in Oklahoma City’s Music Hall Sunday evening. Not even Carol Channing drew the thundering ovations given Miss M.
The audience (young and middle aged) gave the orange haired singer standing ovations (the spontaneous variety), during her numbers, at the end of the first portion of the show, and a 10-minute one at the conclusion.
Never have I seen such crowd adoration at a concert in Oklahoma. It was reminiscent of the Judy Garland days, even though “The Divine Miss M” in no way can be compared with the late star.
In her own words, Bawdy Bette is “the last of the truly tacky women . . .trash with flash.”
She’s no Tiny Tim flash ‘fad. The woman can sing, but her gimmick is dipping into the past and coming up with the songs of the ’40s “Hubba, Hubba,” “Chattanooga Choo Choo“, “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” (from Company B), much to the delight of her young followers. And, she also blends in the rock ‘n roll tunes of the ’60s. Her blues – “Am I Blue”, are great, too.
In short, Bette Midler is pure camp with high style. She’s a female Paul McCartney, Mick Jagger and Elvis – all rolled into one with a dash of the Andrews Sisters.
She couldn’t believe her cult had extended all the way to Oklahoma. “I can’t believe Oklahoma City – you’re so alive – and aware,” she kept saying repeatedly from the stage.
Bette sang ’em all during two hours – “Empty Bed Blues,” “Bad Sex,” “Uptown Baby,” “Do You Wanna Dance,” “Lullaby of Broadway.” “Hello In There,” “The Leader of the Pack” and “Chapel of Love,” plus the “oldies” mentioned above. It was her “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” that brought the house down with three encores of the WW II hit.
Her “tacky” costumes included a tight-fitting, silver lame gown of the ’40s fashions, lavender slacks, high blocked heels and artificial red roses adorning her frizzy hair.
Bette conversed with her audience at length, tossing in some Tricia Nixon Cox jokes.
This reviewer’s only complaint was she left the audience screaming and applauding for more – which is good in show biz parlance, but the least she could have done was appear just one more time, even after the band left the stage, so her fans could feast their eyes on their idol.
Her refusal to take just one more curtain call bow was truly ”tacky” in the B. Midler sense of the word.