BootLeg Betty

BetteBack September 4, 1974: Claude Sacha On Impersonating Bette Midler And Barbra Streisand

San Mateo Times
September 4, 1974

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The Bette Midler is barely known by most people, let alone what she does. Yet 21-year-old impersonator, Claude Sacha is making a reputation and building a promising show business career by Impersonating her flamboyant and extroverted stage manner.

“The “Divine Miss M” as she’s billed, even came to see herself in all of Sacha’s outrageous ribaldry and gave him pointers and advice on how to better put across her looks, voice and mannerisms. It was a great day.

He also does a devastating impersonation of Barbra Streisand, one he’s been doing since be was 17 years old.

The famous actress can’t help but know she’s being mimicked. Sacha had most of a full page Newsweek article last month outlining the success of the current all male (nearly, except for the female producer who sings a few songs) program titled, “French Dressing” at the Village on Columbus Avenue, San Francisco.

“If she aver came to a show, I’d die. It’s better if I didn t know she was in the audience. It would only blow my mind.”

He was Kenneth Sacha and also Kenny Webb when he began performing his Streisand act in underground New York clubs. At 17, he was readily tired of the routine and tried a “straight” job of bank clerk. But it drove him nearly crazy with depression. So when the company of “French Dressing” urged him to add one more female personality to his act and join the cast that first played The Village Gate and then the staid and conventional Shepheard’s at the Drake Hotel, be slipped back into the wig and gowns and long fingernails, permanently attached to flesh colored surgical gloves that he pulls on. It was a “natural.”

“I don’t like the term drag show – It doesn’t really apply. We’re acting out familiar personalities, just as much as.if we were doing an impersonation of Cyrano de Bergerac, my favorite stage character.

“We’re not just a bunch of guys dressed as women We take on the character of well known performers and do an Impersonation, Next week I’m adding Patty Andrews in an Andrews Sisters Trio to the show. It’s a matter of studying them and doing a look-alike bit with makeup and gesture.

“Doing Streisand came easy. I first did it as a joke at a costume party but my lips are shaped the same as hers and I fit the image so well, my friends kept asking me to do it in a club.

“Last year I had my nose straightened-to take out the hook and look even more like her. Doing Bette is more fun because I’m ditzy, just like her. (A New York slang expression meaning-dizzy, kooky, nutzy) and Im’m the only one of the guys in the show who uses his own voice singing the Bette Midler material. The rest use a tape recording with lip sync, as I do with Streisand.

“I’ve already had an offer from a San Francisco club to stay on after this revue closes, although there is talk of taking it to London. I’d love to do Fanny Brice, Baby Snooks, Helen Morgan and sing the music of the Twenties and Thirties. I always felt I was born too late.

“Backstage everyone calls me Margo, after Margo Channmg. It s just one of my many nicknames. I originally changed my name so my family wouldn’t be subjected to publicity. Now my mother sends me every newspaper clipping that mentions my name or the show. They get a kick out of my success and seeing my picture in Earl Wilson’s column.

“Of course there is some jealousy back stage The audience really opens up when I do Streisand and by the time I get to Bette Midler, they’re eating it up. We thought when we got to San Francisco, we’d draw pretty much of a gay crowd but it hasn’t been that way. All kinds of straights and tourists come and seem to love the show. San Francisco is such an open town with everyone out to have a good time.

“I love all the publicity and keep a careful scrapbook.

Everytlme I get a good review, I have copies made and send them all back to my enemies in New York ”

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