New York Times
Bette Midler Hosts Her ‘Hulaween’ Benefit in a (Gasp!) Cathedral
Party Coverage: Scene City
By BOB MORRIS NOV. 1, 2017
Certain rules apply when you’re hosting a benefit at the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine. Cursing is not allowed. And nudity, it should go without saying, isn’t either.
But when it comes to Halloween, especially in New York, rules tend to fly out the window. And so Bishop Andrew M.L. Dietsche had to intervene Monday for Bette Midler’s annual Hulaween benefit by preventing Dita Von Teese, the burlesque star, from performing her provocative act.
“I got banned by the bishop,” said Ms. Von Teese, who wore a modest black gown as guests including Bernadette Peters, Victor Garber, Judy Gold (dressed as Bobby Riggs) and Ben Platt arrived to find the cathedral lit up in orange and green.
“The funny thing is that people are showing up nearly naked,” she said.
The night’s theme was Garden of Earthly Delights, so some guests, in fact, wore revealing body stockings with strategically placed fig leaves and flowers. The benefit raised money for the New York Restoration Project, started by Ms. Midler in 1995 to support city gardens and parks. While the crowd may have looked evil, the intentions were very good.
Ms. Midler, who was fully clothed in a pale green tuxedo that made her look like a psychedelic grasshopper, was particularly pleased to chirp about her beloved cause. “Green space is an inalienable right,” she said, as pounding music gave way to ominous organ chords urging guests to take their seats for dinner in the sanctuary.
She made a point not to curse in a cathedral. “My eyelashes are so long that I can’t read,” she said in frustration as she greeted and addressed the cathedral full of guests eating “Before the Fall” roasted mushroom salad and a “From the Rib of Adam” entree with bone-in short rib. “But I’m not swearing tonight.”
Michael Kors did. He wore a bright suit festooned with red apples and a fake snake with an apple in its mouth wrapped around his neck. “I just said to Bette, ‘Only for you would I wear a print,’” he told the crowd.
His choice for one of the evening’s best costumes was a man who dressed as Kellyanne Conway, wearing the red, white and blue military-style coat that she wore to the inauguration. He called the winner “The Antichrist.”
Other than that, the sacrilege was kept to a minimum. Ms. Midler, with support from her “Hello, Dolly!” cast, including David Hyde Pierce, performed a family-friendly parody called “Hello, Dollars!” to thank the evening’s most generous benefactors.
Ms. Gold, taking turns with Ms. Midler as host, made a few lewd jokes including one about Harvey Weinstein and another about Kevin Spacey, but unlike Ms. Von Teese, she did not end up in purgatory.
Before adjourning, Ms. Midler, with wig towering and long green eyelashes fluttering, encouraged all the guests to go to the front of the church for the after-party.
“I know some of you have to work,” she said. “But who gives a darn?”
The Divine Miss M wasn’t risking offending St. John the Divine.