BootLeg Betty

Video: Bette Midler Sends Me, Don Bradshaw, A Video “Hello” – Plus One Of My Rambling Stories

NYRP Picnic Bette Midler and Glenn Close
NYRP Picnic Bette Midler and Glenn Close

 

Mister D: I forgot I had this. How is that even possible?  This was a video sent to me by a kind, wonderful Bettehead who filmed it for Miss M at one of her Spring Picnics. Her name is Becci S. and I will always be grateful. I just can’t remember what year it was. I didn’t make a big deal about it at the time because I know human nature and I was afraid. When BLB was at its peak you could get some bizarre emails, like death threats, jealous fans, people just out to lunch, and then a bunch of great people. There are those genuine people who are happy for you, but I can guarantee you a lot hold resentment. It’s kind of like that Bette quote about people not feeling happy for you if you’re successful.

I laughed because, for one, not many people knew about it, but I noticed one dislike. It’s funny because someone just disliked that Bette did something for a fan. What is there to dislike about that? So really it’s just aimed at me. Maybe two decades ago and before I would be crying over that “one thumb down” because I was so hypersensitive, but those days are long over. I would suggest that anyone who is oversensitive, hypersensitive, or maybe just angry to start studying the philosophy of Stoicism. I started studying it when I just happened in a NY bookstore. As sometimes happens with me I’m just called or directed toward something, and it was some book about stoicism. I perused through it and thought it might be good for me.

I was in town to see Bette Midler in I’ll Eat You Last. I was bummed out because earlier before the play even opened up, she had invited me to come backstage. I knew how everything worked, but I was in the worst depression I had ever faced, I probably sabotaged it, cause I was not the same person she or Jill was used to. I was really at the nadir of my life at that time.

I was also invited to see Bruce Vilanch doing his comedy set at 54 Below. I was with my mother and Barry. After the show, we were to go over to his table, but I just couldn’t talk. I could tell he knew something was wrong cause I never spoke a word to him, and he was used to me being pretty talkative and animated. Thank God my mother was there and she can talk anybody’s ear off.

In fact, she met Bette before I did. Hulaween had been canceled due to Sept. 11, 2001, but Mayor Guiliani asked her to still have her gala, because he really wanted people to see that we, as citizens, could carry on. Many entertainers were afraid. I mean a lot of people were afraid. But we all know Miss M is a Divine Trooper. I don’t know if everybody knows but she sang at a lot of funerals. She sang in Boston. She sang at Yankee Stadium, and she sang an incredible, divine and inspired version of The Star-Spangled Banner for the newly minted Mayor Bloomberg. I had never heard such a version that captured the mood at the time. It was tender, bittersweet, melancholic, but Bette brings it home at the end where you can hear the hope and healing coming at the end of the song. I was mesmerized that they had harmonies, and I can’t help but think Bette Sussman had something to do with the arrangement. Just stellar to do it anymore.

Anyway, I went looking for where the event was going to be held. We were staying in the same hotel and I heard her rehearsing, I was on the balcony floor, A security guard saw me with my ear to the door and he smiled and opened the door and let me go in. I watched her from above with the band. She sang I’m Walking On Sunshine (with changed lyrics), she practiced her monologue. There was one part where she refers to balls and the drummer kept hitting a cowbell or something twice and she hated it and told him not to do that at the gala. She wasn’t mean about it, but she just felt it was too low-rent. I heard her do How About You (changed lyrics) and a ballad but I just can’t remember it, but I want to say, Laughing Matters, Anyway, we went to the event and after Bette’s performance and after she ate, people started walking around. My mom said Don go down and meet her, but at that time I didn’t have the courage, so my mom says, “well, I’m going to meet her and tell her about you.” I was so embarrassed, but off my mom went, they were talking and Bette kind of looked my way, but I turned the other way. Then I saw them hugging and Bette took her over to meet Liz Smith, a southerner like my mother, and they talked. Then my mom came back to the table and told all of us there how nice she was and that we should go meet her, but nobody at my table would go down, My mom said she told Bette my son has been in love with you since he was 14 and now he’s 40 something, And Bette said well how old are you? And my mom told her her age and Bette said, Girllll, don’t you look good, And then she said Hell, we both look good! I think my mon brought up Liz Smith so Bette took her to her table where Liz was sitting, I can’t remember what they talked about. I didn’t regret it. I wasn’t ready. I knew how I wanted to present myself which was not to act like a fan but as an equal. I never thought that would ever happen though, but when I did meet her, I was ready.

Back to I’ll Eat You Last, I just felt confused and I hadn’t talked to Jill beforehand, so I said they probably forgot. Bette’s only other guest that night was Donald Sutherland who I would normally talk to easily, He’s a big Bette Midler fan and you can usually find pictures of him attending her concerts at least as far back as “Clams On The Half Shell” I could tell my mom was itching to talk to Mr. Sutherland, but I just had to get out of there. I felt like I was going to have a panic attack. I didn’t feel right; I kind of knew I was on my way for some kind of fall, so we left. I really was just dead weight on this trip. I think Jill contacted me the next day and emailed “what happened to you?” And I said I just thought I couldn’t go back cause I didn’t hear from you and Then Jill said: “you knew you were on the list and we waited for you.”  And I said, “so in other words, I stood up Bette Midler?”  She said, uh yes!  I just couldn’t do anything but laugh at the absurdity of it all. No one was mad. It just happened.

I’m pretty sure when we left New York and my mom went back to  Florida, it was a few weeks later i checked myself into the mental ward of Centurian Hospital for Electro Shock Therapy for 2 weeks. I lost some of the memory before checking in and some afterward. I forgot to tell you that on that trip Barry and I had separated after 30 years and he moved into a townhouse in the city. I got the house in the country, I was literally devastated and wasn’t coping well, and Barry was nice as can be, He treated me like a Queen (pun intended) for 30 years but it’s like we were in one of those movies where you somehow magically change bodies. Barry wanted to socialize and I wanted to be alone.

When I came out in the ’80s I was a hot target for a couple of years, but I never got into the sleep with everything that moves thing, I am a real romantic and I knew exactly what I wanted, but I was miserable with the guys I’d date and then when they were through with me, they would automatically try to foist me onto some other bad boy loser. I had been drugged by a best friend, got in physical fights, and my brother’s best friend tried to blackmail me into sleeping with him or else he was going to tell my brother. I just said no. I thought he wouldn’t do it, but he did and I just wasn’t ready for it,  I had always seen Barry across the room and he’d smile at me, and when people picked a fight with me, or sexually assaulted me right in public, Barry was always there pushing people off or helping me up off the floor. One night I think I left early, crying, I was miserable. I openly told people what I wanted and it was a life partner, a house with cats, lots of music, and TV and we would be together. I was always getting the reality check from the drag queens who said that ain’t ever going to happen. But Barry made me sit down one night and he said why do you date those guys who treat you so badly? You need someone to take care of you and treat you like you should be treated. I asked “are you asking me out on a date? He said yes, A real one where we go out to dinner and a movie and then I take you home, and we go out again, but we’re not going to sleep together right away. And the rest was history. I was very happy. I never once questioned it would ever end. So when it did, I was just in a state of shock or something. It was like all life had been sucked out of me.

So I did end up in the hospital. I never remembered my mom or Barry even visiting me. I think I got 26 treatments and they said for the first time in their history they had to use the full juice on me to get me to go into a seizure. I ended up leaving early because some horrific things happened that I’m not going to go into here. I probably will when I open up my new page. So Barry picked me up and took me home and then he said, well, I’m going to head over to my apartment. I said what are you talking about? And then he realized that my memory had been wiped clean and I didn’t remember that we broke up. It was just horrible, but I had to man up. I swore I would never, ever go back to a mental hospital again, and I haven’t nor have I needed to. I did a lot of reading, studied stoicism, worked on BLB, started exercising, and things started coming together. And when 2016 came along, I was on fire. Not only did Trump and Sanders expose so much corruption, but I also studied media, politics, researched, learned that to get a more realistic picture of things you had to read good writers from both sides, study foreign policy, develop your voice and if you saw something bad you called it out. Well, as you know, things got bad.

I was always smart about not mixing politics with celebrity. But it is sad to see so many blindly follow their favorite celebrity. Big no-no. Unless ya’ll just magically align with each other. But nobody should ever tell them to shut up and sing. You can then apply that kind of logic to a plumber or whatever. But too many people view them as superheroes and that’s not fair to them nor is it healthy for you. Do your own research. I learned about not leading with emotion because it clouds your logic and rationale. You know when something bad but just coming up with flowery words and feeling sorry for marginalized people was not enough. But that’s all you hear from the left with no solutions. There’s just so much lying and political theater to make groups hate each other. I found out about media propaganda…I mean it’s all so clear for me now and I just can’t understand why most can’t see it. But I’m not afraid of either party or either of their supporters. I definitely have witnessed celebrity anchors just blatantly lie about things. So I have always had an obsession with truth and hypocrisy, so my main targets are the corrupt politicians and the media which is definitely left-leaning, But there are some great independent journalists on the left and right. And I point out what I see and as a country, we’re drowning in our own bile. MSM is dying, we just need to set standards for any new media, Ok, this is enough. Wow, that was wordy for like a minute video.

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16 thoughts on “Video: Bette Midler Sends Me, Don Bradshaw, A Video “Hello” – Plus One Of My Rambling Stories

  1. Thats wonderful. You are a good person my friend. There are always haters….rise above and stay airborne. No one knows what a person has gone through till they walk in their shoes and I commend you for your courage and seeking help. I am glad you found solace in your studies and your BLB page and that you’ve self healed. With the help of Your babies. Give squeak a good long hug and a smooch. Remember there are always people out there who appreciate you and want to say “hello”. Your a lucky fella. Wish I could have a coffee chat with that lovely lady. Lol. Swear she’s my soul sistah! Love what you do Don! Don’t stop.

  2. I have been a member of this site for some time now. Always upbeat, always fun and through your insight, foresight, and any other kind of sight you have kept this page informative and relevant. Your story here broke my heart, I don’t like people to hurt or suffer but through it all, I can hear the hope and the happiness within. Thank you for all you do, and it is obvious Ms. Midler loves you (I am kinda jealous…LOL) and keep the smiles coming, first for yourself, the rest will trickle down to us. I just had to say something, you need to hear that we appreciate you! God Bless!

  3. Hi Don, I have been a fan of this site for so many years. I cannot live without it. I came to find out about Bette and what was going on with her, I stayed b/c the man who created it is kind, compassionate, funny, warm, civil, and all around good guy. I don’t know if positive thoughts help, but I do know you have them from so many people. You are an inspiration. When Bette says hello to you, she is saying hello it all of us. We all are BetteHeads and you have helped cultivate that community. Gave us a place to honor her, each other and our fandom. Our collective wins as a fan group should always outshine our jealousies. And our admiration for you, should eclipse all else. Where would we be without this site, without you. I wish Bette to send you a thousand more telegrams. We are all connected through our love of a very talented lady but the connective tissue that binds us is you. And I am grateful for it. I wish you well my friend. I will you well!! Jill

    1. Jill, you made me cry dammit!!!! Thank you so much. I’m just not good with high praise but I have learned to not negate someone else’s feelings. I really do appreciate you day g that. I’ve always loved doing this site and my inspiration to keep going is Bette, of course, but its mainly from people like you. I’ve never told this story, along with others, but Bette did ask me a long time ago to do her site, before she had one, and we had already established a quick, sassy rapport, but she started telling me all the things she would have to approve, and I laughed and told her I can’t work like that. And she listened intently. I said I know you’re a perfectionist and I said I am too, but my site would not be the same if you told me all the things I couldn’t do I told her running a fan site.. To make interesting you have to keep it alive. Plus I said I do illegal stuff like bootleg music, articles, pictures. And that would all go away. I said the fans want more of you, not less. And I laughed and said I can’t wait around for your permission. And she understood. That was when she said ”I really like you” And I told her I thought she might ask, but I gave her names and contact info of my fellow Bette webmasters And that’s when she told Jill to give me all of Bettes contact info and she said contact anytime you need something. And then we talked about other things. But that visit I would never forget because it was at least an hour and I must have seen every mood Nette has in one night. But it was awesome. I just loved her more. Anyway my partner and family were absolutely furious that I didn’t do her site. I guess maybe I could have fond both, but I was looking at it as how a fan would, and for some reason that was more important to me. Xx

  4. Mister D:

    I apologize for over-posting, but this one has been so very difficult for me.

    I want to start out by saying how very grateful I am that you are who you are, and how in awe I am of the journey you have taken to get here, and to stay here. Sharing your journey with us, is very important, and you have overcome so many obstacles in life—I’m just incredibly proud that you have fought and won every battle, and remain committed to us Betteheads with persistence and passion! You’re a trooper, a friend, and just simply, amazing!!

    I notice Bette’s website has been dark for about a month now–maybe she’s waiting for “The Addams Family” or “The Politician” to start it up again (??), but I’m so very glad that the light still shines bright with your website. You’re right about everything. You needed the freedom to post anything and everything, without restriction, without censorship, and without criticism. You cover all the bases, and it’s fun to check in on a daily basis and find out which base you’re going to cover today. Our commitment to you is sometimes even stronger than our commitment to Bette, and I appreciate your openness and honesty that you keep giving us along the way. It’s that extra touch of vulnerability, humanity, and truthfulness that brings life to all things Bette.

    Keep it going, Mister!

    xoxo

    –Ron

    P.S. I think you should write a book. I’ll buy it!

    1. I don’t know how I missed your comments Ron! Thank you so much for what all you said. You know I’ve told you a few times how much I loved how you expressed yourself. I never knew how. I knew I liked and had always admired those who were so honest in their writing that it almost verged on painful, but they seemed to have no fear. All my life I have wanted to be like that but then I’d self censor myself because I didn’t want to upset family and certain friends. So I was crippled. The last few years have brought about a lot of changes. Since being on I read a lot and somehow got into the philosophy of stoicism which has really helped me. My writing is odd. Something may trigger me reading the news, and I just start writing and just go where ever it takes me. I go all over the place. In the end, I understand how I went from here to there. I’m not sure those that read it do, but it has been so freeing for me. I never want to hurt anybody on purpose, but sometimes you do. I was painfully afraid to tell the few Bette stories I have because I know I’m going to offend someone just because I have a story. But there was something about the stoic philosophy that just sunk in and I really needed it because I was very hypersensitive. I guess my writing is more therapeutic than anything. But the philosophy taught me how to step back, get ahold of my emotions, and think much more rationally, no knee-jerk reactions, which had damaged so many of my careers. LOL Ans I was glad Bette picked Warren, but I was surprised in a way, too. But I’m very happy with that choice. xx

  5. Whenever you write it’s like a breath of fresh air. Being honest and truthful shouldn’t upset anyone. The only time I’ve ever been “upset” if you will, is when people make stuff up to advance a false agenda (i.e., the bots on the twitterverse), or are being mean-spirited for the sake of it. You’ve never engaged in either–always a frame of reference rooted in fact and experience, conviction, and sometimes vulnerability with your story-telling. Keep it going, Mister D! I’m one of many that appreciate what you do, and how you do it.

  6. Don I’m so behind on Bootleg Betty…I’m stoppung here and continuing backwards tomorrow. Speaking of jealous fans I’m jealous…but you are deserving so that’s okay. You are legendary having been a Bette historian from the beginning. That’s what I’m really jealous of! The years when I was practically still in diapers you were there experiencing the Divine!

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