BootLeg Betty

Photo: Bette Midler and Barry Manilow


Peter Cunningham Photography

BETTE MIDLER & BARRY MANILOW
Peter Cunningham Photographer


It was 1972 and I was a baby photographer living in Philadelphia. A new performance club, The Bijou, opened downtown. One of the first performers booked was a woman from New York named Bette Midler. Her piano player and band-leader went by the name Barry Manilow. I knew about her because I was reading The Village Voice, looking for an apartment for my move up to the big city. They wrote about her now-legendary appearances at “The Baths”, a center of the still-unfolding gay scene in New York. Through the haze of memory, I see her performances as an integral contribution to its acceptance but even more, to certain envy on the part of the mainstream straight community of the looseness, humor, and free sexuality of this publicly new culture.

The picture of Barry above is two years later at The Bottom Line when he was headlining his own band and making the first of many hit songs in a long professional career. My unscientific impression is that Barry found his audience more among married suburban women. While Bette, with her larger-than-life Broadway persona,  eventually found a wide acceptance, the two initially appealed to very different segments of the American culture.

In researching this post, the always reliable internet told me that the two are no longer speaking. I find this very hard to believe. The approach of the inevitable has a way of sanding splintered corners, highlighting our common life experience. Or not.

Peter Cunningham

Rick Cunningham

Photographer

Check Out His Website: www.petercunninghamphotography.com

The picture of Barry above is two years later at The Bottom Line when he was headlining his own band and making the first of many hit songs in a long professional career. My unscientific impression is that Barry found his audience more among married suburban women. While Bette, with her larger-than-life Broadway persona,  eventually found a wide acceptance, the two initially appealed to very different segments of the American culture.

In researching this post, the always reliable internet told me that the two are no longer speaking. I find this very hard to believe. The approach of the inevitable has a way of sanding splintered corners, highlighting our common life experience. Or not.

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2 thoughts on “Photo: Bette Midler and Barry Manilow

  1. I remember one on my earliest trips to New York City with my at the time best friend, we went to the Continental Baths….and after exploring the dormitories and such we found the pool and a pool side lounge with some entertainers..unknown to us …but non other than Bette Midler and Barry Manilow.

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