Quips And Quotes 5

Quips And Quotes 5


Bette Midler On Taking A Year Off In 1974:
“WHERE WAS I? I was sitting around getting very chubby for a year. But I was having the time of my life. I was bruised and battered and I needed a rest. So I went to Paris, France, to become very elegant and I failed mi-ser-a-bly. You know, I thought I spoke French. Then I got there and I realized I didn’t. But I ate my brains out.” (Emporia Gazette, April 12, 1975)

Bette Midler On Clams:
“Here we are just minutes away from the opening. God only knows what’s to become of us. I mean; I never imagined it would turn into this epic of death … the most mind-boggling, stupendous production ever conceived and built around one poor small five-foot-one-and-a-half-inch Jewish girl from Honolulu. All of a sudden I’m a whole industry. People run, they fetch, they carry, they nail, they paint, they sew. I had always dressed my girls from stock and now here we are with real costumes . . . they’re pinning here and tucking here and pushing tits up to the neck and showing calves. Do you know what this is? It’s a celebration of the sexual rites of a New Yorker.” (Emporia Gazette, April 12, 1975)

Bette Midler On Clams: “There’ll be lots of tapping,” Bette says, “but I will not be doing any of it. I’m the diva, lest you forget. The diva does not have to stoop to tapping.” (Emporia Gazette, April 12, 1975)

Bette Midler On Clams: “I have pretty good instincts. I go right to the line and even if I do things in bad taste, I do them in such a way that it’s okay. I’ve thought about just going out and performing straight. Sometimes I wonder about that. But everybody else does that and it’s so boring. Do you think I should come out and be boring like that? I don’t know. Maybe I should. Can you think of any performer who comes out and who knows how to do what I do as well as I do it? Who comes out and carries on like that and doesn’t give a s–? No. No, no, no. I do it because it comes easy to me. I enjoy it.” (Emporia Gazette, April 12, 1975)

Bette Midler On Clams: “My big question is whether the lack of friction that usually existed in rehearsals will affect my creativity. Do I really need to pump myself so full of anxiety and fear and loathing and negative things in order to release it during performance? It’s extremely frightening. I was relatively calm until last week and then I think I psyched myself into a fit. I had two or three days that I literally bit people and called them horrendous names. I also started dreaming. Strange dreams. I had a nightmare that David Bowie opened up across the street from me and he had the same sets and he was wearing my costumes.” (Emporia Gazette, April 12, 1975)

On Second Leg Of Experience The Divine: “I’m kicking off my World Cups tour!” (Washington Post, 1994)

On Second Leg Of Experience The Divine: “Ah, the ’70s! A fabulous decade in retrospect!” (Washington Post, 1994)

On Second Leg Of Experience The Divine: “Las Vegas, Las Vegas, what has happened  I got respectable and so did you. With pirate battles, jousters and volcanoes, the poor hookers have to dress up like Barney to get any attention.” (Buffalo News, 1994)

On Second Leg Of Experience The Divine: “I worry about Lisa-Marie Presley! I don’t think she understands why they call it (Jackson’s California ranch) Neverland.” (Buffalo News, 1994)

On Second Leg Of Experience The Divine: “I wish I’d brought my carpet, like the other Jewish girl (Barbra Streisand).” (Buffalo News, 1994)

On Her Recording Career: “The Scud missile of show business.”  (Buffalo News, 1994)

On Her Performance: “Well, the style of performing has changed a lot. I think I’m a throwback. I might be the last of a certain type of performer. When people go to concerts, they expect to have someone who sings, plays the guitar or plays the piano, has a band, and musicians aren’t, they don’t (laughs) . . . they don’t tell jokes! They don’t chatter. They just play.” (Chicago Sun Times, 1994)

On Performers: “I’ve never seen Garth Brooks, but they tell me he’s quite entertaining. I hear Jimmy Buffett is very entertaining. But there’s a certain tradition of entertainer that is not the same as it once was. And for those of us who are in a certain age range, we remember what that was, and that’s the kind of thing we do, because we always loved it ourselves.” (Chicago Sun Times, 1994)

On Performers: “Kids nowadays don’t have that tradition to fall back on. They do the best they can, I guess, but I don’t see Pearl Jam getting ready to tell (jokes). And the public sits still for it. They don’t expect them to be entertaining. So all that has changed.” (Chicago Sun Times, 1994)

On Madonna’s Effort To Be Entertaining: “She does try. She really does. She doesn’t talk, though. She has spectacle, which I think is fabulous. She’s sort of like the Lido de Paris, a one-woman Lido. I went to see her the last time she was out, and it was quite marvelous, but she doesn’t talk. And I thought that was really too bad, because her crowd really wants her to speak.” (Chicago Sun Times, 1994)

On Madonna’s Effort To Be Entertaining: “She doesn’t go that extra step, which is to be enchanting. She doesn’t care if they laugh or not. She doesn’t care if they cry. She’s not interested in moving them, and that, I think, is too bad, because she could. She can. She has that ability. She just hasn’t tapped into it, yet.” (Chicago Sun Times, 1994)

On Finding Her Musical Identity Through Ballads: “Well, it was a big shock. But it was also a great relief, in a way, because you look for a musical identity, and it was hard for me to find one that sustained. I mean, they always thought of me as a retro, Andrews Sister-type of personality, someone who could swing almost like a swing singer. Not a valid swing singer, like Ella Fitzgerald, but someone who was just an impersonator. It was thrilling, actually, to find that there was something I could do that people related to, and that was also considered musical. I like the idea of being able to move people. Sometimes I’m surprised at how big the ballads are.” (Chicago Sun Times, 1994)

On Putting On Shows: “If you don’t make it as beautiful and magical as it can be, what’s
the point of going onstage?” (The Record, 1994)

On Putting On Shows: “Being an entertainer is sort of like being a magician or shaman. But when you give yourself a title like that, it comes with an obligation. You must take people on a magic carpet ride.” (The Record, 1994)

On Putting On Shows: “Today, there are a lot of big shows, but very often they are hollow. There’s a lot of window dressing, but no voices.  When I go onstage I want to make what I do more beautiful than everyday life. I want it to be an escape, in the same way that movies used to be an escape for people.” (The Record, 1994)

On Experience The Divine: “I sort of forced people to look at our culture. In a funny way, we’ve become a country that has no culture. And a country without culture is one in deep spiritual and social trouble. Without culture, there are no rituals or anything to hold us together. Today, everyone wants to stand on his or her own square; they don’t want to join in the common culture.” (The Record, 1994)

On Lack Of Appreciation For Culture: “Particularly in music, all you ever hear today is what’s current. Not only have we lost sight of our cultural foundation’s underpinnings, there seems to be no respect for what came before.  I see value in all kinds of things; it doesn’t have to be brand new or novel for me to appreciate it.” (The Record, 1994)

On Lack Of Appreciation For Culture: “There are people who have never heard Gershwin or Porter. They don’t know who Billie Holiday or Judy Garland was. The real travesty is that there are no programs in our schools or government to require that they know.” (The Record, 1994)

On The Movie Business: “It’s disheartening to do a film, which is very hard work and which takes a lot of time, and get no satisfaction from doing it.  I’d be happy to work again in film if something wonderful came along. But, for the most part, all I’ve seen is mediocre stuff. And I still love music more than anything.” (The Record, 1994)

On Gypsy And Touring: “I had a wonderful time singing those songs from `Gypsy,’ and I hadn’t had that feeling for a long time. Of course, once I made the decision to tour and I plunged in, I remembered why I had quit in the first place (laughing).”  (The Record, 1994)

On Experience The Divine And The Second Leg: “I had a great time, a great band, and a great crew,. When my husband [Martin Von Haselberg] and daughter [Sophie] said they wanted to come out, we decided to make it a family affair this summer.” (The Record, 1994)

On Singing And Performing: “I don’t like to scream anymore. And now I’m much more interested in the whole process of finding a song, learning it, arranging it with a band. I’ve sort of become a student.  Growing up, I was always on the outside, wanting to be paid attention to. And I was so anxious to become a star, I would do just about anything. I had to satisfy those feelings first.  Having done that, now I’m just happy in the the creation of art.” (The Record, 1994)

During The Filming Of Divine Madness: “I’m just running off at the mouth up here. We’re gonna call this film ‘Jaws III.” (1980)

On Moving Past For The Boys To Hocus Pocus: “I’m not disappointed anymore. Because, you know, I saw my box-office grosses, and I’m just swimming along. Yes, I have a new hit – so f– the past! I don’t have to think about For The Boys anymore, so there!” (1993)

On The Box Office Failure Of For The Boys: “The public was completely ready for it, they just didn’t come to see it. They had other things to do! They were barbecuing that weekend. … They couldn’t get away.” (1993)

Bette’s Favorite Song From Gypsy: “Rose’s Turn,” it’s a terrifying piece of music because it’s one of the two most famous arias in the musical comedy lexicon, the other being ‘Soliloquy’ from ‘Carousel.”

On Ageism: “Youth is temporary, Diva is forever! (2015)

On Her Changing Persona: “My language isn’t as strong as it was, and I don’t think I’m vicious like I was. I used to say any old thing. Now I have a certain interest in being good as opposed to being outrageous.” (1993)

On Her Character: “I’d like to think of myself as a positive kind of person. I talk about things that are important, you know? Like `do your recycling, do your part.’ It’s simple, but people get the idea.” (1993)

On Being Stereotyped As Outrageous: “Yes, it can become a kind of straitjacket. I think that’s what’s happened to a lot of people in the last 10 or 15 years. Once the floodgates came down and you could say anything, it just seemed like people would say anything and then it wasn’t very entertaining. And that’s not good. I’m sorry it happened, because in the old days you could seek out performers like that, but now, with everything being so up front, it seems like there’s a variety of people all singing the same song. You don’t have to seek them out. They’re all over the TV.” (1993)

On Going Back On The Road: “I had a variety of motivations for going back on tour. I miss the crowds. I miss the reaction. And I miss doing my own work. I mean, whatever it is, it is my own and I don’t have to answer to anybody else for it. For the last 10 years, I’ve been saying `yes’ to other people and having to do what they want and it’s been exhausting. Enough already.” (1993)

On Not Being A Concert Artist: “So here I am, and I’m having a pretty good time. It was a struggle at first, because we didn’t have enough time to get ready, really. But that’s the usual story with sets and clothes and everything. Because I’m not really a concert artist. I’m a show person. I love to do shows. I love the idea of turning the lights on something and turning it into something magical or beautiful.” (1993)

On The Reaction To Her Shows: “It’s been thrilling to come back. I didn’t realize what would happen. I didn’t plan that people would be lonesome for someone like me. It’s great to see people still like to be entertained and they miss me. When you make an effort for them, they make an effort for you. And I really feel sometimes like I’m just about the only one left of my ilk. Most people have abandoned this kind of work. But I can still do it, so I think it’s good that I am.” (1993)

On Her Favorite Character: “Delores Delago. “She’s my favorite.” (1993)

On Going To Some Performer’s Shows: “To tell you the truth, I don’t get out much because I got depressed by a lot of what’s going on. It’s so inhuman when you go to the big shows, the really big shows. The performer is so far away. And all of the special effects in front of the performer really obscure the humanity of the artist. I miss that. I like to see the human scale.” (1993)

On Spectacle And Her Shows: “Not all performers are like that (all spectacle), of course. Some of the oldtimers go out of their way to reach out and make contact with the audience. But for the most part, the younger ones are pretty much all spectacle — you know, smoke and lights and stuff. It’s not what I’m about. I like to be up close and hear the audience laugh. That’s a major part of what I do — and to have some sort of roller coaster where they get to experience a lot of things, not just one thing. It’s like therapy in a way. You get to laugh; you cry once or twice; and you think about things, though not too deeply.” (1993)

On Singing Her Old Songs: “I started in 1976 with a Cleveland HBO show. And, surprisingly, a lot of people have seen it many, many times. The same for `Divine Madness.’ I don’t know why, but those shows are like toxic waste. The stuff never goes away. It reappears again and again. You go, `But, but, but, but,’ but there’s nothing you can do. They just keep showing it. So a lot of it is familiar to people. And it’s kind of upsetting because I didn’t know it was going to be like that, since I’ve tried to eliminate some of the very familiar stuff like `Shiver Me Timbers.’ I’ve sung that so many times at so many shows in the past. It’s a Tom Waits song, and I think it’s one of the greatest songs ever written, but I just couldn’t do it anymore.” (1993)

On Songwriters She Liked In 1993: Midler lists Julie Gold (“her `From a Distance’ is a great, great song”), Janis Ian (“she’s still writing wonderful songs”), Paul Westerberg (formerly with the Replacements), Cyndi Lauper, Lucinda Williams, Victoria Williams and a new Los Angeles writer, Brenda Burns, who “sounds a little bit like Joni Mitchell.” (1993)

On Trying To Keep Up With New Music: “I have a friend who tries to keep me abreast of things, but it’s rough because I have a little girl now. And she takes up the extra time I used to have.” (1993)

On A Movie She Was Supposed To Make After Experience The Divine (Eddie Murphy Producing): “Florence was quite a character. She fell in love with these girls (The Shirelles) and built a record label with them and had torrid affairs, carried on and was brought down by the Mob. It’s a very exciting story. And the music is great because Florence had everybody at the time. She had the Shirelles and Dionne Warwick and she brought Burt Bacharach to prominence.” (1993)

On Singing: “I really feel I’ve improved as a singer. Plus, I took up the piano, which has helped a lot. And I’ve learned to read music, not a whole lot, but I can read two clefs. It helps. It gives you a little air of confidence. You can see those little B-flats floating around in your mind. It’s fun and makes it much more interesting. It’s not just instinct anymore.” (1993)

Entrance In Experience The Divine: “I bet you didn’t expect me to look so fabulous!. I bet you expected a beefier person, someone with buck teeth, red hair and a broom. Well, give it up – boys and girls admit it – I look good!” (1993)

For The 25th Anniversary Of NPR At The White House: “But I’m not going to get political. We don’t come to the White House for that. We come hoping that there will be embossed towels that we can take home to our family and friends. And there are! What a nation!” (1995)

On NPR’s 25th Anniversary At The White House: “I think it serves a function that is really, really vital in this country. I came, in a funny way, looking for a little pulpit because I hear some people would like to cut the funding for NPR and I really don’t think it’s a good idea. {It really is} another voice in the wilderness that I think is so necessary.” (1995)

On Why Bette And Martin Moved To New York:  “After we were in the earthquake in 1994, I told Martin I wouldn’t mind getting out of L.A. He’s a film director now, and he didn’t want to move where he couldn’t work. So we came here.” (1996)

On Why Bette Midler Started With The Adopt A Highway Program: “I started with the Adopt A Highway program about seven years ago in California. Then, because my daughter went to school in Coldwater Canyon, which had become a big dumping ground, I began to work with Adopt-A-Canyon, a project that involved going in and hauling out trash. People who steal cars and run chop shops and contractors who do renovations are always looking for places to dump their stuff because they don’t want to pay fees to use dump yards. So, you find old refrigerators, cars, asbestos, all kinds of things on public land. God knows what it does to the animals.” (1996)

On The Start Up Of NYRP: “When I moved to New York, I was very disappointed in how parts of the city looked. I was so upset, I didn’t sleep for weeks. I love New Yorkers, and I’m like them. I’m noisy. I have my opinions. But I’m not used to the kind of carelessness and waste that I was seeing. People were throwing their garbage out the window, leaving their lunches on the ground. Finally I realized I needed to actually do something – even if I had to pick up the stuff with my own two hands. I called Scott Mathes of the California Environmental Project to come help me set up here. We’ve been in Fort Tryon Park since August 1995, and we’ve hired 16 people to do the cleanup and plan to hire more. We’ve made big strides. But it is a big, big job. I am spending my own money. And our group is striving to someday have access to public money to expand this work.” (1996)

On Cleaning Up New York As A Family: “It’s become a family affair. My daughter comes to the park with me. Last week we went to a tree-planting ceremony on the children’s lawn, and we planted magnolias. My husband has undergone the biggest transformation. He used to be happy to let me get involved by myself. Now he joins in. He’s really into it. Working up here is one of the things we do as a family.” (1996)

Bette Midler On Sophie And Their Connection: “Sophie is very bright and independent. She does shows for us. My husband and I are the audience. And we have a spotlight in our house – it came with the building. She chooses her music, she does her dance. She decides how she’s going to entertain us. And he’s quite wonderful…. Also, we have dinner together every single night. Either my husband cooks or I cook. if we’re going out, we prepare her food and talk about it ahead of time. We always check her homework. And we take her to ballet rehearsals. We really do try very hard.” (1996)

What Does Bette Midler Have To Have In Her Kitchen: “Greek olives. And we have to have good pickles. My husband is a connoisseur. Sometimes we have 20 jars of different kinds of pickles. The most important room in our house is the kitchen. It’s basically where we live.” (1996)

On Hawaii’s Influence On Bette Midler’s Environmentalism:  “Yes, no question. Although, it was a hard childhood. We lived in a very poor neighborhood called the Halawa, which was very rough. We were the only white family for miles around. And we were reminded of it every day. People avoided us because the tradition there was antiwhite. Only the weakest children would play with white children. But there was a great deal of solace from nature: the beautiful skies, the sea, the smell of the flowers, all those bugs and birds. There was so much to look at. And I thought the whole world was like that. So when I came to what they call the mainland, I couldn’t understand. It was a complete shock to my system.” (1996)

Bette Midler On What She Learned From Her Mother: “I thank God every day of my life that she was my mom. One thing I learned from her was that most things a mother does, a child remembers. I remember so many things about her. She was a great seamstress. She really could sew. She had a great eye. And her stitches were so fine. Her ability was so tremendous. She was very kind, and she never said anything mean about people. Neither of my parents did. They weren’t prejudiced or bigoted in any way. I was taught that people are basically all the same. They all want the same thing. They want to be noticed. They don’t want to die unknown. They want a better life for their kids.” (1996)

Bette Midler On Her Mother:  “Oh, yes. She was fabulous. [Bette‘s eyes mist.] I just miss her a lot. She really was great. [Ruth Midler died in, 1980.] They were both great. Now that I have a child, you know, I see how hard it is.” (1996)

Bette Midler On Her Parents: “They were very supportive of each other. My dad didn’t make a lot of money but they were very thrifty people. He earned about 60 bucks a week as a house painter. And my mother was raising four kids, it was that kind of ethic: You worked; you just worked. But my parents had a dream of getting into real estate. They managed to buy a house – four or five houses, actually – in the best neighborhood in town, which they subsequently rented out. Every Saturday and Sunday my father was there pounding, painting, gardening, and this and that, trying to make the house livable. It was quite a feat. My mom had a dream that she would get out of the poor neighborhood, where she was cut off from her friends and very isolated, and have a home. She focused on their real estate investments as the way out. And, by God, she got her house. She never moved into it, but she got it.” (1996)

On Teaching Sophie Values:  “We make her do chores. She makes her bed. We have a graph made up on the computer: make bed – so many points, empty trash can – so many points, feed dog – so many points, lay out clothes – so many points. Our problem is that we get so busy that we are not consistent.” (1996)

On The Harlettes TV Series:  “Also, my production company has a deal with CBS to do a television show based on the girls who used to sing backup for me – the Harlettes. It’s about three girls in New York who are background singers.” (1996)

Why Do People Think Of Bette As A New Yorker:  “Probably because I’m very energetic. And I’m awake. I think the main thing that people always said about me when I was starting out in humanity. That’s really why they came to see me. Because I was very funny, but I could also make them cry. And they knew I had a soul. I always felt that the character I was playing on the stage was completely separate from my real life. It was a good chance to act out without really being in any kind of danger. I love the idea of being a wild woman but I don’t really want to be one. I mean, think about… What’s the word? Consequences?  Yes, consequences. I’m not big on consequences. My real life is very, very satisfying. (1996)

Bette Midler: “I hate it when they call me ugly, when they say I’m homely. But what’s the diff? Its only the shell. I can’t have plastic surgery on my heart.” (Van Nuys Valley News, July 31, 1975)

Bette Midler On When Not Performing: “I wouldn’t be caught dead with a sequin on my body when I’m not working” she exclaimed. “How tasteless!” (Van Nuys Valley News, July 31, 1975)

Bette Midler On Why She Took A Year Off Work: “I was afraid all the things that make me a human being would be lost. I was tired and I was scared to death, afraid of having to puff myself up into something I’m not. I can pretend to be a star. I can be as grand as the next lady. Listen, I’ve been grand since sixth grade. But to have to do it every day – that isolates you.” (Van Nuys Valley News, July 31, 1975)

Bette Midler On Her Paris Vacation: “It’s cutthroat there. If you don’t look just so, they don’t want you on their streets. One of the things I learned is, never go to France unescorted. And try to learn the language, at least the essentials. ‘How much?’ ‘Where’s the John?’ ‘Please don’t touch me.'” (Van Nuys Valley News, July 31, 1975)

Bette Midler On Her Sabbatical In 1974:
“Last year I was screaming inside but now I’m not really that unhappy. I mean, I laugh at least twice a day.” (Van Nuys Valley News, July 31, 1975)

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