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Author: Unknown
Date: 10-13


She was the Divine Miss M, outlandishly dressed and singing suggestive songs in New Yorkís gay bathhouses. On The Tonight Show, she was the bawdy singer- comedienne who could trade raunchy jokes with the best of emí.
But that was 20 years ago. Now 47, Bette Midler is all grown up and happily married to businessman Harry Kipper, and they have a young daughter. Trading in her sequins and wild get-ups for more respectable barb, Bette has created a new image for herself: that of a dignified actress, devoted wife and responsible mother.

Are you really different now that youíre married and a mother?
Yes. I have many responsibilities that I didnít have 10 years ago, so I canít be as wild and free as I used to be! Iíve matured to the point where Iím much more traditional. After all, Iíve got to set a good example for my daughter.

Would you still call yourself an eccentric?
Well, itís true that all my life Iíve been on the outside looking in. Iíve always been different-Iíve never followed the crowd.

Why not?
My childhood is responsible for what I became. I grew up in Hawaii, in a poor family. We were the only Jewish family in the middle of a Samoan neighborhood. I was so different from all the other girls my age that I didnít have any friends and I was lonely. My only escape was going to the movies. Even thought I was an ugly duckling, I dreamed of becoming a movie star one day.

What do you think now when you look back on your days at the gay bathhouse?
That was long before AIDS. People just went there to have fun. These days it upsets me terribly to think about it. Sometimes Iím sorry I had a part in it. And I guess I feel a little guilty. I kind of had blinders on. I refused to think about a lot of things that went on there. But in retrospect, I guess I was helping to make a big, fun party.

Is it true youíve lost many friends to AIDS?
Yes. Not a day goes by that I donít see the faces of those people from the baths and realize so many of them are dead now.

As your fame grew, did you ever become self-destructive?
For a while, when I was in my 20s, I began drinking before concerts. One time in particular I was very drunk on stage. I also used some drugs. Luckily I pulled myself out in time.

What turned things around for you?
I decided I didnít want to end up like John Belushi. I realized I didnít want to destroy myself.

How would you describe yourself professionally?
Iím not easy to work with. My standards are high, I talk fast and I expect things to be done yesterday. But Iím learning a lot about patience.

How would you describe yourself personally?
I dazzle them with my fancy footwork! Seriously though, my public image is bold, witty, sarcastic, and bawdy. But in reality Iím the little waif sitting in the corner.

You soundÖÖÖ.insecure. Are most people in show business basically insecure?
I think show business attracts people who are troubled. They can act out their needs, make themselves feel whole, be admired even though they hate themselves and think in their hearts theyíre frauds. Thereís always a big camouflage going on.

Would you say youíre a good mother?
Yes, I adore Sophie and want to make sure we have a strong mother-daughter relationship before I throw her out in the world and have it pinch, scratch and bite her!

How are you raising her?
Iím actually quite prudish, despite my public persona. In private Iím quite refined, and thatís how Iím raising Sophie. When sheís older I want her to attend Gordonstoun School Ė itís the school Prince Charles went to. Itís in eastern Scotland, where itís very cold, and they wake up and eat oatmeal and run around a track. Itís very healthy Ė and very Spartan!

Thatís a far cry from Beverly Hills life. Isnít it?
Iím trying to teach Sophie how to be a good, disciplined human being. And I want her to contribute something to humanity.

Why did you get married?
I began thinking of women like writer Dorothy Parker Ė always the life of the party, but all alone at the end. I could see myself heading that way and I didnít want that to happen. I didnít want to end up on the last barstool, with a drink in my hand.

Now that youíre married, how do you like it?
Itís been good for me. Harry and I have been married for eight years now. I was drifting along for years Ė now I have roots. We have our rough days, but it working out okay.

How does he handle the fact your more successful than he is?
Heís very supportive of my career. He doesnít suppress me or put me down, as so many other men have in the past. He even does a lot of the cooking and the cleaning, and takes a big burden off my shoulders when Iím working.

Whatís the best thing about family life?
Iíve settled into this wonderful companionships and intimacy with Harry, and itís something I never had with anyone else. Itís a brutal world out there, so itís good to have a haven and people who love me.