Written By Bette Midler
View From A Broad (1980)
just finished the advance copy Bette Midler sent me of her book, "A View
From A Broad" (Simon and Schuster, $12.50), and it's as outrageous, bawdy,
touching and star-spangled as she is. It's a compilation of notes from her recent
world tour-"my monumental schlep," she calls it-that seem to have been
unearthed from a steno pad covered with gravy stains.
writing is part Nanette the Bag Lady (gay baths, Hawaiian escapades with the armed
forces), part Ayn Rand ("The audiences in Germany tended to come in irons
of every imaginable va riety from metal-studded chokers to handcuffs…I thought
I was about to perform for a chain-link fence"). They said she was crazy,
her fans too weird, her music like electric-shock treat ments for the Thorazine
said she'd never make it. But she did, from her first onstage entrance as a "giant
hot dog, dripping with mustard" to her Oscar-touted movie "The Rose."
How she did it-and how she's managed to flip out without flopping-is part of the
story. In one of her few less bombastic moments she says ruefully, "I don't
give a damn about being misrepresented or misquoted, but I will not be made to
sound boring to the thousands that are convinced I am, if not Jackie 0, well,
certainly the next best thing."
an original, and so is her book.
VIEW FROM A BROAD (1980) With this memoir of her 1979 world tour through England,
France, Germany, and Australia (her "monumental schlepp"), Midler proves
herself as innovative a writer as she is a performer. Her most inspired words
are the imaginary headlines she prints when she recounts her many brushes with
death, each with the subhead, "Began Career at Continental Baths." A
Saga of Baby Divine (1982)
normally come in two varieties complete with all the standard physical equipment.
If the infant, however, happens to be the alter ego of singer Bette Midler you
can bet there are going to be a few unique options, such as teeny-tiny high heels,
henna-rinsed hair and a penchant for uttering the world "MORE."
a time when celebrities are cashing in on bulging biceps and trimmed derrieres
to teach the American public how to shed any resemblance of baby-fat baggage,
Midler instead resorts to a Kewpie doll cherub to spread a cerebral message of
acceptance, understanding and love.
first glance, Midler's newly published "The Saga of Baby Divine" (Crown
$11.95) appears skillfully disguised as a children's book complemented by the
vividly colored illustrations of Todd Schoor. On deeper examination, a very grownup
fable emerges with philosophical "truths" served up in palpable proportions.
the onset, the reader known this is no ordinary human as Midler describes the
astrological events surrounding Baby Divine's birth: "Comet appeared And
those who dared peek Say Stars fell to Earth in a Panic Historians claim that
the Cosmos Eclipsed The Excesses of Darryl F. Zanuck!"
we know this kid has definite possibilities, Mr. and Mrs. Divine find it hard
going breaking the mode of their "most circumspect lives." Father decides
his daughter is a "quack" and Mother must admit that she's "trashy."
overhears this exchange and fig ures it's time to split. Everyone knows that new
babies can't crawl, much less walk, but this is one agile infant who takes to
her toes with a wild pirouette right out the front door. Her destination is to
track down three equally flamboyant spirits in the bodies of her three godmothers
-- Lily, Tillie and Joyce. There are an abundance of symbolic encounters from
the white rose planted by" her mother in the spring to the cigar chomping
bird, who enables Baby Divine to soar to celestial heights and learn the first
"Truth:" "It's the point of Your View that Decides What You See
One Man's Flop Is Another Man's Hits, From Manners to Movies, the Picture Keeps
Changing Depending Upon Where You Sit." Don't expect any sinister witches
or ogre, instead the formidable villain of this tale is the all-too-familiar monster
named Anxiety. But the frog-voice, fog-wrapped ~ fiend comes up with some pretty
stiff defenses - the hearty sound of laughter aught by the trio of irresponsible
dames, Lily, Tillie and Joyce, who coincidentally boast musical skills.
seems a crime to let this talent go , unsung and you can be sure Baby Diviner
gets into the act, especially with her one- word vocabulary that reflects Midler's
perpetual quest for MORE, MORE, MORE. The same exhilarated "exuberance"
that surrounds Midler's concerts and movies is transcended into her verses, which
at times are more than a little autobiographical.
Seuss doesn't have to stay awake nights worrying about being tumbled from the
throne as the dean of children's books by this precocious child. Rather, one thing
seems certain, "The Saga of Baby Divine," with its references to Einstein,
Kant and Descartes, is going to be turning up on many adult coffee tables this
season. And hopefully, we can look forward to a sequel because this is one babe-in-arms
that deserves a return visit.
SAGA OF BABY DIVINE (1983) Under the cover of this lavishly illustrated best-selling
children's book, Midler tells in verse what is presumably her own story-Baby Divine
enters the world with henna-red hair and high heels, crying "More,"
dances out of her cradle, wrestles with the monster Anxiety, and learns to love