Tag Archives: Cleveland

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Video: Bette Midler: The Fabulous Bette Midler Show – Whole Show From DVD (Live at Last) – 1976 – Cleveland, OH

Bette Midler, Live At Last, Inside Jacket Of Album
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Monday, February 5, 2018

Bette Midler Show Live at Last (1976) Cleveland OH (Edited Version)

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Monday, January 22, 2018

40 Years Ago: Bette Midler And Band Get Snowed In At Cleveland

“We’d finally landed Bette Midler for four shows at The Front Row Theater in Highland Heights. Hearing that heavy fog was anticipated, Bette canceled her flight plans and instead took the train from New York to Cleveland. The fog became the ‘White Tornado,’ closing the city for the next two nights. “Bette and her crew were stuck in the Hospitality Inn on Ohio 91 along with other stranded travelers, and she performed a free show each night in the hotel’s ballroom. The final two Midler shows did go on at the Front Row, but fans with tickets for the canceled nights who were refunded, begged to buy standing room for the last two sold-out shows. They didn’t want a refund, they wanted to see Bette!” – Jeannie Emser Schultz, marketing/publicity manager at Playhouse Square, Bratenahl. She was director of marketing/ publicity at the Front Row in 1978. Here’s the Full Story Of The Blizzard Of 1978: Click Here
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Saturday, September 9, 2017

(On For The Boys): “I loved the music, so I felt the movie had a shot

(On For The Boys): “I loved the music, so I felt the movie had a shot I felt strongly, too, about the idea of raising a child you’re absolutely crazy about, and to lose that child to a war you don’t understand as I do with my son in the film And I believed in the two characters (hers and Caan’s) ” (1991) – Bette Midler Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, closeup
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Thursday, September 7, 2017

(On For The Boys): I just have my fingers crossed. I do hope this attracts more than one kind of audience.

(On For The Boys): I just have my fingers crossed. I do hope this attracts more than one kind of audience. I hope I get them in out of curiosity, because I know they/ll leave feeling more than satisfied. In fact, I think they/ll be thrilled. (1991) – Bette Midler Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling
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Sunday, December 25, 2016

BetteBack September 9, 1973: Good, Better, Best, Bette

Independent Press Telegram September 9, 1973 2016-08-27_4-23-16 Bette Midler is almost too camp to be true. From her frizzled, orange-red hair to her clompy, platform shoes, she embodies a busty, bawdy, rag-and-bones vision which is both uproariously funny and emotionally electrifying. She struts, she shimmies, she vamps her way across the stage, as she belts out four decades of American popular music. She describes herself as “trash with flash” and tells her audience she’s going to sing “all the garbage” she knows. From the torch songs of the 30s, the Andrews Sisters of the 40s, to the teenybopper laments of the 50s and the “low-rent rock ‘n’ roll” of the 60s, Belle’s performance is a blend of high style and art and superselfexpression. On New Year’s Eve she filled Philharmonic Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center — twice. At midnight, with horns hooting and fireworks crackling out in the streets, she ascended from beneath the stage, diaper-clad, proclaiming 1973 with a banner wrapped around her ample decolletage. To call her a character is feeble, milk-toasty language, an unworthy appellation for such a vibrant, gutsy girl. She’s a cult figure to be sure, but she’s also a phenomenon. The type which provokes newspaper headlines like, “Good, Better, Best, Bette-” And that accolade came from the New York Times. We met in her Greenwich Village apartment — four rooms of over-stuffed and faded furniture, wall-to-wall records and a living room carpeted by a clutter of sheet music. On a 90-degree day there was kindling in the fireplace, peacock feathers and a palm tree in opposing corners and a clock on the mantle which probably hadn’t moved past 1 0 in days. The door was wide open with the keys still stuck in the lock, and a faint breeze moved the hanging plants occasionally. Happy and free-spirited, in snug levis and bright halter, Bette drank iced coffee and chatted. At a time when there is screaming nostalgia for the ’50s, when heads turn backward instead of confronting today, never mind tomorrow, Bette Midler is much more than a camp entertainer. Her performance may be a bawdy, bodacious vision, but Bette herself is a visionary. Her zest, her fun, her satire and her searching echo the heart and hinderland of America 1973. She is expansive, in gestures and speech, energetic and warm. She smiles and laughs and mocks and mimics. She doesn’t take herself too seriously — at least on the surface. When she pushed her hair back and did an early Rita Hayworth or stood coquettishly at the door of her garden for the enthusiastic photographer — “very Ida Lupino” — she is sending herself up and loving it. “I really like people,” she says. “I like to talk to ’em. And I get personal real quick. I mean, I don’t snoop around in their lives or anything, but I like to talk to ’em about what they want to talk about. What they’re doing, where they came from, what they like. I like to be friends.” The warm reaching out is part of an interview too. Several times she stopped and asked, “What do you think?” And she really wanted to know. Bette talked about anything and everything except her age. “I’m a mystery woman,” she said, rolling her eyes which become tiny moons of merriment. “I’m ageless. Anyway it’s not important.” The popular guess is 28-30 years old. She was born in Patterson, N.Y., but her father, a housepainter, soon moved the family to Hawaii in search of more idyllic environs. As a kid growing up Bette planned to be a great actress. After all, her mother had named her after Bette Davis but pronounced it “Bet.” But she was fat, she was funny looking and she was Jewish in a community that didn’t particularly like lews. She had immortal longings but the only way she could express them was in the language of the Silver Screen. “I used to call people ‘dahling.’ ‘Oh my dear,’ I would say.” She drifted through school and a year of college, working summers in a pineapple factory, sorting out the good from the bad slices. Bette escaped Hawaii by getting a )ob as an extra in the film Hawaii in 1965. She was shipped to Los Angeles for the filming in the studio and existed on a daily food ration of $2 in order to save what she earned. When the film finished she moved to New York. She settled into the Broadway Central Hotel, a seedy establishment which is good for a singer’s breath control. And for five years she wandered around the Village looking for Bob Dylan, while supporting herself by typing and filing and being a salesgirl. She sang without pay in Village coffeehouses. Finally, she made it into the chorus of fiddler on the Roof, from which she graduated to Tevye’s eldest daughter. For a while it seemed like heaven. Then she reconsidered. “I’d come to New York to have a career not just be in one show. I wanted to work a lot, to grow, and the theatre was a closed market.” So she started singing again. She worked hard at it — “the way I was brought up I was taught you must work” — and took lessons until one day her acting teacher called her up and said there was a guy who ran a posh, homosexual bath and he was starting entertainment. Thus began her gig at the Continental Baths, “the tubs” to Bette, which characteristically and quixotically skyrocketed her to fame. After singing to her male audience, starkers except for loincloth, for $50 a night, she became a cult figure, and Johnny Carson wanted her and David Frost wanted her and nightclubs all over the country wanted her. When Bette talks about “the tubs” she just glows. Let others titter, she remains fiercely loyal “to the boys” — and they to her. “Me and those boys,- we just went somewhere else. It was so much fun. I had the best time. It was something I just had to do, and I did it for them, and I did it all. And probably they saw the most inspired of it. It was really abandon.” The word spread and the straighter, richer, crowd came on weekends to see the raffish little figure, with the orange frizzled hair and outlandish costumes sing songs left over from Your Hit Parade and American Bandstand. The freak who sang at “the tubs” became the Divine Miss M, whose characterization was as finely honed as Charlie Chaplin‘s Little Tramp. She started as a cult figure, but she soared to broader heights. Pretty soon came her first album, The Divine Miss M, which featured songs like Do You Wanna Dance, Leader of the Pack, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, and Delta Dawn. Two of Bette’s mentors are Bessie Smith and Aretha Franklin, and she’s been compared to both — plus to )anis )oplin, Mae West, Rita Hayworth, Judy Garland and Edith Piaf. Some company for a gal who a year earlier couldn’t find an agent. Bette camps up a lot of songs, like Going to the Chapel, but she’s also in her element when she’s wringing the last drop of emotion out of Am / Blue. “I like torch singers who can make you cry. Ethel Waters used to kill me. When I first started listening, I heard the stories these women were telling; they were laying incredible stuff down. Their lives were fabulous and it was in their voices and their songs. There were some things I had to say about things, where I’ve been and who I’ve been with and the pain I know . . .” When Bette talks about fabulous lives, she isn’t using an ordinary yardstick. Like a moth to the flame, she is attracted to the strange, the tortured, the painful people. She dismisses the mundane, the plastically funny molds of Jackie Gleason and Lucille Ball. “I’m fascinated by people whom I guess most people consider bad. People outside the pale, Tennesse Williams characters, people who have found themselves through no fault of their own in certain positions in life . . .alcoholics, junkies, prostitutes and Bowery bums. I like people who live lives outside the ordinary.” She studies them — in the streets of New York and vicariously, by reading biographies of the great, soulful ladies. It’s almost as if, in encompassing another’s pain, hers is lightened. “I like to observe the way people are. It’s hard to do on any level except a superficial one, but even then it’s very entertaining. “Sometimes I make a judgment, but the only judgment I really make is whether I want to continue studying them. You know, if they know anything better than I do.” The Divine Miss M tossed her head and rebuked herself. She says ‘You know’ or ‘Do you know what I mean?’ quite often, and she doesn’t like people who do that. Impatience bristled through her slight frame. She’s only 5 feet 1, and she bites her fingernails. “I don’t know myself very well. I can never figure out if the way I lead my life is the way a human life should be lead. Like the fact that I have no patience, that I move around so much, so fast.” She describes herself as “tense, temperamental and without patience.” The latter is probably a product of her desire “to get things done” and get them done well. She says she’s just “a schlepper,” and her publicist says she’s a perfectionist. “I worry about problems more than most people. I went to a psychiatrist for a little wjiile. I am a do-it-yourself kind of person. If it doesn’t come from inside you, it isn’t valid. Other people can talk till they’re blue, but it doesn’t matter unless you know.” She thought about her act: “I could be better. Good, better, best, Bette. I have severe bouts of unhappiness. I also have great moments of real joy about what I do. The most wonderful thing is having something to live for. A lot of people don’t have something to live for. “I don’t really understand why people are on this earth. I’m not religious. I realize that there is a certain amount of time on earth you have to spend. The more enjoyable it is the faster it goes. ‘Living well is the best revenge for having to live at all.’ ” She doesn’t think that’s depressing — just realistic. And then as she’s opened wide the door of her vulnerability, she snaps it shut. “J’ai ne regrette rien. It’s been interesting so far.” Now that she’s well on her way to riches and fame haven’t some of the shadows receded? She may endure a New York summer without air-conditioning, she may still have a wardrobe of hand-me-downs from fans, but that’s her choice now. Security or lack of it has never lurked in the shadows of her mind. It is not one of her hang-ups. “I have been poor a little, but I have never starved. I have never spent much money. Does it look like I’m a star? If I bought anything more to put into this place it would be over-flowing, gluttonous. I am not into possessions.” She is thinking seriously of starting a scholarship for some black to study drama or films. “I think the black people have the biggest cause in this country.” She is not essentially into causes. She’s not a joiner and is suspicious of anyone who has all the answers. Take the Women’s Movement. Bette herself has always felt liberated. But looking at Women’s Lib after its turbulent beginnings, she observed: “Some good and some bad came out of it. It helped some people realize they were not alone and that they had no reason to feel guilty about their feeling, because everyone else was going through the same changes. “But it also offered false hopes like psychedelics did in the early ’60s. People thought they’d find themselves through drugs but only made life harder for themselves. I think the Equal Rights Amendment was a good thing but all the rest of it isn’t the sort of thing which you can work out on a group basis. Bette admits that she doesn’t have much time for anything but her work at the moment. This summer, her rest period before another exhausting, cross-country tour, she’s taking singing, piano, dance and acrobatics. “I watch politics now and again, and I dabble in scientific things. But I don’t have much interest outside my work unless someone brings it to me. I’m a dilettante. I don’t know much about anything other than what I do. I’m not exactly well-rounded.” She’s not particularly comfortable with the cult crown and stardom she’s won. She’s not ready to become an institution. “I’m quiet. I don’t bother anybody. I just have a few things I’d like to say, and I have these ways of saying ’em, and some of it is real good and cheerful, so it’s like healthy, you know, and I feel like I’m doing something constructive in the world . . .” She pauses, shifts abruptly from the serious to the self-mocking. “I wanted to be a diplomat but I don’t think I was very diplomatic, so …” Bette is upset by inefficiency and people who lie. She dislikes great, huge manufacturing companies that don’t care about people but police the air and streams. “But anyone can hate them, that’s easy.” So she switches into something more personal. -I don’t like people who follow trends blindly. And people who have to be part ot a group like ‘hippies’, ‘college grads’, ‘sw.ng.ng singles’ or ‘young marneds.’ ” Speaking of young marneds – •- I never once thought of getting married and seeing down. I never met anyone who I wanted to commit myself to. I know the way I do things^ and I like to have everything my way. Maybe (.could live with someone if we had a gigantic house with two wings — one for each ot us. And if I could find someone who was as strong as I am and nevertheless compatible” . Talking about her persona life was, she thought, “tacky,” which is also one of her favorite words. Like “pits” her description of the lowest, whether a club or a song ending. But she did it anyway. “I love to be in love. I’ve done it four times. But everything gets harder as you get older You don’t trust it. It isn’t really worth the trouble. I don’t pursue love so much now. And I expect less from all situations. I d |ust as soon have my own company as the company of one who I wasn’t crazy about.” “People aren’t sentimental as they once were. I like people who are sentimental, who want to get involved in others’ lives. They want to hop into bed. You can, and you feel good for a while, then they go back to their own cocoons. It’s all very degrading.” Although Bette doesn’t talk about her family much, one senses a certain closeness. Ot her parents and five siblings, she says, “We re fairly close. But we’re all individualists. She dedicated her album to ludith, her oldest sister. None of her family has seen the Divine Miss M in concert “and they’re not gonna. It would just kill my father. My father * very, very conservative and I wouldn’t do it to him. He’s OK, you know; he’s a good man. He always tried real hard.” Her mother, a movie buff, happily saves clippings. And of course they have seen her on television talk shows. She sounded protectively maternal when she talked about her father. And Bette admits that there’s a lot of that in her. It could have started when she was a camp den mother at the tubs, but one guesses it has deeper roots. “Yeah When I’m on tour I always play housemother. The first tour I went insane.tt there were fights, I always tried to patch them up keep things running smoothly. “I eel very irritable on the road. Tours get me down. I feel torn away from all the things I love, like the rug has been pulled out from under me.” . . Nevertheless she’s going on another big one this fall, which will include Los Angeles. She’ll tone down her raffish, Rabelaisian act a bit — not so many sequins and Carmen Miranda hats for the small town audiences But she’ll still be Bette, belting out those old favorites, sometimes tender sometimes bawdy, always with warmth and laced with inner laughter. I think about her rendition of Friends — Bette really swings into it: ”You’ve got to have frieeeeeeeeennnnnnnnnds. And then she talks over the music: ‘We’re moving too fast, got to slow down.” That seems to be selfdirected advice. “I get along with almost anyone. But I like to be around people who are alive and who are doing their best. My closest friends are people I have known since I have been in New York. I don’t want to give them up because they’re my only link with reality.” “I feel myself slipping out of reality when I’m on tour. That’s when it’s frightening. Everytime I do a different project I change. The only time 1 remember what I really am is to confront people who knew me before all this happened. As long as I have this link I don’t have any fear of going under.” She is wistful and she is searching. I am lonely sometimes.. .sometimes I think I haven’t got any friends left at all. I’ve traded in big friendships for the love of a great number of pTople. But you can’t take 10,000 people home to bed with you.” The Divine Miss M shrugged, almost visibly shedding the creeping sadness. She switches, does Miss M, from a low to a h.gh quickly. She showed me her favorite plant, a stag horn fern, which is not temperamental. It |ust grows anNowW that she’s famous, does she worry about what people think? About critics and ‘”Ttry not to worry. It takes too much time and enerRV that I need for my work. Pause. “fi£?Vant to wrap it all up like a present and cwe it to people. If they dig it, they dig it, and K d’d”” ^8 »- wel1’ ‘^e they â„¢*A the vision. But it’s scary.” . How would she like people to think of her? -lust the way they think of me,” she retorted, all oerkv and soaring into high. .•People think I’m fabulous, and that’s what I’ve always intended. I didn’t use to thmk I was verv crazy or interesting. But I rn the happiest I’ve been with myself. I like me.” D BetteBack June 6, 1993: For Concert Tour Atlantic Records To Release 20 Song Greatest Hit Compilation BetteBack December 23, 1994: Bette And Family Move To New York City | BootLeg Betty BetteBack March 26, 1996: Is that an outfit for a Bette? | BootLeg Betty

BetteBack May 22, 1993: Midler Announces She’s Going Back On Tour After A Decade | BootLeg Betty ...  Read More

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Saturday, September 3, 2016

BetteBack November 18, 1973: The Return Of Show Biz, Starring Divine Miss M

Ithaca New Times November 18, 1973 CC016 Bette Midler defies description. Trying to explain one of her concerts to someone who has never seen her perform is similar to the task astronomers face in trying to explain what Kohoutek’s comet will look like. There are no adequate adjectives, and awed music critics have become entangled in superlatives in the attempt. Midler simply has to be seen. Bette Midler has been ranked with female superstars of all time periods, including Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland and Janis Joplin. She draws her style from not one, but many of the entertainment elite. Ultimately, however, all comparisons are unfair. Midler’s resemblance to other performers can only be based on a common quality of greatness, a magic that radiates from the stage. She is unique. Her show is a mixture of burlesque, rock’n’roll and the music of the Thirties and Forties. She is a singer; she is a comic. But first and foremost she is an actress. We don’t see the real Bette Midler on stage, but rather the Divine Miss M, the character which Midler has created. Bette Midler is a Jewish middleclass girl, subject to an overweight childhood, an aquiline nose and a feeling of unpopularity among other childhood acquaintances. Her career, which turned into a dreamlike success story, started when she studied drama at the University of Hawaii. That led to a bit part in the movie Hawaii. After that, it was off to New York, where she won a part in the chorus of Fiddler on the Roof, later graduating to the role of the eldest daughter, Tzeitel. Midler left the Broadway stage to pursue her singing career, but her past experience in acting still serves as an enhancement to her voice. Captures the Essence Musically, she is not overwhelming. Her first record (entitled The Divine Miss M) is enjoyable, but it isn’t until you have seen her perform that the record takes on another dimension. She has done nothing in the way of new music, and her largest contribution seems to be the way she has made millions of young people recognize that there was a lot of excellent music around before the advent of rock’n’roll. What Midler does possess, though, is a style that allows her to capture the essence of every song she chooses. Each song conveys the mood and the message that the writer intended. In concert, Midler is what she sings. Each song is a new role. In “Superstar” she plays a groupie, in “Leader of the Pack” it’s a greaser. Between songs it’s the Divine Miss M, and it is this personality people pay to see. In these times of inflation and get-rich-quick music, Midler is one performer who gives you more than your money’s worth. Only a talent like Bette Midler could make the crowd at Ithaca College forget what they had gone through to see her. The organizers of the concert displayed what was either a gross lack of organization or an extreme disregard for their patrons. Whatever the reason, the scene was not only disgraceful but dangerous. Some of Midler’s faithful were forced to wait outside for as long as three hours in sub-freezing weather before they were allowed to enter the gym. When the doors were finally opened, it was in such a way that a huge bottleneck crush occurred. The entire crowd had to literally fight their way into the hall as tickets were taken two at a time. During this fiasco at least one person had to be taken away in an ambulance, and it is a credit to the crowd that a riot didn’t take place. Bringing big name talent to a campus is commendable, but treating paying customers like excess baggage taints that achievement. Certainly, a concert-goer shouldn’t have to risk injury in order to watch three hours of music, no matter how great. Hopefully, the college will be able to rectify these conditions before they attempt another project of this magnitude, but if they can’t, it might be best to scrap any plans along that line. Once inside, the atmosphere was much better. The lights dimmed and the crowd rose to their feet to welcome the Divine Miss M, who reciprocated with a show that was extraordinary even by her own standards. For the next 1 1/2 hours, Midler was all over the stage – running from one place to another, bumping and grinding, falling to the floor, it seemed as if she were filled with an unending supply of free-flowing adrenaline. Backed by her five-piece band and the Harlettes (three women dressed like cocktail waitresses), Midler threw herself’ into material as diverse as The Andrew Sisters and the Shangri-Las. In addition to performing every song of her first album, Midler rendered her Philadelphia medley – (“Uptown ,” “Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Baby,” “Do Run Run”), Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released,” Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” and “Lullaby of Broadway.” Between selections she delivered comic material that inevitably was either insulting or sexual. Her style makes Don Rickles look like a classless buffoon. She insults herself: “This number really reeks;” she insults the audience: “You people can’t really go to college;” and even our President: “First time I’ve seen ships desert a sinking rat.” Her sexual jokes are, to say the least, bawdy. “Did you know that President Nixon has a copy of Deep Throat? In fact, he’s seen it seven or eight times and he’s going to keep on watching it until he gets it down pat.” Then she admonishes the audience for laughing and labels them gross: “You people are terrible, just terrible!” Sensuous Show Midler good-naturedly plays up the sex angle for all it’s worth. Physically, she is hardly your classic sex symbol!, vet she has the most sensuous show this side of Tina Turner. The Divine Miss M stands only 5’1″ tall, but is remarkably endowed. She boasts at one point, “You’re gonna like this because me and the girls shake our tits a lot in this number.” She leaves little to the imagination when she lies on the piano bench and does peddle pumps in the air. While Bette Midler is indescribable, it can be safely said that she is unique, unpredictable and probably the most enjoyable entertainment experience available today. Reportedly she is taking acrobatic lessons, with the results to be incorporated into her next tour. So don’t be surprised if the next time you see Bette Midler she makes her entrance from the mouth of a cannon.
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Wednesday, August 24, 2016

BetteBack October 1, 1973: Flashy, Trashy and Infectious Miss M

San Mateo Times October 1, 1973 2016-08-15_3-08-51 In this crazy rock ‘n roll world where superstars streak into prominence with the alacrity of unnatural phenomena and instantly develop a cult following that worships with unquestioning fervor, Bette Midler is being acclaimed the High Priestess of Camp. She makes the kookiness of early career Barbra Streisand look pristine, the grossness and vulgarity of Belle Earth and Sophie Tucker seem tame and the frenzied on-stage antics of Janis Joplin and Jerry Lewis appear understated. It was only her third appearance in the Bay Area and her four night stint at Berkeley Community Theater was a solid sellout. I can’t remember when I’ve seen such a charged up performance. It’s almost too much to bear. Words like dynamic and electric don’t adequately describe the possessed emotional pitch with which this pint sized redhead from Hawaii (she looks a little like Harpo Marx with carrot colored fuzzed up mop of hair) screams and rants through a two-hour show. It’s not as bizarre as some pop star acts but funky, blue, low down and marvelously campy. She’s singer, actress, impersonator and personality plus, not giving a damn whether she finishes a story or a song, shouting out the most outrageous things to turn on her well stoned audience and lavishing the adulation she gets with every one of the dozen or more standing ovations throughout the evening. The more they respond, the wilder she gets. Her repartee is as bawdy as her repertoire which ranges from songs of the thirties, forties, fifties and sixties. She describes her act as “gaar-baghe” and introduces her female trio, The Harlettes as “three trashy waitresses from Encino” … and plays it up to the hilt. They’re a motley looking crew, Bette first in black slacks, striped blouse, pink rose at the waist and later in pink sequin forties formal, sweetheart neckline, puff sleeves, slit up to the belly button with a ratty looking silver fox and green, orange, yellow and blue feather boa draped around her short frame. Her trio poses and postures in the style of the Andrew Sisters, hands on hips, heads turned snobbishly in an upward tilt, bumping and grinding in unison, sometimes shoving each other away from the microphone. They change into pink sequin gingham maid’s uniforms (complete with sequin caps) that first jerk open to form a dazzling red, white and blue sequin American flag and later rip off to reveal them in sexy satin under slips edged in black lace and bearing a sequin playing card emblem. You’ll have to admit, that’s going some to create a surprise effect, which is what happens every five minutes of the raucous, madhouse of a show. Nothing is sacred on The Divine Miss M‘s lips. Her description of what “Hubba Hubba” means can’t be printed here, she titles one segment her Philadelphia medley because “it reeks,” and claims to be on an exhausting 272 days tour, “Martha Raye would give her eye teeth and a box of poppers for a tour like ours.” She caters mainly to the gay crowd with “in references” only they seem to get like “I just love those sleezy bars where they play Wayne Newton on the juke box” and after announcing she’ll sing one of Karen Carpenter’s “greatest hits” says something a teensy bit filthy about her drum playing. By the time the show has ended, she’s involved the audience in a sing-a-long, insulted almost everyone, forgotten the words to a song, joked with the musicians with her back to the audience, flung herself across the stage in leaps and bounds, shaking every moveable part of her body, blown your ear drums out in Janis Joplin-like flamboyance with a vocal of the Glenn Miller hit, “In the Mood.” the rock ‘n roll orgy “Leader of the Pack,” dropping into deep knee bends in simulation of a motorcycle rider, raised the roof of the theater on “Higher and Higher,” and flattened her over-wrought audience with a stunning and poignant rendition of “Am I Blue.” Bette Midler: 15 Things You Didn’t Know – But You Really Do (Part 2) | BootLeg Betty Bette Midler On The Rose | BootLeg Betty Bette Midler On “The Rose” Character: | BootLeg Betty

Rolling Stone Review: Generations of brassy, slyly winking female rebels – from Deborah Harry and Madonna to Miley Cyrus – all owe Bette Midler a debt ...  Read More

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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BetteBack March 3, 1973: Bawdy, Bodacious Bette

The National Observer Bawdy, Bodacious Bette March 3, 1973 By Bill Marvel 7-1-2012 6-35-05 PM HERE IT IS 7:30 p.m., a whole hour before the Bette Midler concert, and already the lobby in Uihlein Hall is filled up. The 2,300-plus seats were sold out two weeks ago, even though news about the concert was spread mainly by word of mouth and a few spots on top-40 radio. Somebody’s grandmother is standing at the head of the line, chattering across at least two generation gaps to a girl in scruffy blue jeans: “Oh, I’ve watched her on the Johnny Carson show. I didn’t even tell my friends who I’m coming to see.” With derision: “They’ve never heard of her.” “Look,” says the girl, examining her arms. “I’ve actually got goose bumps. I love this girl. I’m gonna adopt her.” Goose bumps? Who is Bette Midler, this phenomenon in silver-lame toreador slacks, slithering to old Milwaukee to be born? Other writers have fumbled around in the great, gawdy grab bag that is Miss Midler’s public personality. At one time or another she has been compared to: Janis Joplin, Patti Andrews, Aretha Franklin, Mae West, Laura Nyro, Shirley Temple, Tiny Tim, Grace Slick, Dorothy Lamour, Rita Hayworth, Streisand (of course), Betty Boop, Edith Piaf, Lotte Lenya, Sophie Tucker, Judy Garland ( natch ), and Carmen Miranda. Voice of the ’70s But all such comparisons are a pain. Bette Midler is probably the brightest, hottest superstar to rise above the pop-music horizon in the ’70s. Even before her first album, The Divine Miss M, was released by Atlantic records last November, industry seismographs detected a hit. Now more than 100,000 copies have been sold, which is very good for a start. Last New Year’s Eve the Divine Miss M filled Philharmonic Hall in New York’s Lincoln Center – not just once, but twice. At midnight, with horns, tooting and fireworks crackling out in the streets; she ascended from beneath the stage, diaper-clad, proclaiming 1973 with a banner wrapped around her ample décolletage. “It’s the boobs,” says the girl in the blue jeans, who turns out to be an art student named Colleen. “I mean, how many girls with boobs like that would go around without a bra?” Miss M lives up to her advance billing. She comes onstage with her scarlet blouse knotted precariously at the front and a plastic gardenia tucked into her hair. “I’m the last of the truly tacky women,” she announces. “We are embarking on a tour of the tackiest cities of America. And we are starting in your very own town.” Stormy applause and laughter. A few years ago she was the darling of New York’s Continental Baths. “The Tubs,” as Miss M refers to them, is one of the few really elegant dives left, an oasis of tiled and palmed decadence that looks as though it has been snatched, gay clientele and all, right out of the Satyricon (of Fellini, not of Gaius Petronius ). The Tonight Show audience tittered – as talk show audiences will do – when Miss M mentioned her apprenticeship at the Baths. But she remains fiercely loyal to “the boys” who used to fill the place up, packed cheek by jowl, to cheer her on. Then, as word spread, a straighter (and richer) clientele began drifting in on week ends to catch this raffish figure with the frizzled orange hair and the outlandish costumes and the repertoire of songs left over from the days of Your Hit Parade and Dick Clark’s American Bandstand. “It got picked up by all the chic people as the place to go,” she says, with regret. Soon Bette Midler split, taking with her pianist-arranger Barry Manilow and her backup vocal trio, the Harlettes. Ah, yes. The Harlettes. They wiggle onstage in low-cut slinky black dresses and red platform shoes as she introduces them. “Three cocktail waitresses, right off the street.” Does Miss M miss her audience at The Tubs? “No, they follow me around,” she says. A Bette Midler audience in full panoply is something to see: street dudes, floor-length furs, enormous dangling earrings, turbans, really high platform shoes. But nothing can match, can even come close to, Miss M herself. Arms flapping like disengaged crank handles, she undulates across the stage, twists, squats, thrusts out a hip here, a shoulder there, never at rest. A Midler performance is, above all, hard work.

`Aloha’ to Hawaii “The way I was brought up, I was taught to work,” she says. Her father, a house painter from Paterson, N.J., took the family to Hawaii in hopes of finding paradise. Instead they found a Eurasian neighborhood where Jews were not particularly welcome. Miss M’s first brush with show business came when her mother, a movie buff, named her after Bette Davis. Only Mrs. Midler pronounced it “Bet.” And so it remains. That must have been 28-30 years ago; the Divine Miss M’s age is practically a state secret. Bette escaped Hawaii by joining the cast of the movie Hawaii and getting shipped to Los Angeles for filming at the studio. She saved practically everything she earned on the picture and within two months had moved to New York. There, for the next five years, she paid her dues, as they say in show biz. She played small clubs in the Village, in off-off-Broadway, in the chorus of Fiddler on the Roof, and finally up front as Tevye’s eldest daughter, Tzeitl. But it took The Tubs to bring out the trash that was in her. Trash, as in junk. For Bette Midler is a strutting, vamping, singing collection of the rags and bones of four decades of American popular music. “We are going to sing all the garbage we know,” she tells her audience. And she means it. She belts out the torch songs from the Thirties, Andrews Sisters swing from the Forties, teeny-bopper laments from the Fifties, and “low-rent retro rock ‘n’ roll” from the Sixties, her performance always at the nexus of high style and high art. The Mask of an Artist ...  Read More

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

BetteBack June 30, 1972: Singer From The Tubs’ Hits Nightclub Circuit (Interview)

Winnipeg Free Press June 30, 1972
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 1970: Photo of Bette Midler Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Bette Midler Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

N E W YORK (Special) — Nightclub singer Bette Midler has a knack for steaming up her audiences, so it’s fitting that her first big success came in a Turkish bath. Miss M, as she likes to call herself, is that voluptuous five foot bundle of ungainly talent that has been knocking them dead for the last 18 months on the Johnny Carson show. Looking somewhat like a sawed-up version of Fanny Brice and belting out songs with the verve of Barbra Streisand laced with overtones of Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin, she’s fast becoming an inimitable star. And it wasn’t long ago that Bette was chirping away before a towel-clad audience at a combination Turkish bath-cabaret catering to homosexuals on Manhattan’s West Side. Nobody ever threw in the towel when she was singing and Bette says she loved every minute performing at what she calls “the tubs.” “It encouraged me to explore satire,” she explains, patting a mop of reddish hair the texture of cotton candy. “The audience there wouldn’t settle for half-baked. If I’d kept my distance, they’d have lost interest because there were too many other things going on in the building that were more fun.” How a nice Jewish girl from Hawaii wound up in a steamroom is a show business saga that began in the packing portion of a pineapple plant. Her father either owned the plant or was a painter for the Navy, depending on Miss M’s latest reminiscence. Anyway, she liked to sing as she picked pineapple parts for the processor so one day decided to pack it all in and perform. Bette— who says she’s at least 20 and looks it — is vague about precise dates but by the mid-1960s she had a small role in the Broadway production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” “I considered myself mainly a comedienne,” says the singer. “But one day I heard an early Aretha Franklin record — mostly blues and torch songs. It was dynamite. I really felt I understood the essence of her art and so I was tempted to try it myself-” The art of dressing apparently never Interested her and by her own admission she is “the last of the truly tacky women.” She favors blowsy, shoulder-padded dresses that one critic said are the sort “women wore to meet sailors coming back from the Second World War.” But when she sings, the kind of talent that is never out of fashion fills a room. She ranges from a serious country version of Alex Harvey’s “Delta Dawn” to a hard-driving “You Gotta Have Friends” with all stops in between. Bette loves songs of the 1940s and ’50s like Chattanooga Choo Choo. Sometimes she does all three parts of the Andrews Sisters singing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy or she’ll launch into a hip-swiveling, mind-boggling take-off of Carmen Miranda, the late Brazilian star who affected headgear that made it look as if fruit salad was growing out of the top of her head.’ Somehow, it all works for Bette and her audiences at Manhattan clubs like The Bitter End and the Downstairs at the Upstairs. One critic began his review by saying “I was not p r e p a r e d for the grotesque creature that swaggered onto the tiny stage — it is a face that cries out for caricature.” By mid-review he was marvelling at her “warmth, power, exhilaration.” And at the end he said flatly: “Bette Midler is gorgeous.” “I just happen to like a lot of styles,” Bette says. “It’s not what you sing that matters. It’s the fact that you love whatever you do that makes you hot.” She is enjoying every minute of her current success which includes a record contract and so many bookings that she never has to worry where her next can of pineapple is coming from. With all of it, Bette’s not sure whether she should do half-campy, half-sensual songs of the 1950s or groove on a more solid, serious style. “The act I really want,” she concludes, “would be one-half straight singing and the other absolutely insane.” Without a doubt, Bette Midler’s got the equipment for it.
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