February 1, 1978
ONLY DIVINE: That’s Bette Midler these nights at the jam-packed Copacabana in New York. She resembles a feisty little cross between Jeannette MacDonald gone crazy, Nancy Walker grown taller and Mae West liberated.
The best thing about Miss Trash-and Flash is how she dares to relate directly to her audience on a realistic level. She is one of the big stars and big talents who comes out, gives her all, “gets down” and never conveys the feeling that she might be putting you on. In other words, she is not full of it.
Particularly diverting is her chatter in an act that is sometimes totally insane — “Dick Nixon was a Copa girl,” she tells the audience, identifying them as Studio 54 types — “Vogue on the outside and vague on the inside.” She says California is a land of “thousands and thousands of beautiful women who are personal friends of Jerry Brown.” Her evocations of Bessie Smith, Sarah Vaughn, Sophie Tucker, the ShangriLas and a sometimes touchingly vulnerable Bette Midler are all just fascinating.
She twitted the audience about the use of drugs and noted that on her recent TV special she had been warned not to do anything that smacked of drugs. To that she quips, “I thought that in network TV drugs were not the problem, they were the sponsor.”